The Original Vs. The Cover Vs. The Cover – “Hanging On The Telephone”

For this edition of The Original vs. The Cover, we are discussing the song “Hanging on the Telephone” originally performed by the band The Nerves. We are going to do two different covers with the first and most famous being that from Blondie and the other cover is from Def Leppard. The song was written by Jack Lee of the band The Nerves back in the 1976 and was released on their debut E.P. The song never charted and the band was short lived as they didn’t do much after that.

Blondie heard the song while sitting in a taxi in Japan. The song was given to them by Jeffrey Lee Pierce of the band The Gun Club and they popped in to listen to while in that cab. They really liked it and decided to record it. Blondie reached out to Jake Lee for permission to record it and since Jake was facing financial ruin it was a very easy decision. The answer was yes and Jake made a little money that was much needed.

The song is about a man that sounds quite obsessed with the woman he is or was seeing. He keeps calling her and calling her and calling her so he can hear her voice again. The woman’s mother says she can’t see him any more it sounds like and that seems to make him quite angry and he won’t stop trying to get in touch with her. Very stalkerish if you ask me. I think someone might need a restraining order in place. Still no denying it is a fun song.


The Nerves version starts off with a single phone ring before it is answered and the song starts up in full force. The song has a punk vibe which makes sense as The Nerves were the start of a West Coast punk scene that brought us The Knack and The Beat. Sorry, back to the song. For a song in the mid to late 70’s, there is a 60’s vibe to it as it really has an early rock feel to it. The song is really short at just over 2 minutes, but it packs a punch and throws a lot at you in such a short time. It is so fast paced and no chance to catch your breath. There is no solo it is verse, chorus verse in rapid succession. It is a great tune.


Blondies version of the song is off their 1979 album ‘Parallel Lines’. The single was released and charted at #5 in the UK, but no charting in the U.S. The song kicks off with not one, but two rings before it is answered and the song kicks in to gear. Now Blondie hated the idea of the phone ringing at the beginning as they thought it was too gimmicky, but the caved to the producer and left it.

Blondie’s version is very similar to The Nerves with minor changes in style especially from the drumming using a double backbeat rhythm which changes from quarter notes to two eighth notes. It gives the song a slightly different feel…more pop-punk. The guitars are a little more crunchy then the original as well. The song is about 20 seconds longer due to a musical break with some killer guitar licks and drum fills. It adds a lot to the song and brings a more modern feel to it.


Def Leppard’s version is off their 2006 cover’s album called ‘Yeah!’. The album is full of great covers and hearing this one I thought about doing this post. Now, Lep’s version is not a cover of The Nerves’ song, but more of Blondie’s version. It has the same identical double phone ring and keeps to the 20 seconds extra. The big difference is the guitars are more prominent as what would you expect with Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell in your arsenal. Rick Allen’s drumming on it is sensational as well. Def Leppard seem to speed the song up a little more if that is even possible. It is louder and more rocking than punk which isn’t a bad thing necessarily.


It is time to reach a verdict of the song and it is a tough choice, but not at the same time. The Nerves version is great and all but lacking a little something that Blondie were able to give it. Deborah Harry really gave the song a different and cooler vibe coming from a woman. It felt more punk. The drumming on it was far superior to The Nerves as well. But then you get to Def Leppard’s version and you have more of a rock song and being one of my favorite bands, I think it is a killer version. However, let us be honest as Blondie’s version is the clear Winner!! You can’t beat their performance and you can’t beat her voice. Since Leppard strictly copied Blondie and Blondie added more originality to the song, then Blondie is the easy winner for me!!

I am really interested in hearing what everyone else thinks of these two songs.  Let me know which version you like the best and why.  Feel free to leave a comment and talk about the song and tell me how right or wrong I am on this one.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.


