Blondie – Heart Of Glass

Off all the Blondie songs I’ve covered I never touched this one…I thought I would correct that today.  It’s probably their biggest hit…it peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand.

The song did cause some problems for the band. The rock crowd thought they sold out and the disco crowd thought they were punks. For a while they were outcasts from both crowds.

Blondie members Debbie Harry and Chris Stein wrote the first version of this song in early 1974, shortly after they first met. They didn’t have a proper title for the song, and would refer to it as “The Disco Song.”

Evidently finding words to rhyme to “glass” that fit in a song were… a pain in the ass. American radio at that time frowned on that rhyme. To ensure airplay stations were sent an edited version with the offending line replaced with “soon turned out I had a heart of glass.”

John Lennon was a fan of the song. He wrote Ringo Starr a postcard advising him to write more songs like “Heart of Glass.” Debbie Harry found out about that and said “It was totally wonderful knowing that.”

Debbie Harry : “Lyrically, it was about a stalker who was pursuing me, and Chris saved me from him.”

Debbie Harry: “When we did Heart Of Glass it wasn’t too cool in our social set to play disco. But we did it because we wanted to be uncool. It was based around a Roland Rhythm Machine and the backing took over 10 hours to get down.”

Keyboardist Jimmy Destri:“These new wave kids think they know everything about rock and roll, but they won’t accept anything else. They should listen to the album and realize that we haven’t changed our direction that radically. We haven’t become the Bee Gees.”

An early version of this song called “Once I Had a Love (aka The Disco Song)” was included in the 2001 reissue of the Parallel Lines album…I have it below in one of the videos.

From Songfacts

It wasn’t until they recorded this song in 1978 that Stein came up with the title “Heart Of Glass.” He didn’t know that it was also the title of a 1976 German movie directed by Werner Herzog.

According to Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 Songs, Harry and Stein wrote the song in their dingy New York apartment and keyboardist Jimmy Destri provided the synthesizer hook. The result brought punk and disco together on the dance floor. Said Destri, “Chris always wanted to do disco. We used to do ‘Heart Of Glass’ to upset people.”

Chris Stein added, “We didn’t expect the original to be that big. We only did it as a novelty item to put more diversity into the album.”

Blondie re-recorded this in 1978 in a reggae style, but their producer Mike Chapman suggested reggae didn’t sell in America. As Harry and Stein had a fascination with the disco sound that was then sweeping the country, so they adopted a sound that was an amalgamation of their New Wave background and Eurodisco.

In the last chorus, following “Once I had a love and it was a gas,” Debbie Harry takes a different tack, singing “Soon turned out to be a pain in the ass.” This is a key line in the song, since the singer has now realized that this relationship is more trouble than it’s worth, and that her heart of glass might be more durable than she thought.

The sound of the CR-78 drum machine was merged with that of drummer Clem Burke’s real drums, which was no easy task in the analog age. Burke took his inspiration from the groove of one of his favorite songs: The Bee Gees’ “Stayin Alive.”

The song’s lyric turns the traditional heartbreak theme on its head. Debbie Harry explained in Q magazine: “I was tired of hearing girl singers write or sing about being beaten by love. So I said, Well listen, there are also a lot of girls who just walk away.”

The success of “Heart of Glass” launched Parallel Lines and Blondie into mainstream success, but it caused a lot of friction with some of their original fan base, which felt Blondie had sold out.

In a 1979 Los Angeles Times piece, Richard Cromelin observed, “‘Death To Disco’ T-shirts weren’t an uncommon sight among the new wave audience that formed Blondie’s first base of support. But, as it turns out, it’s disco that’s given life to Blondie.”

Blondie guitarist Chris Stein responded, “We probably have alienated some of that original audience, but I really don’t have sympathy for anybody that says we’ve sold out.”

Miley Cyrus performed a cover of the song at the 2020 iHeartRadio Music Festival on September 19, 2020. Her version impressed fans and colleagues alike and an audio recording of the live performance was released to streaming services 10 days later.

Blondie’s official Twitter account re-tweeted a video of Cyrus’ iHeartRadio performance and wrote, “We think Miley Cyrus nailed it. Check it out.”

Cyrus’ version returned the song to the UK Top 40.

Heart Of Glass

Once I had a love and it was a gas
Soon turned out had a heart of glass
Seemed like the real thing, only to find
Mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind

Once I had a love and it was divine
Soon found out I was losing my mind
It seemed like the real thing but I was so blind
Mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind

In between
What I find is pleasing and I’m feeling fine
Love is so confusing there’s no peace of mind
If I fear I’m losing you it’s just no good
You teasing like you do

Once I had a love and it was a gas
Soon turned out had a heart of glass
Seemed like the real thing, only to find
Mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind

Lost inside
Adorable illusion and I cannot hide
I’m the one you’re using, please don’t push me aside
We coulda made it cruising, yeah

Yeah, riding high on love’s true bluish light

In between
What I find is pleasing and I’m feeling fine
Love is so confusing there’s no peace of mind
If I fear I’m losing you it’s just no good
You teasing like you do

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

28 thoughts on “Blondie – Heart Of Glass”

  1. Classic track. I love bands that tackle any style of music, it shows versatility. There’s no such thing as a bad genre of music, there’s only bad examples of it, the notion of “selling out” has always been a bit ridiculous, it’s basically saying “I want you to make music that I like and if that means sticking to a narrow formula and staying poor then that’s what you should do or I won’t buy your records so there, nyah!” 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yea the artist should make what they want to be happy. I don’t know why…because it is but I never thought of this as a big disco song…I dont’ know why….maybe their history.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was a HUGE fan of disco from its beginnings in 1974 until its rapid demise in 1980, but never thought of ‘Heart of Glass’ as a disco song. I saw Debbie Harry open for Tears For Fears in 1990, and she and her back-up band played all of Blondie’s hits.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great & groundbreaking song. It really took the torch from disco & passed it over to new wave seamlessly. One of maybe a dozen songs in my life that made me stop dead & go ‘Wow!What IS that?’ the first time I heard it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really liked this song when it came out, and then Blondie kept getting better, imo. They did a great job of weaving rock and disco together. I loved the rock part of their songs and tuned out when the disco kicked in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes they visited disco for a while but didn’t live there. I did end up liking Dreaming, The Tide is High, and a few more a little better.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s