The phone rang every night at the same time . . .
November 22, 2011 8:55 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find out the name of this song and who performed it. I'm pretty sure it was 1985 when I heard this song on the radio. It was kind of an oddball novelty song that used a lot of sounds like ticking and ringing clocks.

The words were spoken - a male voice telling a story that went something like this:
There was a man - an ordinary man until one morning when at around 3:12 AM (or some other specific time) the phone rang. When he picked up the phone he heard a voice ask, "What time is it?"

The guy looked at the clock and said, "It's 3:12."

This happened over and over again for quite a while.

If memory serves, the phone calls suddenly stopped. But by now the guy was obsessed with time.

The punchline - the guy becomes the voice of automatic phone recording for time - You know - Back before everybody carried an automatically updated clock in their pocket - People would call a phone number (I still remember the number in Dallas was 741-7411) usually it was supported by a bank - and a voice would say,

"At the sound of the beep, the time will be 3:12 AM." Pause. "BEEP! The temperature is 62 degrees."

Can any of you guys help me with this? It's been driving me crazy for 25 years.
posted by arkham_inmate_0801 to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Thought I was clever, spotting your use of "beep" instead of "tone" in that time-honored phrase and googled that. Got pages and pages of John Schneider's song. Sigh. Not so clever, not so simple. I'll give it another try with some more parameters.
posted by likeso at 9:05 PM on November 22, 2011

If it helps, the name of those things is a "speaking clock."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:06 PM on November 22, 2011

Well. That was interesting.

The rabbit hole included sites dedicated to the BBC's speaking clock, to the Finnish speaking clock, to lyrics of songs about time and clocks, multiple wikipedia pages on a number of topics including novelty songs and individual artists...

Is there anything more you remember? Accent? Instrumentation? Kind of radio station?

At this point I'm sorely tempted to think you're conflating Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "Time Zones" with a macabre O. Henry/Ray Bradburyish story you were concurrently reading. :p

One last thing that might work is approaching via someone like Spike Milligan...
posted by likeso at 9:57 PM on November 22, 2011

Ken Nordine
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:04 PM on November 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

Dee Xtrovert FTW!! Here you go. It was ringing an old, dim bell in the back of my mind and I almost found it via the Dr. Demento show's playlist archive.
posted by kittyb at 10:09 PM on November 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Dee Xtrovert you rock. Here it is on LastFm: What Time Is It?
posted by likeso at 10:15 PM on November 22, 2011

Wow - Dee Xtrovert, You do rock! I put this out there on a whim, not really expecting anyone to even care enough to read the question, never mind finding someone who actually knew the answer.

Answered in 70 minutes!

Thanks all!
posted by arkham_inmate_0801 at 11:28 PM on November 23, 2011

« Older Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Info About...   |   Fool-proof vinegar infusions Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.