You spin me right round baby right round like a what?
September 18, 2015 9:51 AM   Subscribe

I need songs with specific lyrics which I can play for my daughter which represent antiquated technology that she has no real understanding of.

So Thursday morning, my daughter (4) wanted to listen to music and dance in the kitchen. When I put on "You spinme right round baby right round like a record player right round..." She stopped dancing and asked me what a record player was. That got me thinking. What songs feature and reference things that are really not in use today. Any style, any genre, preferably something that she can dance to.
posted by Nanukthedog to Media & Arts (120 answers total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
 
Pennsylvania 6-500 [The Andrews Sisters / telephone exchanges]

Answering Machine [The Replacements]
posted by ryanshepard at 9:53 AM on September 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


Nick Lowe, "Switchboard Susan"
posted by thelonius at 9:58 AM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


"SkyPager" - A Tribe Called Quest
"Rumbleseat" - John Cougar Mellencamp
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:03 AM on September 18, 2015


Oh, this is fun. (BTW, I did NOT get "SkyPager" from this article, in spite of it being the first example--I seriously was listening to the Tribe album in the car this morning.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:05 AM on September 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


C30 C60 C90 Go

Also possibly Pinball Wizard by The Who.
posted by bondcliff at 10:11 AM on September 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


No Doubt "Spiderwebs" talks about screening her phone calls (by answering machine, since she says "sorry I'm not home right now".) Very danceable!
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:11 AM on September 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


Shake it like a polaroid picture
posted by goo at 10:12 AM on September 18, 2015 [16 favorites]


The Wells Fargo Wagon from The Music Man and The Trolley Song from Meet Me in St. Louis.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:16 AM on September 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Party Line by the Kinks (I see it's mentioned in the AV Club article above).

Also, dig the old school modem squawks sampled in this song. Modem Song by Looper
posted by Leontine at 10:17 AM on September 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Joan Jett, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll":

I love rock 'n' roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:20 AM on September 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


The Beatles — Back in the USSR ("Honey, disconnect the phone")

Jim Croce — Operator ("Operator, oh could you help me place this call?")

More, more, more... (Let me Google that for you!)
posted by John Cohen at 10:20 AM on September 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


The Beatles, "Mr. Postman."
posted by Melismata at 10:28 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


John Hartford — (Good Old Electric) Washing Machine
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:34 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Put another nickel in, in the Nickelodeon, all I want is having you and music, music, music!

A Nickelodeon was actually a type of movie theater, but this song implies it's a jukebox. Both are old-timey and it's a cute song!
posted by kimberussell at 10:34 AM on September 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Johnny Rivers - Memphis

Not dancable, but Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Time Zones

posted by hydrophonic at 10:35 AM on September 18, 2015


Louis Prima's "Beep Beep," (1958) has lyrics about a man whose lover has gone to the moon, and like all spacecraft from 1958 (i.e Sputnik 1), she can only communicate back to Earth in tones:

"My baby's gone on a trip to the moon
and she won't be back too soon.
She doesn't write me and I can't sleep,
and all I hear from her is beep beep beep beep beep beep beep"
posted by Sunburnt at 10:36 AM on September 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yaz: Bad Connection
posted by workerant at 10:40 AM on September 18, 2015


More dancable, from the same album: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Telegraphs (Maybe not appropriate? "Damn" is prominently featured.)
posted by hydrophonic at 10:41 AM on September 18, 2015


The Promise Ring, "Make Me A Mixtape"
posted by divined by radio at 10:41 AM on September 18, 2015


What about songs with sound effects of obsolete technology? "Money" by Pink Floyd has cash register sounds. Also I believe "Walkin' In the Rain With the One I Love" by Love Unlimited features the sound of a rotary phone.
posted by ogooglebar at 10:42 AM on September 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Quaaludes Again" by Shel Silverstein. Maybe not.
posted by bendybendy at 10:44 AM on September 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Heartbreak on Vinyl by Blake Lewis is a nostalgia song for vinyl records, turn-tables, and record stores of that era. It's from 2009.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:47 AM on September 18, 2015


Juke Box Hero - Foreigner
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:49 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


They Might Be Giants "I Can Hear You" is a song about various new technologies that one hears talking to you in the modern age (well, modern circa 1996 when the song was first release) -- remember "This Car is Protected By Viper?".

The twist? The edition I linked was recorded at the Edison Laboratory on wax cylinder, all without electricity (on the recording side, at least), which by all accounts involves projecting one's voice and instruments into very large sound-horns that capture the audio.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:51 AM on September 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Donna Summer, "On the Radio."

