They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Happy birthday to Debbie Harry, who turns 77 today with all the tough beauty and street cool that she’s had for decades upon decades. While best known as the vocalist and focal point for Blondie, Harry has had a much fuller career, ranging from go-go dancer and Playboy Bunny to author, actor, and philanthropist. Rock and roll is lucky to have her as one of its elder stateswomen.
Blondie knew their way around covers–two of their biggest hits, “Denis” and “The Tide Is High,” were written and performed by others first–so it should come as no surprise that their own songs are strong enough to take on all comers of all genres. You’ll find no new wave in what follows; instead, get ready for rockabilly, Americana, folk, and even a little bit of rap.
Brooke Russell and the Mean Reds – Dreaming (Blondie cover)
According to her website, Brooke Russell and her band, the Mean Reds, perform “songs about boozy nights, bad decisions, broken hearts and the best intentions.” They apply that knowledge to “Dreaming,” taking away the original’s power-pop finery and making a song that sounds born to be played at three in the morning.
The Hillbilly Moon Explosion – Call Me (Blondie cover)
The Hillbilly Moon Explosion are from Zurich, Switzerland, and they give a moody rockabilly twist to “Call Me” that brings a cool hint of danger to the song. It might not have fit in well with the American Gigolo soundtrack, but it would have added a nice touch to Brokeback Mountain.
Until the Ribbon Breaks – One Way or Another (Blondie cover)
The Amazon series Stalker features a song about a stalker in the season 1 episode “The Haunting.” That song, “One Way or Another,” gets the haunted treatment from Until the Ribbon Breaks. It’s less frantic than the original, but dwelling on the lyrics brings them home in a way that causes just as much dread, if not more.
Old School Freight Train – Heart of Glass (Blondie cover)
Blondie’s biggest hit got a lot of blowback from people who were mad at the band for selling out. Today those self-righteous cries have faded to nothing – much like cannon fire from the Civil War. Old School Freight Train’s video brings back both those battles, slowing the song to a near-dirge tempo in the process.
The Twang – Maria (Blondie cover)
Blondie came back after seventeen years off to score a worldwide hit with “Maria,” one of the more impressive feats of twentieth-century pop. While it went top-five in a dozen different countries, “Maria” only got to number 82 in the Billboard Hot 100. Maybe they would have had better luck in the USA if they took the country and western route. The Twang give us an idea how that would sound.
Bonus: Jensen Ackles – Rapture (Blondie cover)
All you fans of the Amazon series The Boys will surely delight in seeing Soldier Boy’s performance on Solid Gold, burring his way through “Rapture” and having far too much fun doing so to look ridiculous.