dd-throwback-thursdays (1)

The Tide is High :: Blondie
from the album, Autoamerican
Throwback Thursday

Every girl wants you to be her man,
but I’ll wait my dear ’til it’s my turn.”

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A Little History:

The Tide is High is a 1967 song written by John Holt, originally performed by the Jamaican group The Paragons, with John Holt as lead singer. The song went mainly unnoticed in the rest of the world, until it was rediscovered in 1980, when it became a US/UK # 1 hit for the American band Blondie.

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Blondie covered the song in a reggae style that included horns and strings. It was released as the first single from the band’s fifth album, Autoamerican. It was Blondie’s third # 1 smash on the Billboard Hot 100 and their fifth in the UK.

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The Tide is High also went on to reach the # 3 on the Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, and was popular throughout the world, reaching # 4 in Australia, and # 15 in West Germany. It was the last UK # 1 single for the band until Maria in 1999.

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The B-side of The Tide Is High was Suzie and Jeffrey, which appeared as a bonus track on the original 1980 cassette edition of the album Autoamerican and was also included on EMI-Capitol’s re-issue of Autoamerican in 2001.

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The music video (see above) was produced and directed by Hart Perry. It depicts the band waiting out on the street for singer Debbie Harry, who appears to be trapped in a flooding apartment. All the while, she is being monitored from outer space by what appears to be a Darth Vader-like alien being. She soon reunites with the band on the street and they drive to a rocket launch and fly into space. They then crash into the spaceship or space station. Harry confronts the alien being and begins dancing with him.

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Official remixes of the Blondie version have been issued twice. First by Coldcut in 1988 on the Blondie/Debbie Harry remix compilation Once More into the Bleach and the second time in 1995 by Pete Arden and Vinny Vero on the album Remixed Remade Remodeled: The Remix Project (UK edition: Beautiful: The Remix Album).

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In November 1980, the song was played on radio stations across the state of Alabama in anticipation of a football game between the University of Alabama, whose nickname is the Crimson Tide, and the University of Notre Dame.

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Blondie re-recorded the song for the 2014 compilation album Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux. The compilation was part of a 2-disc set called Blondie 4(0) Ever which included their 10th studio album Ghosts of Download and marked the 40th anniversary of the forming of the band.

Music - Blondie

“I first heard ‘The Tide Is High’ on a compilation tape that someone had given me while we were in London. Chris Stein and I both fell in love with the song and decided it was too good to resist.” ~ Debbie Harry in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh:

Blondie wanted to give the song a Jamaican feel, so they hired 3 percussion players and created a new string and horn arrangement to give it an authentic sound. According to Chris Stein, the percussion includes “8 tracks of drum sticks tapping on a piano bench.”

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Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were both fans of the British Ska revival band The Specials. Stein revealed to Mojo magazine May 2008 that they asked The Specials to back Debbie Harry on this recording. However they didn’t want to do it.

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In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Sean Lennon said: “My father had an old Wurlitzer in the game room of our house on Long Island. It was filled with 45’s, mostly Elvis and The Everly Brothers. The one modern song I remember him listening to was ‘The Tide Is High’ by Blondie, which he played constantly. When I hear that song, I see my father, unshaven, his hair pulled back into a ponytail, dancing to and fro in a worn-out pair of denim shorts, with me at his feet, trying my best to coordinate tiny limbs.”

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A Little Memory:

In 1980, I bought my first 45″ single. It was The Tide Is High (A side) and Suzy and Jeffrey (B side). I had seen Blondie sing The Tide Is High on Saturday Night Live, and was enamored by Debbie Harry. Debbie overtook my Olivia Newton-John obsession, and became my style icon, my musical hero, and a head over heels crush. I couldn’t decide what I wanted more, to be her, or to be with her. I nearly wore out the single (I have it still, and it does still play) and ended up buying another one, this time the Call Me single, soon after. Then, when I had enough money saved from babysitting and allowances, I bought the Autoamerican album from the music section of Montgomery Wards. Oh the joy a trip to the record store, or music department, could bring.

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9 thoughts on “I’m not the kinda girl who gives up just like that :: Throwback Thursday

  1. This is my Mom’s favorite song, or at least in the top 3, I should ask her. She played it over & over when I was a kid and it use to drive me nuts. Now I like it and it reminds me of her. Do you miss anything about music from the early 80’s?

      1. Good question I have to think on it. We have one drive-in movie theatre left here and a couple of roller rinks but the roller rinks have become goth hangouts strangely…I had a few birthday parties at one as a kid. I don’t miss much because I was so little(and shame on me not even alive in 1980) but I’ve always loved the fashion & pop music and TV shows I was into as a kid then if that counts. I miss the way I enjoyed those things because I wasn’t so critical then. I think your early ’80s is my early-mid ’90s if I’m getting the time periods & ages straight and I miss the hell out of that ’90s. I’m sorry(not really) that I’m always saying “you should write about___” but you should make a list of the best of the early ’80s from your perspective or something. I love reading that stuff.

      2. I was 11 in 1980, so most of the things I miss are kid things – like the drive-in, being able to sneak into more than one movie at the movie theater, double features at all movie theaters, roller rinks, going to the beach with my friends, real Summer vacations.

        The music and movies, I miss them, but I feel like they are still here whenever I want to listen or revisit.

        I’m actually thinking of doing a series of blog posts on different years in the 80’s and 90’s – both decades were hugely impactful to my life for different reasons – 80’s were my tween/teen years, 90’s were my 20’s mainly…

      3. That’d be an excellent post. 1993 sticks out to me as a formative year. Looking forward to your posts on years remembered whenever you get to it, know it’s going to a good one to dive into.
        Sneaking into the movies! That rules, I don’t think I ever did it.
        Plus I’m interested to see how we remember those years differently. ’90s were my tween/teen years, the godforsaken 2000’s, my twenties.

      4. 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1994 were pivotal for me…so I look forward to diving in to those. I just have to decide on how I want to approach it all.

        I’d love to read your takes on the 90’s 🙂

  2. I had a chance to work backstage in Minneapolis with Blondie, Elvis Costello and Duran, Duran doing a outdoors show. Blondie was the headliner back then and she blew away the crowd with this song. She was magnetic, tough and one of the best leading ladies of her era. Nice post

      1. That would of been Aug 7, 1982 in Parade Stadium which is now the current site of the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden. Had quite a few memories of some great shows there.

        The Set list for Blondie that night was,

        Rapture
        Theme From a Summer Place
        In the Sun
        Sunday Girl
        Little Caesar
        Union City Blue
        Chrome
        Island of Lost Souls
        Danceway
        The Tide Is High
        Heart of Glass
        Hanging on the Telephone
        Dreaming
        One Way or Another
        War Child
        Start Me Up – The Rolling Stones song
        Call Me

        As it was an outdoor festival and there was a outdoor food court for the bands I actually got to eat with Duran Duran and Greg Kihn who was also on the bill. While I was eating they all came and sat down at the same picnic table I was eating at. Duran Duran asked a million questions about Prince who is from Minneapolis and wanted to know where to get some of his early records.
        Wish I could remember more but those were strange days back then 🙂

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