Friday, October 30, 2015

Ring It Off The Wall

Today, whoever it is who handles Things Digital for Miss Debbie Harry and company decided to startle me by pointing out that this little ditty first thrilled the waiting world 37 years ago today. As is now quite routine, I feel Old.

"Hanging on the Telephone," for some reason, is the Blondie song that I remember first waking me up, making want to know more - not just about this snarling, teasing reincarnation of a thirties temptress, but about the world she and her henchmen lived in.  This performance - live, and with Debbie in good voice (not always the case, even then - she's an uneven live act, to be honest) - was for TV staple "The Midnight Special," and it's immediately clear from the visuals what a transitional time 1978 really was.  The dancers are in full-blown Saturday Night Fever drag (and dance step), next to which Blondie appears to have descended from outer space, or at least the East Village, which is more or less what they did.  They're playing the next music to people prepped for the last; remarkably, that's pretty much what Debbie has continued to do for the last four decades.

She's the Rockbird, a creature that seems as time goes by more and more interchangeable with the Phoenix, and for her I'm still hanging by the telephone.


  1. Where did those days go?

    Debbie Harry was smokin' hot on arrival, and she still smokes, when she doesn't choose to smolder.

    The transitional late 70s, indeed. The last cycle of Detroit behemoths were aging out of production ('79 Lincoln Town Car, anyone?), Farrah inspired hair was on the wane (along with Bonnie Bell lip gloss), as tossled permed hair with contoured cheeks and heavier eye make-up arrived (anyone else like Dee Dee, from the t.v. show Hunter?). Big belts and big shoulder pads were just around the corner.

    Disco withered, as alternative dance clubs emerged. In Chicago, there was Clubland, a converted old movie palace with dancers onstage and scaffolding, and a gal walking around as "The Shot Cop"; instead of bullets she had little pill cups, and a bottle premixed in each holster. New wave never knew a better home.

  2. Saw Debbie and crew live about 3 years ago. They just plowed through their 70s/80s hits. Got the impression they just wanted to get it over with. Left 20 minutes in after they ruined Atomic...

  3. Ah yes. Miss Harry and 1978 - inextricably, indelibly eitched in my psyche. I was fifteen, and she was G.O.D. as far as I was concerned. No-one (in the business we call "show") touched me with such an impact before or since... Old? We certainly are, dear. Jx

  4. I think Jimmy Destri was my first 'celebrity' crush...