Believe it or not, I actually can remember Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” being played in the summer of 1979. (That would have been the summer before I entered second grade.) The song came out in September 1978; but I can pinpoint the year as 1979, because this is a vivid summer memory. I heard “Heart of Glass” being played loudly on a hot day by a house halfway down the street I grew up on, and I was playing with the first Star Wars figures I’d ever gotten. (I’d adopted R2-D2 and C-3PO the prior Christmas; they lived among shuffled papers in the top drawer of the bright blue desk that Santa had also brought me.)
Blondie was a big deal. “Call Me” and “The Tide is High” were two other hits that I heard a hell of a lot as a little boy in 1980. You could guarantee those would come up at least once on the way to school on whatever radio station the bus driver played. (The little kids sat toward the front; my best friend Shawn and I had a habit of sitting in the coveted “front seat” behind the driver, who was an adult we really liked.)
If you watch the truly Kafkaesque video for “The Tide is High,” you’ll actually see an utterly bizarre homage to Star Wars, in which Darth Vader morphs into … an upright robotic rat, apparently. I am not making this up. It’s in the second video I posted.
What’s befuddling is that I don’t think I have heard Blondie played since … the very early 1980’s, I guess. Other superstars from the era occasionally get rediscovered. In 1993 and 1994, for example, the kids at Mary Washington College were hit by a horrifying revival of the truly abhorrent ABBA, not to mention a couple of “songs” from (God help us), The Partridge Family. (If you ask me, a meth epidemic would have been less troubling.)
Why not Blondie? I don’t get that.