“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.
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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