Blondie

Heart of Glass

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Song Review by Tom Maginnis

"Heart of Glass" is one of those songs that managed to change the playing field for an entire musical genre. By virtue of the song's unqualified success, reaching number one in both the U.S. and the U.K. and beyond, the stakes for the new wave/punk movement had been raised. Before "Heart of Glass," the music's full commercial potential had previously been limited to cult status in line with the small underground scene from which Blondie had emerged. Now it was being realized. What began as a flagrant attempt to exploit the then still raging disco scene turned into the perfect genre-blending dance-pop gem. In fact, an early demo recording of the song was entitled "Once I Had a Love (aka The Disco Song)" and was included in the 2001 reissue of Blondie's Parallel Lines album. The earlier recording is telling, illustrating producer Mike Chapman's diligent work ethic transforming a loose, middling dance-like number into a taught, driving piece of gleaming dance-rock. As Chapman himself explains in the reissue liner notes, "At the first rehearsal we worked on "Heart of Glass." This proved to be a blessing and a huge step forward in cementing our working relationship. It was a great idea that needed to be put into the right shape to find a home on American radio play lists. Since both Debbie and Chris were intrigued by the current disco avalanche that was sweeping the country, we decided to go there with the arrangement." Even in its earlier incarnations Chapman and the band seemed to sense that the song was a career-changing opportunity and threw themselves into its recording as never before and the result paid off. The band wastes no time setting the rock-solid groove, crashing in behind a percolating drum machine with a throbbing bass line and steady four-on-the-floor bass drum supported by pulsing keyboards and plunky guitar lines. Singer Deborah Harry's vocal takes a more demure tact from the album's more brassy pop/rock numbers, opting instead for a high-pitched cooing, her voice softened by silky double tracking as she muses on the fragile nature of love, "Once I had a love and it was a gas/Soon turned out had a heart of glass/Seemed like the real thing, only to find much o'mistrust/Love's gone behind." Her voice drops slightly for the equally catchy chorus, supported by harmonized male backing vocals as she confesses, "In between what I find is pleasing and I'm feeling fine/Love is so confusing, there's no peace of mind/If I fear I'm losing you/It's no good, you teasing like you do." An organ swells in behind to take over the infectious melody with lush backing "la, la, la"s adding yet another layer of polish. The arrangement has a long vamp out, Harry's vocal dropping out for several minutes, letting the band run with the groove, perhaps with the idea of mimicking the length of many disco hits of the day with the backing vocals and organ carrying the melody as the track clocks in at nearly a full six minutes.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Parallel Lines 1978 Capitol 5:50
Billboard Top Hits: 1979 1979
Various Artists
Rhino 3:26
No Image 1981 Polygram
No Image 1984
Various Artists
MGM / UA
Sounds of the Seventies: 1979 1990
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:26
No Image 1992
Various Artists
DCC Compact Classics 4:33
Blonde and Beyond 1993 Chrysalis Records 5:48
Young at Heart [Sounds Direct] 1993
Various Artists
Sounds Direct 3:53
No Image 1994
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd.
