The internet in song

by Chris Bertram on July 20, 2006

“Mary Wells”: came on the radio the other day singing “My Guy”, and when she sang the line

I’m sticking to my guy like a stamp to a letter

it set me thinking about the way that old technologies get referred to in popular song. There’s no end of trains, especially in country music, but even horses and ferries get a lot of attention. Old technology is homely and part of the shared cultural experience even of people who hardly use it. By contrast, digital technology hardly gets a mention, and when it does the results can be embarassing. “ refer to this cringeworthy effort”: from one Tim O’Brien:

My color screen won’t even function,
My hard drive it went soft, my application coughed,
and I’m a runnin’ out of memory for you.


“Bob Harris”: played a Guy Clark song tonight called “Analog Girl”. It was pretty good, and managed to mention email and websites without making me want to curl up and die. But of course the whole point of the song is that its heroine is authentic because she eschews all contact with the digital world. Other non-embarassing mentions of computers, technology and the internet in popular song?

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Ted 07.20.06 at 3:58 pm

Juan Luis Guerra had a neo-merengue tune called, if I remember right, “Mi PC,” which had a lyric (albeit in Spanish) kind of like Tim O’Brien’s. (Be fair to O’Brien, though; he also does a mean Dylan cover.)


M. Townes 07.20.06 at 4:00 pm

“It’s All About The Pentiums”, by Weird Al – deliberately embarassing in general tone and concept, but not for the specific mentions of technology within.


pp 07.20.06 at 4:02 pm

the last pet shop boys album release??? had a track that was something about e-mailing a love note or some such rubbish. I like the PSB but that song was fairly forgettable. I think the point was to point out how cold digital forms of communication are.


hilker 07.20.06 at 4:07 pm

Kraftwerk’s Computer World (1981).


J. Ellenberg 07.20.06 at 4:13 pm

Prince’s “” rules this thread, surely. Oh wait, you said non-embarrassing.


Backword Dave 07.20.06 at 4:24 pm

I don’t think you’re comparing like with like. (God what a hoary way to start a comment.) Most people don’t think of stamps and letters as ‘technology’. Stamps do stick to things and everyone can see that; stamps are proverbial for staying stuck to letters: letters never arrive sans stamp if one was attached by the sender. And this is something one learns very early on. Also the song must have been written a century or so after Trollope invented the penny post, so we’re not talking bleeding edge. It works as a lyric because it’s familiar, unpretentious and not recondite.

The point of a simile is comparing something possibly complex or hard to visualise with something simpler and easy to visual. Stamps are sticky on one side and have pretty patterns on the other exhausts all but the most dedicated philalist’s knowledge of the subject.

Now not many song writers know how computers work. (Neil Tennant might; so might Thom Yorke.) I don’t think it’s possible to use information technology as an analog (hem, hem) for something in a simple way.

Now the first country-type song I could think of which mentioned even electric technology (again, a fair while after Edison) was “Swingin’ Doors” by Jerry Lee Lewis, which starts, “I’ve got swinging doors, a juke box, and a bar stool” but it should be obvious by the time you get to “juke box” what he’s trying to say.

“There’s no end of trains, especially in country music, but even horses and ferries get a lot of attention.” You’ve missed out cars. Country writers aren’t shy of mentioning cars, even if they’re recent. SUVs are comparitively recent; do they get mentioned in songs? Lyle Lovett (my knowledge of country is not deep) even had an album called ‘Pontiac’.


Jared 07.20.06 at 4:27 pm

“URAQT” by British radical-chic rapper MIA. In my opinion it’s one of her less interesting songs, but not because of the lyrics. My American ears can’t understand 2/3 of what she says anyway.

Barcelona songs are full of computer references (“I Have the Password to Your Shell Account” is pretty catchy), but that’s mostly to go along with their retro new wave schtick. It’s all early 80’s cutting edge, BBS and Commodore 64 and such.


Toadmonster 07.20.06 at 4:32 pm

I’ve often observed to myself whether in novels and movies the internet, or even TV, are acknowledged to exist. I think they’re just inherently unromantic and alienating, and so a lot of times you won’t encounter them, even though ostensibly you might be following a person who would be as surrounded by them as we are. Or you’ll encounter them in a way that somehow makes their nature and effects a theme in itself.


