Top 7 Telephony Themed Tracks

Phone at workAs I’ve mentioned before, I work for a Telecommunications Service Provider and have done since 2006.

Whilst traveling to work the other morning, I was listening to one of the tracks on this list and it got me thinking about the telephone and its impact on society.

The majority of my waking life appears to be underwritten by music and so I’ve decided to compile my a list of telephone related tracks from my extended playlist.

The telephone is ringing, is that my Mother on the phone?

The telephone is screaming, won’t she leave me alone?

Synchronicity Album CoverTrack 4 on the 5th and final studio album from the Police, SynchronicitySynchronicity is probably my favourite Police album, if not one of my favourite albums overall.

Mother is a brief burst of anger on what is otherwise quite a serene album.  Written by Andy Summers, the track by no means represent my own opinions with regards my maternal parentage; the track has made it onto previous mobile phones as the ring tone for my Mother however.

BlondieBlondie was one of the guilty pleasures of my youth, I’m not sure where I first came across Debbie Harry – probably one of my parents had an album.

As innocent a youth as I was then, I did not pin the undertone to the song that I do now. For some reason, knowing more about Debbie’s colourful past has coloured her songs when I listen to them.

Blondie also released Hanging On The Telephone but I prefer Call Me, mainly due its cover by Skye Edwards.  Skye has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard.

Put your tongue into the mouthpiece…

…and whisper in my ear.

The The - DuskI discovered The The in my mid to late teens, looking back I can see how the lyrics and music would appeal to an angsty rebellious youth.

I still love to listen to The The though, there’s a kind of discordant melody fused out of Matt Johnson‘s voice and the underlying symphonies of some of his tracks.  Or maybe that’s just the angsty-teen reviving within me… or maybe I’m a closet Emo.

Seriously, if Emo types were to listen to The The instead of The Used, the world would be a brighter place.

Water is our business…

Electricity is our business…

Gas is our business…

Lines are our business; Business is our business!

Extremities, Dirt and Other Repressed EmotionsI know it may seem a stretch to link this track to Telephony and I know most lyric sites would tell you differently but the quote above has seared this track into my mind as one associated with Telephony (amongst other things).

In fact, as Jaz bellows the penultimate line “Lines are our business” there is an actual dialing/ringing tone playing in the background.  So I feel somewhat vindicated in my opinion on this one.

This is one of the only musical tracks that actually make me feel like I’ve sold out, the other being Money Is Not Our God. Here I am, working for the very kind of company that the song rails against!

Call all you want but there’s no-one home and you’re not gonna reach my telephone.

GaGaWhen I first heard Lady GaGa, I detested her but she must use the right kind of subliminals in her backing tracks because over the last 12 months she’s grown on me (like athlete’s foot).

More than her music, I like her overt use of occult symbolism.  Forget your kabbalah cults and new age gurus; GaGa takes it back to grass roots Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn level pomp and ritual.

This track pretty much sums up my opinion of telephone use.  I am a lot better now than I was a decade ago but I still don’t like taking calls.  If I’m not expecting a call, especially on the land line, I sometimes get a little rush of anxiety when the phone rings.

I once mentioned it to my nurse (all Diabetics get one, you should try it) in passing, more as a humorous aside than anything else.  She offered me counseling!

Of course, I turned her down; I’m perfectly capable of taking calls, I just find them rude and invasive – unless from friends and family.

Lyrics, symbolism and neurosis aside; the video is pretty good too… In a Kill Bill meets Strangers On a Train kind of way.

Feelings unknown and you’re all alone,

Flesh and bone on the telephone.

Pick up the receiver, I’ll make you a believer.

ViolatorApparently their 23rd UK single (take note fellow Erisians); this is one of my favourite DM tracks (along with Blasphemous Rumours and Enjoy The Silence).

The song has a variety of different meanings depending on who you ask.  Personally I prefer the theory that the song relates to telephone sex lines.

The track just has an element of seediness to it; the sense of a cloying desperate need for emotional and physical contact with another… or maybe that’s my inner Emo again.

And it’s all your fault,

I screen my phone calls,

No matter who calls,

I gotta screen my phone calls.

No Doubt - Tragic KingdomFinally, my favourite telephone based track of all time.  I love it when this comes up on Rock Band!

This song was the first to ever encapsulate my utter contempt for telephony. Back in those dark brooding days (yet again with the inner Emo) when every waking moment would be plagued by a call, out of the blue.

Where are you man?

What are you doing?

What? Where? When? How? Why? … and who with? All these questions and more; and it only got worse when I eventually succumbed to the pressure of mobile telephony.

9 to 5Before I had a mobile, people would actually call the people that they thought I was with, purely because they couldn’t get hold of me any other way. Once I had a mobile, I had to screen the calls just to get a moment to myself.

I’ve heard people speak of the advent of mobile telephony as being one of the greatest turning points for modern civilisation. What mobile telephony did for me was rip aside the final shred of privacy that I clung to.

It wasn’t all bad though. Most calls could be screened, as in Lady Sovereign‘s 9 to 5:

Private callers get no love from me,
Just let me be…

Necroscope 4I’m a lot calmer person when it comes to telephones now, I have to be. Ironically, I have probably got the world’s finest telephone manner. I’m often complemented on my voice and mannerisms but then maybe that’s how I learned to deal with my telephone issues.

