Final week, The Washington Put up shared their overview of Debbie Harry’s memoir, Face It. The headline learn, “Evaluate: In her memoir, Debbie Harry proves she’s greater than only a fairly blonde in tight pants.”
Just like the thousands and thousands of different post-punk devotees with inclinations in the direction of public discourse on Twitter, and closets filled with skin-tight denims, I used to be (because the meme goes) disenchanted however not shocked. That is, traditionally, how we discuss ladies in music, and never even Grammy-nominated, genre-defining, Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame-gracing purveyors of punk rock are resistant to this rampant illness.
The article continues, “Even when Debbie Harry, of the band Blondie, isn’t to your style — her voice too skinny, her sexiness too blatant, her music too easy — you’ll be able to’t dismiss sure truths about her.”
Picture Courtesy of Debbie Harry
Studying these phrases, I wasn’t upset that the author selected to name Harry blatantly attractive or a fairly blonde, as a result of Harry has by no means had an issue being these issues. The difficulty I take and have all the time felt in this sort of discourse is with the or. Your music have to be easy or critical. On stage, as a lady, you have to select to be both attractive or taken critically. And, in terms of the best way we focus on rock and roll, you have to be fairly or punk. Nonetheless, Debbie Harry has all the time traversed each worlds, gnarling on a microphone whereas donning a leopard print bodysuit, navigating the underground rock scene whereas making punk palatable. She’s by no means misplaced a beat; she in some way embodies each.
After I first moved to New York, questioning my resolution to go away all the pieces and everybody I knew to be a rock journalist, and was in search of a way of hope, I’d stroll all the way down to Bowery and cease on Bleeker, proper throughout from the place the place notorious punk reception corridor CBGB was once. On the wall there, painted in broad strokes of yellow, black, and pink stands a 20-foot mural of Debbie Harry. Her cheekbones, practically piercing out of the concrete wall, her posture casting a shadow on a smaller picture of the remainder of Blondie, her heart-shaped lips opened in noncompliance. Sure, it’s fairly, however it’s defiant. It’s staggering. It’s completely punk rock.
Debbie Harry, picture by William Kaner
Would I be scripting this “how dare you?” listicle if Harry was a person? As one Twitter person stated in response to The Washington Put up’s tweet, “STOP IT. Critically?!? Do you write this crap about males? Rhetorical query bc we all know the reply.” See, it goes with out saying that Slash is greater than only a man in a prime hat, and no person ever described King Solomon as greater than only a dude with lengthy hair.
That being stated, very like the aforementioned rock gods and kings earlier than her, Debbie deserves a discourse that doesn’t restrict her to bodily look nor disgrace her due to it. So, with out additional ado, listed below are 5 occasions that Harry created her personal guidelines, blurred the traces between punk and fairly, and reminded us that there’s nothing fallacious with being each.
01. It’s Not What They Name You, However What You Reply To
Harry has all the time been conscious of her innate sexuality and standard attractiveness, by no means seeing them as a setback to her success in a male-dominated business and style. In her memoir, Face It, she shares, “I used to be taking part in up the concept of being a really female lady whereas fronting a male rock band in a extremely macho sport. I used to be saying issues within the songs that feminine singers actually didn’t say again then. I wasn’t submissive or begging him to return again, I used to be kicking his ass, kicking him out, kicking my very own ass, too.” In truth, Harry has all the time transmuted the unwavering deal with her appears into rock and roll gold. Don’t overlook that the band title “Blondie” was derived from the catcalls Harry used to obtain whereas strolling down the road.
02. Traversing House, Time, and Age
Harry was 31 years outdated when the primary Blondie album was launched, no less than a decade older than most girls coming into the leisure business. In a current LA Instances interview together with her bandmate Chris Stein, they joked that Creem journal outing her age ruined her profession. Greater than 20 years later, at 52, Harry was (on the time) the oldest feminine singer to acquire a No. 1 hit within the UK together with her track “Maria”.
03. Holding on (Even When the Tide Is Excessive)
Holding on (even when the tide is excessive): Earlier than dominating a chaotic 1970s New York Metropolis music scene, Harry spent her time hustling. Like most wide-eyed keen, and naive New Yorkers desirous to make it (cough, me, cough) Harry was no stranger to creating it work, residing in a sorted preparations of questionable flats that dotted Manhattan. She labored in NYC’s BBC Radio workplace, sang within the band Wind within the Willows, waited tables at Max’s Kansas Metropolis, and even labored as a Playboy Bunny earlier than she met Klien and began Blondie.
04. Punk Rock Perseverance
In Face It, Harry recounts being assaulted at gunpoint, overcoming heroin habit, a number of #MeToo moments, and actually going broke. None of this, nevertheless, appeared to shake her perseverance to be who she is right now. She appears again at all of it, even the darkish elements. As Harry shared with ABC Information, “I don’t actually remorse my life. The issues which can be essential to me now are as a result of I’ve you understand, gone by means of all of these items.”
05. For the File(s)
Harry’s Blondie is nothing to scoff at. Her success has been staggering, with a Grammy Nomination, Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame induction, eight High 40 singles, together with 4 No. 1s: “Coronary heart of Glass”, “Name Me”, “The Tide Is Excessive”, and “Rapture”. And people issues nonetheless don’t present the magnitude of her affect on not solely music however wider well-liked tradition. Let the document present that she achieved all of this stuff with unabashed expertise, unmatched tenacity, grit, moxie, and whereas sporting tight pants.