When one thinks of Blondie, they think of effortless cool, dusky New York nights and the pulsating electricity of new wave punk. Yet we’re choosing today to revel at the moment Debbie Harry and Blondie went a little bit country as they cover Johnny Cash’s iconic hit ‘Ring of Fire’.
It’s not the usual space one expects Blondie to operate in, but they deliver a searing rendition of the song that defies those expectations and reminds you just how potent a force they were.
The idea of Harry’s heavenly vocals attempted to reach the dark depths of Cash’s gravel toned bellow is one Blondie ditch reasonably quickly in the track and, instead, decide pay homage to the original composition by Anita and June Carter. The song was put together for the 1980 movie Roadie and saw the band provide a classically cheesy music video with all the new wave western attire you could hope for.
The film, which stars Meat Loaf among others, is tinged with a country-rock crossover and features some notable stars as well as musical acts. Soul Train’s Don Cornelius and Hee Haw cast member Gailard Sartain both take significant roles in the film.
At the same time, the musical acts were more than impressive and included Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Alice Cooper, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, who added some needed kudos to the production.
While a film based on young Texas good ol’ boy finding a knack for electronic equipment – and taking that talent to land himself a job as a roadie with a raucous travelling rock-and-roll show – may not be to everybody’s taste, the film’s soundtrack is full of gem from the aforementioned stars.
The stand out number has to be Blondie’s cover of Cash’s hit which lands effortlessly with the same snarling lip and guttural grit that made Cash’s song so perfect in the first place.
The video sees Harry plant a kiss on Meat Loaf’s character before taking to the stage in the aforementioned garb and delivering a rootin’ tootin’ good time for the adoring crowd. While the cover does come in the form of a fictitious live show, it is a testament to Harry’s ability to make any song truly her own and, perhaps to the heights of fame, she herself was beginning to climb.
Watch below as Blondie cover Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’ as part of 1980 film Roadie.