The Platinum Collection 1994 Chrysalis Records 4:10
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Priority Records
Billboard Top Hits: 1975-1979 1995
Various Artists
Rhino 3:26
Only Dance: 1975-1979 1995
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 3:22
Rock-N-Roll's Greatest Hits of All Time: Late 70's, Vol. 1-2 1995
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 4:35
#1 Hits: 1975-1979 1996
Various Artists
GNP / Crescendo 3:24
Divas of Pop 1996
Various Artists
GNP / Crescendo 3:26
Mega Hits, Vol. 3: Disco Heat 1996
Various Artists
Priority Records
No Image 1996
Various Artists
Capitol 8:42
Back to Back Hits 1996 EMI-Capitol Special Markets / Capitol / Special 4:36
Donnie Brasco [Original Soundtrack] 1997 Hollywood 4:34
Shape Fitness Music: Cardio, Vol. 1 1997
Various Artists
The Right Stuff / Capitol 1:23
Best Girl Power Album Ever [2 Disc] 1997
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Rock On: 1975-1979 1997
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:27
Ultimate New Wave Party 1998 1997
Various Artists
Arista 4:20
No Image 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:26
Whole Lotta Rock: 1978-1979 1997
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 4:33
No Image 1997
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 4:33
AM Gold: 1979 1997
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:26
Decades of Dance: The 70's 1998
Various Artists
EMI-Capitol Special Markets / Cema Special Ma 4:34
Big Hits of the 70's [EMI-Capitol] 1998
Various Artists
EMI-Capitol Special Markets / CEMA Special Markets 4:34
Disco Fever, Vol. 1 [SPG] 1998
Various Artists
SPG 5:51
Dance Club Retro, Vol. 2: Disco 1998
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 7:14
54, Vol. 2 1998
Original Soundtrack
Tommy Boy 3:19
No. 1 Classic Pop Album 1998
Various Artists
Polygram 3:53
Pure Disco, Vol. 3 1998
Various Artists
Polydor 3:22
CMJ the Year in Alternative Music 1979 1998
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 3:22
More Than a Feeling [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:53
Sounds of the Seventies: Super 70's 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Time / Life Music 3:22
Ultimate Collection, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
WEA International 4:33
No Image 1998
Various Artists
Metacom 4:35
Disco Box 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:24
No Exit 1999 Beyond 0:00
Fetenkult Disco 70 1999
Various Artists
BMG International 4:31
Atomic: The Very Best of Blondie 1999 EMI Music Distribution 5:14
Complete Picture: The Very Best of Deborah Harry and Blondie 1999 EMI Music Distribution 3:58
She Rock 1999
Various Artists
Razor & Tie 3:25
Non-Stop 90's Party 1999
Various Artists
DJ Specialist 4:15
Millennium Box Set 1999
Various Artists
Disky 4:09
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 1 [Universal] 1999
Various Artists
Universal International 4:11
Wow That Was the 70's 1999
Various Artists
Disky Communications 4:08
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 4:12
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Buddha Records 3:25
Millennium Disco Party 2000
Various Artists
Rhino 3:25
Movie Madness: Cool Songs From Hot Flicks 2000
Original Soundtrack
Delta Distribution 4:35
A Woman's Voice [Polygram] 2000
Various Artists
UTV / Polygram 3:24
The Official American Bandstand Library of Rock & Roll 2000
Various Artists
Atlantic 3:24
New Millennium Party 2000
Various Artists
Rhino 3:25
Disco Classics [K-Tel] 2000
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:24
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Music For Pleasure
City Rocks: New York 2000
Various Artists
Cityrocks 4:13
Greatest Hits of the 70's [Disky Box] 2000
Various Artists
Disky 4:09
Greatest Number 1's Ever 2001 EMI Music Distribution 4:09
Inside the Music: Women on Top 2001
Various Artists
Silverline Records
Absolutely the Best of the 70's: 20 Big Hits 2001
Various Artists
Varese 4:34
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 3:23
No Image 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:54
Complete Collection 2001
Various Artists
Disky 4:09
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Buddha Records 3:25
No Image 2001
Various Artists
GSC 4:37
I Love Disco [EMI] 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:49
Disco Fever, Vol. 1-2 [SPG] 2002