If you think that love isn't found on the radio
Then tune right in you may find the love you lost


I was 10 when this came out, and I danced to it!
posted by Melismata at 10:51 AM on September 18, 2015


John Hartford: "Don't Leave Your Records In The Sun"
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:53 AM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Typewriter," Alicia Keys
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:54 AM on September 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Sixteen Tons" by Tennessee Ernie Ford is about coal-mining with a pick and shovel, and the concept of the Company Store, which is an obsolete (or rather, grossly illegal in the US, but still around here and there) means of paying workers.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:54 AM on September 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Pocket Calculator by Kraftwerk?
posted by clavicle at 10:56 AM on September 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hah. "8-Track," Brian Setzer.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:57 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another answering machine reference (seems like you could make a "mix tape" of those alone) is in Such Great Heights by The Postal Service
posted by mikepop at 10:57 AM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Marian Call often uses an old manual typewriter as an instrument, as heard in her Nerd Anthem, among others.
posted by bondcliff at 11:04 AM on September 18, 2015


Kodachrome by Paul Simon.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:08 AM on September 18, 2015 [20 favorites]


The opening lines of Stuart and the Ave. by Green Day are Standing on the corner of Stuart and the Avenue/Ripping up a transfer and a photograph of you. I've always lived in cities with transit cards, so I never knew what the hell he was talking about until one day I caught the rare sight of someone carrying a paper bus transfer. Not too long after, the system phased out paper transfers completely. (Lyrics contain multiple F-bombs, though, so whether you want to play it in front of your kids is left to your discretion.)
posted by capricorn at 11:08 AM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]




"Hello Operator, can you give me number 9? Can I see you later? Can you give me back my dime?"

(White Stripes, from de Stijl).
posted by vunder at 11:11 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I know you called-I know you called-I know you called
I know you called-I know you called-I know you hung up my line
Star 69"

(REM, from Monster)
posted by vunder at 11:14 AM on September 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Lots of songs about cassette tapes in this thread .
posted by Seeking Direction at 11:17 AM on September 18, 2015


Tenement Funster by Queen contains a reference to "rock and roll 45's", but I don't think it's danceable or appropriate for 4-year-olds.

Soak Up the Sun by Sheryl Crow endss with the lyrics
I'm gonna soak up the sun
I got my 45 on
So I can rock on

posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:24 AM on September 18, 2015


Video Killed the Radio Star has two layers of obsolescence. ("Put the blame on VCR")
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:28 AM on September 18, 2015 [17 favorites]


Aqua -- Back to the 80's might be overkill!
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:35 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Chattenooga Choo Choo" is about steam trains. It's a lot of fun.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:37 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also about Party Lines: File 13
posted by rhizome at 11:50 AM on September 18, 2015


Jib Kidder's Windowdipper samples early Windows sounds.
posted by judith at 11:54 AM on September 18, 2015


De La Soul - Ring Ring Ring (plus awesome video that shows a cassette tape)
posted by brookeb at 12:03 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


And more De La Soul - Saturdays - because who has gone to a roller rink in the last twenty years..
posted by brookeb at 12:05 PM on September 18, 2015


Fabolous - Young'n (Holla Back)
Mentions two-way pagers and features a "two-way alert" sound effect. Lyrics questionable for actual young'ns.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:09 PM on September 18, 2015


Here's Man or Astro man? using a dot-matrix printer as a musical instrument. A Simple Text File
posted by Leontine at 12:17 PM on September 18, 2015


Richard Thompson's "Don't sit on my Jimmy Shands".

Call me precious, I don't mind, 78's are hard to find
You just can't get the shellac since the war
This one's the Beltona brand, finest label in the land
They don't make 'em like that anymore
posted by Gungho at 12:19 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only decent Maroon 5 song - Payphone
posted by seesom at 12:21 PM on September 18, 2015


Video Killed the Radio Star!
posted by ChuraChura at 12:23 PM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


We've covered pay phones but what of the lowly car phone? Roger McGuinn has you covered.
posted by mikepop at 12:31 PM on September 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Beck's song "Hell Yes" is pretty catchy and has the line "fax machine anthems get your damn hands up."
posted by deludingmyself at 12:56 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


IOL by Collapsis "Don't try to call when I'm online" about back when you couldn't use your landline and modem at the same time. With real modem sound!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:09 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Chuck Berry, "Memphis, Tennessee.". "Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennesee, help me find the party trying to get in touch with me..."
posted by Diablevert at 1:26 PM on September 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sir Mix-A-Lot's 'Beepers' features obsolete beeper and phone sound effects. [PG lyrics]. It pairs well with "Beeper" by The Count and Sinden--a guaranteed kitchen dance party hit.
posted by prinado at 1:40 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


'Convoy' by C W McCall.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 1:49 PM on September 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


The Beach Boys mention a lot of old cars, like woodies, and
Fun, Fun, Fun till her Daddy took her T-Bird away. Also somewhat obsolete surfing fashions.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:53 PM on September 18, 2015


"Western Union"
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:00 PM on September 18, 2015




Pay phones!

