Tag Archives: Deborah Harry

20 Duets

Duets. Twenty of ’em.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Throwback Thursday – 1980

Winston + Blondie
In 1979, Giorgio Moroder, famous mostly for his production work on Donna Summer records, composed the score for the film American Gigolo. He asked Stevie Nicks to sing the movie’s theme song, for which Moroder wrote the music, but she had to decline for contractual reasons. He next turned to Deborah Harry of Blondie.

Harry write the lyrics to the song that became “Call Me,” the second #1 single for her band. Of her experience with Moroder, she told Billboard “He’s very nice to work with, very easy, (but) I don’t think he has a lot of patience with people who fool around or don’t take what they do seriously. I think he’s very serious about what he does and he’s intense and he’s a perfectionist and he’s very talented, so I think that people who are less talented or less concentrated bore him quickly…you really have to pay attention.”

Said Moroder of working with Blondie, “There were always fights. I was supposed to do an album with them after that. We went to the studio, and the guitarist was fighting with the keyboard player. I called their manager and quit.”

Moroder did end up working with Deborah Harry again years later on another soundtrack song, producing “Rush Rush” from Scarface, and in 2004 remixed Blondie’s single “Good Boys.”

Tunes du Jour’s Throwback Thursday playlist this week spotlights the best of 1980, kicking off with Blondie’s “Call Me.”


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It’s Irene Cara’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Winston + Irene Cara

Fame! I’m gonna live forever! Baby, remember my name!

Though she hasn’t had a hit song in more than thirty years, people still remember Irene Cara’s name. Between 1980 and 1984, she had more hit songs than the two you can name off the top of your head.

First came the song “Fame,” taken from the movie Fame, in which Cara played Coco Hernandez. “Fame,” written by Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore and featuring backing vocals from Luther Vandross and Vicki Sue Robinson, hit #4, and won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. In addition, Cara’s performance in the film earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.

Also vying for the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year was “Out Here on My Own,” written by Michael Gore and his sister Lesley. Also performed by Cara in the film, it became her second consecutive top 40 single.

She didn’t appear in the movie Flashdance, but her theme song, “Flashdance…What a Feeling!,” was #1 in the US for six weeks, and won Cara, one of its writers, the Oscar for Best Original Song. “What a Feeling” also won Cara the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female and a nomination for Record of the Year, which she lost to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” (fair enough!). The single topped charts around the world.

Given the song’s massive success, Cara found it odd that per her record label, her royalties from sales of the record amounted to $183. In 1985, following a few more hit songs (“The Dream,” from the movie D.C. Cab, in which she played Irene Cara; “Why Me?,” and “”Breakdance”), she sued the head of that label (which had since gone under) for $10 million for breach of contract. Eight years later, a jury awarded her $1.5 million. By then, her time in the spotlight was long over. She never hit the charts again after filing her lawsuit.

Take your passion and make it happen, but make sure you have people you trust looking after your affairs.

Today, Irene Cara turns 57 years old. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with “Flashdance…What a Feeling!”


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Throwback Thursday – 1979

Blondie + Ringo
Blondie’s hit single “Heart of Glass” was written by band members Debbie Harry and Chris Stein and had the working title of “The Disco Song.” Drummer Clem Burke said his part was inspired by the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.”

Said Harry “When we did ‘Heart of Glass’ it wasn’t too cool in our social set to play disco. But we did it because we wanted to be uncool,” with the band’s keyboardist Jimmy Destri adding “We used to do ‘Heart of Glass’ to upset people.”

The song was included on Blondie’s Parallel Lines LP “as a novelty item to put more diversity into the album,” per Stein. The novelty song became the group’s first charted single and first #1, in 1979. Its success prompted John Lennon to send Ringo Starr a postcard advising to write songs like “Heart of Glass.”

Today’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights twenty of the best tracks from 1979, kicking off with Blondie’s upsetting disco novelty.


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The Magic Of Blondie

“Lost inside adorable illusion and I cannot hide”

The first Broadway show I ever saw was The Magic Show, a musical with lyrics and music written by Stephen Schwartz, no relation to me, but a relation to some other Schwartzes, I assume.

My parents took me to the show for my eleventh birthday. I recall I was wearing green corduroy pants, a white turtleneck, and a New York Jets jacket. Or New Jersey Jets. No, I think they were from New York. They were a football team. Maybe they still are. I digress.

Magic was one of my main hobbies at that age, along with coin collecting and rock polishing. It was around that birthday that music overtook all other interests of mine.

At one point during The Magic Show, its star, Doug Henning, asked for a volunteer from the audience. I raised my hand. Henning pointed to me and asked me to come on to the stage. My job was to check that the chains that went around a trunk from which Henning was going to escape while inside a sealed sack were sturdy and locked. Who better to check their strength than a 67-pound boy in a New York Jets jacket? Or New Jersey. No, I’m pretty sure New York.

