Heart of Glass (song)

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"Heart of Glass"
Single by Blondie
from the album Parallel Lines
ReleasedJanuary 3, 1979
Format7", 12" vinyl
RecordedJune 1978
GenrePop, New Wave, disco
Length5:50 (12" version)
3:54 (LP/international 7" version)
3:22 (US 7" version)
LabelChrysalis
Writer(s)Deborah Harry, Chris Stein
ProducerMike Chapman
CertificationPlatinum (UK, NZ)
Gold (US, Germany)
Blondie singles chronology
"Hanging on the Telephone"
(1978)
"Heart of Glass"
(1979)
"Sunday Girl"
(1979)
Audio sample
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Alternative cover
US edition of the "Heart of Glass" single with alternative cover art.
 
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"Heart of Glass"
Single by Blondie
from the album Parallel Lines
ReleasedJanuary 3, 1979
Format7", 12" vinyl
RecordedJune 1978
GenrePop, New Wave, disco
Length5:50 (12" version)
3:54 (LP/international 7" version)
3:22 (US 7" version)
LabelChrysalis
Writer(s)Deborah Harry, Chris Stein
ProducerMike Chapman
CertificationPlatinum (UK, NZ)
Gold (US, Germany)
Blondie singles chronology
"Hanging on the Telephone"
(1978)
"Heart of Glass"
(1979)
"Sunday Girl"
(1979)
Audio sample
Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player.
You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.
file info · help
Alternative cover
US edition of the "Heart of Glass" single with alternative cover art.

"Heart of Glass" is a song by American New Wave band Blondie, written by singer Deborah Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. Featured on the band's third studio album, Parallel Lines (1978), it was released as the third single in January 1979 and topped the charts in several countries including the United States.

Rolling Stone ranked the song number 255 on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.[1]

In the UK it was voted number 19 on The Nation's Favourite No 1 Single.

Contents

History

An early version of "Heart of Glass" called "Once I Had Love" was written by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein in 1974-75. This earlier version was initially recorded as a demo in 1975. The song had a slower, funkier sound with a basic disco beat. For this reason it was known as "The Disco Song."[2] The song was re-recorded in a second demo with the same title in 1978, when the song was made a bit more pop-oriented. The band then decided to record the song for the album Parallel Lines, which was produced by Mike Chapman.

Exactly who decided to give the song a more pronounced disco vibe is subject to differing recollections. On some occasions the producer Mike Chapman has stated that he convinced Deborah Harry and Chris Stein to give the song a disco twist. On other occasions Chapman has credited Deborah Harry with the idea.[3] As a band, Blondie had experimented with disco before, both in the predecessors to "Heart of Glass" and in live cover songs that the band played at shows. Bassist Gary Valentine noted that the set list for early Blondie shows often included disco hits such as "Honey Bee" or "My Imagination."[4] In an interview published in the February 4, 1978 edition of New Musical Express, Debbie Harry expressed her affinity for the Eurodisco music of Giorgio Moroder, stating that "It's commercial, but its good, it says something...that's the kind of stuff that I want to do."[5] A notable example of this type of musical experimentation occurred when Blondie covered Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" at the Blitz Benefit on May 7, 1978.[6] In his history of CBGB, music writer Roman Kozak described this event: "When Blondie played for the Johnny Blitz benefit in May, 1978, they surprised everyone with a rendition of Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love.' It was arguably the first time in New York, in the middle of the great rock versus disco split, that a rock band had played a disco song. Blondie went on to record 'Heart of Glass,' other groups recorded other danceable songs, and dance rock was born."[7]

In any event, no matter who came up with the idea, the song was ultimately given the disco orientation that made the song one of the best-known Blondie recordings. For the single release the track was remixed by Chapman, with the double-tracked bass drum even more accentuated.

In reflecting on the development of "Heart of Glass" from its earliest incarnations until the recorded version on Parallel Lines, Chris Stein noted that the earliest versions had a basic conventional disco beat, but that the recorded version incorporated the electronic sound of Eurodisco, stating that "The original arrangement of 'Heart of Glass' - as on the [1975] Betrock demos - had doubles on the high-hat cymbals, a more straight-ahead disco beat. When we recorded it for Parallel Lines we were really into Kraftwerk, and we wanted to make it more electronic. We weren't thinking disco as we were doing it; we thought it was more electro-European."[2]

The Parallel Lines version (as well as most others) contained some rhythmic features that were very unusual for the disco context, which typically follows a strict four-beats-per-measure pattern for maximum danceability. The instrumental interludes in "Heart of Glass", in contrast, have a beat pattern of 4-3-4-3-4-3-4-4, with eight measures totaling 29 beats instead of the more-standard 32.

