This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #323: Heart of Glass by Blondie.
First things, first……”Blondie” is the name of a band, not a person. Many people mistakenly think that lead singer, Deborah Harry is “Blondie”. The truth of the matter is, when Harry was just a teenager, she knew enough about how the world worked to know that her looks would open doors for her in life. Thus, she made the decision to dye her hair platinum blonde. She decided to take ownership of the catcalls she was receiving from men all across NYC and chose the name, “Blondie” on purpose, for the band. From that point on, her identity and the band’s identity slowly merged into one and now, like I said, many people mistakenly believe that “Blondie” is the singer, instead of being the band.
Debbie Harry formed “Blondie” with, then boyfriend, Chris Stein. They released an album that was met with positive reviews and became regular performers at NYC clubs such as CBGBs. Because of the timing of “Blondie’s” arrival on the NYC Music Scene, Deborah Harry became the face of Punk Rock in America. But, Harry and Stein had ambitions that extended beyond Punk and soon, they released an album called, “Parallel Lines” that contained songs that were influenced by disco music. One of those songs was called, “Heart of Glass”, which went on to sell over two million copies and made it all the way to #1 on the charts. “Blondie” had many other Top Ten hits in the decade that followed, including, “Maria”, “Call Me”, “The Tide is High”, “One Way or Another”, “Dreaming”, “Atomic” and “Rapture”.
The song, “Rapture” is interesting, too. One of the most notable aspects of Deborah Harry’s personality was the ease with which she made relationships with people considered to be “movers and shakers” in NYC. For example, she was great friends with artist Andy Warhol, as well as, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager (who owned Studio 54 nightclub). Because of her connection with the club, CBGBs, she was introduced to some of the pioneers of the emerging new genre of music at the time called, Hip Hop. In particular, she became friends with Hip Hop pioneer, Grandmaster Flash. Through that relationship, she began to experiment with rap-style singing and songwriting. This manifested itself in “Blondie’s” hit song, “Rapture”, which contained whole sections of rap and is often cited as the first Rap-oriented song to reach #1 on the mainstream charts.
As for “Heart of Glass”, many critics point to this song as being very important in the evolution of Electronic Dance Music. At the time of its release, there was a great debate about whether or not, Disco was “real music”. There were several “Disco sucks” rallies in which mounds of disco albums would be burned on a pyre. Then, along came, “Blondie” who, at the time, were still better known as a rock band, playing a Disco-influenced song called, “Heart of Glass”. As Harry stared into tv cameras and smiled her beautiful smile, she was almost daring people to claim that “Heart of Glass” was not a good song. A collective “gulp” was heard across America and record buyers seemed to acknowledge the fact that dance-oriented music could, actually, truly be good music. The song release happened at the same time as “Donna Summer” was releasing her big hit, “I Feel Love” and all of her dance-oriented songs that followed in her wake. Together, Donna Summer” and “Blondie” packed a one-two punch that stopped the “Disco sucks” movement in its tracks and helped pave the way for the emergence of Electronic Dance Music as a legitimate music genre.
“Blondie” has sold almost 100 million albums over the course of a career that is still active to this day. They have multiple Gold and Platinum hits and were inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. “Heart of Glass” is one hit, among many but, more importantly, it highlights Deborah Harry’s excellent sense of knowing what to do and when to do it and who to get to know in order to make things happen. She was the face of Punk in NYC, she had the first Rap-oriented #1 hit in the US and she helped establish Electronic Dance Music as a genre with “Heart of Glass”. She was an actress, an artist, a philanthropist, a writer, a singer and a friend to many. Her name is Deborah Harry. Her band is called, “Blondie”. This is one of her many hit songs, “Heart of Glass”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Heart of Glass” by Blondie, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Blondie, can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP for playing the best music by female artists! The link to their awesome website can be found here.