"Call Me When You're Sober" is a song on the second studio album, The Open Door.
Background and Development
"Call Me When You're Sober" is written by Amy Lee and Terry Balsamo, and produced by Dave Fortman. It was one of the last songs recorded for The Open Door. Lee's sisters, Carrie and Lori, perform backing vocals during the line "Make up your mind." The song was recorded at Record Plant Studios and mixed at Ocean Way Studios, both in Los Angeles. In an interview with MTV News in August 2006, Lee said that the song was inspired by her ex-boyfriend Shaun Morgan, lead singer of the band Seether. She added that it was also inspired by other things that happened in her life, "it was also about the people I was working with that were kind of holding me down and manipulating me and betraying me. I had to put my foot down and walk out the door." Lee explained the song further:
During a 2011 interview with Spin Lee said, "It's mostly a chick anthem: 'You only want me when you're drunk. You only want me because I'm not there.' I definitely get a lot of girls who are like, 'That's my song. I assigned that ringtone to my ex-boyfriend.'" The track was leaked to radio on July 30, 2006, allowing several radio stations to play the track early without it being released as a CD single. It became available for digital download on September 4, and was officially announced and released as a single on September 25, 2006. Rumors began to surface that Wind-up chose to release the track as a single themselves, which was stated as incorrect by Lee on the now defunct fan site Evboards.com: "Wind up didn't choose this single- I did, and I had to fight for it. I love this song. Also, they didn't change anything about it. This is the way we made it. We fought over the guitar part but eventually just got the mix right."
According to the sheet music published by Alfred Publishing on the website Musicnotes.com, "Call Me When You're Sober" was written in the key of E minor. It is set in common time and performed in a moderately fast tempo of 96 beats per minute. Lee's vocal range in the song spans from the musical note of G3 to Eb5. Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times said that "Call Me When You're Sober" uses different genres such as piano balladry, nu metal, symphonic rock and electropop. It starts as a "piano ballad, swerves into hard rock, then builds to a grandiose pop-orchestral refrain, and later on a glorious, glimmering bridge." During an interview with MTV News, Lee revealed the inspiration behind the song saying: "It's very obvious who it's about. I know that people would read between the lines and think it's about my ex-boyfriend Shaun Morgan [of Seether], but I wanted to be completely clear. I needed so bad to say exactly what I was feeling for so long. Music is therapy for me. It's my outlet for every negative thing I've ever been through. It lets me turn something bad into something beautiful."
Lee accuses her lover, "Don't cry to me/ If you loved me/ You would be here with me/ Don't lie to me/ Just get your things/ I've made up your mind." "Call Me When You're Sober" uses the lyrics "You never call me when you're sober/ You only want it cause it's over," which is directed towards her ex-boyfriend. According to a writer on the website Contactmusic.com, she wrote the song to "vent her frustration" and a writer for The Daily Princetonian concluded that it was aimed towards her ex-boyfriend. The Guardian's Caroline Sullivan concluded that the song was addressed to Evanescence's former guitarist, Ben Moody. In the song, Lee further explains why the relationship won't work "or hoping that he'll crash and burn and finally learn a lesson." She later sings the lines: "Don't cry to me … If you loved me, you would be here with me / … How could I have burned paradise? How could I … you were never mine" during the bridge of the song.
The music video for "Call Me When You're Sober" was directed by Marc Webb and filmed in Hollywood, Los Angeles in July, and was released on August 7, 2006. The theme of the whole video is based on the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. During an interview with MTV News, Lee described the music video saying, "the song is so literal, the lyrics and everything – I mean, obviously, just by the title – that we felt like the video would have the freedom to go in a less literal direction. So it's [a modern re-imagining of] Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf and sort of a more cool, superhero, rock and roll Little Red Riding Hood." According to an interview, behind the scenes the director wanted Lee to straddle her "ex-lover" in the video, but Lee, opposed to selling sex, refused. Lee jokingly said: "You can't blame a guy for trying." Each of the wolves used in the video had personal trainers. Despite Lee's allergy to them, in the video she "pet them and [sang] to them". She further explained the shooting with the wolves:
The video begins with Lee wearing a red satin cape, and singing while sitting at opposite ends of a dining table with her "lover", played by British actor Oliver Goodwill. Lee is then shown standing in front of a mirror while her lover comes behind her; he starts to massage her shoulders and prepares to kiss her, but Lee refuses, saying that he is "too late". This cuts to Lee and four back-up dancers descending a staircase where, upon reaching the bottom, first Lee then the dancers are lifted into the air. At the end of the song, Lee walks atop the length of the dining table, while chairs and tabletop items are flung aside as she passes. She reaches her lover at the end, places her finger on his lips, and sings "I've made up your mind". Shots of the band performing and of Lee sitting with wolves are interspersed among the other elements of the video.