The song was released in January 1979, and reached number one in both the US and the UK. The UK B-side was "Rifle Range", from Blondie's self-titled debut album, while the US single used the Parallel Lines track "11:59". The accompanying music video for "Heart of Glass" was filmed at Studio 54 in New York City.

The versions appearing on original 7" and 12" singles issued in early 1979 varied from country to country:

Production

The production of "Heart of Glass" was discussed in detail by Richard Allinson and Steve Levine on the BBC2 radio program The Record Producers that was aired on May 25, 2009. As explained in the program, the production of "Heart of Glass" was built around the use of a Roland CR-78 drum machine. The CR-78 was first introduced in 1978, the same year that Parallel Lines was recorded, and the use of this device on "Heart of Glass" was, according to the program, among the earliest uses of this device in popular music. As the program explained, it was also very unusual to use a drum machine in the context of a rock band. In deciding to use the CR-78 for "Heart of Glass," the choice was made to combine the sound of the drum machine with the sound of actual drumming. This reflected the hybrid nature of the song, the combination of a drum machine that was typically used in the context of dance music with the actual drum sound that was a traditional aspect of rock recordings. In combining these elements, the sound of the drum machine was first recorded on an individual track. To synchronize the actual drum play with the drum machine, the drums were also recorded on separate tracks, with the bass drum recorded separately from the rest of the drums.

Having combined the drums with the drum machine, another important feature of the CR-78 was that it could be used to send a trigger pulse to the early polymorphic synthesizers. This trigger pulse feature was also used on "Heart of Glass." The trigger pulse created by the CR-78 became a distinctive electronic/synth element of the song. The additional synthesizer portions of the song were played separately.

For the guitars, each guitar part was again recorded on separate tracks. For the vocals, a single track and a double track of Debbie Harry's voice were combined into a single vocal recording.

In an interview in the magazine that is part of the collector's edition for the ninth Blondie studio album Panic of Girls, Debbie Harry explained that band members Chris Stein and Jimmy Destri had purchased the CR-78 from a music store on 47th Street in Manhattan, and that this is how the device had become part of the production of "Heart of Glass": “Chris and Jimmy were always going over to 47th Street where all the music stores were, and one day they came back with this little rhythm box, which went ‘tikka tikka tikka’…And the rest is history!”

Controversy

Almost immediately after its release, "Heart of Glass" became the subject of controversy because of its disco sound. At the time, Blondie was one of the bands at the forefront of New York's growing New Wave music scene and were accused of "selling out" for releasing a disco song. According to Blondie frontwoman Deborah Harry, "Heart of Glass" made the band pariahs in the eyes of many of their fellow musicians in the New York music scene. The band was accused of pandering to the mainstream that many punk/new wave bands at the time were actively rebelling against.[8]

There was also the issue of the use of the expression "pain in the ass" within the lyrics which, at the time, did not sit easily with the BBC. The radio edit changed it to "heart of glass." In Australia, the song was banned from radio for its "strong language."[citation needed]

Despite the controversy, the song was a huge hit and helped propel Blondie from cult group to mainstream icons. The band itself has acknowledged the success of the song in helping their careers and has downplayed criticism of the song, pointing out that Blondie always experimented with different styles of music and that "Heart of Glass" was their take on disco. The band itself has jokingly taken to referring to the song as "The Disco Song" in interviews.

Music video

The "Heart of Glass" promotional video was filmed at the Studio 54 discothèque in New York City with director Stanley Dorfman. The video begins with footage of New York City in the night before joining Blondie perform at Studio 54. Then, the video alternates between close-ups of Harry's face as she lip-syncs, and mid-distance shots of the entire band. In the video Harry wears a silver asymmetrical dress designed by Stephen Sprouse.[9] To create the dress, Sprouse photo-printed a picture of television scan lines onto a piece of fabric, and then, according to Harry, "put a layer of cotton fabric underneath and a layer of chiffon on top, and then the scan-lines would do this op-art thing."[10] The popularity of the song helped Sprouse's work earn a lot of exposure from the media.[11]