Joshua 07.20.06 at 4:33 pm

Rufus Wainwright has a great song called “Vibrate” from Want One where the chorus is “My phone’s on vibrate for you.” Complete camp.


pp 07.20.06 at 4:35 pm

anything by krafterwerk


Tim 07.20.06 at 4:35 pm

Probably doesn’t meet your non-embarrasing criteria, but there’s Britney’s “E-mail my heart.” “Horny” by Mousse-T has a line about sending a message “through the Internet.” And, not quite the Internet, but there’s a song by the Sugababes that rhymes “sexy” with “text me.”


Chilly 07.20.06 at 4:45 pm

There’s “Finnegan the Folk Hero” (… of HTML, the song goes on), by Momus. It’s an odd song, but it’s pretty funny.


Jon H 07.20.06 at 4:47 pm

“Lyle Lovett (my knowledge of country is not deep) even had an album called ‘Pontiac’.”

The song by that name, however, is not a ‘car song’:

I park my pontiac
Down the hill out in back
Late every afternoon
With a coke and a cigarette
And all of the neighbors there
They see a nice old man

And the girl there across the street
She sits on her front porch swing
She never realized
What I told her with my eyes
How back in the second war
I killed twenty German boys
With my own bare hands


jakeb 07.20.06 at 4:49 pm

Black Sabbath’s _Digital Bitch_, which was the only song I liked from the albums of that period. The guitar solo has a sort of noisy dialup connection sound to it.


Stuart 07.20.06 at 4:51 pm

Shallow off Deadwing by Porcupine Tree was the first thing to come to mind:

This city drains me
Well maybe it’s the smell of gasoline
The millions pain me
It’s easier to talk to my PC


Jon H 07.20.06 at 4:53 pm

Actually, though, the use of lowest-common-denominator technical terms is too often in a lame double-entendre – which would be just as bad if it was old tech.

I mean, a suggestive use of “hard drive” is no worse than “broadsword” used in the same “aren’t I witty” nudge-and-wink manner.


Paul C 07.20.06 at 5:07 pm

Of course we have to include instant classic The Internet is Changing Everything by Andy Sullivan! Full disclosure: he’s a friend of mine. But the song still rocks.


erin 07.20.06 at 5:08 pm

Not sure he counts as popular, but Jonathan Coulton is a great songwriter with a comic/techy bent. Take, for example, his paean to a laptop, A Laptop Like You:It’s not your CD slot
Or the Unix on which you are based
You make my lap hot
Cause underneath your aluminum case there’s love
And I forgive your strange one-button mouse
I forgive the way your keyboard leaves marks on your screen
I can overlook a fault or two
For a laptop like you


Tim 07.20.06 at 5:10 pm

There are a few grime tracks that reference blogs or online forums. Presumably, as younger people, who have grown up with the Internet, start to write more songs, the Internet will start to be included simply as a fact of life, rather than as a self-conscious (and usually embarrasing) attempt to reference “technology.”


JR 07.20.06 at 5:19 pm

Trollope didn’t invent the penny post. That was introduced in 1840, when Trollope was still a minor clerk. He did bring the letter box to the UK, although it was already in use on the Continent (as they used to say.)

I don’t see why you couldn’t have a computer in a pop song. Telephones and motor cars made appearances in songs very early. In Change Partners and Dance, Fred Astaire suggests that he could get rid of the other guy if she would let him ‘tell the waiter he’s wanted on the telephone.’

But here’s the thing. Rock songs tend not to tell specific stories located in real time and place. They’re usually allusive and suggestive, and they use imagery to suggest emotional states or invoke a fantasy world. Lots of sky, rain, night, sunrise, islands, sea, desert. Even when they tell a real story they’re not very specific. Obsolete stuff fits in because it’s clearly not intended to be taken literally- horses, sails, trains. Yes there are lots of exceptions. Country music on the other hand is much more concrete – a lot of trucks and bars – but IM-ing isn’t very country, is it.


polyglot conspiracy 07.20.06 at 5:27 pm

In seriousness, this is a great topic. Songs are harder to come by, I think, but there are a lot of movies that are starting to mention the internet or computers (see a relevant listserv thread and list of movies here).

