Scratched Into Our Souls

Blondie – “Heart of Glass” | July 27, 2010

New wave isn’t a particularly fashionable genre. The punk kids disapprove because it took the balls away from their precious rock and roll angst, mainstream pop disapproves because it seems too kitsch (Devo, anybody?), and the indie kids don’t appreciate it because it’s so immediate and easy to like. Despite this disapproval and glares, New Wave dominated a good corner of the market in the 80s, and for good reason, though it is still overlooked quite a bit even when studying pop retrospectives. 

Blondie remain one of New Waves most endearing bands and have contributed some of the genres most appealing and memorable songs. In the face of a male-dominated critical eyes and an equally misogynistic outlook on the commercial potential of women-fronted rock bands, Debbie Harry managed to transform her sexuality into something that kept both boys and girls interested in her. Hell, where does everybody think Madonna got her sexual androgyny? Of course, New Wave had its hand deeply entrenched in the LGBT subcultural cookie jar itself, borrowing plenty of musical elements from disco as well as projecting a successful commercial image that was palatable for everybody, despite gender orientations. 

A classic Blondie song that has stood the test of time is “Heart of Glass” off the essential Blondie album Parallel Lines. The song’s indellible hooks are everywhere and firmly entrenched in the book of pop, cementing “Heart of Glass” as one of the best scorned-love songs of all time. Who could forget that opening confession, “Once I had a love, and it was a gas / Soon turned out had a heart of glass,” with all of its ambiguities and lack of detail as Debbie Harry felt like she was baring her soul to you. Borrowing from the disco songbook, the song repeats its own chorus and hooks ad nauseam for nearly 6 minutes, even lending itself to a closing remix titled “Once I Had A Love (The Disco Song).”

It’s Blondie’s best song, and one of pop’s finest moments. It practically became a model by which many women in pop would project themselves, and its affects can still be felt today. “Heart of Glass” paved the way for Madonna, who paved the way for our very own Lady Gaga, as well as paving the way for female fronted rock bands like The Pretenders, who helped to influence equally No Doubt and Paramore.  Anybody who has felt love turn into a pain-in-the-ass and likes pop music can find something to appreciate in this song, and it has left an indelible and impressive legacy.

Listen: Blondie – “Heart Of Glass”

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    About Me: Chris Robinson

    A budding writer and avid music fan from Los Angeles, California, I am a recent graduate of Music History from UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music. I've written for the UCLA Daily Bruin, graduated valedictorian from high school, and enjoy many different types of music, from The Beatles to Beethoven, and everything in between. I wrote my senior thesis on lyrical misinterpretations in popular music, focusing on Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA."

    Add me on last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/crob3888

    All music posted on this blog is for sampling purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Go out and buy their music, attend their shows, and buy merchandise.

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