Summer of ’79: Oooh oooh woah

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PARALLEL LINES
Blondie
Released: September 1978
Label: Chrysalis
Cover Photography: Edo Bertoglio

Told by David Carrales

In the summer of ‘79 I was 12 years old, walking aimlessly through the Sears at the Irving Mall, lamenting the fact that it was no longer cool to hang out in the toy department. I wandered to where TVs were sold and caught a glimpse of a woman with short blonde hair and bright red lipstick singing on one of the TV sets. Her pretty face filled the screen as she crooned, “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….”

I was mesmerized as she whirled, swirling a wrap and sang “oooh oooh whoa” over and over. The music faded and the song ended. I don’t remember what played next as I was still basking in the glow of who I would later find out was Debbie Harry of Blondie singing “Heart of Glass.”

On the cusp of becoming a teen, I was starting to discover music on my own courtesy of my simulated woodgrain AM/FM clock radio with cool blue digital light display. No longer was I constrained to listening to the dulcet tunes found on my mom’s easy listening station during carpool rides to school and around town (e.g. “Music Box Dancer”). I was free to listen to what I wanted to and in those early days it was pop music, literally, as in M’s “Pop Muzik!” Another favorite song from that time was “Funkytown” by Lipps, Inc. which was oft played at the rec center’s pool that summer. I was particularly partial to the part in the song when the vocals are synthesized. The effect reminded me of Cylons speaking on the original “Battlestar Galactica” TV series. To this day, when I smell chlorine and suntan lotion and the sun is sinking low in the sky while I sit poolside, I am taken back to those days of my youth and sing to myself, “won’t you take me down / to Funkytown!”

Lights out in the summer of ‘79 was 10 pm. By then, I had a room of my own so I could shut the door and search the airwaves for a suitable station to send me to sleep. I held out hope to hear Gary Numan’s “Cars” so I could close my eyes and think about my dream car, the Datsun 280zx. Eventually, I would fall asleep, but not before hearing songs like The Knack’s “Good Girls Don’t,” ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down,” and The Little River Band’s “Lonesome Loser.”

My predilection for pop music started to wane by the start of eighth grade when I began to tune into what my friends were listening to, KZEW98 and KTXQ102, the two Dallas/Fort Worth “album oriented rock” stations. The first song that made an impression on me was “Refugee” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Pop songs didn’t have lyrics like “Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some / Who knows maybe you were kidnapped, tied up / Taken away and held for ransom / Honey, it don’t really matter to me, baby / Everybody’s had to fight to be free, you see / Don’t have to live like a refugee.”

Pop music hadn’t entirely left my world though. That fall, during the 1979 World Series, Sister Sledge’s “We are Family” was the soundtrack to the Pittsburgh Pirates dramatic victory in game seven over the Baltimore Orioles. I was pulling for the Bucs with their cool pillbox hats and eccentric cast of characters– the old man (Willie Stargell), the thin man (Omar Moreno), the mustachioed man (Tim Foli), and the sidearm slinger (Kent Tekulve). One could not deny the awesome power of a disco song to unite a team and ignite a fan base.

Sometime after its release in 2005, I purchased an iPod5 and gave careful consideration to what song I would play first. I thought perhaps “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles as an homage to the first song played on MTv and coincidentally released as a single in 1979.  It didn’t take long to scroll through the list of artist to find the artist who would christen my iPod with its first tune. “B for Blondie / Heart of Glass.”

“Oooh oooh whoa….”

David Carrales is a freelance documentary photographer and devoted Cubs fanatic residing in Austin, TX.

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