Does Radiohead’s OK Computer count? There was an Italian pop song c. 2001 called http://www.mipiacitu by Gazosa. Jewel’s song “Intuition” starts off

I’m just a simple girl in a high tech digital world

Sort of esoteric, but LCD Soundsystem touches on computer technology’s influence on music in the song Losing My Edge:

I hear you’re buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real. You want to make a Yaz record.”

Does any of David Byrne’s new stuff mention computers? You’d think it would, with his Powerpoint obsession.

I think the non-mention of cell phones is curious, too. I swear there’s a Greg Brown song that involves cell phones, but be damned if I can think of it right now; I once heard a local folk singer sing a song called “Kids Turn Your Cell Phones Off,” but I can’t think of who that guy was either. A good demonstration of how rare technology-related terms are in song lyrics is this line from Death Cab for Cutie’s 2003 song “A Lack of Color”:

I’m reaching for the phone to call at 7:03 and on your machine I slur a plea for you to come home

On your machine? Who still has a machine?? Even in 2003. Actually, even calling it “the phone” seems a bit outdated. Lucky for us, Har Mar Superstar has a song called “DUI” which is about drunk-dialing and makes specific reference to cell phones:

D! Is the dial your fingers dance.
U! Under the spell of romance,
I! Is the dangerous influence,
I’m the lonely man with a roaming plan.

I’m resisting the urge and turning on the telly
Baby don’t you have something to tell me?
It’s 4 AM my brain has turned to jelly
Come on baby boy pick up ur celly


maidhc 07.20.06 at 6:05 pm

I’ve heard some blues songs recently on the radio that make non-self-conscious computer references (that is, where the song itself is not particularly about computers).


Got a e-mail from my baby, says she don’t want me no more


I read it on a website, a man ain’t nothing but a man

Some of the references to telephones and handwritten letters in songs are sounding pretty dated these days. It’s not surprising that people might try to get a bit more modern.

Country music embraced CB radio right away. Don’t modern truckers use IM and e-mail when they’re on the road?


Charles 07.20.06 at 6:13 pm

Momus’s song Age of Information is excellent, and focused directly on questions of information age technology.


y 07.20.06 at 6:20 pm

White Collar Holler, Nigel Russell (notably recorded by Stan Rogers). “Ho boys, can’t you code it, and program it right…”

Let me Google it…let’s see…here it is.


Tom Hurka 07.20.06 at 6:48 pm

Stan Rogers’s “White Collar Holler” is what I was thinking too. Late ’70s maybe? Certainly dated, with the punch cards. But right on its time, as Stan so often was.


matt d 07.20.06 at 6:53 pm

Dizzee Rascal has a verse from “Seems 2 B” (on “Boy in Da Corner”) that sounds to my North American ears to be a series of (probably fictional) websites.
“” or something. I can’t make out most of it, but he’s definitely saying “” “.com” and “backslash Eastend”

The same verse also contains the following claim: “Dizzee runs things like Idi Amin.” Nice.
I don’t THINK he’s claiming that he eats his enemies for supper. Maybe he’s claiming to be “VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.”

And the track realy sounds like it was made by and for hard-core computers, too, which is kinda cool. If you’re a computer.


The Continental Op 07.20.06 at 7:02 pm

We must not forget (however much we might wish to) J-Tull Dot Com, an early, and unbearably awful (even by the low, low standards of Jethro Tull), entrant into the field of pop-song internet references.


Dan 07.20.06 at 7:07 pm

“Download This Song” by MC Lars has been on the radio in Australia quite a lot recently. The chorus is:

Hey Mr. Record Man
The joke’s on you
Running your label
Like it was 1992
Hey Mr. Record Man,
Your system can’t compete
It’s the New Artist Model
File transfer complete
Download this song!
Download this song!
Download this song!


