We all know and love Debbie Harry as the pioneering leader of Blondie. At the forefront of the punk movement in New York, she growled, strutted, sneered, and rocked her way to the top of the pile. With a combination of expertly written pop songs that scythed through genre and style, Harry is a megastar. That’s why her 1993 cover of The Rolling Stones song ‘Wild Horses’ is so breathtaking—it is stark, raw and, above all, utterly beautiful.
Debbie Harry was on her 1993 tour, aptly named the Debravation Tour, when she took on arguably one of the greatest songs The Rolling Stones has ever produced. Far removed from the hip-swinging sound that they made their name on, this track was the band exploring their emotions a little more intently. It provided the perfect platform for Harry to put her own emotions into it.
Looking back at The Rolling Stones’ version of the song, the liner notes for Jump Back Jagger states: “I remember we sat around originally doing this with Gram Parsons, and I think his version came out slightly before ours. Everyone always says this was written about Marianne but I don’t think it was; that was all well over by then. But I was definitely very inside this piece emotionally.”
Keith Richards said of the now-iconic love song, “If there is a classic way of Mick and me working together this is it. I had the riff and chorus line, Mick got stuck into the verses. Just like ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Wild Horses’ was about the usual thing of not wanting to be on the road, being a million miles from where you want to be.” It’s a tale as old as the legend of rock stars themselves.
This was clearly something that resonated with Debbie too, who herself had spent many miles staring out of tour bus windows. The track’s longing for clarity and romantic sadness are effortlessly channelled through Harry’s impeccable vocal. She delivers a quite beautiful rendition of the song lending her femininity and soul to the track with a poignancy it deserves.
Supporting her fourth studio album as a solo artist, the Blondie singer reverted her stage name back to Deborah and was clearly trying to show the variety of her talent. She wasn’t just a frontwoman, a pop star or a punk pioneer, she was Deborah fucking Harry and it was about time everybody knew it. The tour was such a success that they had planned to make it a live album but that never came to fruition. Luckily, we still have this gem floating around as bootleg.
What transpires is a song that, with Debbie’s vocals at the forefront, is a truly captivating and overwhelming experience to hear. While this 1993 version may be more directly linked to The Sundays cover of the track the year prior, there’s one thing that isn’t up for debate: it is simply breathtaking listening and a stark reminder (if we needed one) that Debbie Harry is an icon of music.
Not just punk, not just rock and roll, Debbie Harry is an ethereal minstrel the likes of which we will likely not see again. Listen to Debbie Harry’s 1993 cover of The Rolling Stones song ‘Wild Horses’ below.