Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Musical Mirth of Meri Wilson: "Hey Lolly, Lolly"

Sappy, insipid, and Smile Button-semi-sweet as the '70s were, occasionally the corn was cute, even quixotically quirky, without being condescending. Such was the case in the charismatic confection of a frisky, fingers-did-the walking 45 called Telephone Man, novelty vocalist Meri Wilson's (the OTHER Meri Wilson; note the spelling of the first name) opus delicti to an amorous assault on the local AT&T lineman. The tune peaked at #18 on the Billboard charts in 1977 and earned Wilson the legacy of being one of Dr. Demento's favorite artists of all time.

Wilson, a military brat, was born June 15, 1949, in Nagoya, Japan, and was raised in Marietta, Georgia, where she studied piano and flute as a child. Continuing in the field of music, Wilson earned her BS in music from Indiana University and later garnered a Masters Degree in Music Education at Georgia State. After completing her roster of academics, the performing bug took her to Dallas, Texas, where she became a successful jingle singer, eventually writing the sexually suggestive yet simplistic and savory Telephone Man, which would enroll her as an official member in pop culture's fifteen minutes of fame club, and even bring a Boomer Castleman/Jim Rutledge-produced LP into manifestation.

After a hearty yet fruitless attempt at a follow-up to the one-TRICK-pony success of Telephone Man, the derivative Peter The Meter Reader, which failed to chart significantly, Wilson retired from entertainment. As the married Meri Edgemon, Wilson became a school teacher, working as a choral director in the Georgia public school system.

In 1995, with her children sufficiently raised, Wilson again opted for the entertainment world. Reigniting her talent as a songwriter, Wilson/Edgemon updated Telephone Man, transforming it into a latter-90s tune called The Internet Man, which appeared on a self-titled album released in conjunction with her revamped music career.

Sadly, the return to the limelight was short-lived. Wilson died in auto accident on December 28, 2002 when she lost control of her car on Highway 377 in Americus, Georgia during an ice storm. At the time of her death, Wilson/Edgemon was president of the Americus Arts Council and the Civic Chorus and had just arranged and directed the music for the "Cotton Patch Gospel" performance at the Rylander Theatre, receiving a state award for the project.

Telephone Man
Meri Wilson

-Peaked at #18 in 1977 and was her only hit
-Sold over a million copies
-A "novelty" song
-Produced by Boomer Castleman and Jim Rutledge of "Bloodrock"

I went to my apartment on a Monday at one
A-singin' do lolly, lolly shicky bum, shicky bum
Started movin' in it on a Tuesday at two
A-singin' do lolly, lolly shicky do, shicky do
Wednesday at three I called the phone company, singin':
"Hey baby, put a phone in for me"
Thursday at four he came a-knockin' at my door, singin':

"Hey, baby, I'm your telephone man
You just show me where you want it and I'll put it where I can
I can put it in the bedroom, I can put it in the hall
I can put it in the bathroom, I can hang it on the wall
You can have it with a buzz, you can have it with a ring
And if you really want it you can have a ding-a-ling
Because-a hey baby, I'm your telephone man"

Can you believe that? And then he says:

"Now when other fellas call ya tell 'em how it all began"

Well...can you imagine?

My heart began a-thumpin' and my mind began to fly
And I knew I wasn't dealin' with no ordinary guy
So while he was a-talking I was thinkin' up my plan
Then my fingers did the walkin' on the telephone man

Singin' hey lolly, lolly
Hey lolly, lolly
Hey lolly, lolly
Get it any way you can
Right? Ha ha ha, so...

I got it in the bedroom, and I got it in the hall
And I got it in the bathroom, and he hung it on the wall
I got it with a buzz, and I got it with a ring
And when he told me what my number was I got a ding-a-ling

A-singin' hey lolly, lolly
Hey lolly, lolly
Hey lolly, lolly
Just-a doin' my thing

Ha, ha...I've never done anything like this before!


Blogger Ostrich said...

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