Blar 07.20.06 at 7:19 pm

There’s always hip hop. Here’s Talib Kweli in Fortified Live (w. Mos Def, Hi-Tek, & Mr. Man)

Yo, what’s wrong with this picture? Don’t it seem bugged?
MCs is high on they supply, sounds like they takin drugs
Y’all trippin like mescalin and killin the feeling like penicillin
Switchin to Lionel Rich’ and dancin on the ceilin
Go ahead and be a hero in your own mind
Fuck your internet, coke is it when you on line
Smokin dirty weed, ignorin the medicinal herbals
So we in your ass like you was Richard Gere and we was gerbils

And here he is at the start of Some Kind of Wonderful (w. Hi-Tek, on the Reflection Eternal LP)

What’s next?
These chicken neck MCs get me vexed
My rhymes be blowin’ up chat rooms all over the internet
And causin’ collisions on the highway of information

And here’s Ghostface Killah in the chorus of The Hilton (off the album Bulletproof Wallets):

A Wesley Snipes movement on a Sunday in Bermuda
We laptop niggas, thugs in a computer
Caught up in the grimy shit
Finding two days later a murder and we got to make this flight shit

And then there are groups like Deltron 3030 that are all about the futuristic technology, with songs like Upgrade (“Upgrade your grey matter cause one day it may matter”) and Virus:

I wanna devise a virus
To bring dire straits to your environment
Crush your corporations with a mild touch
Trash your whole computer system and revert you to papyrus


Christopher M 07.20.06 at 7:25 pm

Bad Religion, “21st Century (Digital Boy)”

And I don’t want it, the things you’re offering me
Symbolized bar code, quick ID (oh yeah)
Cause I’m a 21st century digital boy


Charlie Murtaugh 07.20.06 at 7:53 pm

Two worthy entrants — neither of which is about the Internet, but do make good use of technology. First, Grandaddy’s “I’m On Standby”, which uses tech figuratively:

I’m on standby
Out of order or sort of unaligned
Powered down for redesign
Bye bye
I’m on standby
According to the work order you signed
I’ll be down for some time

Then Cinerama’s “Get Up and Go” (best ironic title ever), which uses it in a depressingly concrete manner. The narrator is lying in bed, thinking about the one-night stand he’s just had…:

And I can’t help myself yawning;
we didn’t sleep ’til five this morning
Is this for keeps?
Well at least ’til your mobile beeps
You take an age to read it
and then immediately delete it
I didn’t see the text
but I know what’s coming next
“I’ve got to change these sheets before he returns
and learns
that I’ve been doing this
I’m sorry I’ve ruined it,
but, God,
I just couldn’t stop!”


Dan Stout 07.20.06 at 8:20 pm

The song “Technologic” by France’s Daft Punk is pretty cool & technology-oriented in a ’80s-Electro-meets-2005 kind of way.

As someone else mentioned, the Pet Shop Boys have had technology appear in their songs. The song “Single” off of the Bilingual album has the lines “I’m a player in the continental game/with unlimited expenses to reclaim./Information’s easy/tapping on my PC./I’m single bilingual/Single bilingual.”

Greg Brown also has a song on his 2000 album “Covenant” that features cell phones & internet:

half the people you see these days are talking on cell phonesdriving off the road & bumping into doorspeople used to spend quite a bit of time alonei guess nobody’s lonely anymoreit’s raining sheets of rain everything is cold & wetnobody’s going out of doorsthey’re all at home living it up on the internetso i guess nobody’s lonely any more

The best line ever in a song though is of course Kraftwerk: “I’m the operator/of my pocket calculator.” Perfect.


Richard Bellamy 07.20.06 at 8:49 pm

You stick the stamp to the envelope. Not the letter.


Slithy Tove 07.20.06 at 9:12 pm

Including filk?

Yo, MC Plus Plus, my rhymes are so phat,
I’m PSPACE-complete but I’ll reduce you to 3-SAT.
My crew is so hard that we roll in NP,
And bitches dereference my pointer for free.

So Much Drama in the PhD


joejoejoe 07.20.06 at 9:16 pm

I saw two shooting stars last night
I wished on them but they were only satellites
is it wrong to wish on space hardware
I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care

— Billy Bragg, A New England

Sputnik’s about 50 years old but space hardware is still cutting edge technology.


