Wednesday, March 04, 2015

'Heart' of the Matter

Great interview in The Wall Street Journal with Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and producer Mike Chapman about the band's first U.S. hit:

When Debbie and I were living in our top-floor apartment at 48 W. 17th St., I often messed around on a borrowed multitrack tape recorder. It let me record a rhythm guitar track and then layer melody and harmony lines on top. I wrote and developed my songs this way. In the summer of 1974, I wrote a song and referenced the catchy feel of “Rock the Boat” by the Hues Corporation, which was a big hit then. Debbie and I began calling it “The Disco Song.”

48 W. 17th St. today, which is next to the famed (but-now-closed) bar Splash

The words I came up with expressed a very high school kind of thing, of falling in and out of love and getting your feelings hurt. But instead of dwelling on the pain, the words sort of shrugged off the breakup, like, “Oh, well, that’s the way it goes.” Chris and I both came from an art background, and we were familiar with existentialism, surrealism, abstractionism and so on. The feeling I wanted to get across was, “Live and let live,” like this is what happened and now it’s not happening, you know?
Cruise on HERE.

Also: Debbie Harry explains to The Telegraph the history of this legendary photo of some of the New Wave's finest women ever. (Spoiler: Kate Bush was invited, too!) Read HERE.


Unknown said...

I don't like how they don't mention that they recorded at least three versions of the song "Once I Had a Love (The Disco Song)" before Chapman came into the picture. The song had its own life and evolution long before he came around. It slowly became more and more disco and less and less folky on their own. But I guess they didn't know how to create the disco sound, didn't care enough to figure out how to make the sound, or weren't sure they wanted to jump so far in the disco waters. Have you heard all of the demos? (I say "all" without knowing how many versions are "out there". But I mean the ones that were released on the Platinum Collection and as bonus tracks on CDs. I count three.) it's fun to track it's progress through the years.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

They totally mention it. Did you read it all the way through?

Unknown said...

Yes, of course. They mention the original version and other takes in different genres (reggae, calypso, etc.) But once they decided on disco they recorded a few demos, which show the band teaching themselves how to make the song "more disco". Perhaps I am splitting hairs, but my point is Chapman is given a tremendous amount of credit for taking this incredibly rough song and making it into gold. What Chapman did was put a sheen on a song that had already evolved, not the original, raw, folksy demo. If you ignore the other recorded demos you don't realize how much of the work Blondie did before Chapman even got to the table.