“Call Me” was a big hit for the group Blondie and lead singer Debbie Harry back in 1980. She’s still calling the shots in her band, and with our Tracy Smith this morning she offers a SUMMER SONG:
It’s been more than 40 years since Blondie first appeared on the New York punk rock scene. But when Debbie Harry sings, it’s 1979 all over again.
To hear Blondie perform “One Way or Another” click on the video player below.
She’s the voice, and the face, of a band whose name was inspired by a New York City catcall. (“Hey, Blondie!”)
“I like that you took that and made it yours, and the band’s,” said Smith.
“It seemed pretty obvious,” Harry said. “I felt that it was something so deeply embedded in everyone’s consciousness, that it was a no-brainer.”
Since then, the band has sold more than 40 million records — and Debbie Harry has become one of pop music’s best known, and best loved, voices.
Born in Miami and adopted as a baby, Deborah Ann Harry grew up in middle-class New Jersey. “I came from fairly conservative, small-town kind of upbringing. And I guess I wanted out.”
And she got out. She moved to New York and was singing with a small club act when she met guitarist Chris Stein, with whom she co-founded Blondie in 1974.
“I just thought Debbie was really great. That was pretty much it,” Stein said. “I liked to think I saw what everybody else saw later on. But it was a little more focused maybe at that point.”
Focused, indeed. Stein, a renowned photographer, saw Harry both as an object of affection, and an irresistible subject.
The band became a mainstay of the New York punk scene, and regulars at CBGB, the famed music club on a seedy block of New York’s Lower East Side. The site of CBGB is now an upscale clothing store.
“It was a lot of decay and there were, you know, massive garbage strikes,” Harry recalled of New York City in the ’70s. “It was fun.”
“It was kind of nasty and kind of fun,” said Smith.
“Yeah. I think, you know, when everything is not so precious and so valuable, people get a lot more creative and enjoy life a little bit, ’cause they really have to.”
In those days, Blondie was big overseas, but didn’t have a major hit in the U.S. Then came 1978, and the album “Parallel Lines.” “Heart of Glass,” co-written by Harry, became one of the biggest records of the year.
To hear Blondie perform “Heart of Glass,” click on the video…