Elder Income


PeterTibbles75x75This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


I thought there’d be so many songs about telephones I’d have to beat them off with a stick. That proved not to be so.

What I really mean is those with phone in the title. I found few of those and fewer still with telephone. Of course, there are a lot of songs that use the phone as a major point of the song so I won’t be lacking for anything in this category.


These tunes are all about landline phones, the old fashioned ones, not what Americans insist on calling cell phones and are referred to by the rest of the world as mobile phones.

Whatever you call them, I don’t have one. I plan to be the second last person in the country to get one. I’ll give regular readers one guess who’ll be the last.

I was born and bred in a country town and I remember that our phone number was 273. My current number has considerably more digits than that one.

I’ll start with an actual phone number, one of the old fashioned kind. The singer isn’t very well known these days and if his name does come up, it’s usually as an answer to a trivia quiz question.

We have HAWKSHAW HAWKINS who, along with Cowboy Copas, was in the plane that went down killing Patsy Cline (as well as the others).

Hawkshaw Hawkins

Harold Hawkins was from West Virginia and gained his nickname from a comic strip character (not one that I know, but that’s not surprising). He won a talent contest when he was 16.

I’ve found a considerable number of talent contest winners since I’ve been doing these columns but now that I think about it, generally the losers didn’t go on to do anything in show biz.

Hawkins performed on radio and joined the army during the war and fought at the Battle of the Bulge with great distinction. After the war, he continued performing and gained a record contract.

He was also a regular at the Grand Ole Opry. The song, Lonesome 7-7203, went to number one on the charts. Unfortunately, that was after he died.

♫ Hawkshaw Hawkins - Lonesome 7-7203

I just realized I have a bit of a theme going here (well, aside from the phones). I next have another musician who died in a plane crash. This time it’s JIM CROCE.

Jim Croce

This is one that Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, said had to be present when I mentioned the topic. I hadn’t considered it, but she was adamant and here it is.

The song reverts to an even earlier time when people called the operator, particularly for long distance calls. Poor old Jim, he had a number of hits in the seventies that pretty much everyone liked and he was going to be the next big thing. You never know. Here he is singing Operator.

♫ Jim Croce - Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)

AARON NEVILLE and his brothers epitomize New Orleans music – R&B, gospel, Cajun, pop, funk and even a little country in there if you listen hard enough.

Aaron Neville3

Rather surprisingly, this is the only song about a wrong number. I thought there’d be more of them but it looks as if all the others got through (much to the chagrin of some of them, as you’ll see and hear). This is Wrong Number, an early song of his from 1961.

♫ Aaron Neville - Wrong Number

Now for two variations on the same theme, infidelity, and with similar titles. The first of these is by country music artist LEROY VAN DYKE.


Leroy Van Dyke


Leroy had several country hits and then hit it really big with a crossover song that was huge on the pop charts as well, Walk On By. His next song was also a crossover hit. It wasn’t quite as successful as that other one but it’s the one we’re interested in today, If a Woman Answers.

♫ Leroy Van Dyke - If a Woman Answers (Hang Up the Phone)

I mentioned that there was going to be a variation on a theme and as the previous song is called If a Woman Answers, I know that you’re way ahead of me as to the title of this next one. You’d be right.

This second one is not by a country singer, but it’s probably the only area of music he didn’t visit in his lifetime: BOBBY DARIN.

Bobby Darin

The song is from the sound track of the film, If a Man Answers, which starred Bobby and Sandra Dee, his sometime wife. It’s not a film I remember seeing at the time (or since, for that matter) and I don’t think the song is as good as the previous one, but I’ve included it because of its name.

This is Bobby with the title track from the film.

♫ Bobby Darin - If a Man Answers

Here is another song suggested by the A.M. that wasn’t on my original list. Another got the flick to accommodate this one, but it is CHUCK BERRY so that’s okay with me. I wasn’t surprised with her suggestion as Chuck is a particular favorite of the A.M.

Chuck Berry

Chuck was the premier singer/songwriter of the early rock & roll period, but then Buddy Holly was really the only other one doing that at the time. He really needs no introduction to readers of this column. This is his phone song, Memphis.

♫ Chuck Berry - Memphis

Goodness, yet another who should have taken the train rather than the plane. Here is another song with a phone number for a title, but the more modern type. It’s a song with which Wilson Pickett had a big hit, but I’ve already played his version in another column. Instead, a version that’s just as good and how could it not be with OTIS REDDING singing?

