"Telephone Call from Istanbul" as written by and Tom Waits....
All night long on the broken glass
Living in a medicine chest
Medite-Romanian hotel back
Sprawled across a roll top desk
The monkey rode a blade on an overhead fan
They paint the donkey blue if you pay
I got a telephone call from Istanbul
My baby's coming home today

Will you sell me one of those if I shave my head?
"Get me out of town" is what fireball said
Never trust a man in a blue trenchcoat
Never drive a car when you're dead
Saturday's a festival, Friday's a gem
Dye your hair yellow and raise your hand
Follow me to Beulah's on dry creek road
I got to wear the hat that my baby done sewed

Will you sell me one of those if I shave my head?
"Get me out of town" is what fireball said
Never trust a man in a blue trenchcoat
Never drive a car when you're dead
Saturday's a festival, Friday's a gem
Dye your hair yellow and raise your hand
Follow me to Beulah's on dry creek road
I got to wear the hat that my baby done sewed

Well, take me down to buy a tux on red rose bear
I got to cut a hole in the day
I got a telephone call from Istanbul
My baby's coming home today

Sell me one of those if I shave my head
"Get me out of town" is what fireball said
Never trust a man in a blue trenchcoat
Never drive a car when you're dead
Saturday's a festival, now Friday's just a gem
Dye your hair yellow and raise your hand
Follow me to Beulah's on dry creek road
I got to wear the hat that my baby done sewed, whoa


Lyrics submitted by yuri_sucupira, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Telephone Call From Istanbul" as written by Thomas Alan Waits

Lyrics © Jalma Music

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Telephone Call from Istanbul song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentSeems pretty straightforward. His girlfriend's been abroad, in Turkey. She's coming home - he knows because he had a phone call from Istanbul. And he's got to tidy up, get some clean clothes, and a bunch of flowers for her.
    scottmeon October 25, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI could be mistaken, but the song seems to be about drugs. “Living in a medicine chest” in a hotel, life seems a mess... he mentions a “monkey rode a blade on an overhead fan” could be referencing the proverbial monkey on his back. But then he gets a call from Istanbul, of all places, that his “‘baby’s’ comin home today” could be a slick way of saying ‘I have your drugs (from near that place in the world) when you’re ready today’. The donkey painting line could reference how a dealer will do anything as long as you pay.

    The chorus I’m guessing is about drug related life... buying crazy stuff, people needing to “get out of town”, don’t trust this type of dealer, and definitely don’t drive when you’re ripped. Mentioning the weekend when he’s going to be partying, dying his hair to disguise himself, going to the dealer’s house on a certain road, and wearing a hat agreed upon by both to signal everything is alright.

    “Going to get a tux” is just saying ‘I’m so damn excited, I’m gonna get so wrecked’ OOOOOOR, “I’m gonna cut a whole in the day”... as in, ‘I’m going to black the F out and lose a huge part of my day’.

    I could be wrong and every single line could be appearing to me as an indirect drug reference, probably because I’m a recovering addict myself... But it seems pretty darn coincidental that everything lines up so nicely in a beautiful, indirect manner that only Tom Waits could think up.
    N9inchnails9on December 27, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOh and connecting to what KubalahtKoala said, if Buelah is Buelah is ‘the wellspring our Freudian subconscious and Jungian collective unconscious where "contraries are equally True" (Marriage of Heaven & Hell)’... then that is an excellent way to describe a place you will be purchasing/doing (entering) your drugs. And anyone who has any familiarity of what an addiction will do to your mind, the places it will take your mind, and the intense appreciation for every ‘next breath’ you’re able to take..

    I don’t know if Tom was ever addicted to anything but cigarettes and booze, but considering his golden years encompassed most of the 70s, I wouldn’t be surprised if he caught a bit of that white line fever that Lemmy had for amphetamines, or way more likely for Tom’s more laid back case, cocaine.
    N9inchnails9on December 27, 2017   Link
  • -1
    Song MeaningBuelah is a reference to the bible & perhaps William Blake's cosmic mythology. In the bible, Buelah is the name for Palestine redeemed: "and they land shall be called Buelah, for the lord deligteth in thee, and thy land shall be married (Buelah is hebrew for married)." Isiah:lxii:4. For Blake, Buelah was inbetween Eternity (Heaven) & Ulro (eality in its most materialistic, newtonian, soulless form). Buelah is the wellspring our Freudian subconscious and Jungian collective unconscious where "contraries are equally True" (Marriage of Heaven & Hell). It is the spiritual location of Blake's "Innocence" poems. In short, it is certainly a place where you could "drive a car when your dead", cut holes in time, where fireballs (like burning bushes)talk & where you might find your long lost love returning from halfway around the world.
    KubalahtKoalaon April 24, 2010   Link

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