Dr. Hook and the Operator: What Happened After ’Sylvia’s Mother’ Call
Former Dr. Hook frontman Dennis Locorriere explains what happened after the heartbreaking phone call recounted in the band's 1972 hit single “Sylvia’s Mother” in a lighthearted new book that calls songwriters to task on the details of their lyrics.
Dear Mr. Pop Star, by English father-and-son team Derek and Dave Philpott, is a collection of Monty Python-like letters to artists, and witty responses from a large number of targets. The book follows the project’s online success over the past 10 years.
In the excerpt exclusive to UCR, Locorriere deals with the Philpotts’ queries in an even manner.
Dear Dr Hook,
I was distraught to hear on our pub jukebox today the impassioned vocal transcript of your conversation with the mother of the girl who was marrying a fella down Galveston way. As if being in love with a beautiful woman and suffering her defensive parent were not bad enough, the interminable butting in of the operator demanding 40 cents more for the next 3 minutes must have been a ‘little bit more’ than infuriating, not to say a bit of a dent on the old wallet.
Forgive me for suggesting that had you chosen to make a Skype call or contact your paramour via Yahoo or Facebook Messenger, you would not have been pestered every 180 seconds by a telecommunicational ‘breadhead’ (such calls being free of the Silver Dollar). Also, by selecting the ‘video call’ option it would be More Like the Movies in that you would be Knowing She’s There, ready to accept from you better love next time.
Dear Sir (?)
Had there been video options for communicating in the early 70s I’m not sure it would have helped my case. Given that I looked like Bigfoot with a guitar back in those days I have to assume I would not have been afforded even as brief a conversation as I was on that payphone had the girl’s mother been able to actually see me.
I consider myself extremely lucky the girl’s father never got involved. Fortunately, I ran out of coins and, mercifully, we were all spared a potentially stressful outcome.
P.S. By the way, it should be said that the operator was very kind and stayed on the line, consoling me, after that rude woman hung up. She and I stayed in touch for a while afterwards but it got too expensive. I’m certain the absence of a visual probably helped there too.
Elsewhere in the book, the Philpotts challenge former Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing about whether he’s really only “Living After Midnight,” query Starship’s methods in having built a city on rock ’n’ roll and force Ian Gillan to defend his theories on Euclidean principles over his song “Born to Kill.” Dear Mr Pop Star is available now.