JR 07.20.06 at 9:53 pm

Richard, talk about over-literal. A “letter” includes the envelope. “Dee-liver the lettah, the sooner the bettah…”


mcd 07.20.06 at 10:45 pm

Hank Williams Jr. – “Fax Me a Beer”.


Thompsaj 07.20.06 at 10:48 pm

did anyone see that mr. show sketch where bob and david were “megaphone crooners” from the 20’s and they sang songs called “elevator” and “penicillin”? that was classic.


Thompsaj 07.20.06 at 10:52 pm

oh, and if you’re talking about pop music which undenaibly “my guy” is, then there are constant references to two-ways, cells, and IM on top forty. I think I heard a rap song the other day called “i got the internet goin nuts”


Tim 07.20.06 at 11:05 pm

There’s also “Interactive” by terrible Essex hip-hop band Collapsed Lung, which has terrible lines about a “486 DX” and other now absurdly dated-sounding technologies.


trollumination 07.21.06 at 12:02 am

HOw about “Cell Phones Ringing (In the pockets of the dead)” by Willie Nile? That song rocks.


Daniel 07.21.06 at 1:27 am

“Crazy in Love” by Beyonce has “your love got me hoping you’ll page me right now” in it; I suppose the song would have been entirely different if Americans had at the time had proper mobile phones that could handle SMS messages rather than carrying pagers around the place.


Jane Shevtsov 07.21.06 at 2:07 am

There’s “World Inside the Crystal”.

“The computer is a gateway
To a world where magic rules
Where the only law is logic
Webs of words the only tools
Where we play with words and symbols
And creation is the game
For our symbols have the power
To become the things they name”

It’s actually quite old — copyright 1985.


Doug 07.21.06 at 3:00 am

Every time U want it, I’ll be live – bring a date
I mean computer – when it’s over, press save

So U can be the President
I’d rather be the Pope

Prince, “Pope”

Not much technology, and not much theology either, song title notwithstanding.


etat 07.21.06 at 3:41 am

Didn’t Tom Waits do a whole album called the eDonkey Variations? He also mentions that people stopped writing about mules when cars came along.

Neil Young did an album – Trans – that has any number of references to computing, robots, and electronica. He also mentions that he’s not such a fan of contemporary radio, with its ‘regular programming’.

Pre-PC, circa 1966, the Fugs did a nice little ditty called (Oh Dear) Miss Morse, which uses Morse code as the refrain and keyboard melody. Dit dit, dah dit….

Last, surely not least, Joni Mitchell appropriates technological metaphor quite nicely in You Turn Me On (I’m a Radio)


pg 07.21.06 at 4:06 am

“Survivor” by Destiny’s Child mentions the internet:

You know I’m not gonna diss you on the Internet
Cause my momma told me better than that.

OK, so it is cringeworthy, but no more than the lyrics that do not refer to the internet.


Barry Freed 07.21.06 at 4:18 am

Over 40 replies and not one mention of Anal Cunt’s “Technology is Gay,” or their “The Internet is Gay”? Jeebus, what’s wrong with you folks?


Belle Waring 07.21.06 at 4:36 am

there was a funny song available for free download for a while in 2003 called “I saw your new girlfriend on friendster” but I think the internet ate it. “I was online with some homies/and I saw your new boyfriend on friendster/wooh ooh oooh ooh.”


duaneg 07.21.06 at 4:50 am

“Hello” by Poe, from 1995. Sample lyrics:

“I’m cut off from the main line/Like a disconnected modem”
“Hello/Tap in the code/I’ll reach you below”

Perhaps “Harmonic Generator” by The Datsuns. Chorus line: “Harmonic Generator, Intermodulator”.


jeroen 07.21.06 at 5:15 am

Heather Nova start a song with: “I got an email from you today With a poem that you wrote”

For some reason lyrics like this always makes me cringe a little. It just feels a bit forced ‘hip’ or something.


jeroen 07.21.06 at 5:18 am

Someone already mentioned Billy Bragg.Here’s another one.

