Revisit Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop’s punk duet cover of ‘Did You Evah’
We take a trip back into Far Out Magazine’s ‘From The Vault’ section to revisit a wonderful duet between the great and powerful leader of Blondie, Debbie Harry and the mercurial godfather of punk, Iggy Pop. Two icons of the underground scene coming together for a special song.
The idea was dreamt up by the Red Hot Organisation, a not-for-profit international organisation dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture, using the imagery of stars to break down barriers. The group was founded in 1989 and, since its creation, has gone on to collaborate with ver 400 artists, producers and directors to create a whopping 16 compilation albums.
One of those aforementioned albums, 1990 effort Red Hot + Blue, was the first of a long line of popular records and with it, Red Hot set the solid foundations of what was to come. The album brought together huge acts including Fine Young Cannibals, the imperious David Byrne, America’s beating heart Tom Waits, U2, The Pogues and, of course, Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop.
The principle idea of the album is to welcome contemporary pop culture performers and ask them to reinterpret several songs of the great Cole Porter. The album name itself is a reference to Porter’s musical Red, Hot and Blue. The record went on to sell over a million copies worldwide and was lauded as one of the first major AIDS benefits to have huge success in the music business, breaking down barriers as they went.
While Neneh Cherry’s reworked version of ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin; was released as the lead single for the album and enjoyed the most success, it was Iggy Pop and Harry’s rogue effort on ‘Did You Evah’ which remains the most memorable moment for me.
With an accompanying video created by English film director Alex Cox which sees the punk duo manoeuvre their way through a slightly grimy 1980s New York City, the track is a playful take on Porter’s original as both Pop and Harry put their unique personalities on the number. “Iggy had always wanted to make a video with animals and Debbie had always wanted to publicly burn lingerie so I let them,” Cox later said in an interview with Spin.
With a subtle reference to Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra who had previously recorded the song, Harry and Iggy Pop also namedrop Pia Zadora and ask: “Have you ever been out to L.A. lately?” as the duo bounce back and forth and, at one point, Harry blurts out “piss off” to a wonderful slapstick shock response from Iggy Pop. It’s a classic moment which deserves revisiting.