Blondie discusses phone booths.

I'm in the phone booth, it's the one across the hall
If you don't answer, I'll just ring it off the wall
I know he's there, but I just had to call
Don't leave me hanging on the telephone


Arlo Guthrie discusses poor telephone etiquette. (can not even find this online but the song is "Telephone" from this album)

Hang up, hold on
You got a dime so you come on so strong
Save your money and let me be
Hang up the phone and quit bothering me


The B-52s talk about restroom graffiti with phone numbers (and no area code)

Dial the number to call
Get no answer at all
Dime's in the slot
Ready to trot

"Uh, 6060-842, I've been tryin' all day
And I'm makin' no headway
Operator, what's wrong?
I dial stupid number all day long"


Billy Joel's song Sometimes a Fantasy starts with dial-tone, touch tone dialing and a late night phone call. And it's about phone sex!

I didn't want to do it but I got too lonely
I had to call you up in the middle of the night
I know it's awful hard to try to make love long distance
But I really needed stimulation
Though it was only my imagination


NOFX's song One Million Coasters talks about AOL CDs but also a lot of other obsolete junk

Coasters and Frisbees
Fish lures for deep seas
Mobiles for infants
They make great Christmas tree ornaments

Bring the whole family,
parking is free
You're going to love
our selection
of 8-track tapes,
Blank floppy discs,
mobile car phones,
Atari 2600 consoles


Not quite obsolete but depends where you are: NRBQ Rain at the Drive-In

If you want to hold your baby tonight
Hope your weatherman is right
when it rains at the drive in
my girl and I we start to grin
We can't see out, they can't see in.


And of course Adam Sandler's ode to his car (maybe not good for kids)

It's got no CD player, it only got the 8-track
Whoever designed my car can lick my sweaty nut sack
(They can bite his ass too)
And I got no fuckin' brakes

posted by jessamyn at 3:17 PM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


TV is the thing this year Dinah Washington.
(TV is obviously still around but this is from the remoteless era: talks about turning the dial to change stations; also lots of double entendre)
posted by sciencegeek at 3:40 PM on September 18, 2015


Human Video Game, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
posted by Wild_Eep at 3:50 PM on September 18, 2015


My favorite of this genre, because the chorus is pure gold: Bug a Boo, Destiny's Child

You make me wanna throw my pager out the window
Tell MCI to cut the phone calls
Break my lease so I can move
Cause you a bug a boo, a bug a boo
I wanna put your number on the call block
Have AOL make my email stop
Cause you a bug a boo


Less danceable, but coincidentally my husband and I heard Just the Two of Us (Will Smith) today, and he references not being able to keep up with his kid's technology, like "101 Dalmatians on your CD-ROM".
posted by pitrified at 4:38 PM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Although IANCaseyKasem, I am sending this long-distance dedication of Answering Machine by Rupert Holmes to Nanukthedog. Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars!
posted by DB Cooper at 8:03 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don't forget the era when, if you got a brand new pair of roller skates, then you'd also need a Brand New Key!
posted by 1367 at 9:34 PM on September 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Lovely Rita (Meter Maid)
posted by 1367 at 9:54 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


They Might Be Giants again: "(She Was A) Hotel Detective" refers to a job that's transformed to being unrecognizable. Hotels such as those found in Raymond Chandler novels (set in LA in the late 1940s) had hotel detectives ("house dicks") who were plainclothes security people who had the job of rousting drunks, hookers, loud guests, occupancy violators, settling domestic disputes among guests, and protecting the till up front. Nowadays they're uniformed rent-a-cops who substantially gather info and call the police.

It's the first of a trilogy of songs, the others being the "She Was A Hotel Detective" and the electro-pop-y "(She Was A) Hotel Detective in the Future."

