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 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 to, and charting, the Top 40. I still live with a love of a list. By 1977 I was developing a bit of a crush, a growing infatuation, 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 persistent 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, the likes of Sounds and NME 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, if Debbie Harry was an iconic figure, the singles too were equally seminal. 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, freezing cold weather…” Guessing lyrics and failing badly. Happy days.