Operator

Album: Planetary Invasion (1984)
Charted: 66 18
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Songfacts®:

  • Back in the '80s, operators were still a normal part of everyday life as the go-to sources for phone-related information, providing phone numbers and connecting calls. In Midnight Star's "Operator," the narrator is ready to do some operating of his own but can't get his girl on the line. He's all out of change for the telephone booth – the primary way to make calls on the go before cell phones - and begs the operator to hurry up and place his call.
  • Midnight Star's Reggie Calloway told Billboard: "We often look around for concepts that relate to day-to-day life and figure out how we can make a twist on it. Almost every day you're talking to an operator or you get disconnected or you dial a wrong number. It was before sampling, so we recorded an actual operator and used in on the record."
  • Peaking at #18, this was Midnight Star's first and only Top 40 hit on the pop chart. It was also their first #1 on the R&B chart.
  • At one point, the narrator offers to "get together on the party line." Party lines were telephone circuits shared by multiple subscribers. They often provided a discount, but there were lots of complaints about the popular service. With so many people using the phone, calling a shared line often resulted in a busy signal. Party lines also didn't provide any privacy, so one subscriber could pick up the phone and eavesdrop on another conversation. If they did want to make a call, they were at the mercy of the other parties, who would first have to hang up. Party lines started to phase out in the '70s but were still familiar enough in the '80s to merit a reference in the song.

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