Political Beats podcast

Episode 128: Hannah Rowan / Blondie

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Introducing the Band:
Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) are joined by guest Hannah Rowan. Hannah is the managing editor of Modern Age. You can find her on X at @Hannah_Cristine and read her review of Debbie Harry's memoir here.

Hannah’s Music Pick: Blondie
Here's another artist we get to cross off the list of long-awaited episodes. Both Jeff and Scot have been hot to do Blondie for years and it has nothing (okay, relatively little) to do with the attractive woman fronting the band. It’s the music that means so much, even after all these years.

Blondie, as Jeff argues, is perhaps the quintessential new wave band, but they started by paying tribute to girl-group sounds and garage rock of the '60s on the band’s first record. From there, singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, the two leaders of the group, led Blondie through a wide variety of styles and genres. The band was as comfortable playing power pop and new wave as they later would be incorporating disco, reggae, and even rap into their sound. Blondie recorded four number one songs -- "Heart of Glass," "Call Me," "The Tide Is High," and "Rapture" -- and you couldn’t quite stick any of them inside the same box.

And we can’t escape the visual aspect. It’s impossible to separate what you see from what you hear. Debbie Harry was a striking figure to lead the group. And Blondie was a band that was deliberate in how it presented itself -- from album covers to stage apparel to making videos for every song on a record, which predated the MTV-era by a good half-decade or so.

The timeframe for the band's brilliance is relatively short and we spend very little time on the post-reunion work (apologies to fans of Pollinator). But what was created at the end of the 1970s truly stands the test of time. The music, in many ways, pointed forward toward what we would hear throughout the decade of the 1980s.

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