Talk To Ya Later

Album: The Completion Backward Principle (1981)
Charted: 101
  • In this song, a guy goes on a bender and picks up a girl. They go back to his place, which is a win, but then... she won't leave. Not only that, she just won't shut up, and it's driving him crazy. "Talk to ya later," he tells her, trying desperately to get her to leave.
  • This was a breakthrough single for The Tubes, who released their debut album on A&M Records in 1975 and earned lots of attention for their elaborate stage shows, which featured dance routines, characters, video screens and costumes. The shows were memorable but expensive, and they didn't translate to album sales. A&M gave up on them in 1981 and the band signed with Capitol, which was rewarded when their first single with the label, the ballad "Don't Want To Wait Anymore," gave them their first Top 40 hit, coming in at #35. "Talk To Ya Later" was the next single, and while it stalled at #101, it eventually got added to various radio station playlists, becoming the first song to earn significant airplay for the band.
  • Tubes lead singer Fee Waybill wrote this with Toto guitarist Steve Lukather and with David Foster, who produced the album. Lukather and Foster - the guys who gave us "I'll Be Over You" and "Glory Of Love - aren't who you would expect to write a song about a one-night-stand that goes horribly wrong when the girl won't leave, but the lyric is right in Waybill's wheelhouse - he lists toward the eccentric and unexpected.

    Waybill came up with the title after spending some time with Humberto Gatica, who was the engineer for the album. Humberto was a magician at the controls, so The Tubes spent a lot of time hanging out with him to learn technique. This made it hard for him to work, so in his Chilean accent he would gently dismiss the band by telling them, "Talk to you later."

    When Waybill started writing the song with Foster and Lukather, that phrase wouldn't leave his head. He decided "Talk To Ya Later" should be the title, and wrote a chorus around the phrase. From there, he fleshed out the storyline in the verses.
  • In a Songfacts interview with Fee Waybill, he explained: "'Talk To Ya Later' is a song about a chatty girl. Instead of a chatty band that never shuts up, it was a chatty girl that never shut up."
  • The way this song was written - backward starting from the title - is congruent with the theme of the album, The Completion Backward Principle. The album concept is based on a motivational speaker from the 1950s named Stanley Paterson, who would coach salesmen on a technique where they would visualize making the sale before knocking on the door to sell the product.
  • This was the last song written for the album. The Tubes knew they had a potential hit with their ballad "Don't Want To Wait Anymore," but they wanted an upbeat song for rock radio. Running out of time, producer David Foster called in Steve Lukather, a ringer who had played on lots of hits both with Toto and as a session man - that's his guitar on Michael Jackson's "Beat It."

    "We had one day left, and we were running out of time," Waybill told Songfacts. "We said, 'Let's get together early in the morning, and we'll try to put something together here at the last minute.' So, we did. Luke [Steve Lukather] came up with that lick in like five minutes. It was ridiculous - he's so good and so fast."
  • The Tubes made a video for the entire album called The Tubes Video. Sold on VHS and Laser Disc, it was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who was one of the few high-profile music video directors at the time. The "Talk To Ya Later" section, which MTV extracted as the music video, finds the band at a hectic press conference answering questions. Their business suits were part of a look they developed for the album concept - they were supposed to look like slick salesmen.
  • This was the song that proved the power of MTV to sell records. The network launched on August 1, 1981, with "Talk To Ya Later" in hot rotation. Very few radio stations played the song (or anything by The Tubes) in America, but a few months after MTV went on the air, Tubes records were selling out in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the time, you couldn't get MTV in New York or Los Angeles, but lots of people had cable in Tulsa and the cable system carried it. Local radio wasn't playing The Tubes, so MTV was the only explanation for the sales surge. The network used this information to convince record companies that they had to make music videos (delivered to MTV free of charge, of course) to promote their artists, and many did.

Comments: 4

  • Tony from San DiegoThat is the most interesting story I've ever heard about MTV in my life. So cool to hear how the song, deservedly So, became a hit.
  • Hockeydude from Boston MaFee/Lukather and Foster also wrote "She's a Beauty."
  • Robie from Houston, TxThis is the BEST SONG OF ALL TIME!!

    I have asked my wife and friends to play this at my funeral.

    Rock on
  • Mike from Boca Raton, FlIf you have never seen a TUBES show...GO!
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