Buckner & Garcia's massive hit song based on the original hit arcade game: "Pac-Man Fever." The future of arcades isn't a bright one, but I'm sure your daughter will encounter Pac-Man somewhere in its continuing evolution.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:55 PM on September 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maceo's "Nextel Chirp" is a hip-hop song about the 'Push to Talk' technologies that came and went with an early generation of cellphones. The song includes repetition of the characteristic chirp notification from those phones. Language in the song is quite heavy for a 4-year-old, though.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:02 PM on September 18, 2015


Hitchin a Ride by Vanity Fare
posted by current resident at 11:43 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Telephone Line by ELO.
posted by bryon at 1:14 AM on September 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


My baby has just wrote me a letter
posted by jbickers at 5:27 AM on September 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Operator, won't you put me on through
I gotta send my love down to Baton Rouge
Hurry up, won't you put her on the line
I gotta talk to the girl just one more time.

Callin' Baton Rouge by Garth Brooks
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:11 AM on September 19, 2015


Another jukebox song: Alan Vega, Jukebox Babe.
posted by taz at 10:15 AM on September 19, 2015


Voxtrot's Four Long Days includes the line "We had the Field Mice playing on the hi-fi".
posted by jeudi at 12:13 PM on September 19, 2015


Car cassettes and proto-vaping!
posted by steganographia at 12:15 PM on September 19, 2015


Stan Rogers, "White Collar Holler": "I'm hauling up the data on the Xerox line."

I'm not really sure whether this counts. My best guess is that the "Xerox line" would have been an Ethernet network, invented in the early/mid 1970s at Xerox PARC, and very much still in use (though everybody calls it Ethernet nowadays). But I think that, in the late 70s when this song was published, the only Ethernet around was 10Base5, which is pretty rare today, so maybe it squeaks in on that technicality.

I'm also not sure whether you'd consider the song appropriate for a 4-year-old. Or danceable, for that matter.
posted by stebulus at 12:42 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another fax reference:

You Will by Too Much Joy has the lines "Have you been faxed at the beach? / You will – and you will not be scared", which was a reference to the AT&T ads touting awesome new technology that would let you send a fax ... from the BEACH!
posted by kristi at 1:46 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Everclear with AM Radio, which has two layers of that now since even some of the "modern" references are getting obsolete! Not quite sure if you'd consider the language and a couple of themes okay for a four-year-old, though.
posted by sigmagalator at 3:06 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ladytron's Playgirl references "a foreign coin in a telephone box, a question mark in a calendar" - I haven't seen a coin-operated phone box in years, or a paper wall calendar. There's a Speak And Spell and some kind of old BBC computer in the video, and there are other songs on the album about "cracked LCDs", Polaroids, and other mysterious 1980s items. To be fair they were deliberately evoking the 80s when the song was written in 2001, but people did mostly remember those things from the first time around back then.

Plus if she likes Dead or Alive she will probably like Ladytron. I think the band are pretty visually appealing to little girls - they all look like cute 1980s dolls.

At that age I loved loved loved Blondie's Call Me - I thought Debbie Harry was amazing, and the middle eight reminded me of the Dr Who theme (which I also loved). Telling somebody they can call you "any time any place anywhere any way", like that's a novelty, is kind of weird these days and might need explaining.
posted by tinkletown at 3:16 PM on September 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


What about songs with sound effects of obsolete technology?

Brian Eno's China My China has typewriters!
posted by scratch at 4:21 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


(but maybe isn't the most danceable of tunes)
posted by scratch at 4:23 PM on September 19, 2015


This one doesn't have lyrics, but you can see the obsolete technology in action: Leroy Anderson's The Typewriter
posted by msbubbaclees at 5:18 PM on September 19, 2015


A lot of car songs reference old technology. One good one might be Little GTO "three deuces and a four speed, and a 389".
posted by gteffertz at 7:21 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Budapest by Blimp
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:46 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Deep Blue Something - Breakfast at Tiffany's, maybe not super danceable but still catchy, and of course referencing the movie which references the store and if you want to stretch it, the lamp.

Oasis - Champagne Supernova, once again not very danceable, or even appropriate for a 4 year old.

Speaking of the song, they reference a cannon ball, which makes me think of Cannonball by the Breeders. Dance-y!

Secret Agent Man is the title song for the TV show Secret Agent (or Danger Man, depending on where you were).

And the mother of all reference songs, Bug Powder Dust (the original can be danced to, but of course I prefer the Kruder and Dorfmeister version).

