Tune Tuesday: Heart Of Glas 1979
Forty years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was Heart of Glass by Blondie. Written by Harry and Stein in 1974-75, its working title was Once I Had A Love. The inspiration for its writing came from The Hues Corporation‘s song Rock the Boat.
From The Guardian:
Heart of Glass was one of the first songs Blondie wrote but, it was years before we recorded it properly. We’d tried it as a ballad, as reggae but, it never quite worked. At that point, it had no title. We just called it “the disco song”. Back then, it was very unusual for a guitar band to be using computerised sound. People got nervous and angry about us bringing different influences into rock. Although we’d covered Lady Marmalade and I Feel Love at gigs, lots of people were mad at us for “going disco” with Heart of Glass. There was the Disco Sucks! movement, and there had even been a riot in Chicago, with people burning disco records. Clem Burke, our drummer, refused to play the song live at first. When it became a hit, he said: “I guess I’ll have to.” The lyrics weren’t about anyone. They were just a plaintive moan about lost love. At first, the song kept saying: “Once I had a love, it was a gas. Soon turned out, it was a pain in the ass.” We couldn’t keep saying that, so we came up with: “Soon turned out, had a heart of glass.” We kept one “pain in the ass” in – and the BBC bleeped it out for radio. ~Debbie Harry
As far as I was concerned, disco was part of R&B, which I’d always liked. The Ramones went on about us “going disco” but, it was tongue-in-cheek. They were our friends. In the video, there’s a shot of the legendary Studio 54, so everyone thought we shot the video there but, it was actually in a short-lived club called the Copa or something. I came up with the phrase “heart of glass” without knowing anything about Werner Herzog or his movie of the same name, which is a great, weird film. It’s nice people now use the song to identify the period in films and documentaries. I never had an inkling it would be such a big hit, or become the song we’d be most remembered for. It’s very gratifying. ~Chris Stein
In season one, DJ Johnny Fever not only plays Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” on his broadcast but, home audiences actually hear him announce the band’s, and the song’s, names. It was fantastic promotion for the up-and-coming Blondie, whose huge breakthrough album, Parallel Lines (with other seminal singles like Hanging on the Telephone and One Way or Another), came out the same month WKRP in Cincinnati debuted. The band reportedly gave the show a Gold record plaque celebrating the album’s major sales numbers as a “Thank You” card. It can be seen in the background as set design on several episodes in later seasons.
Unlike many DJs from that era, Fever played punk as well as rock and soul. The range of music on the show gave this fictional radio station a better playlist than most of the era’s real ones. […] although the show helped break Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” big, the exception, in Fever’s case, was disco. “I asked him to play one disco record and he threatened to throw himself in front of Donna Summer‘s tour bus,” Travis complains in “Baby, If You’ve Ever Wondered,” from season two.
As of April 20, 2011, Heart of Glass is #259 of Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Awards & Nominations
♦ Best Selling International Single (Juno 1980)
♦ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (2006)
♦ Grammy Hall of Fame (2016)
15 thoughts on “Tune Tuesday: Heart Of Glas 1979”
May 1, 2019 at 12:08 AM
Johnny Fever… the best DJ ever….fictional or not.
Clem Burke from Blondie is one of my favorite drummers. Their window of fame wasn’t huge but they made the best of it.
May 1, 2019 at 2:42 PM
He is one of top drummers. I feel tired watching him perform on “Dreamin'”
“Give it to me straight, doctor, I can take it!” If you didn’t grow up watching that show, you missed so much. The DVDs of the show sell VERY poorly. When the show was on, it had all of its music licenses. When the DVDs were produced, it was crazy expensive to go back & pay for the licenses to keep each piece of music in each episode. They created secondary, similar music and it changed everything about the show. And, if you catch re-runs, same thing. All the licenses expired. Copyright law…all about money.
May 1, 2019 at 4:09 PM
Someone gave me the complete set years before it was released…with a catch…they were VHS copies burned to dvd but they had the right music but bad picture.
I loved Bailey Quarters when I was 12…. Loni didn’t do a thing for me.
May 2, 2019 at 12:43 AM
Bailey was a cutie. I had the teenage hots for Andy Travis.
May 2, 2019 at 12:45 AM
Him and Loni were going with each other at that time. I heard her say something about it.
May 2, 2019 at 1:45 AM
Yeah. I never got her, either. Burt should have stayed with Sally.
May 2, 2019 at 10:28 AM
Yes… I think he admitted that later… Sally Field is/was awesome.
May 2, 2019 at 5:54 PM
And, I think Sally was quoted as saying he was the love of her life. I remember seeing that doing research for my post:
May 2, 2019 at 9:06 PM
That is just sad. Damn Burt…lol… You get Sally Field…you keep her unless she is just a totally different person than we know…
I always thought Burt was cool. After Smokey and the Bandit every grown man around had a mustache.
May 3, 2019 at 1:08 AM
Well, she was 10 years younger and they both had hot careers. They both lost star power right about the same time…late 80s, early 90s. They weren’t movie headliners, anymore. They became supporting characters.
They were together for four years and split in 1980, just as they were both taking off. He didn’t marry Loni until 1988. They could have gotten back together after 1994 (his divorce) but, I guess, at that point, they had their own lives.
I remember his spread in Cosmo. DAYUM. And, that laugh…
May 3, 2019 at 9:19 AM
I was watching the early Gunsmokes not long ago…I forgot Burt was in that…in the early black and white versions as Quint.
I haven’t heard much bad about Sally…she is one that seemed to be grounded.
I have a cousin that looks like her and when I was a kid I called her Gidget…I’ve always been a fan of her.
I guess just bad timing with them.
May 3, 2019 at 1:16 PM
I suspect that one thing they had trouble with was perspective. Sally is a typical Hellyweird, left-wing loon-bug (Democrats GOOD/Republicans BAD). Burt, not so much. He was kind of a John Wayne type. They split during the Carter Admin. I’d bet you a dollar to a donut that he voted for Reagan and she lost her mind over it. Burt always struck me as not taking Hellyweird too seriously. He worked in it but, didn’t bathe in it. Sally might as well be Streisand.
May 1, 2019 at 3:17 AM
Great song! Always loved the fact that they used the phrase “it was a gas”! Such a 60’s phrase!
May 1, 2019 at 5:41 AM
Clem Burke’s drumming on Dreaming- [my favorite Blondie song} is fantastic.
May 1, 2019 at 2:45 PM
I love ‘Dreamin’ & I remarked about that very thing, above. Wears me out just watching.