Blondie can make an absolute delight out of any song you put in front of them. There’s something magical that happens when Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, Clem Burke and co. get in the room together which always leads to remarkable results. Once you couple the prowess of Blondie with the greatness of The Beatles’ classic track from their debut LP ‘Please, Please Me’ you have something unfathomably brilliant.
This was The Beatles’ second-ever single and came as they sought to follow up on the success of ‘Love Me Do’. John Lennon asks a girl to ‘please, please him’ which was rumoured to be a not-so-subtle reference asking for oral sex. This was, of course, swiftly denied by The Beatles as they wanted to maintain their teen idol reputation, a decision which then led to Lennon publically state that “I was always intrigued by the double use of the word ‘please.'” The Beatles version of the track has clear influences from the likes of Roy Orbison whereas Blondie take the song kicking and screaming into their trademark new wave style.
The track was a pivotal moment in shaping The Beatles’ career and proved that they were no one-hit-wonder and, instead, were a band who was here to stay. “We’d had a top 30 entry with ‘Love Me Do’ and we really thought we were on top of the world,” John Lennon reflected in Anthology. “Then came ‘Please Please Me’—and wham! We tried to make it as simple as possible. Some of the stuff we’ve written in the past has been a bit way-out, but we aimed this one straight at the hit parade.
“We almost abandoned it as the B-side of ‘Love Me Do’,” he added. “We changed our minds only because we were so tired the night we did Love Me Do. We’d been going over it a few times and when we came to the question of the flipside, we intended using ‘Please Please Me'”. Little did Lennon know back then what a vehicle for change the song would be for The Fab Four.
Lennon was a fan of Blondie and, in a postcard dated 1979, which he sent to Ringo Starr, he offered advice to The Beatles drummer about his solo career, a note in which he tells his longtime friend that ”Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ is the type of stuff y’all should do. Great and simple.”
Blondie’s cover of The Beatles classic wasn’t released until 2011 which, unfortunately, meant that Lennon never got the opportunity to hear their spin on his work although he would have undoubtedly approved of it. There are certainly similarities between the two bands’ rise to fame, in fact. While The Beatles polished the rowdy side of rock ‘n’ roll into a diamond of pop success, Blondie did the same with the brash flash of punk which they focused for their new wave sound. Even on this cover, Blondie make the track their own.
The unique sound that Blondie manage to create is like a sprinkling of gold dust on an already pulsating fire, catching the sparks of the age as they gild the smoke with gold. It’s the kind of guile that the New Yorkers have by the truckload and is an absolute joy to hear on ‘Please, Please Me’.