“Hanging on the Telephone”

By Jack Lee

I’m in the phone booth, it’s the one across the hall
If you don’t answer I’ll just ring it off the wall
I know she’s there, but I just had to call

Don’t leave me hanging on the telephone
Don’t leave me hanging on the telephone

I heard your mother, now she’s going out the door
Did she go to work, or just go to the store?
All those things she said I told you to ignore
Oh, why can’t we talk again?
Oh, why can’t we talk again?
Oh, why can’t we talk again?

Don’t leave me hanging on the telephone
Don’t leave me hanging on the telephone

It’s good to hear your voice, you know it’s been so long
If I don’t get your calls, then everything goes wrong
I want to tell you something you’ve known all along

Don’t leave me hanging on the telephone

I had to interrupt and stop this conversation
Your voice across the line gives me a strange sensation
I’d like to talk when I can show you my affection
Oh, I can’t control myself!
Oh, I can’t control myself!
Oh, I can’t control myself!

Don’t leave me hanging on the telephone
Hang up and run to me
Oh, hang up and run to me
Oh, hang up and run to me

35 thoughts on “The Original Vs. The Cover Vs. The Cover – “Hanging On The Telephone”

  1. I think I prefer the nerves version, the blondie cover is less good for me, I really like the original.
    the def leppard version hasn’t (for me) the def leppard sound (no enough). For me a good cover isn’t easy to make the difference with another original song of the artist.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. for me, one of the best covers is leader of the pack by twisted sister, I really like it, I love also live and let die by guns and roses.
        I don’t know if you saw but to many groups cover hair of the dog by nazareth (gnr, britny fox, warrant …).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Have to go with Blondie’s John. I could never wrap my head around that Leppard album. Burnt out on cover albums as I would rather listen to original Leppard not cover band Leppard

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I prefer the original. I think the reason I prefer it is the reason I prefer Joy Division originals over their covers. Dead Souls is a good example. The songs sound more raw. I think the lack of production bells and whistles suits the song better.

    That’s not to say the covers here don’t work. The Blondie version sounds great. It packs a punch, while keeping the punk/stripped down vibe. The Def Leppard one is good too. It’s definitely played more in the Def style.

    I don’t have Def’s Yeah album. Perhaps I need to pick it up now.

    I just finished reading your Def Leppard boxed set reviews. The sets are really well done. I already had the Pyromania and Hysteria deluxe versions before I found out about the boxed sets. I hope they reissue Retro Active with some extra Bsides.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is some cool insight in to the original. Thanks. And Lep’s Yeah is pretty good. I was a little disappointed they did a covers album, but there are some great tracks. Thanks for reading those posts. I don’t know if they’ll do a retro box as they just included it and the rare tracks from that era in the Collection Volume 2 box set.


      1. Thanks. There is one artist whose songs, to me, are always better when done by someone else – Bob Dylan. The man has written tons of classic songs, but they sound way better when performed by another.

        I like this cover vs original thread. There is so much material out there up for debate. If I were in your position, I could think of a lot of covers worth comparing. My first song would be Love is Blindness by U2. I recently discovered the Jack White version, as well as one from a magazine (NME I think) by a Canadian band called the Damn Truth.

        Speaking of covers, there is a tribute album out there called Leppard Mania. I remember finding it in a used CD store years ago. There are some amazing covers in there. Jani Lane from Warrant did Photograph. Singers from Kix, Quiet Riot and LA Guns also get in on the action. I think any fan of the band would enjoy this.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I can do this series forever as people are always covering other artist. And yes, Bob Dylan’s work covered by other people is usually better.

          I don’t have the Lep tribute album. I’m usually not too big on them, but does sound like that one has some great people on it.


  4. I respect your opinion, but I gotta give it to my boys! Def Leppard wins for me as Rick’s drumming sounds amazing and Joe Elliott’s vocals are way better than the previous versions above. I’m not a fan of the song, so it doesn’t help that the singers in The Nerves and Blondie sound completely lifeless, which is why I hate punk music.

    Liked by 1 person

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