The video was nominated in the category for Best International Video by a group at the 2007 MuchMusic Video Awards. It was also nominated in the category for Best Video at the 2007 NRJ Music Awards.
The song received generally positive reviews from contemporary critics. Bill Lamb of the website About.com gave the song four out of five stars stating: "It is great to hear rock power chords that radio will play". He described the song: "There's a bit more zip in tempo than some of the past Evanescence favorites, but otherwise little has changed. Amy Lee's throaty voice soars over crunchy power chords that give way to quiet, contemplative moments." In his review of The Open Door he put the song on the list of Top Tracks on The Open Door alongside: "Sweet Sacrifice", "Your Star", "Good Enough" and "Lacrymosa". R.J. Carter of the music website The Trades said that "Call Me When You're Sober" has a perfect intro that shows Lee's vocal ability and added that the song is "the album's standout performance". The Boston Globe called the song a "hard - charging opening salvo". Brendan Butler of Cinema Blend called "Call Me When You're Sober" the "most-friendly radio song" along with "Sweet Sacrifice". He noted that those are the only two songs that "don't excruciatingly wane after a minute". The New York Times' Kelefa Sanneh praised Lee's vocal work, adding that she sounds terrific which "crashes through different styles while remaining diabolically hummable." She noted that the song is a classical Evanescence song, which, according to her, was "bombastic, meticulously produced (Ms. Lee's vocals are doubled for the second stanza), unreasonably addictive".
While reviewing The Open Door, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone said of "Call Me When You're Sober": "Her vocals are over the top, in the mode of Eighties shoulder-pad belters like Pat Benatar or Heart's Ann Wilson, which suits breakup songs like "Sweet Sacrifice" and "Call Me When You're Sober." Later while reviewing their third self-titled studio album Evanescence (2011) Nick Catucci of the same publication noted that there was "nothing as saucy as the last album's hit, 'Call Me When You're Sober.'" Simon Cosyn of The Sun said that the song is a great put-down and: "It charts her [Lee's] personal break-up with Shaun Morgan... and his problems with booze." The Courier-Mail's Jason Nahrung, noted that the song was reminiscent of her work with Moody stating that it uses "heavy bass and drums, spotless and lavish production and Lee's unmistakable vocals." A writer for Canada.com concluded that the band showed their power on the "biting single". Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine highlighted the song saying that it had structure, hooks and momentum. Nicholas Fonseca of Entertainment Weekly called "Call Me When You're Sober" an "angry-goth anthem." Ed Thompson of IGN put the song on his list Definitely Download adding that it was "familiar to anyone who has listened to the radio at any point in the past two months."
In more negative reviews, Michael Endelman of Entertainment Weekly gave the song a C stating: "The sound of a woman scorned? Very mild, guessing from unmemorable kiss-off, 'Call Me When You're Sober'. Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee's latest pop-metal melodrama never lives up to the great title, as the melody hovers in a holding pattern." Alex Nunn of musicOMH showed incredulity that the "angelic-vocalled woman" who wrote "My Immortal" could "churn out such dross as 'Call Me When You're Sober'" and added, "musically it's power chords and big riffs-ahoy, generic, mundane, boring stuff." In another review, he said that "Call Me When You're Sober" hints that: "Evanescence are a mere shadow of the band they used to be." Jenni Cole of the same publication concluded that there was nothing to recommend on the song and added that it was a "disappointing return" for the band.
Bill Lamb of About.com put the song at number 3 on his list of Top 10 Most Annoying Pop Songs of 2006 saying: "It was good to hear the voice of Amy Lee from Evanescence back on the radio this fall...for the first 3 or 4 times. After play 12 or 13 it all just sounds like unnecessary histrionics. Let's dig down deep for something new in the Evanescence repertoire." However, he later put the song at number 72 on his list of Top 100 Pop Songs of 2006 adding that the song "sounds a bit too much like we've heard it before." "Call Me When You're Sober" was placed at number 10 on VH1's list of "Top 40 of 2006". The song was nominated in the category for Favorite Rock Song at the 33rd People's Choice Awards.
For the week ending September 2, 2006, "Call Me When You're Sober" debuted at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number 11 on the Hot Digital Songs chart. It moved to number 10 the next week, which became its peak position.] It was the band's third top ten single on the chart and remained on it for seventeen weeks. "Call Me When You're Sober" ranked number 77 on the Hot 100 year-end chart, a lower position than those of the band's previous singles "Bring Me to Life" and "My Immortal". It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 17, 2009, selling more than 1 million copies.
"Call Me When You're Sober" debuted at number 32 on the UK Singles Chart for the week ending September 30, 2006, and the next week moved to number 4 which was its peak position. It spent a total of 8 weeks on the chart and it was last ranked at number 69 on November 11, 2006. On the year-end chart in the United Kingdom, the song was placed at number 139. It ranked number 5 on ARIA's list of most played songs in 2007.