One of the first-ever music videos I saw as a youngster was Blondie’s smash Number One hit, “Heart of Glass,”–I was probably five or six years old at time, so it may have been around 1979 or 1980. That clip left an indelible impression on me for two reasons: 1) the song’s hook-filled chorus and danceable beat; and 2) the allure of singer Deborah Harry.
This year, the band is marking its 40th anniversary with two packaged releases: a collection of re-recorded greatest hits, Blondie 4(0) Ever, and a brand-new studio album, Ghosts of Download–both of which came out this past Tuesday. (Check out the video for the band’s new song, “Sugar on the Side,” below). Coinciding with the releases is an appearance by Harry and Stein at 92Y for a conversation with esteemed Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis on May 28 about Blondie’s legendary career and influence.
In a Spinner.com interview with Harry in 2011 around the time of Blondie’s previous studio record, Panic of Girls, I asked her what accounted for Blondie’s longevity: “We’re kind of fortunate in that we appreciate each other and realize how difficult it is to keep an ensemble together for that length of time. It’s a tough business and acrimonies happen—the emotions get very strong. People change over the years. We’re fortunate we locked into a good management situation that basically helped us keep it all together.”
Blondie was and still is a multi-dimensional band, despite its roots in the downtown New York City punk scene of the mid ’70s. Whereas the bands from that era generally stuck to one approach or sound, Blondie tackled ’60s girl groups (“Rip Her to Shreds”), disco (the aforementioned “Heart of Glass”), tropical music (“The Tide is High,” “Island of Lost Souls”), European pop (“Sunday Girl,” “Call Me”), early techno (“Atomic”), and rap (“Rapture”). And not surprisingly, Harry has always been the focal point of the group and is an iconic figure in the worlds of music and fashion. But Blondie is more than the sum of its parts, particularly the contributions from co-founders Chris Stein, Clem Burke and Jimmy Destri.
Blondie’s Deborah Harry and Chris Stein with Anthony DeCurtis”will take place on May 28 at 92Y, Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street, New York, 8 p.m. $39 ($15 for patrons 35 and under). For information, visit 92Y’s website. The band’s new releases, Blondie 4(0) Ever and Ghosts of Download, are out now.