Take down the Union Jack, it clashes with the sunset
And pile all those history books, but don’t throw them away
They just might have some clues about what it really means
To be an Anglo hyphen Saxon in


jeroen 07.21.06 at 5:19 am

Which by the way i think would have been better if the last line would have read: “To be an Anglo hyphen Saxon AT”


Eszter 07.21.06 at 5:33 am

I don’t have songs to contribute, but I did want to mention that I think this is a great topic for a post and am impressed with the list people have come up with here.


bad Jim 07.21.06 at 6:13 am

The Tubes, whether they exemplify or refute the net. What do you want from life, white kids on dope?


Ian 07.21.06 at 6:22 am

Proof indeed that

the email of the species is more deadly than the mail…


Pepe 07.21.06 at 6:45 am

There’s “Deeper Understanding” by Kate Bush. And, though it doesn’t mention computers/the Internet explicitly, “Everything is Free” by Gillian Welch.


Carlos 07.21.06 at 7:07 am

“Wichita Lineman,” Jimmy Webb/Glen Campbell.



John 07.21.06 at 7:16 am

Fountains of Wayne – “Little Red Light”

It’s not right
It’s not fair
I’m still a mess
And you still don’t care
I go to sleep
When I wake up
The pain sets in
And it never stops
And the little red light’s not blinking
No, no the little red light’s not blinking
No, no the little red light’s not blinking
On the desktop mailbox of my big black laptop
Oh no

For number 32): I think the Grandaddy song “I’m On Standby” is literally about a robot. It’s no metaphor, but I can’t prove it.


Philip Brooks 07.21.06 at 7:37 am

I’m surprised nobody mentioned IM Me, which is a terrible, terrible teeny pop song that for some reason was splashed all over Slashdot nearly a decade ago.


John 07.21.06 at 7:42 am

Other Grandaddy songs: “Miner at the Dial-a-View” which is about Google Maps (more-or-less!)

I found your house and I saw your car
But I’ve no idea where you are
From the Dial-a-View

Tire scraps on a federal road
Look like crash landed crows
From the Dial-a-View


Dearest Mom, your yearling son
Has sent a message through
He has disconnected
But he still loves you


john m. 07.21.06 at 8:28 am

Dan Bern’s “No Missing Link” name checks many different technologies and offers an interesting explanation as to how it all came about…


Kip 07.21.06 at 8:43 am

Morrissey’s “Live at Earl’s Court” version of “Bigmouth Strikes Again”

“And now I know how Joan of Arc felt
Now I know how Joan of Arc felt
As the flames rose to her roman nose
And her I-Pod started to melt”


eg 07.21.06 at 9:36 am

Patty Larkin: “the book I’m not reading’s on the internet”


Tim McG 07.21.06 at 12:16 pm

Explanatory hypothesis #1: the technology is changing so quickly that folks don’t want their songs to sound dated so they only talk about what they think will last (and still be called by the same name in 4 or 5 months).

Explanatory hypothesis #2: The words themselves are godawful. There is no poetry in the word “blog” or “email” for that matter. (How many song lyrics mention “mail”? It’s nearly always “letter”–or, if the plot demands, “mailman.”) “Internet” has two n-t combinations plus vowels and a semi-vowel. Another crappy word. “The web” may be the only decent-sounding (because of its analog meanings) tech word out there.


Matt Kuzma 07.21.06 at 2:53 pm

First of all, you should check out – especially “Code Monkey”.

Also, I really like the references in “Hello” by Poe.


goatcnowder 07.21.06 at 3:29 pm

I’m partial to “Every Home Is Wired” by Porcupine Tree. Beautiful overdubbed vocal-harmony counterpoint too. It captures for me the prevailing techno-utopian mood of late 90’s Silicon Valley, and some of my ambivalence about it as well.

An unknown progressive rock band (former band-member of mine was in it) wrote and recorded a very entertaining song in the early 90’s about cybersex; it opened with the sound of modem tones. Alas, I’ve since forgotten the name of both the band and the song.


Steven Crane 07.21.06 at 3:31 pm

“Beepers” – Sir Mix-A-Lot.


