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The Stories Behind Five Classic Blondie Songs (and One New Track)

Michael Ochs Archive/Corbis

The immortally cool band that helped bring punk and new wave to the masses celebrates its 40th anniversary this month with a double album, Blondie 4(0) ever. Frontwoman Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein look back—and forward—at their work.

“RIP HER TO SHREDS”

Debbie Harry: We wanted to do something like the Velvet Underground, or a Lou Reed, New York kind of song. “Rip Her to Shreds” was this composite piece about a lot of female people in the scene, and it was kind of a gossipy thing. In that scenario, I’m both doing the ripping and the one being ripped. I was poking fun at other people but also at myself. It’s a tough song.

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Blondie says 'Nyet' to Sochi - Debbie Harry and co. reject invitation to perform at the Olympics

Sorry, Olympics visitors, but you will not be able to shout along to a live version of “Rip Her to Shreds” during your stay in Sochi.

Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry took to Twitter over the weekend to post the offer the group received from Red Rocks Festival Sochi, a free concert event scheduled for this Thursday at Sochi Medals Plaza. According to the document, Blondie would have been paid a five-figure fee for a 45 minute set, but Harry rejected the opportunity by scrawling, “PASS — HUMAN RIGHTS” over it.

Harry and her bandmates have joined ranks with the likes of Madonna, Elton John, and the myriad artists,  who stood up at last week’s Amnesty International concert in Brooklyn to speak out against Russia’s institutional treatment of minorities, specifically those in the LGBT community.

Blondie was last seen ringing in the new year with Ryan Seacrest in Times Square. The 2014 Winter Olympics launched last week and will seemingly continue unabated until the end of time.

Corin Tucker Band blasts through songs from new album 'Kill My Blues' in New York

Corin Tucker’s place in rock history is already set in stone, and her work in the riot grrrl era is pretty much peerless, thanks to the the muscular guitar style, otherworldly wail, and knack for punchy, pounding three-minute blasts she brought to such great heights with riot queens Sleater-Kinney.

With that in mind, anything she—or Carrie Brownstein or Janet Weiss, the other two core members of S-K—does from now on is pretty much gravy. Back in 2010, Tucker released 1,000 Years, her debut with the Corin Tucker Band. It was a steady if sometimes sleepy collection of tunes that traded in Sleater-Kinney’s adolescent vigor for more refined ideas about family, money, and generally navigating the world of adulthood. (There was also “Miles Away,” which was about Bella Swan.)

Last week, the Corin Tucker Band released its second album Kill My Blues, which will inevitably go down as one of the most underrated albums of the year.

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Blondie's Debbie Harry tells the stories behind hits old and new -- an EW exclusive

Blondie came up in the New York punk scene, made the transition to New Wave, brought hip-hop to the pop masses, and even danced with disco for a while.

That constant push for innovation, along with their irrepressible melodies and singer Debbie Harry’s chesty croon, has kept the band cool for over 30 years.

Still foxy at 66, Harry talked to EW about the stories behind some of her band’s most iconic hits, as well as the one behind the current single from the just-released Panic of Girls.

“Rip Her to Shreds” (1976)
“Chris [Stein] and I were big fans of the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed, and that has a very threatening, kind of down and dirty beat to it. ‘Rip Her To Shreds’ is what we all do when we’re getting catty. New York can be a very tough place but with all that toughness there’s also a great deal of affection among the people. It’s like being roasted.”

“Heart of Glass” (1979)
“That was an exciting period because all this new technology was available, and we became more sophisticated about what a song on the radio should be. When we first started recording, we worked with Richard Gottehrer, who was a real purist. He took us as we were and we were very raw, and very inexperienced and very minimal, as far as instrumentation was concerned.  Then we got hooked up with Mike Chapman, this hit-meister from Europe who had had hundreds of pop songs and worked with different pop artists.  He had a more sophisticated idea of what a song on radio should be and made us sort of understand that. It was like going to school again. It really was an exciting period in that respect, that these sounds became available. It was the overlap between analog and digital. People were upset because it was a disco song, but they were even more upset that I said ‘ass’! We got banned a few places because of it.” READ FULL STORY

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