Like the great Lumley wrote:

When he yawns his great jaws at you, go in through them, for he’s softer on the inside!

From Brian Lumley’s Necroscope 4: Deadspeak

The HTC Tattoo

HTC Tattoo, smaller box than I expected For the past 4 years I have been a devoted user of Windows Mobile, primarily using HTC devices. I am now so stuck in my ways that the thought of moving away from HTC’s comfortable designs and the familiar environment of Windows Mobile is almost frightening; this in itself is an anathema to me.

Whenever I think of myself constrained by habit or routine I feel uncomfortable – I’m neophilic by nature (and no, that does not mean I have a thing for Keanu Reeves). So when I had the opportunity to make a second venture into the world of HTC’s Android (Google’s mobile OS) devices, I jumped at the chance.

I am currently employed within the telecommunications industry; whilst we might not get cutting edge previews of upcoming devices, we do tend to get them as soon as they are released. Knowing that I am a fan of HTC and that my only issue with previous Android phones has been the lack of decent Microsoft Exchange integration, a colleague showed me the Tattoo yesterday morning.

HTC Tattoo, usual HTC presentationWe’ve admired the device specification from afar and were not let down by the device in the flesh. It had the same solid feel of the older HTC Touch and the software responded with an alacrity I am not accustomed to as a Windows Mobile user. Best of all, the mail setup promised me the integration with Microsoft Exchange that I had found lacking in my first foray into Android.

So I ordered one to conduct a better trial, as did 2 other colleagues. Arriving almost immediately, well we did have one in stock, I was surprised at how small the packaging was. I know companies are being coerced into condensing packaging for the sake of our Mother Earth but I was genuinely taken aback at just how small the box was.

As this was the device I had looked at earlier in the day, the box’s seal was already opened. Sliding the cover off, I was happy to see the familiar presentation of a new device; crisp, shiny and new. There is no way anyone could tell that there had been four people drooling over this very handset an hour or so earlier.

HTC Tattoo, nice design, strudy feelOn first removing the device from the packaging, I noted again the sturdy feel of the Tattoo. It honestly reminded me of my first HTC Touch, albeit without the rubbery grip of the Touch. The buttons were both firm and responsive; a genuine ergonomic miracle sat in my hand. I admit to being unable to remove the back cover but I tend to handle devices such as this with the same level of “I must not accidentally crush this” tenderness as I might a small creature or child. Once the back cover was off and the pertinent cards inserted I replaced the cover and booted up.

The initial setup sequence was nothing new, although it somehow “felt” better than the sequence I had encountered on the G1 when I tried it.  It detected our wireless network and after fumbling with the WEP key I instantly regretted the decision, remembering that my Exchange would need to be configured off the network.  Still, the GUI was intuitive and it was easy enough to step back and change the choices I had already made.

HTC Tattoo, Android's front screenThe Exchange configuration was a little more complicated than I felt it needed to be but it worked.  I then configured my hotmail account; a personal email account that I’ve used for almost 14 years.  I skipped past the social networking settings, eager to toy with this new and exciting operating system.

It pleased me to see that the weather app had automatically determined my current location.  Windows Mobile still can’t get this right, the closest I can get to on a WM 6.5 device is “Leeds, UK” – I’ll blog later about how I got my WM6.1 device to pick up specific areas such as “Lindley, UK”, “Bexhill, UK” and “Spondon, UK”.

Having now convinced myself that this was indeed going to be the best phone I had ever possessed, I decided to test the e-mail features; this is where the device fell down. I am used to having a view of all my accounts in one place, Android forces me to select a primary. This is not a huge issue, a little disappointing when you compare it to rumours of the Motorola DEXT and its converged mailbox though. Whilst navigating the accounts, the mail software crashed a couple of times.

Eventually I got to my Hotmail and found that rather than a Push-style sync with my Hotmail, the Android limited my mail synchronization to 5 minute intervals and furthermore did not synchronize account activity. This has been a bug bear of mine with previous smart-phones and PDAs; I almost exclusively manage my Hotmail via my HTC Touch Diamond, losing this functionality was something that I could not accept.

HTC Tattoo, the TattooAnd so, as petty as it might seem, the device was reset and repackaged. The device now belongs to one of my colleagues; one of the others who had ordered the phone yesterday. He loves it, although he did describe it this morning as “like a beautiful woman with an amazing body and stunning face until she opens her gob and she’s a f***ing scouser”; so I guess he’s having some teething issues.

On clarification, my colleague’s only real issue is the camera. The 3.2 megapixel camera doesn’t appear to have the hardware/software support of similar camera phones. My colleague accepts that, he is used to the far superior camera provided by the (far older) Sony Ericsson C902; we agree that the design of most HTC devices do not lead to intuitive photography and we also expect newer devices to keep up to speed with both the ergonomics and the technology of other modern camera phones.

Incidentally, as you would expect, Gmail works a charm. It’s been suggested that I could use Gmail to reconcile my Hotmail and so forth but my feelings on that are perhaps for another post at another time.

I think the difficulty I am facing with selecting a replacement phone isn’t so much my own finicky nature; it is more that I have been spoiled by the sheer awesomeness of my HTC Touch Diamond. With that as my benchmark then maybe I’ll never be able to ween myself away from Windows Mobile.