Songs You May Have Missed #580


Robbie Fulks: “Fountains of Wayne Hotline” (2005)

In a homage to power poppers Fountains of Wayne/elaborate inside musician joke, musical chameleon Robbie Fulks sends up FOW’s formulaic tendencies while creating a track that mimics their style perfectly.

Let’s go to iTunes customer reviewer “Denise” for a fuller explanation:

According to Yep Roc Records website, Robbie Fulks “Fountains of Wayne Hotline” began as a travel game Fulks and his bandmates would play while touring. FOW’s ‘Welcome Interstate Managers’ had just come out and according to Fulks “I guess it was the band’s super-competency and amazing consistency that made me imagine them as operators of a crisis hotline for songwriters. In our game one of us would place an emergency call for counseling, and a member of a large bureaucratic labyrinth, usually harried and gruff, would offer a solution based on time-honored Fountains of Wayne techniques.” So what started out as boredom relief, ended up being written into a song, which the band began playing at some shows. It proved popular, but fearing the novelty would end up haunting them, Fulks retired it. The Yep Roc site quotes Fulks saying “Soon all kinds of people were asking for copies, such as — in a particularly vehement request–a team of able-bodied lawyers representing the real-life Fountains of Wayne. But it has all ended well, with the band liking the song, us still never having to perform it live, and this MP3 that is now available for your listening pleasure.” According to Yep Roc, FOW’s Adam Schlesinger says, “If Robbie Fulks wants to ride someone’s coattails, he ought to pick someone more famous than us. We, for example, cover Britney Spears songs to get attention. But hey, we’re still flattered. In fact, we might hire him to write our next album for us.”

The full lyrics follow:

I hung a shingle
Country Music for Hire
No fans, no singles
10 years later I’m tired

Now I’ve racked my brain
And I’ve looked all around
But I can’t find a way
to freshen my sound

And now who do you call
when you’re down to one musical dime?
Fountains of Wayne Hotline

(phone ringback)
— Fountains of Wayne Hotline. Gerald speaking. How can I help you?

· Oh, yeah. Thanks. Uh, hello. Um, yeah, I’m a country singer in, uh, a small Midwestern town. And uh, I’m here in the studio today. Uh, let me explain. We’re working on a track. And uh we juhs, dih- dih- dih- just did a verse. It was kind of broken down. And at this point I’m not sure where to take it. Where to go from here…

— Sir, sir. Calm down. We can help you. We can help you. What you need to do now is employ the “radical dynamic shift”

· The, the radical… yes, uh, wha-, what do you mean by that?

— You know. Full band entry, fortissimo, while maintaining consistent apparent volume on the vocal track.

· Oh. Oh! Yeah, yeah! That’s a great idea! Hey, thanks a lot! Thanks for your time!

— My pleasure. We’re always here.

It’s such a drag
to face another filthy stage
Beating these 3 chords
into early middle age

I’d be better off with
7 at hand
An analog synth and an
angry young band

Then I could turn my muddy water
into sweet Mexican wine
Fountains of Wayne Hotline

— Slightly distorted melodic solo!
— Check!

(phone ringback)
—Hotline. Department of Bridges and Infrastructure. Grant speaking.

· Oh yeah, hi there. I called a little while ago. I talked to a gentleman. I believe his name was Gerald. And, um, he…

— Sir, we’ve got about seven Geralds here. You’re talking to me now.

· Yeah, of course, yeah. The point is I’m in the middle of the song, we’re about 3 minutes in, and I’m not sure where to take it from here. We’ve done a couple verses and its just kind of, um hit a, hit a wall.

— Yeah. Yeah, well, Tell me about your textural variations and harmonic palette that you have going so far.

· Oh of course. Well, um. Two 16-bar verses, the first one broken down, followed by a radical dynamic shift.

— Oh, THAT Gerald.

A slightly distorted melodic guitar solo. And chordally, let’s see, a 1, a 5, a 4, with and without a sub-dominant 7, a 2, 2 minor, and briefly a 9th compound over the tonic.

— Uh, well that 9th, is that telegraphed or is that just gratuitous coloration?

· Um, a bit of both, actually.

— Oh, OK. Well let’s hit the bridge, I’ll tell you what you do. No new chords introduced. Get a split bar of 4 in there, and push the one. And then we’ll slather the holy hell out of the thing with a semi-ironic Beach Boys vocal pad. And then an asymmetrical back end. There’s your bridge.

· Uh huh.

— Yep.

· Isn’t that kind of a lot of information to put in the…

— Sir, I’ve been on this hotline for 15 years you’re gonna have to trust me on this one.

· OK, OK. Thank you very much. I’ll give it a try. Thank you.

— You got it, chief.

Oh, yeah
Now we’re getting big and full
Oh, yeah
Try a wider interval

Just like this? Oh yeah!
More like: Oh yeah!!
Check me out: Oooooooo, yeah!!

I feel invincible and all dialed-in
kinda Long Island with some West Coast sin

So let’s cut to the coda
Any old gimmick is fine
Fountains of Wayne Hotline

See also: Songs You May Have Missed #28 | Every Moment Has A Song (

See also:

See also:

See also: Video of the Week: Robbie Fulks–Bluebirds are Singing for Me | Every Moment Has A Song (

See also: Video of the Week: Robbie Fulks–Cigarette State | Every Moment Has A Song (

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. eldux72
    Apr 11, 2016 @ 14:54:56

    Great pop tune


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