Iconic punk band Blondie’s first big hit in the United States was the upbeat disco track “Heart of Glass,” but what’s the real meaning behind the racy-for-the-time lyrics? The first version of the song was written by Blondie frontwoman, the inimitable Debbie Harry, way back in 1974, long before it hit the airwaves in its final form in 1978.
It’s impossible not to immediately bust out your best disco fingers and funky chickens as soon as you hear that infectious baseline and Harry’s falsetto singing, “Once I had a love and it was a gas / Soon turned out, had a heart of glass.” If there was a particular ex-lover who inspired this wedding reception and Bar Mitzvah standby, the whole world owes them a major thank you. So what has Harry herself said about how the song came together? Is this person with the heart of glass someone Harry knows? You might be surprised about the origins of “Heart of Glass.”
Radio at the time was a pain in the… glass
In an interview with The Guardian, Debbie Harry said the band first wrote “Heart of Glass” when they were living in a loft in New York City in 1974. “‘Heart of Glass’ was one of the first songs Blondie wrote, but it was years before we recorded it properly,” Harry explained. “We’d tried it as a ballad, as reggae, but it never quite worked. At that point, it had no title. We just called it ‘the disco song.’ “
As for the lover who inspired “mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind” — it turns out there’s no such person. “The lyrics weren’t about anyone. They were just a plaintive moan about lost love,” Harry told The Guardian.
And while “Soon turned out, it was a pain in the ass” may be the most relatable line of a song ever written, Harry explained that it was just a smidge too crude for ’70s radio according to some. “People got upset because I sang ‘ass.’ Maybe because it’s a three-letter word and not a four-letter word? I think we got banned in a few places because of that,” she said in Entertainment Weekly.
The dance track has definitely held up over the years, and even enjoyed a Harry-approved rebirth with Miley Cyrus’s hard-rock cover. “I’m really proud of the fact she did our song and made it uniquely hers,” Harry told NME.
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