Debbie Harry: A life in quotes

Finding the right place and time is an essential thing for any artist—Debbie Harry knows that just as well now as she turns 77, as she did when she first broke into arts after spending a while awaiting her moment from the side-line. Once the sixties got grooving, Elvis Presley’s hip-shaking seemed a little old hat, and in the gloss of the eighties, dirty punk struggled to retain its relevance. For Debbie Harry, it wasn’t until she was 31 that fame was finally bestowed upon her.

At that moment, New York was in need of a trailblazer. Art thrived like flowering weeds in the cracks of society. As Richard Hell, the punk and pioneer adopted citizen of the Big Apple once said: “Things always change, and New York teaches you that.” It was changing faster than the racetrack rabbit in the 1970s and not always for the better. Between 1969 to 1974 the city lost 500,000 manufacturing jobs. Subsequently, a million homes depended on welfare, tripled rapes and burglaries, drugs ran rampant and murders hit a high of 1690 a year. However, a lot of art comes from chaos and defiance—New York was a creative cocktail of both.

Harry had been a secretary for BBC Radio’s offices in New York, worked as a waitress in the renowned rock joint Max’s Kansas City, became a go-go dancer at a New Jersey discotheque and even tried her hand at being a Playboy Bunny. She had watched the art world develop and now it was opening up for her. As she once said, “I’m a culture vulture, and I just want to experience it all.”

In truth, she has indeed experienced most of it and we’ve compiled many of those moments in her own words below. This is a snapshot of Blondie’s punk trailblazer Debbie Harry’s life in quotes.

Debbie Harry’s life in quotes:

On her childhood

At the start of this journey was the moment that she was adopted as a baby. Her quiet New Jersey her childhood was forever permeated by the knowledge of her adoption. As she candidly writes in her memoir: “I guess somewhere in my subconscious, a scene was playing on a loop of a parent leaving me somewhere and never coming back.” This lingering nag led her to search out a purpose and place in the world with more fervor than many of her friends.

(Credit: Alamy)

On her spiritual outlook

It is quite clear that Debbie Harry is a unique character. That much would be clear from a single picture, but her life is riddled with an air of complexity. Harry herself opines that much of this comes down to her spiritual outlook: “I really am a mystic. I don’t know where I got it from.” This is borne out in her musical takes too. She once said: “We probably, as primitive people, made music before we actually had a language, and that’s where language comes from.”

(Credit: YouTube)

on sex

Beyond the music, Harry is undoubtedly a sex symbol, and boy oh boy is she happy to embrace this bestowment. In fact, she has branded it as a source of power since entering the arts stating: “I wish I had invented sex,” and “Being hot never hurts.” She even gave her ex-boyfriend Penn Jillette the idea of ​​having his Jacuzzi’s water jets specifically positioned for clitoral stimulation, explaining: “Penn patented the orgasmatron tub. I kept expecting his wife to at least send me flowers.”

(Credit: Aero Archive / Alamy)

on feminism

Harry has always asserted feminity within rock ‘n’ roll. She entered it as a rollicking force and ensured that punk was the moment women’s voice in rock ‘n’ roll was heard. Status: “The only place left for rock to go is toward more girl stars. There’s nothing left for men to do. There’s bound to be more male stars, but they can’t express anything new.” Later asking in a more perfunctory sense: “How can one be a woman and not be a feminist? That’s my question.”

(Credit: Debbie Harry/ Blondie)

On her artistic approach

Harry is enamored with music and as an artist, she looks to let that lust for life flow through her and come out expressively. “I do know the effect that music still has on me – I’m completely vulnerable to it. I’m seduced by it,” she once said. And that is reflected in her own output, stating: “Music has its own emotional embodiment. It carries an emotion with it. When you associate a lyric with the music, it’s much easier; but when you’re standing there completely dry in front of the camera with no musical background, just a fine-tuned, get-this-emotional-story across, it’s a very, very intense kind of focus.”

(Credit: Alamy)

On her hard work

Punk was about breaking into the mainstream and tackling the bourgeoisie. At 31, harry knew better than most, that something like that doesn’t just happen. She said: “To be an artist you have to be as much a businessman to succeed, you have to spend an equal amount of time doing business as you spend doing your craft.” This has stayed with her since: “I guess people assume I have some sort of totally magical life, but I’m a working musician, fortunately. I’ve worked on my craft, and I’m very fortunate I’ve been able to survive in a very competitive industry and enjoy my success. It’s not easy.”

(Credit: Alamy)

On the meaning of punk

If you ever wonder why Blondie are called punk when sometimes their style even seems closer to disco, then the answer is in their attitude: “That was always what I felt was the beauty of Rock ‘n’ Roll, it was entertainment and showbiz yet it had the idea of ​​the voice of the people, it had an essence to it which was socially motivated. Not that I want to change the world, do you know? But it was sort of relevant to real life, it involved the real essence of poetry or the real essence of fine art. But it was also entertainment. That was the real vitality.”

(Credit: Chris Stein)

On her legacy

As an artist, Harry has explored every realm in the book and always looks to push on musically: “I always say the new album is the best one yet. I always feel that – I really do, because it’s the latest and it’s the newest and it’s a little bit better.”

(Credit: Press)

Follow Far Out Magazine across our social channels, on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: