When my children call my cellphone, it’s really hard to answer it right away.
It’s more fun to let it ring a bit and listen to the lyrics of LunchMoney Lewis’s “Bills,” with his repetition of the words “I’ve got bill!”
“I’ve got mouths to feed, so I’m gonna make sure everybody eats,” he sings.
But that’s deep enough into the song that they’ve probably already hung up. Too bad, too, because the next line’s a hoot too.
If music is the soundtrack of your life, a ringtone is the Cliff’s Notes version. You can learn quickly what someone thinks when they get a call. You can’t say the phone’s ringing; it’s playing.
Our spouses often get the most interesting songs.
One of my Facebook friends listens to the opening riffs from “Dance the Night Away” by Van Halen whenever his wife calls. “Stuck Like Glue” by Sugarland seems to be a popular one with ladies for the men, including my wife for a while. Another friend plays “In My Life” by The Beatles, which they danced to at their wedding, when his wife calls.
When you choose a song, you find something about it that reminds you of that person. You’re looking for something to put you in the right frame of mind to talk.
My wife barely knows the song I assigned to her and can’t understand why it belongs to her. “Knee Deep” by the Zac Brown Band focuses on a man’s escapist dream in a tropical paradise after his girl breaks up with him.
I don’t want my wife to leave me and necessitate a change in latitude. But the upbeat chords at the beginning of one of my favorite songs makes me smile, just like my wife does. As the lyrics say, “I might’ve found me my own kind of paradise.” It makes sense to me so I have a half-smile when the phone rings and it’s her.
I know some people don’t like to choose songs for different people, and that’s their choice. It’s intrigued me since before ringtones. I recall working 15 years ago in Savannah, Georgia, when a group of us started joking around about the music played before a baseball player came up to bat. We talked about what ours would be.
A few days later, I’d selected songs for everybody in our department and queued them up on my computer. Whenever someone walked into the office, I’d play their “warmup music,” such as the worked-up New Yorker getting “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister every time he arrived to work. (Mine was “Patience” by Guns ‘N’ Roses, complete with the haunting whistling at the start.) It added a little levity to the room.
I can’t walk around with a computer, but a mobile phone is almost as good. For me, the key to a ringtone is how it makes me feel just before I answer the phone. I like a song to put me in the right frame of mind.
One of my first cellphones had a frenetic ringtone it called “chickens.” I’d assigned that one for my co-workers, so I’d know it was an urgent call and got me thinking it in a hurry.
Since then, I’ve come to realize not every work call is worth my most urgent attention. Now I prefer more ironic selections, such as “Everything is Awesome” from the “LEGO Movie” when certain reporters call. Another Facebook friend had the “Wicked Witch of Oz” as her ringtone for one of her bosses, because hearing it made her “smile more and stress less.”
That’s something we should all do whenever we hear the phone.