I had the week of National Women’s Equality Day, and now I have the week of International Women’s Day. Back in August I had said “…we don’t need a day on the calendar for equality. We just need equality.”
With a shifting tide, I’m just going to go ahead and take the day. Screw it – let’s take the week. Let’s take the time and appreciate the likes of Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, and Mavis Staples (Seriously – did you hear her new track with Arcade Fire?) Let’s worship at altars dedicated to Etta James, Karen Carpenter, and Poly Styrene. Take your pick! Find an amazing woman who has contributed to your musical upbringing, turn the volume up, and spend some time with them!
I will be spending the evening with not just a mere mortal woman. I will be enjoying the company of an absolute Goddess. Debbie Harry of Blondie is one of the most important, if not the most important woman of my musical awakening. She was the first person to appear in a “rap” video on MTV. Not as large of a feat, but cool nonetheless – she made punk rock pretty. A young, awkward me found that amazing. To this day, she is absolutely stunning in both looks and achievement. This is a woman who, at 71-years young, is not only doing a fashion line with Shepard Fairey, but has another album coming out, and doing a summer-long tour. This is one cool lady.
The Netflix documentary series Hip-Hop Evolution couldn’t tell their history without mentioning her. Her camaraderie with Fab Five Freddy and Grandmaster Flash started pushing hip-hop into the mainstream. Grandmaster Caz said it well in Evolution. He said, in reference to the punk/post-punk movement that, “we identified with that movement because punk was the alternative to rock and hip-hop was the alternative to disco.”
If there was Venn diagram covering rock and disco, Blondie would be dead-center. This is why I have chosen Blondie’s 1978 album Parallel Lines as my album this week. It’s one of those albums that seems to have stopped music for a brief period so that people could just focus and be influenced by it. Regina Spektor seems to have pulled right from the opening track “Hanging on the Telephone” when she wrote “You’ve Got Time,” which itself has become iconic thanks to its connection to Orange is the New Black. From there, Lines offers up one classic after another. “One Way or Another,” “Sunday Girl,” and “Heart of Glass” blend into a rock/pop/disco party with the lesser-known tracks on the record. My personal favorite is either “11:59,” or “I Know, But I Don’t Know.” It’s just a cool, solid album featuring one of my favorite vocalists of all time.
Listen to it, or don’t. Choose your own leading lady to spend the night with if you’d prefer. If that’s the route you take, I’d love to see in the comments what you chose.
Take it, Dan.