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Blondie's Debbie Harry Releases Memoir: 'Face It'

Oct 10, 2019
Originally published on October 10, 2019 9:04 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Next, we have the story behind some of the most popular songs of the late 1970s. They're the kind of songs that last and last, that people know even if they weren't alive in the '70s.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEART OF GLASS")

BLONDIE: (Singing) Once I had a love, and it was a gas, soon turned out had a heart of glass.

INSKEEP: "Heart Of Glass" was a hit from Blondie. That's the name of the group whose blond-haired singer was Debbie Harry. She was considered one of the most glamorous women of the '70s. And her new memoir shows how her long-lasting music grew out of a specific place and time. Here, she reads a passage about CBGB, a New York City nightclub where punk rock was taking shape.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEBBIE HARRY: (Reading) When we were first there, it was mostly derelict stores and flophouses and a pizza parlor across the road. There was an alley at the back of the club full of rubbish, rats, garbage and shards of broken glass. Inside, the club had its own special reek, a pungent compound of stale beer, cigarette smoke and body odor.

INSKEEP: Bands like the Ramones and Blondie thrived on this ugliness. When we spoke with Debbie Harry, she told us that she made one particularly ugly incident into an international smash hit.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONE WAY OR ANOTHER")

BLONDIE: (Singing) One way or another, I'm going to find you. I'm going to get you, get you, get you, get you. One way or another...

INSKEEP: Didn't you have a specific, rather negative experience that that song is related to?

HARRY: Yes. Yes. It did have to do with a stalker.

INSKEEP: Who was this? Tell me the story.

HARRY: It was, I guess, sort of a boyfriend who went a little bit haywire.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONE WAY OR ANOTHER")

BLONDIE: (Singing) I will drive past your house.

INSKEEP: This is a guy who started following you?

HARRY: Well, it was more harassment than following me. And it was very aggressive harassment.

INSKEEP: He was coming where you were. And...

HARRY: Yeah. He would come to work - where I worked and call constantly and tie up the phones and just be as pesky as possible.

INSKEEP: He even came to your apartment. Is this true?

HARRY: Yes. One night, he broke into my apartment, which was very unsettling. My cat really hated it.

INSKEEP: I wasn't even worried about the cat. I was worried about you.

HARRY: (Laughter).

INSKEEP: Where were you at the time?

HARRY: Well, I thought I should inject some humor into this. I was so - sitting in bed watching TV, I think.

INSKEEP: I hate to make you relive this, but what did you do?

HARRY: I was - tried to stay calm.

INSKEEP: And then?

HARRY: And eventually he left.

INSKEEP: And how did that become the song that I've heard I don't know how many times?

HARRY: I guess the resolve - one way or another, I'm going to find you. I'm going to get you. So that was the - sort of the action of it. I'm going to find you. I'm going to get you. And that's, you know, sort of the basis. But one way or another, I'm going to lose you. And so that was my resolve.

INSKEEP: So it was almost like a dialogue going on in that song.

HARRY: Yes. Yes.

INSKEEP: It sounds like you lost him. You're still here.

HARRY: I am still here. And I hope, for his sake, that he is somewhere and having a good life.

INSKEEP: Debbie Harry, lead singer of Blondie. Her new memoir is called "Face It."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONE WAY OR ANOTHER")

BLONDIE: (Singing) One way or another... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.