I swear to god my kids are well-adjusted, truly fine people despite me making them listen to my favourite music. Tit for tat, my son now makes me listen to his dubstep favourites and my daughter makes me listen to top 40.
posted by ashbury at 9:03 PM on September 19, 2015


pitrified beat me to "Bug a Boo," which is a perfect time capsule of communications technology.

Other plaintive payphone-centric songs include Jim Croce's "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)":

Operator, well could you help me place this call?
See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded


and Shel Silverstein's "Sylvia's Mother":

And the operator says forty cents more for the next three minutes
Please


The Beach Boys, of course, are a goldmine of obsolete automobile vocabulary, especially "Little Deuce Coupe":

Just a little deuce coupe with a flat head mill
But she'll walk a Thunderbird like she's standin' still
She's ported and relieved and she's stroked and bored.
She'll do a hundred and forty with the top end floored

posted by Faint of Butt at 8:46 AM on September 20, 2015


The Soft Boys, "I Want to be an Anglepoise Lamp" (do they still make these?)
Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz, "The Telephone Song" (telephone busy signals)
Donald Fagen, "IGY" (chock full of vintage tech-of-the-future)

Songs with sound effects of obsolete (or obsolescing) technology...
Penguin Cafe Orchestra, "Telephone and Rubber Band" (instrumental, loops a mix of ring/busy signal)
Tom Tom Club, "Wordy Rappinghood" (not explicit, but plenty of innuendo that young kids probably won't get. typewriter sfx)

And one from late-1950s Ken Nordine's Word Jazz series (music and spoken word; the tone gets dark but it's radio-friendly): What Time Is It? (Premise only made sense in an era where people called a special phone number to get the official time)
posted by ardgedee at 9:05 AM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


One that always struck me was Big Brown Eyes by the Old 97's.

Well, a box of red and a pill or three
And I'm calling time and temperature just for some company
I wish you were here, I wish I was too
I'll drink myself to sleeplessness, I always do

posted by Benway at 11:02 AM on September 20, 2015


The line "It's only inches on the reel to reel" references tape recorders in Radio, Radio by Elvis Costello
posted by Homer42 at 1:22 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Party Line by The Kinks
posted by MeatLightning at 2:43 PM on September 20, 2015




Telephone Rock!

Depeche Mode's Speak & Spell also comes to mind, but the reference is only in the album title & not the lyrics...
posted by Westringia F. at 12:43 AM on September 21, 2015


& another danceable Sesame St classic: Buy a token now for a ride that's super-wow on the subway!
posted by Westringia F. at 12:55 AM on September 21, 2015


Though Jessamyn cited the Blondie version, I still like the original version of Hanging on the Telephone best!
posted by gorbichov at 8:12 AM on September 21, 2015


I know a fridge isn't exactly antiquated, but Son Seals' Frigidaire Woman has about the best fridge-related lyrics that one could possibly write. It works on so many levels (and by levels I mean from the ice tray down to the vegetable drawers).

Though if you need antiquated, Son Seals has a few payphone-related songs as well.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:33 AM on September 21, 2015


Ok, this is from a very narrow time period, but I've always had a soft spot for the James Figurine song 55566688833, which is about texting on a flip phone:

I have to type eleven numbers into my cel phone
Just to make it spell 'love'
So I usually don't
And it takes up fifteen digits to spell out 'goodbye'
But if I leave out the 'good' I can save us some time
55566688833

posted by yarrow at 12:23 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Voice on Tape, Jenny Owen Youngs.
posted by listen, lady at 3:41 PM on September 21, 2015


I Can't Stand Losing You by The Police has the line "I see you've sent my letters back / and my LP records and they're all scratched."
posted by alphanerd at 6:45 PM on September 21, 2015


Frank Black, Whatever Happened to Pong?
My brother and me used to play it
Down at the bar
Taking money from guys
More used to the playing of cards

Paddle the paddle to the side to the side
To the side to the side to the paddle the paddle
Paddle the paddle the side to the side
Pong
Ball in the machine
posted by mbrubeck at 5:37 PM on September 22, 2015


They Might Be Giants, Twisting (super danceable!)
She's not your satellite
She doesn't miss you
So turn off your smoke machine
and Marshall stack

She doesn't have to have
her Young Fresh Fellows tape back now
But there's not a lot of things that
she'll take back
posted by mbrubeck at 5:45 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


We're Going on a Tuppenney Bus Ride by Anita Harris - for references to old British money - and penny farthing bikes.
My Perfect Cousin by The Undertones - for references to Subbuteo tactics.
posted by rongorongo at 12:52 AM on September 23, 2015


