Friday, June 29, 2012

Now I Know I Know


This post is for Greg, my partner in Debbie Harry crime back when I was a teenager. As I've lamented before, I didn't get to see Blondie in concert in the band's heyday -- my age and a little bad luck both being factors -- but I did finally see Debbie Harry solo in 1989 when she was touring for "Def, Dumb and Blonde." My memories of that night are quite clear, yet I've often wonder if I'd embellished them. Greg and I drove to After the Gold Rush, a dive bar in Tempe near Arizona State University that had live shows, and managed to secure a spot up front. Debbie hadn't performed live regularly since Blondie's disastrous (and aborted) tour for "The Hunter" in 1982, and the one time we'd seen her live since -- on "Saturday Night Live" promoting "Rockbird" in early '87 -- she was shaky and a bit out of shape, so we were expecting the worst.


But then there she was on stage, the "old" Debbie -- natural and gorgeous, with her trademark dark roots and sky-high cheekbones -- and she sounded absolutely incredible, busting out an impressive set list that included everything from "Dreaming" and "Rapture" to "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence Dear" and "Cautious Lip" -- and even "Liar, Liar"! All of my doubts about my memories of that night were finally put to rest once, though, when I stumbled upon two clips from that exact era -- one from when Debbie was playing a series of sold-out shows at the Borderline in London, and one from when she and Chris were in Vancouver and I confirmed that I was right: she looked and sounded incredible. See for yourself here:

   

And here. (I'm thinking she had her first facelift between "Rockbird" and "Def, Dumb and Blonde" because that jawline is too good to be "true"!)



She looked and sounded OK on on Arsenio Hall, but the first part of this interview is excruciating!



 By 1990, she's losing it a bit -- that "mascot" is out of control -- but she does reveal to an Australian talk show host what her two favorite Madonna songs are:



And while I'm at it, I had never seen Debbie on "Kids Are People Too," from 1980. Her too-brief answers are strangely charming -- and those kids ask some great questions!

   

 And what about this bizarre chat? It's labeled as being from 1982, but has to be from 1983 or later (they talk about "Teaneck Tanzi" in the past tense.) Don't recognize the show -- anyone? -- but more kids asking questions. Debbie is as deliciously awkward as ever ... and that Carol Brady hairdo!!!!

 

And finally, Debbie's 2010 appearance on the Australian edition of "60 Minutes" is worth a look. How did I miss this story about "In the Flesh" becoming a smash Down Under when the DJ accidentally played the B-side of their debut, "X Offender"? She hasn't gotten any better at interviews over the years -- and you'll positively cringe as she tells her totally not true Ted Bundy story in explicit detail!


3 comments:

Blobby said...

"Liar Liar' played on my Shuffle today while i was lifting. I love that song.

greg said...

I vaguely remember "Kids Are People Too," but immediately remembered having a crush on host Michael Young. Damn!

The "bizarre chat" is awkward...Debbie looks like she's being interrogated. I can't figure out if the boy in the video wants to be or do Debbie.

I was disappointed the 1990 video wouldn't play through it's entirety. Just curious, what did you mean when you said Debbie was "starting to lose it" when you wrote the video description?

The first time I saw Debbie live was 1999 on the "No Exit" tour at the Wisconsin State Fair. It was a last minute decision, and I remember being shocked that there were roughly 200 people in attendance. Debbie performed as if it was a sold out stadium. I've been a fan ever since.

Kenneth Walsh said...

@Greg: Yes, an "interrogation" is the perfect way to describe it! She kinda acts that way in all interviews! I thought she didn't look quite as glam in the 1990 video as she had in the two previous, perhaps gaining a few. I didn't see Blondie proper until the "No Exit" tour, either. But they played to a sold-out house at the Madison Square Garden Theater. What a night!!!!

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