Friday Five: Songs About Answering Machines

Juli Thanki | March 5th, 2010

The answering machine turns 75 this year. Though many of us have upgraded to cell phones and voicemail, let’s pay tribute to our old pal. References to answering machines abound in country music (Bruce Robison’s “Every Once in a While” is one of my favorites, but there are several others), and today we’ll be looking at five songs in which the answering machine—and the messages left on it—figure prominently

  • Growing Up Is Getting Old5. “Hurry Home” – Jason Michael Carroll

    Carroll’s version of the Zane Williams song broke into the Top 20 last summer. It’s sweet that the runaway daughter heard her dad’s song of unconditional love on his machine after her Big Bad City Friends do her wrong, but you’ve got to feel kind of bad for all the other folks who had to sit through it every time they called. Awkward.

  • Julie Roberts4. “If You Had Called Yesterday” – Julie Roberts

    This one’s from Roberts’ gem of a debut album. If only you’d picked up the phone and left a message 24 hours earlier, Julie Roberts would’ve taken you back, but the sun has risen on a brighter day. Sorry, pal.

  • Austin3. “Austin” – Blake Shelton

    Before he was a master Tweeter, Shelton was singing about answering machines. His 2001 debut single spent five weeks on the top of the charts, because calling a woman by her hometown instead of her actual name is super romantic. You’ve got to wonder what this guy’s bowling buddies thought of his taped greetings. Sure, he got the girl, but he probably also got ribbed for the rest of his life.

  • Genuine2. “Leave A Message, Juanita” – The Derailers

    These Bakersfield-loving boys sure can write a catchy song. This one’s from 2003’s Genuine. Heartsick and tired of the hang ups left on the machine, former frontman Tony Villanueva gets specific: “Leave a message, Juanita/And I’ll crawl back to you.” Let’s hope he only knows one Juanita; things could get messy otherwise.

  • Time Marches On1. “Is That A Tear” – Tracy Lawrence

    Ah, the mid ’90s, when Tracy Lawrence could be found all over country radio. Is his ex happy with her choice to dump his ass? Or is that a tear Tracy Lawrence hears in her voice on his answering machine? I’m guessing the latter; no woman can resist Lawrence’s lustrous mullet.

  1. Bo Seefish
    March 5, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Hahaha his “lustrous mullet”. Good list.

  2. nm
    March 5, 2010 at 11:37 am

    But how could you have forgotten the classic, the original, the one and only Rupert Holmes’s “Answering Machine”? True, it didn’t twang, but it was complete early ’80s soft rock, and that’s practically the same thing as country these days, isn’t it?

  3. Thomas
    March 5, 2010 at 11:44 am

    …i think no other artist in the history of country music has ever been worse advised when it comes to hairstyle, outfits and postures on his cd-covers than tracy lawrence. someone should write a novelty song about one of nashville’s greatest pranks. it took me quite a while to even touch a record of his – he looked almost unreal. then again, neither blake shelton nor jason michael caroll seem to be blessed with great stylists, either? good songs on your list.

  4. Bob
    March 5, 2010 at 11:59 am

    one of my favorite Tracy L songs.

    In “Goodnight” by Suzy Bogguss from her 1999 self-titled cd, a line in the 3rd verse is “one day it won’t be your voice mail I’m talking to”. I used it in a playlist where every song mentions at least one U.S. city. This song, written by Charlie Black & Dana Hunt, mentions Raleigh, Durham, Atlanta, Macon and Jacksonville. Another of the songs on this list was Tracy L’s “Paint Me a Birmingham”.

  5. Michael
    March 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Hah! “Lustrous mullet” got me too and the album cover for I See It Now comes to mind.

    Anyway, I offer up the outgoing message left by the man (on something called a code a phone, whatever that is) in Tanya Tucker’s “Soon”.

    I Can’t Talk To You Right Now
    You’ll Hear a Beep and You Know How
    To Play This Game
    Leave Your Number and Your Name
    And I Promise I’ll Call Back

  6. t.scott
    March 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    John Schnieder’s “At The Sound of the Tone” was one of his best.

  7. Mayor JoBob
    March 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Tracy Lawrence & his mullet = My hero. Once he got a haircut for “The Coast is Clear” my world fell apart.

  8. Michelle
    March 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Love/loved Tracy Lawrence mullet and all!

  9. Peter
    March 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    “Answering Machine” by the Replacements. How do you say you’re lonely to an answering machine?

  10. Flitterkid
    March 8, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    There’s so much more to Tracy Lawrence than his haircut–But I have to agree, Is That a Tear has to rank awfully high on my favorites list too. Please keep them coming Tracy–we can’t get enough. LYL

  11. Kazaa
    March 9, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Good List..Thank you for sharing

  12. luckyoldsun
    March 10, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    How’d you miss the most prominent recent song that features an answering machine–Toby’s “Crying for Me”??:

    I got up and dialed your number
    And your voice came on the line
    That old familiar message
    I heard a thousand times it just said
    Sorry that I missed you
    Leave a message and god bless
    I know you think I’m crazy
    But I had to hear your voice again

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