I was leaving the West Bank the other day by riding the Campus Connector ” well, to be more accurate, I was packed and shipped by the bus to the East Bank ” but for the short duration across the Mississippi we fell under the plague of our society: the ring of an unanswered phone playing a song on that lousy speaker with the Tinny Tone Orchestra.
That’s hardly news, but when “Greensleeves” is belted, I couldn’t help but write lyrics to what 99.8 percent of conversations seem to be on the infernal devices: “Oh dear, my dear pick up your phone. Where are you now? Home. Get some milk and see you soon. Or else I’ll text you.”
So the story goes, “Greensleeves” was penned by the infamous King Henry VIII as an ode to future wife Anne Boleyn. (Thank you, PBS). On the bus things weren’t as romantic. Whomever’s phone it was apparently couldn’t hear it, so we went on from the first stanza to the chorus and back again into the second verse; I wasn’t thinking of King Henry anymore but rather the 1962 super-western, “How the West Was Won.”
In this, “Greensleeves” appears most notably in the end after we’ve followed three generations across the young nation: starting on the Erie Canal, through the Civil War all the way to the Golden West; and with the Cinemascope cameras panning wide over the prairie a choir is singing “and I’ll build you a home in the meadow” and the West has been won and “THE END” spreads across the screen as the chorus came round on that phone again: “Hello, I’m on the bus. Just out of class and in a rush. Oh yeah, your mother called. I’ll be home in about 15 minutes.”
Usually I think ringtones are obnoxious. In the age of the rotary phone there wasn’t variety ” it was a bell that could raise the dead if turned all the way up. Portable ringtones are a plague, at least most of the time, so I propose a new rule on their use as follows:
They can only be old songs everyone can hum, regardless of your musical preference. It’s your phone you say? Well, it’s our ears. While it takes you five minutes to hear it through your headphones and stocking cap we can enjoy at least one part of your Very Important Call ” the overture.
Ron Miller is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]