A life in music No.4 – 1978
Blondie – ‘Picture This’
By 1978 I was becoming a tad obsessed with music. I was 12 years old and music was connecting with me, beyond what was probably normal for a yet to be teenager. For the previous couple of years listening to Jimmy Saville’s Old Record Club followed by the Top 40 charts had been a regular weekly highlight, but had yet to become an all-consuming infatuation. I could skip a week without suffering mental anguish. So I’ve been looking back at the charts from 1977 and 1978. For as long as I can remember I’ve had an unhealthy love of lists, of numbers, of charts, collections and organised information. I think that may have started when listening, and charting, the Top 40. I still live with a love of a list. By 1977 I was developing a bit of crush, the following year I was falling in love with music.
In ’78 Gerry Rafferty, Ian Dury, E.L.O, Squeeze, Kate Bush, The Jam and The Boomtown Rats are bands and artists which evoke sweet, innocent memories, it was a time of huge excitement, a time of discovery. Other chart heavyweights like Paul McCartney, John Travolta & Olivia Newtron Bomb along with all sorts of disco were so ever-present that I was simply won over by persistant airplay. That said, no amount of unrelenting Boney M would have the same effect. At the end of 1977 and early ’78 with the Punk-era already on its last legs, writers for Sounds and other music mags started using the terms ‘Post Punk’ and ‘New Wave’. In simple terms ‘Post Punk’ was more edgy and arty, ‘New Wave’ more accessible and ‘pop’ular. Those terms would stay around for the next couple of years, and along with 2-Tone would become my musical fixation. One band who emerged from the American Punk scene and typified New Wave were Blondie. They were my first fix.
In 1978 Blondie released Parallel Lines. I didn’t own it at the time (and my dad wasn’t going to buy it for me to steal), but from the album came three singles that year, ‘Denis’, ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ and ‘Picture This’. I loved Blondie, and perhaps my (along with millions of others all over the world) first ever popstar fixation was Debbie Harry. It’s impossible to deny that when it comes to being ‘into’ a band or singer image plays a large part, especially when that band is Blondie and you’re at school, going through puberty. But, as well as Debbie Harry, these singles were iconic. This was perfect pop for the times. Stylistically sublime. I was visually and aurally gobsmacked. I could have picked any three of these Blondie singles from ’78, but ‘Picture This’ was, and still is for me the best of the three. I remember trying to decipher the lyric after “Picture This, a day in December. Picture This, freezing cold weather…” Guessing lyrics and failing badly. Happy days.
1972: Theme To Robinson Crusoe
1973: Sweet – ‘Blockbuster’
1977: E.L.O – ‘Out Of The Blue’
1978: Blondie – ‘Picture This’