I checked the chains and gave the thumbs up for the trick to begin. Somehow, Henning escaped from the sack in the trunk and from the trunk itself! I was standing right next to the trunk. I could tell you how the trick was done, had I been paying attention. I was too caught up in the sets. My interest in magic instantly waned while my interest in performing rose.

What happens to a child after he makes his Broadway debut at age 11? Some end up depressed alcoholics who spend their rest of their days trying to recapture the magic but they can’t because they are no longer cute or bankable and their stage parents oh their stage parents alienated the artistic community and they have no option but to turn tricks for cash which is spent on drugs or would be spent on drugs except nobody wants to hire the porcine past-his-prime actor. Nobody except those who fetishize former “stars” and I put stars in quotes because come on, get real.

That’s not what happened to me. I became a stand-up comedian with a large record collection.

Blondie + Ringo
In my record collection one will find Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” from which the lyric that opens this post is taken. The song was written by band members Debbie Harry and Chris Stein and had the working title of “The Disco Song.” Drummer Clem Burke said his part was inspired by the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.”

Said Harry “When we did ‘Heart of Glass’ it wasn’t too cool in our social set to play disco. But we did it because we wanted to be uncool,” with the band’s keyboardist Jimmy Destri adding “We used to do ‘Heart of Glass’ to upset people.”

The song was included on Blondie’s Parallel Lines LP “as a novelty item to put more diversity into the album,” per Stein. The novelty song became the group’s first charted single and first #1, in 1979. Its success prompted John Lennon to send Ringo Starr a postcard advising to write songs like “Heart of Glass.”

Today Debbie Harry celebrates her 70th birthday. Here are twenty of her finest moments.


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The Song Retains The Name

Winston + Bobby Brown
Today is Bobby Brown’s 46th birthday. A former member of New Edition, Brown had his first solo hit in 1988 with “Don’t Be Cruel,” which reached #8 on the Hot 100. Though it shares its title with an Elvis Presley #1 hit from 1956, Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” is not a remake.

That brings us to today’s playlist, which I call The Song Retains the Name. It consists of different songs with the same title. I initially planned to include twenty such songs, but more kept springing to mind. Before I knew it, I passed 100 entries. There are plenty more, so I decided to open this up to my reader(s). If you have songs that share titles you’d like to add, feel free to do so.

(NOTES: I included The Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel” because when it was released in 1980 its title was “Heartbreak Hotel.” Thought he didn’t have to, Michael Jackson, the song’s writer, later changed its name to “This Place Hotel” to avoid confusion with the Elvis Presley song “Heartbreak Hotel.” Whitney Houston didn’t feel the need to make the same Hotel accommodation.

Also, though it is listed on Spotify as “The Best of My Love,” the Eagles track does not have a “The” on the 45 or the band’s On the Border album.)

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It’s Nile Rodgers’ Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Winston + Chic 2014-09-19 13.37

Nile Rodgers, with his friend Bernard Edwards, formed the band Chic in the mid-1970s. The pair wrote and produced the group’s music. In 1978, they had their first top ten pop single, “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” which went to #1 on the Disco/Dance chart and remained on top for eight weeks.

Later in 1978, Chic released “Le Freak,” which was #1 on the pop chart for six weeks and became the biggest-selling single in Atlantic Records’ history.

Two more top ten singles followed in 1979 – “I Want Your Love” and the #1 smash “Good Times.” Rodgers and Edwards also wrote and produced Sister Sledge’s We Are Family album, which spawned that quartet’s only top ten pop hits – “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and the classic title track.

By late 1979 a disco backlash hit hard in the US. Any act the public perceived as a disco act had trouble getting hit records. “Good Times” was to be Chic’s last top 40 single. Even in clubs the group faltered. “Good Times,” coupled with “My Feet Keep Dancing” and “My Forbidden Lover,” hit #3 on the Disco/Dance chart. Chic wouldn’t make the top ten on that chart again until 1992.

By 1980, Chic the band were considered over, just two years after they arrived. Luckily, Chic were more than a disco band, and one person who knew that was Suzanne de Passe. De Passe was the president of Motown Productions. She hired Rodgers and Edwards to work with Diana Ross, who hadn’t had a top ten single since “Love Hangover” in 1976. The resulting album, diana, sold over ten million copies and remains the singer’s biggest-selling album to date. (I should note that it wasn’t the Chic mix of the album that got released. We’ll save that story for another time.) It spawned the top ten smashes “Upside Down” (#1 for four weeks) and the classic “I’m Coming Out,” both Rodgers/Edwards compositions.

In 1982, Nile Rodgers met David Bowie at New York club The Continental. Bowie hired Rodgers to work with him on a new album. The result? Let’s Dance, co-produced by Bowie and Rodgers. The title track became Bowie’s first top ten single since 1976’s “Golden Years” and his second (and last) #1, with 1975’s “Fame” the first. “China Girl” and “Modern Love” were also hit singles.

