NPR logo

You Only Call Me When You're Drunk

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92771277/92770424" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Ed Harcourt: Ode To A Drunk Dialer

Ed Harcourt: Ode To A Drunk Dialer

You Only Call Me When You're Drunk

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92771277/92770424" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "You Only Call Me When You're Drunk"
  • Artist: Ed Harcourt
  • CD: The Beautiful Lie
  • Genre: Pop-Rock

In "You Only Call Me When You're Drunk," Ed Harcourt spins an annoyance into an orchestral epic. Steve Gullick hide caption

toggle caption Steve Gullick

Lots of people have friends prone to "drunk dialing" — calling late at night after a few drinks only to babble incoherently, usually into voicemails heard the next morning. In "You Only Call Me When You're Drunk," Ed Harcourt finds a way to spin that phenomenon into a moving mini-opera, as he eloquently details a friendship's original bond ("As dreamers, we'd scream all the songs that we'd known all our lives") while gently requesting an end to all the calls.

Harcourt's plea starts off slowly, driven by plaintive vocals and percussive piano. It gathers steam steadily, building into an orchestral epic that hammers home the titular refrain and culminating in a frenzy of strings. In the interim, it's hard not to feel Harcourt's resigned disappointment for a friend ("someone I used to know") he imagines passed out on a park bench. Both a wake-up call and a call to arms, "You Only Call Me When You're Drunk" nicely exemplifies Harcourt's ever-evolving and improving craft, in the process functioning as a potent cautionary example.

Listen to yesterday's Song of the Day, and subscribe to the Song of the Day newsletter.

Purchase Featured Music

Beautiful Lie

Purchase Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
Beautiful Lie
Artist
Ed Harcourt
Label
Dovecote
Released
2006

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.