In September, 1978, Blondie released an album that was going to turn my world sideways. I didn’t realize it at the time. Hell, I didn’t even know the album had been released. Blondie was not on my radar. I was laser-focused on figuring out how I was going to come up with enough money to buy KISS’s four solo albums, which were also released that month.
I don’t remember when I first heard the song, but I remember the moment it turned me on. I was working as a busboy in a now-long-gone restaurant called Farmer’s Market. I had just finished a sweep of the dining area and returned to the kitchen. The cooks and dish washer had an old radio they kept on a shelf. As I entered the kitchen, I took a slow, deep breath as I looked across the kitchen and out the back door. It was about 4 or 5 in the afternoon, a beautiful, sunny day, right in the middle of winter. The kind of day that makes you feel Spring is in the air. And then Heart of Glass came on the radio. I must’ve heard it before because I immediately knew it was Blondie. Or maybe the DJ announced it. I can’t remember.
Ugh, I thought, disco.
And then the song jumped into me. I could almost feel it coming in through the air I breathed. Into my lungs, thumping my heart, flooding my soul, melding with my DNA.
Great, now I like disco? How the hell was I going to explain this to my metal head friends? I mean, I couldn’t even explain it to myself. I liked hard rock and heavy metal. I liked KISS and Alice Cooper and AC/DC. Sabbath, Priest, and The Rolling Stones. But this? Blondie? Disco?
But it didn’t matter. These were the fleeting thoughts of a fourteen year old boy. The truth was, I knew, knew, this song was special. I knew it was going to be in my life for an extremely long time. And I didn’t care what anyone thought. I liked – no, I loved this goddamned song.
KISS solo albums be damned, I bought Heart of Glass on .45 as soon as I could. And I played the hell out of it. And on days when I got bored, I flipped it over and played the B-side, 11:59, which was not disco, was a great song, and confused me because, hey, this disco band has a non-disco song.
It’d be several years before I figured out the truth about Blondie. What a great band. They came up through the punk years in NYC, playing Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. Even then, they were known for mixing it up, playing different styles of music. But because they came up through the punk ranks, they had a punk reputation, so much so that Heart of Glass branded them as traitors to the punk ethos, whatever the hell that was. It’s true. Go read about the song.
I don’t know how anyone can listen to Parallel Lines and think Blondie is a disco band. Picture This, my all-time favorite Blondie song, sure ain’t disco. One Way or Another sure ain’t disco. 11:59 sure ain’t disco. But if your only exposure to Blondie was Heart of Glass then, okay, disco. And if that was you’re only exposure, then you probably weren’t aware they came up through the punk ranks. I guess the long and short of it that sometimes people are dicks.
But yeah, Heart of Glass. It sounds as pure and awesome today as it did on that warm winter afternoon, 1979. Here’s the official video, filmed at NYC’s infamous Studio 54. And yeah, the Studio 54 association didn’t help with the whole “disco” thing.
Neither did that big disco ball.
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