Cover Commissions is a monthly series in which a featured artist covers a reader-selected song for this blog. Any artists interested in participating, email me at the address on the right.
When Blondie released “Heart of Glass” in 1979, the New Wave pioneers were accused of abandoning their roots for the emerging disco sound. For once the critics may have a point, since the tune was written as a funky blues number before producer Mike Chapman got his hands on it.
“We didn’t expect the song to be that big,” guitarist Chris Stein responded. “We did it as a novelty item to put more diversity into the album. It’s not selling out; it’s only one song.”
November Cover Commissions artist Brady Harris takes “Heart of Glass” back from disco. He takes it way back. Here’s what he has to say:
I always admired how Blondie could move comfortably from genre to genre – hit to hit. “Heart of Glass”, like most well written songs, lends itself easily to multiple stylistic interpretations and genres. Perhaps unconsciously taking a cue from The Lovin’ Spoonful, I decided to go with an Americana-30s kind of vibe when recording this arrangement.
I laid down the acoustic guitars and a scratch vocal here at my own humble home studio then I took the song to my friend, multi-instrumentalist John Adair and his studio in Santa Monica. John laid down the mandolin, banjo, upright bass, lead guitar, piano, backing vocals, etc. I re-cut my lead vocals there and we were done but for the mixing, which John did the following week.
Musical geek-out note on the recording: I love how on the last “Ooh-ooh, ooh-oh” you can hear the bass reach up and grab the melody riff that the mandolin’s been playing the whole song, like some poor grunt reaching for the spotlight at the last possible moment.
Thanks to John Adair!
And thank-you, Ray!
No, sir, thank you. The rich folksy swing is sure to revitalize this oldies classic for anyone sick of the disco-cheeze original.
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