GeoX 07.21.06 at 9:40 pm

Inside the Internet by Thomas Truax is kind of effectively spooky.


Gar Lipow 07.21.06 at 11:18 pm

To reinforce the point about how fast tech references can become obsolete:

George Jone’s High-Tech Redneck:


Frances 07.22.06 at 9:34 am

Just a couple more to add:

I remember The Streets doing references to texting in his lyrics.
Especialy “When You Wasn’t Famous” comes to mind:

Ahhh see
Right see the thing that’s got it all fucked up now is camera-phones.
How the hell am I supposed to be able to do a line in front of complete strangers
When I know they’ve all got cameras?

Placebo’s cover of Bigmouth Strikes Again (Smiths original) is also noteworthy: They change the lyric …and her walkman started to melt… into …and her discman started to melt…


'As you know' Bob 07.22.06 at 11:35 am

I’ve actually heard on the radio somebody performing the old blues standard I’ve got my mo-dem workin’.

Didn’t catch who it was, thought.


Debra Burrell 07.23.06 at 1:21 am

Well, speaking of country music, there is the Lonestar song “No News:”
She could telephone, tell a friend, tell a lie about where she’s been.
Send a pigeon, send a fax; Write it on a post-it pad.
Send a signal up in smoke, tap it out in Morse Code.
I’d prefer a bad excuse to no news


rob jefferson 07.23.06 at 1:24 pm

In reference to #40, there’s a song by Paul Wall called “Internet Goin’ Nuts” (itself a line from his verse on Mike Jones’ “Still Tippin'”). The song is about online dating and the successes and foibles thereof.

There’s “Computer Love” by Roger (Troutman, of the band Zapp), which is not to be confused with the Kraftwerk song of the same name. It’s a cheesy late-80’s R&B jam, but it’s not as bad as one would expect.

“I Love My Computer” by Bad Religion is an awful song about, well, computers.

“Skypager” by A Tribe Called Quest is a classic rap song about pagers and their necessity as a social occasion-planning tool.

Husker Du’s “Divide and Conquer” has the following lines:

“We’ll invent some new computers
Link up the global village
And get AP, UPI, and Reuters
To tell everybody the news

We’ll be one happy neighborhood
Spread out across the world
But who’s going to stop that burglar
From breaking in my house
If he lives that far away?”


aisling 07.23.06 at 10:25 pm

And some old technologies are more popular than others. Think of the countless bicycles, bridges, radios, telephones (one of Michael Stipe’s recurring themes), cars, steam-trains, out there. But how many fridges have merited a mention? I can only think of a single instance (Radiohead):

Karma police
Arrest this man
He talks in maths
He buzzes like a fridge
He’s like a detuned radio

(Does anyone else think that the idea of someone buzzing like a fridge is actually kind of hilarious? …which sort of undercuts most of the song’s angst-ridden tone…Thom Yorke: you need to get out more.)


brooksfoe 07.23.06 at 10:46 pm

76 posts and no one has mentioned the Replacements’ great, elegant “Answering Machine”? By now it qualifies as nostalgia-tech, but at the time it was written (1984) it was a mass appliance at the same level of novelty as, probably, email in about 2000.

Of course that technology itself is so obviously a technology of absence and longing that it simply beckons a lyrical response. Though I’m not sure wy there aren’t more good songs about the ambiguous closeness and distance of Skypeing with your long-distance sigoth.


brooksfoe 07.23.06 at 11:14 pm

Incidentally: given that pharmaceuticals are tech…the list begins at “Mother’s Little Helper” and quickly parabolas out towards infinity…


Dirty Davey 07.24.06 at 3:09 pm

Warren Zevon’s remarkably prescient “Networking” (circa 1989):

There’s a long hard road and a full hard drive
And a sector there where I feel alive
Every bit and every byte
Is written down once on the night

Networking, I’m user friendly
Networking, I install with ease
Data processed, truly Basic
I will upload you, you can download me

There’s a prayer each night that I always pray
Let the data guide me through every day
And every pulse and every code
Deliver me from the bypass mode

Networking, I’m user friendly
Networking, I install with ease
Data processed, truly Basic
I will upload you, you can download me

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