"Draped in a sheer, silver Sprouse dress," Kris Needs summarized while writing for Mojo Classic, "Debbie sang through gritted teeth, while the boys cavorted with mirror balls". Studying Harry's attitude in the "effortlessly cool" video, music writer Pat Kane felt she "exuded a steely confidence about her sexual impact ... The Marilyn do has artfully fallen over, and she's in the funkiest of dresses: one strap across her shoulder, swirling silks around about her. Her iconic face shows flickers of interest, amidst the boredom and ennui of the song's lyrics." Kane also noted that the band members fooling around with disco balls, "taking the mickey out of their own disco fixation."[12] Reviewing the Greatest Hits: Sound & Vision DVD for Pitchfork Media, Jess Harvell wrote that while "owning your own copy of 'Heart of Glass' may not seem as cool [anymore] ... there's the always luminous Deborah Harry, who would give boiling asparagus an erotic charge, all while looking too bored to live."[13]

Appearance in popular media

The song appeared in the 1981 horror film Just Before Dawn, 2003 comedy film Anger Management and in the 2011 science fiction film Super 8 and in other various films.

The song was used in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories on the fictional new wave station The Wave 103. The song is also a playable song in the music video game Rock Band 3.

The song played in the background of the Glee episode, Home. A cover of the song is also played in the background of the episode,The Rhodes Not Taken

Track listing

UK 7" (CHS 2275)
  1. "Heart of Glass" (Debbie Harry, Chris Stein) – 3:54
  2. "Rifle Range" (Stein, Ronnie Toast) – 3:37
UK 12" (CHS 12 2275)
  1. "Heart of Glass" (Disco Version) (Harry, Stein) – 5:50
  2. "Heart of Glass" (Instrumental) (Harry, Stein) – 5:17
  3. "Rifle Range" (Stein, Toast) – 3:37
US 7" (CHS 2295)
  1. "Heart of Glass" (Harry, Stein) – 3:22
  2. "11:59" (Jimmy Destri) – 3:20
US 12" (CDS 2275)
  1. "Heart of Glass" (Disco Version) (Harry, Stein) – 5:50
  2. "Heart of Glass" (Instrumental) (Harry, Stein) – 5:17
US 1995 Remix CD (7243 858387 2 9)
  1. "Heart of Glass" (Diddy's Remix Edit) - 3:57 *
  2. "Heart of Glass" (Original Single Version) - 3:54
  3. "Heart of Glass" (MK 12" Mix) - 7:16
  4. "Heart of Glass" (Richie Jones Club Mix) - 8:42
  5. "Heart of Glass" (Diddy's Adorable Illusion Mix) - 7:33
UK 1995 Remix CD (7243 882236 2 1)
  1. "Heart of Glass" (Diddy's Adorable Edit) - 3:57
  2. "Heart of Glass" (Diddy's Adorable Illusion Mix) - 7:33
  3. "Heart of Glass" (Richie Jones Club Mix) - 8:42
  4. "Heart of Glass" (MK 12" Mix) - 7:16
  5. "Heart of Glass" (Original 12" Mix) - 5:50 **

Remixes and samplings

The first official remix of "Heart of Glass", by Shep Pettibone, appeared on the Blondie/Debbie Harry remix compilation Once More into the Bleach in 1988 and was also issued as a single in certain territories. The song was remixed by Diddy and re-released again in July 1995, reaching number 15 in the UK Singles Chart and was included on the 1995 remix compilation Beautiful - The Remix Album. In 2007, Positiva Records released a seven-track EP consisting of the original radio and album versions of the song, plus five new remixes by DJ Edison. Missy Elliott's 2003 hit "Work It" sampled the famous Roland CR-78 drum machine intro from the track. Natalie Bassingthwaighte sampled the song on her song "Supersensual", which is from her debut studio album, 1000 Stars. Celine Dion sampled the track for the Ric Wake remix of her 2002 hit, "I'm Alive". A jazz version of the song is available on These are the Vistas, a 2003 album by The Bad Plus, a cover in the vocal harmony pop style of the 1930s and 1940s is included in The Puppini Sisters' 2006 album "Betcha Bottom Dollar". In 2010 Hesta Prynn released a mash-up of her own song "You Winding Me Up" with "Heart of Glass" under the title "Hesta Prynn vs Blondie" as half of the "You Winding Me Up" single from the Can We Go Wrong EP.

"Heart of Glass" was covered by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes on their album Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah.