Various Artists
SPG 5:51
Greatest Video Hits 2002 Capitol
Great Ladies of Rock & Roll: The '70s 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 4:33
Best of Blondie [Collectables] 2003 Collectables 4:11
Twogether Rock 2003
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:52
The Best Pop Album of the 70's...Ever! 2003
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:11
Best of Blondie [Platinum Disc] 2003 Platinum Disc 4:11
Blondie [Collection] 2003 Platinum Disc 4:12
I Love 2 Party 2004 2004
Various Artists
Virgin 3:47
Singles Box 2004 Capitol / EMI Records 5:50
Everyone's a Winner: 60 Original No. 1's 2004
Various Artists
Empire Triples 4:11
Everyone's A Winner: 20 Original No. 1's [CD2] 2004
Various Artists
Disky 4:11
Video Hits 2005 Capitol
Lost & Found in the Seventies: Disco 2005
Various Artists
Liberty 4:33
Rock N Roll's Greatest Hits of All Time 70's, Vol. 1 2005
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 4:35
Retro Remixed 2: Rare & Refashioned 2005
Various Artists
Hi-Bias Records 7:28
Ultimate 16: Essential Rock 2005
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 4:32
Complete Seventies 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:19
'70s: Gold 2006
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:32
Greatest Hits [Capitol] 2006 Chrysalis Records / Capitol / EMI Music Distribution 4:32
Les 100 Plus Grands Tubes de l'Ete 2006
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:53
Extended Seventies: The Dawning of the 12 Inch Era 2006
Various Artists
Optimum 5:46
Club St. Tropez, Vol. 4 2006
Various Artists
More Music 2:19
Retro Pop 2006
Various Artists
Brentwood Records 4:33
Billboard #1s: The '70s 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 3:24
This Is '80s New Wave 2006
Various Artists
Cleopatra 4:33
No Image 2006 Capitol
Disco Club: The Finest Dancefloor Disco Tunes From 70's & 80's 2006
Various Artists
Wagram / Wagram Records 3:40
Gracie [Original Soundtrack] 2007
Original Soundtrack
Lakeshore Records 4:31
No Image 2007
Various Artists
EMI
Holiday Gift Pack 2007 Capitol 5:50
Desperately Seeking Susan: The Original Blondie Hits 2007 Chrysalis Records / Parlophone 4:10
Playlist: 70's Pop 2008
Various Artists
EMD Int'l 4:32
TV Ad Songs 2008
Various Artists
Virgin 3:54
Pure Hits [Emd] [3 Discs] 2008
Various Artists
EMD Int'l 4:31
Classic Rock [EMI] 2008
Various Artists
EMI 4:30
Richie Rich Presents: Celebutante 2008
Various Artists
Defend Music
Sounds of the 70's Generation 2008
Various Artists
Destra 4:08
Original Hits: 70s 2009
Various Artists
EMI 4:09
Blondie Singles Collection: 1977-1982 2009 EMI Music Distribution / Chrysalis Records / EMD Int'l
Songpack 2009 Chrysalis Records 4:11
Simply the Best Seventies Rock 2009
Various Artists
Warner Bros. / Warner Music 4:35
Countdown to the New Year 2010
Various Artists
Capitol 4:32
Essential 2011 Capitol / EMI / EMI Gold 4:11
Awesome '80s 2011
Various Artists
Mood Media Entertainment 4:32
Now That's What I Call a No. 1 2012
Various Artists
EMI / Joint Venture 3:41
We Love the Nightlife: Get Up and Boogie 2012
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:24
Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux/Ghosts of Download 2014 Noble Id 4:32
No Image 2014
Various Artists
Universal 5:50
10 Great Songs Capitol 4:12
25 Years Of Chrysalis Music
Various Artists
Sony CMG
54, Vol. 2 [Music from the Miramax Motion Picture]
Various Artists
Tommy Boy 3:20
70's Hits [Capitol]
Various Artists
Capitol 4:33
80s New Year's Party
Various Artists
Universal 5:50
Atomic/Atomix EMI Digital / Parlophone 5:14
BBQ Summer [December 04, 2020]
Various Artists
Universal 4:10
Back to the Old School 2 (Singapore)
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:22
Capodanno 2020 Disco Dancing
Various Artists
Universal 4:10
No Image
Various Artists
EMI 4:10
Forever Disco [Universal]
Various Artists
Universal 4:11
Girl Power
Various Artists
Universal 4:32
Greatest Hits [Universal]
Various Artists
Universal 4:32
Hits Annees 70
Various Artists
Universal 5:50
Hot Party 70 Classics
Various Artists
Universal 4:10
Just Girls
Various Artists
Universal 4:33
No Image
Various Artists
EMI 4:10
Old But Gold 70's
Various Artists
Universal 5:50
Rock & Romance Collection
Various Artists
Time Life 3:24
Rock Live! [Universal]
Various Artists
Universal 4:54
The Best of School Disco.com: 10th Anniversary
Various Artists
EMI 3:54