Thursday, May 29, 2014

Blondie @40, The 92Y at 140

Debbie Harry and Chris Stein are laid back.  The founding members of Blondie took the stage at the 92 St Y last night, talking, not performing, but letting us in on what's gone on in the past 40 years.  Yes, the band started 40 years ago which is really hard to believe. 
Early photo of Blondie taken by Chris Stein

Here's what I took away from their chat:

Debbie said she knew at 5 years old that she was going to do things her way. 

The band had success in Europe first. Debbie attributes that to two things:  Their record label was based there so they knew how to work the market and the Europeans have always been open to pop music. 

Their early style came from raiding thrift stores.  At the time, the cheapest clothes were the 60's discards.  It's hard to say that she created a look because her style was so eclectic.  No matter what she wore, whether it was a garbage bag or a boy scout uniform, she always looked amazing.  I remember seeing the band at My Father's Place, Halloween 1978 and was astounded by how cool Debbie was and thinking there is no way I could pull off what she does. 

Andy Warhol used  Big Shot Polaroid Cameras to shoot photos.  The band would pick them up while on the road the bring them back to him.  The cover of their latest album features Andy Warhol's portrait of Debbie.  Chris pointed out the irony of Andy using cheap equipment and selling the art for millions of dollars.

September will see the release of Chris Stein's book of photos and anecdotes, Negative: Me, Blondie, and the Advent of Punk.  We saw a few of the photos last night.  There was a wonderful shot of Clem and Debbie on 14th St.  As Christ pointed out an onlooker looked like Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club. 

They always wanted to be successful and therefore were prepared for their rise to rock star-ness. 

Clem Burke (the original and still drummer) is immersed in music.  He has no alternative reality.  He knows everything about every band.  Blondie played Hammersmith Odeon at the time Keith Moon died.  As a tribute, Clem threw his snare drum into the audience that night.  Clem was upset that one of their road crew retrieved the drum. 

Debbie thinks of herself as a feminist. 

The band has a new album, Blondie 4(0) Forever -Ghosts of a Download/Deluxe Redux:Greatest Hits.  They rerecorded their hits, which is part l of the package.  They don't own the original masters, so I'm sure licensing them would have been a nightmare.  Part ll is new material including Sugar on the Side which the band performed on GMA. 

Anthony DeCurtis (Rolling Stone writer) dropped the ball as the interviewer.  Was he so enamored by Debbie and Chris that he couldn't keep track of the conversation?  He asked questions that had already been answered and poised many questions that only required a yes or no.  He would have failed interview class.  Debbie has never been gregarious in interviews, so DeCurtis' questions did not solicit an elaborate answer from her.   The audience questions made for a more captivating evening.  As I left the theater I thought if only Lenny Kaye sat between these two immensely talented people....  I'll have to wait for the duo to hit the Howard Stern Show.  I can hope. 

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