Friday, June 29, 2012

My Life with Blondie

I remember as a kid first hearing "Heart of Glass" on the radio.  I would have been 10 at the time and I had a single speaker mono radio with a tape player my dad brought back from one of his TDY trips to Saudi Arabia and a GE Clock Radio that served me faithfully until it crapped out about 10-12 years later in my college years.

I have fond memories of KIIK 104 out of Davenport, Iowa.  I think I mostly listened to that station and 97X (WXLP) out of Moline.  But the music mix back then was so diverse.  Plus, I think it was still in the young years of FM radio, so that was probably what made it so wonderful.

"Heart of Glass" caught my attention with Deborah Harry's siren-like voice.  It was a rockin' tune with that sweet disco drum and bass combination.  As far as I was concerned, that was the perfect mix when I was 10 years old.  Then "One Way or Another" came out with the raunchy guitar and I was hooked.

I remember seeing Blondie on TV one night.  Whenever I could actually see the band on TV that I heard on the radio, I was fascinated.  My parents would often point out to me when someone was lip-syncing.  That is kind of funny that I judge performers on TV to this day because of my parents pointing this out.  The snobby critics of music that they are (sarcasm).  

We moved to Oklahoma when I was 11.  "Eat to the Beat" came out and I was really into "Dreaming".  I think that was my favorite song at one point.  I had a serious crush on the girl across the street.  She gave me no quarter.  I told her I liked her and she told me she was not interested.  We were 11, though, so looking back, that whole boys liking you thing was maybe kind of new to her.  Plus, I probably wasn't exactly a prize at age 11, just hitting my growth spurt and growing out of the chunky 10-year old that I was.

I knew she liked Blondie, and her birthday was coming up, so I saved up my allowance and went and bought her the "Eat to the Beat" cassette.  Surprisingly, I had it in my head that we were just friends when I did this.  I swear to you that I was not being manipulative when I bought this.  It was probably more like the beginning of me sharing music with people who had similar interests or were curious, something I continue to do in my life.

I remember thinking, "Jeez!  A recorded tape costs more than a record!"  I think it ended up being over $10 and my dad had to spring for the tax because I forgot about that part.

When I gave that tape to Jo, it was like the next day and she wanted to hang out with me.  She was being really kind, no longer stand-offish, and I was kind of confused.  "So I bought you something and now you want to be my girlfriend?  I wasn't good enough for you before?".  This is what I was thinking.  It really kind of turned me off.

After a year in Oklahoma, we moved to Germany and I just got greasier in appearance.  I had no sense of style.  Three years later, we got a trip back to Oklahoma and I spent a week with my best friend, Barry.  I asked him, "Hey, does Jo still live in her house?"  He told me yeah.  So we went around to her house.  I was likely riddled with acne and hadn't showered in a day or two. Hanging out in the 90-degree Oklahoma heat.  Can you imagine how delicious that was? We just show up and I started talking to her.  Her younger sister recognized me right away, but Jo did not.  She shot me a glare and moved away from me.  Her sister told her who I was I and I could see her face get this disgusted look and she said, "Really?"  At that point, I turned to Barry and said, "Come on."

The other big hit I remember was "Rapture".  The Sugar Hill Gang also was on the radio at that time with their "rap" song.  Then I didn't hear anything for years with that style of music.  Could be because none of the kids I hung out with in Germany listened to that style of music, or the fact that we didn't have normal American pop radio in Germany.  Fast forward to 1986 and MTV was blowing up with Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys.

Once I got my CD player, I eventually picked up the "Greatest Hits" through Columbia House.  A band we shared a stage with called Funky Thermos even did a cover of "Call Me", which would probably be one of my favorite songs by Blondie these days.  Likely because "The Thermos" covered it.  The Gear Daddies also had a cover of "The Tide is High" that they released as a B-Side.  It was pretty decent.

I even made a beer named after "Parallel Lines".