In 1999, Scottish band Pacifica used elements of the song as a backing track in their No. 54 record Lost in the Translation[14]

"Heart of Glass (Single)" by Finnish punk and ska band The Valkyrians, released 07 June 2011.

Lily Allen covered the song both live and in studio in 2007, and used it as a b-side. She performed it along with Blondie on the Today Show and also recorded a duet with Deborah, produced by Super Buddha, which is available on the producer's website[15]

Chart performance

Chart (1979)Peak Position
US Billboard Hot 1001
US Billboard Disco Top 8058
UK Singles Chart1
Australia1
Austria1
Canada1
New Zealand1
Germany1
Switzerland1
Ireland2
Sweden3
Norway5
Netherlands8
Italy3
Chart (1995)Peak
position
U.S. Hot Dance Club Songs7
U.S. Hot Dance Singles Sales11
UK Singles Chart15

Sales and certifications

RegionCertificationSales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[16]2× Platinum300,000^
France (SNEP)[17]Gold618,000[18]
Germany (BVMI)[19]Gold250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[20]Platinum1,270,000[21]
United States (RIAA)[22]Gold1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Chart successions

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick" by Ian Dury and the Blockheads
UK number-one single
February 3, 1979 – February 24, 1979
Succeeded by
"Tragedy" by Bee Gees
Preceded by
"Y.M.C.A" by Village People
German Media Control Charts number-one single
March 2, 1979 - April 6, 1979
Succeeded by
"Dschinghis Khan" by Dschinghis Khan
Preceded by
"Chiquitita" by ABBA
Swiss Singles Chart number-one single
April 1, 1979 - April 15, 1979
Succeeded by
"One Way Ticket" by Eruption
Preceded by
"Le Freak" by Chic
Australian Kent Music Report number one single
April 2, 1979 – April 30, 1979
Succeeded by
"Lay Your Love on Me" by Racey
Preceded by
"Knock on Wood" by Amii Stewart
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
April 28, 1979
Succeeded by
"Reunited" by Peaches & Herb
Canadian RPM number-one single
May 12, 1979
Succeeded by
"In the Navy" by Village People
Preceded by
"Tragedy" by Bee Gees
"Chiquitita" by ABBA
New Zealand Singles Chart number one
April 29, 1979
May 13, 1979 - May 27, 1979
Succeeded by
"Chiquitita" by ABBA
"Baby It's You" by Promises

References

  1. ^ "The Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-02-03. 
  2. ^ a b Jim Green (September 1982): "Blondie-Pumping Vinyl" (p. 19). Trouser Press.
  3. ^ Douglas Wolk (March 2006): "The Greatest Songs Ever! 'Heart of Glass'". Blender magazine.
  4. ^ Gary Valentine (2002): New York Rocker, pp. 73. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-944-2
  5. ^ Tony Parsons (February 4, 1978): Gentlemen Prefer Blondies..." New Musical Express.
  6. ^ Debbie Harry, Victor Bockris, Chris Stein (1982): Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie,pp. 129-30. Horizon Book Promotions. ISBN 0-440-55150-1
  7. ^ Roman Kozak (1988): This Ain't No Disco: The Story of CBGB, pp. 110. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-12956-0
  8. ^ Bardach, Ann; Lydon, Susan. "A Cool Blonde and a Hot Band" The New York Times August 26, 1979: 191
  9. ^ Che, Cathy (1999), 'Deborah Harry: Platinum Blonde', MPG Books Ltd, Cornwall, p.95
  10. ^ Souter, Ericka; Stoynoff, Natasha (March 13, 2006). "Heart of Class". People. p. 146.
  11. ^ Morrisroe, Patricia (March 29, 2004). "The Punk Glamour God". New York. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
  12. ^ Kane, Pat (July 15, 2007). "Feeling right at home". The Scotsman. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
  13. ^ Harvell, Jess (March 10, 2006). "Greatest Hits: Sound and Vision review. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
  14. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISeJNq6d3-c
  15. ^ http://www.superbuddhamusic.com/super-buddha-music/
  16. ^ "Canadian certifications – Blondie – Heart of Glass". Music Canada. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  17. ^ "French certifications – Blondie – Heart of Glass" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  18. ^ "Les Singles en Or :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Blondie; 'Heart of Glass')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  20. ^ "British certifications – Blondie – Heart of Glass". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 29 March 2012.  Enter Heart of Glass in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Click Go
  21. ^ Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  22. ^ "American single certifications – Blondie – Heart of Glass". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 29 March 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH

Further reading

External links