Adam and the Ants, Xerox Machine. OMD (again!), Red Frame, White Light. Anything by The Monochrome Set. Kissing The Pink, Hand Held Cameras. Inspiral Carpets, Saturn V. Public Service Broadcasting, Spitfire. Pete Shelley,Telephone Operator (perhaps not for tots, but the artwork for Homosapiens does have a Commodore PET 4032).
posted by Devonian at 4:22 AM on September 23, 2015


(Whoops - bad link at the end there. Here's Pete with bonus ZX Spectrum graphics from the software designed to run with the XL-1 album.)
posted by Devonian at 4:36 AM on September 23, 2015


Drop the Needle (Maestro Fresh Wes)

Let your backbone slide….
posted by Kabanos at 12:06 PM on September 23, 2015


Perhaps you don't want to play it for your four year-old daughter, but in Ice-T's song "Six in the Mornin'" he has the line "Ring on the mobile, yes, cellular. I got to have a phone when I'm in my car."

We all have cell phones now, of course, but I love the idea that back then cell phones were restricted to car phones (because they were big and needed to be installed in the car) and were also something to brag about, to show how wealthy and cool he was for having one.
posted by bondcliff at 12:18 PM on September 23, 2015


KRS-One from Boogie Down Productions used to shout "REWIND" on some of his songs. Do young people know what that means anymore?
posted by cazoo at 1:29 PM on September 23, 2015


"Diamonds and Rust" is a lovely intro to Joan Baez (though it does have a "damn" in it, right at the start), is a nostalgia piece ("now you're telling me / you're not nostalgic / then give me another word for it") and it talks about phones and phone booths a lot.

And Bob Dylan, though not by name.
posted by offalark at 3:23 PM on September 23, 2015


Seems like boomboxes should make an appearance here. Not sure what some good examples are, though.
posted by rhizome at 7:07 PM on September 23, 2015


Re car phones: Dr. Demento's Car Phone is a good one. Steven Wright said in one of his standup routines, "I have an answering machine on my car phone. It says, 'I'm home right now. Please leave a message, and I'll get back to you when I go out.'"

There's still a sign, on the NY Thruway I think, that says "Car Phones: Dial *911 for assistance."
posted by Melismata at 8:55 AM on September 24, 2015


Another Beatles song, "You won't see me":

When I call you up
Your line's engaged

posted by condour75 at 1:39 PM on September 24, 2015


Also, admittedly a stretch, but nowadays, you'd really need to know the area code to call Jenny.
posted by condour75 at 1:42 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]




Also the truly atrociously cheesy John Schneider hit from the early days of tape answering machines:

"At the Sound of the Tone, You're On Your Own."
posted by spitbull at 2:39 PM on September 24, 2015


"Dial 1-900-MIX-ALOT" (maybe not appropriate for a 4-year old, though)
posted by mhum at 7:15 AM on September 25, 2015


"Beachwood 4-5789" by the Marvellettes ("And my number is Beachwood 4-5789...").

Hank Williams, "Mind Your Own Business" ("Oh, the woman on the party line is such a nosey thing. She picks up her receiver when she knows it's my ring.")

The lyrics, and jumpy repetitive chorus, of "If I Didn't Love You I'd Hate You" by Squeeze are about a scratched record skipping. ("Singles remind me of kisses; albums remind me of plans.")

"So Like Candy" by Elvis Costello & Paul McCartney prominently mentions scratched records, too; don't want to go too far down the rabbit hole of every song that's ever mentioned records, tho...
posted by ibmcginty at 6:05 PM on September 25, 2015


"Total Serendipity" by Mates of State also references an answering machine.

Walking in the springtime air
Pushing through the door and up the stairs
Baby pointed out there was a light
On a white telephone, you're chattering tonight

posted by janepanic at 3:22 PM on September 27, 2015


When I put on "You spinme right round baby right round like a record player right round..." She stopped dancing and asked me what a record player was.

This is when you show her Lauryn Hill's Everything Is Everything (the visuals of which confused the heck out of my daughter many years ago).
posted by effbot at 3:08 AM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


No lyrics, but the title would count: "Telstar" by the Tornados.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:05 PM on September 30, 2015


Depeche Mode - Personal Jesus, if you think that is ok. It references phone receivers and an old ad for AT&T that said "reach out and touch someone".

Feeling unknown
And you're all alone
Flesh and bone
By the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I'll make you a believer
I will deliver
You know I'm a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith
posted by veerat at 3:41 PM on October 9, 2015


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