1983 kept Rodgers busy, working with Paul Simon, INXS, Daryl Hall and John Oates and Southside Johnny. One night he went to New York’s Roxy to catch a performance by Jenny Burton. He was intrigued by Burton’s opening act, an up-and-coming singer who went by her first name, Madonna. By the summer of ‘84, Madonna had three pop hits – “Holiday,” “Borderline” and “Lucky Star” – under her belt. When it came time to record her sophomore album, she called on Nile Rodgers.

Madonna named her second album Like a Virgin. Its title track, produced by Nile Rodgers, became Madonna’s first #1 single, staying on top for six weeks. Other hits pulled from the album were “Material Girl,” “Angel” and “Dress You Up,” all produced by Rodgers. The album has sold 21 million copies worldwide.

I won’t go into detail about every artist Nile worked with, but here’s a partial list: Duran Duran, Mick Jagger, Debbie Harry, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Prince, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, Grace Jones, Bryan Ferry, Johnny Mathis, Kim Carnes, Jeff Beck, Thompson Twins, Sheena Easton, Laurie Anderson, Al Jarreau, Ric Ocasek, The B-52s, David Lee Roth, Michael Bolton, Adam Lambert and Daft Punk.

Today Nile Rodgers turns 62. As it’s Friday, and I need to dance dance dance yowsah yowsah yowsah, today’s playlist consists entirely of songs Rodgers worked on. Good times!

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

I recently came across the following piece of advice:

We tend to beat ourselves up when we fail and fail to celebrate when we succeed. Strengthen your belief in yourself by reflecting on each decade of your life and every success you’ve experienced. You can begin as early as age five when you learned how to ride a bike. Write it all down. You’ll be inspired, motivated and amazed by your list and how and can be used to face your fear.
(from lifehack.org: 13 Tips To Face Your Fear and Enjoy the Ride)

My list includes:
Cast as the second male lead in high school production of Fiddler on the Roof
First person in my family to graduate college
Became a Vice President at Warner Music
Performed stand-up comedy – won contests, was mentioned in Backstage cover stories and secured an agent
Became a homeowner at 30
Adopted two rescue dogs (previously I had a fear of dogs)
Second place in Toastmasters humorous speech contest
Named President of ImprovMasters
Successfully sued landlord
Paid off student loans
Skied down the Swiss Alps
Learned how to ride a bike

I recommend doing this exercise. You’ll remember many things you haven’t thought about in a while or perhaps take for granted. Look at the list whenever you need a reminder of your fabulousness.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s Friday and I need to dance!

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Last week I regaled an audience with the story of the time I accidentally hired a prostitute to show me around Prague. These things happen. To me, anyway.

Half-glass-full guy that I am, once I realized what I did, I looked at the positive – I hired a prostitute to show me around Prague! Complications arose when the police got involved and I had to explain to my bank why they needed to credit that charge.

Though I ended up sightseeing that spectacular city on my own, I got a great story out of the trip. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, but you make the best of the situation and try to turn it into a positive.

me July 25 2014 at IMSomeday I’ll talk about the time I boarded a bus in Mexico to go on what I thought was a nature trip to the hot springs. Let’s just say I don’t think the springs got any hotter than they did that night.

In 1987, two bands, both interested in making a dance record, got together in the studio at the suggestion of the head of their record label, 4AD. Colourbox and A R Kane didn’t hit it off, so each worked on their own track, which they then turned over to the other group to embellish.

Colourbox came up with “Pump up the Volume,” its title line sampled from Eric B & Rakim’s “I Know You Got Soul.” A R Kane added some guitar to the track, and DJs CJ Macintosh and Dave Dorrell added a bunch of samples.

The record was released under the name M|A|R|R|S. “Pump up the Volume” became a worldwide smash and was groundbreaking in its use of samples on a British house track.

Though the idea of a true collaboration between the two bands didn’t come to fruition, and the acts didn’t get along and never worked together again, they did produce a dance classic. “Pump up the Volume” kicks off today’s dance playlist. Have a great weekend and before you buy anything, make sure you know exactly what it is you are paying for.

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Your Bastille Day Playlist

Paris001
In seventh grade we were given the option of taking Spanish or being expelled. I opted for the former. I did well in Spanish class. When I moved on to high school in ninth grade, we had a foreign language requirement, our options being Spanish, French or Swahili. I stayed with Spanish.

Through music I was able to pick up bits and pieces of other languages. I picked up some French phrases from Labelle and Talking Heads. I learned some Japanese from The Police and Robyn. The Rolling Stones and Dusty Springfield recorded Italian-language versions of a couple of their hits, and The Beatles recorded “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” in German.

Limited as it was, this knowledge of foreign languages served me well when I moved into Sony Music’s International division. I could converse with our affiliates and licensees around the world. Sure, all I knew how to say to the folks in our French office was “Would you like to go to bed with me tonight?” and “What is it?,” but that’s all I needed to say. They appreciated the effort.

As today is Bastille Day and this blog has a French name, I created a playlist to help you with your French and your French kissing. Amusez-vous!

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