Soft Velvety ‘Fer

The Beep End :: Episode 01

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with Alexander Graham Johnson


I can hear you, Julius.


Listeners! Hello hello.

Or should I say ‘AHOY’.

Did you know that ‘Ahoy’ was the original proposed greeting on the telephone?

Think about what a different world we’d be living in now.

Sometimes, when the workday becomes long and boring, I’ll tap into the remaining landlines and just check up on you guys – I hope you don’t mind.

I can do it because I’m a lineman.

It’s usually just static.

I’m all but obsolete.

Still listening.

But that doesn’t stop me from getting into the groove and dialing in to some tunes, as long as they are telephone related.

Here’s one of my favorites from MC Honky.

It’s called “Soft Velvety ‘Fer” and the intro includes most of a 1974 message left for the bass player’s mother.

It’s sad, embarrassing, and at the same time playful and whimsical.

Pick up, boys!

» Soft Velvety ‘Fer / MC Honky

I like the music of the telephone, those gems which feature the sub-6Khz crackle of genuine copper, jostling electrons like mad to get to their message to you.

You’re not going to get that out of your radio waves, whatever those are.

Take this gem from Soul Coughing.

Listen to the crackle of the land line and the wobble of the tape and tell me that’s not true art.

If I don’t pick up, you can leave a message.

I’m not home, Janine!

» Janine / Soul Coughing

When I’m up there on the poles, I’m like an invisible hawk.

I see the neighborhood, and its rhythms.

The housewife going to the store for ice cream at 10 in the morning.

The teens going to the store for ice cream at 2 in the morning.

A lot of people go to the store for ice cream, a lot more than you think.

And none of them notice the guy in the coveralls up on high, doing his work on the also-invisible phone lines.

There is a lovely distortion that only miles of copper and various switching stations can provide.

You can hear it on this song from Brave Combo.

I know the lady who left that message.

She would get ice cream from the store at 4 in the afternoon.

Ring it up!

» Move / Brave Combo

This song proves that an important message was delivered, and as I gaze at the fading sunset of my career with squinting eyes, I can take pride in that accomplishment.

As a telephone lineman, I strung the net that caught and held this struggling nation, but these days I’m in charge of taking it apart.

I am the one who disconnects your landline, snuffing it out like a candle that has burned almost all the way down.

Celebrate your wireless future, heartless bastards.