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Dial-A-Song

From This Might Be A Wiki
This article is about the phone service. For the website, see DialASong.com. For the 2002 compilation album, see Dial-A-Song: 20 Years Of They Might Be Giants.
A Record-A-Call 690 answering machine, the model most recently used by TMBG for Dial-A-Song
Flansburgh examining the $2 price tag on his Record-A-Call 675 in 2001
A promotional card for Dial-A-Song
A Dial-A-Song advertisement in the Village Voice, a NYC paper, during the mid-80s
A promotional sticker for Dial-A-Song

Dial-A-Song, which could be reached at (718) 387-6962, was a service that They Might Be Giants had been operating almost since the band first formed in 1983, more-or-less regularly through 2006. Calling Dial-A-Song's line was just a regular call to Brooklyn and connected the caller to an answering machine that played an exclusive TMBG song (often changed daily)—if the machine was functioning.

The service started in late 1983, back when TMBG's hopping around the early 80s NYC punk scene hit an unexpected snag—John Linnell broke his wrist in a biking accident and John Flansburgh had his new Brooklyn apartment thoroughly burgled. Despite being unable to perform, they wanted to keep the band's momentum going, and thus Dial-A-Song (also called "Dial-A-Machine" in some early promotional material) was born. The service's name was a play on Dial-A-Prayer, a Christian phone service that one could call to hear an inspirational message.

The band used cassette-based answering machines for Dial-A-Song for years, until they decided to go digital around 1998. However, due to the first computer's frequent crashes, TMBG returned to tape machines in late 1999. Dial-A-Song went strong and saw us through demos of tracks from Mink Car and No!, but in the hot, hot summer of 2002, the machine, as well as its backup, melted in the non-air conditioned apartment. Fans responded by sending equipment to TMBG, and in April 2003, the service was restored after a fan found a Record-A-Call 675 on eBay and notified the band. The machine was soon replaced in late 2004, however, when the folks at TechTV built the Johns a new computer-based system. In early 2005, the computer seemingly crashed, bringing Dial-A-Song down once again.

Dial-A-Song returned one last time on March 29, 2006. According to the April 4, 2006 newsletter, the Johns "scored a Record-A-Call 695 phone machine from a friend of the band who pointed out its availability on Ebay"—the machine was actually a Record-A-Call 690, and the "friend of the band" was a TMBW admin (confirmed by Operator Dot). Unfortunately, due to high traffic, the machine began showing signs of wear in mid-to-late April 2006 and had completely ceased functioning by May. Only one song—a demo of "We Live In A Dump"—was ever recorded to that machine. In 2008, during an interview, Linnell confirmed that Dial-A-Song had "mainly just died a technological death."

We’d try to get them repaired but they kept dying and it was like, after twenty years, the things just don’t last forever and eventually, unfortunately, we resigned ourselves to the fact that the Internet had kind of taken over where Dial-A-Song had left off.

On November 15, 2008, the Dial-A-Song number was officially disconnected. For the first time in 25 years, the number was no longer owned by They Might Be Giants.

25 hours a day, 6 days a week.
Free when you call from work.
Always busy, often broken.
718-387-6962

The (718) 387-6962 number was purchased on September 28, 2010 by musicians Anthony Kapfer and Ricky Wells, who established their own "Dial-A-Song" service with their own music.[1]

In October 2014, They Might Be Giants posted a teaser video for the triumphant return of the Dial-A-Song website in January 2015. The description of the video reads, "For 2015 They Might Be Giants will be posting a new song online every week at dialasong.com. Yep. Exactly." When asked if the content on the new Dial-A-Song site would be demos, new material, or old rarities, John Flansburgh replied: "It will be all those things."

Flansburgh also mentioned on Tumblr that the band is attempting to get the (718) 387-6962 number back if they can. "We will if we can get the number back. It’s not totally up to us!"

Songs on Dial-A-Song[edit]

Thanks to a consistent, strong fanbase through the years, we have a fairly complete list of songs that have been featured on Dial-A-Song over the course of its 23 year run between 1983 and 2006.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]