Blondie continues on musical journey, decades in
Many longtime musical groups satisfy their fans by playing the well-loved oldies from their heyday, and feel no need for new music. But that's not Blondie, even though the New York City-based band could succeed indefinitely with the megahits from the '70s and '80s.
Debbie Harry, the singer and songwriter with the signature white-blond locks, says that the 2011 release of “Panic of Girls,” Blondie's ninth studio album, gave the band and fans an important step in the group's continuing, musical journey that is approaching four decades. The album has garnered a lot of positive feedback from fans and music critics, Harry says.
At Blondie's live show, coming to the Palace Theatre in Greensburg on Friday, Harry and her five bandmates mix up the new songs with the old favorites, like “Heart of Glass,” “Call Me,” “Rapture” and the reggae-like “The Tide is High.”
On “Panic of Girls,” Harry says, “the music is contemporary and feeling like today's world.”
“But it sounded like us, and there was a certain sense of ... continuity and earlier Blondie style and songs,” she says. “What we do is make a collection. … It's a variety of different styles that we've interpreted over the years. I think that's what people expect from us.”
Making new music and “living in the moment” is important, Harry says, because “you have to be stimulated and ... creative and imaginative.”
“As a writer … I just feel like I have to be myself,” she says. “There's material that stands the test of time. But I've grown and changed somewhat, and I feel like that should be important.”
Blondie — with roots in New Wave and punk — has reconnected with many of the band's longtime 30-something and middle-aged fans, and gained a new generation, with the later work. That started with the band's 1997 reunion, after a breakup in the early '80s.
The 1999 album “The Exit” produced the single “Maria,” which became a No. 1 hit in the U.K. exactly 20 years after “Heart of Glass” did, though it didn't do nearly as well in the United States. Still, the hit gained many younger fans for Blondie. In 2003, the band released “The Curse of Blondie,” which produced the dance hit “Good Boys.” Blondie's comeback continued with the 2006 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Now, with “Panic of Girls,” Blondie continues to draw and retain fans of all ages, and the band has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide since its genesis in the mid-'70s.
The continuity is exciting for Blondie and fans, says the now-60-something Harry.
“If you were a fan years ago, then I think it's even more interesting to know what those artists are doing and if you still can relate to their style, their mental picture, and poetry,” she says. “It's reaffirming.
“I think our audience would be very happy if we just played all the old songs. But the die-hard fans … are interested in the new stuff,” Harry says. “They really want to keep up with what we're doing.”
Band members — featuring originals Harry, Clem Burke and Chris Stein; along with newer members Leigh Foxx, Tommy Kessler and Matt Katz-Bohen — already have written a handful of new songs for future Blondie works, Harry says.
One of Blondie's best-known songs, “Rapture,” has earned the title in many circles of the first rap song. During parts of the song, Harry's singing turns to talking and rapping with quirky lyrics, like “Cause the man from Mars stopped eatin' cars and eatin' bars — and now he only eats guitars!”
Although “Rapture” may have introduced the rap style to mainstream pop music, hip-hop music already had begun as a subculture, and rappers used pre-recorded tracks as background music, Harry says. Band members fell in love with the sound, and recorded “Rapture” — an original song with lyrics written to an original tune — to pay tribute and introduce people to the rap style, she says.
“We felt it had something totally unique and fresh,” Harry says of the rap style. “People started really checking it out.”
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7824.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Crosby understands rule prohibiting him from playing, stresses he is hurt
- Former Steelers LB Haggans to do time in Westmoreland jail
- ‘Let It Snow’ filming in Millvale
- Pitt adds Texas wide receiver as 16th commitment to Class of 2015
- Ex-Steelers QB Batch creates sports medicine startup at Pitt
- WVU frat pledge had fatal blood alcohol level more than 6 times legal limit
- Pittsburgh cracks down on overcrowded houses
- LeBeau won’t join Cardinals coaching staff
- Allegheny County assistant public defender charged for allegedly lying to court staff
- Owner of Italian Village Pizza stores gets house arrest for tax evasion
- Cal U professor who died in campus office was lawyer, civil rights leader