Otis Redding

Otis was the greatest of the soul singers and no one has come along since to usurp that title. Wilson came close as did Solomon but they didn’t quite make it in my opinion.

Don’t get me wrong, these were a couple of great singers who, unlike poor Otis, had long careers. Oh well. Here is Otis’s version of 634-5789.

♫ Otis Redding - 634-5789 (Soulsville U.S.A)

STEELY DAN is, or was, officially a group but in reality, it was Donald Fagen and Walter Becker with whichever musicians met their exacting standards for the project they were on at the time.

Steely Dan

The phone song was from probably their most famous album, “Pretzel Logic,” and it featured, amongst others, the brilliant but tragic Jim Gordon on drums and the great Jeff Baxter on guitar rather than Walter.

It’s almost certainly the Dan’s most famous track, Rikki Don't Lose That Number. It seems there really was a Rikki who was a good friend of Donald’s. However, he refuses to confirm (or deny) the truth of the tale of the song.

♫ Steely Dan - Rikki Don't Lose That Number

SOLOMON BURKE was possibly the first of the great soul singers, along with Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, and he was definitely the last of them as well.


Solomon Burke


Solomon was not only a soul singer, he could rock it with the best of them and he even delved into country music at times predating Ray Charles on that. He certainly had a flair for the dramatic as will be shown in the song today. Boy, does Solomon get his rocks off on this one, 000000 You.

♫ Solomon Burke - 000000 You

Quite often you see or hear the phrase, “last but not least.” Well, I’m turning that on its head and I’m going to say last and definitely least. Not just least today. If there’s ever a contest for the worst song ever (and that sort of thing happens now and then) this song would have to be in contention.

Okay, there are worse songs out there but you’d have to have a good look at it nonetheless. It’s a song by PAUL EVANS whose most notable ditty before this one was Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the Back Seat). Remember that one? I sure do.

Paul Evans

Besides recording occasionally, Paul was a songwriter who had hits by the Kalin Twins (their most famous song), Elvis, Pat Boone, Jimmy Dean, Bobby Vinton and others.

Today’s is not so much a telephone song as an answering machine song, just like the previous one. However, it may be one of the first to use that device in a song.

For your delectation here is Hello, This is Joanie. I have seen the name also spelt Joni or Joannie. It doesn’t matter as they all sound the same.

♫ Paul Evans - Hello this is Joanie



This column is my Sunday morning inspiration and joy. I love the selections and the memories they bring back. Thanks so much.

For the younger elders here are a couple of well known telephone songs:

Tommie Tutone - 8675309/Jenny

Electric Light Orchestra -
Telephone Line

The telephone song from my ancient era was Glenn Miller's Pennsylvania 8-6500. That goes back to when you had to give an operator the number. No speed dial then.

A fine choice of songs. I especially enjoyed hearing Jim Croce again.

Thank you!

P.S. When I was under 6 years old, our phone number was 1111J.

Dear Peter,

Perhaps you are working on the assumption that there are not many Australians reading this blog... but how could you forget our recently gone-from-us Yorta Yorta man Jimmy Little with his huge hit, Royal Telephone.

Oh, Peter, how could you not include poor Vicki Carr and her plaintive wail....

"Hello,hello, It must him. Oh please God, let it be him or I will die."

I felt so bad for Vicki I am still saying prayers for her
all these years later.

Do you know if he ever called?

Seriously, Peter, I love this column on Sunday. I really look forward to your selections.

Brigid, I wrote this a little time ago and thought of Jimmy's song but it was the one that fell off the end.
Nancy, I featured Vicki's song in one of my "years" columns, so decided not to use it. I can't remember which one and I could look it up but it would take some time as I'm travelling at the moment, in San Francisco visiting my sister.

Oops, sorry I forgot you Darlene, I have used Pennsylvania 6500 before, but quite a while ago now.
I try not to double up, but that doesn't always work.

Since it is difficult for Peter, I just checked on the Vicki Carr song. You will find it in year 1967, here.

Pensylvania 8.6500 is on Peter's Chattanooga Choo Choo post.

My pick would have to be....
"Wichita Lineman" --
He gets his calls for free.

Also, Peter do your and your assistant sing or play any music?

Got your instruments with you?
I play flute okay, and sing (but don't generally sing lead)

I heard you will be in the region sometime soon.,...


Oh, thank you, Ronni for looking up the Vicki Carr "It Must Be Him." epic soliloquy... But, my question still was not answered.

Does ANYBODY know if that SOB ever called?

No, he didn't call. He's obviously a cad and a bounder. Vicki's better off without him.

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