Monday, 26 September 2016

Picture This

Blondie is one of my favourite bands, though I haven't ever thought of their lyrics as cutting edge. But Picture This.....

Blondie's Parallel Lines is a classic album and generally regarded as their best, with its 4 hit singles, including the number ones Heart Of Glass and Sunday Girl.  The latter is one of my least favourite Blondie tracks, just too much saccharine, even sung by my favourite female singer, Debbie Harry. I fondly remember Harry appearing on Top Of The Pops in a black dress that appeared to be a bin bag with the corners cut out for sleeves (picture that - though I'm sure it wasn't). Actually, I've always preferred the previous album, Plastic Letters, but Parallel Lines has a bunch of great tracks, including my favourite Blondie song, Fade Away And Radiate, featuring some sublime guitar by Robert Fripp (another of my musical heroes). And it has Picture This, which preceded Heart Of Glass in the charts and features one of the most inane lyrics ever sung:

Let me give you my finest hour, the one I spent watching you shower"

But it also has the remarkably prescient lyric:

Picture this, a sky full of thunder
Picture this, my telephone number
One and one is what I'm telling you
Get a pocket computer
Try to do what you used to do, yeah

A pocket computer? Wow. This was 1978 and, while there were some rudimentary personal computers, the first pocket sized phone was 8 years away. The 1980s also saw the emergence of pocket calculators that had some programmable functions and the modern mobile phone that is undoubtedly a computer was preceded by varous types of PDAs. I checked all this out because "Picture This" was an answer in my wife's crossword puzzle on Sunday. I knew the lyric and found myself singing the "pocket computer" line but I hadn't ever really thought about it before. I certainly don't remember thinking about it 1978. Double wow. I can do no better than repeat what a Yorkshire IT website, Hull Digital, says:

"... I am struck that in my pocket sits a computer with my telephone number (but regrettably not Debbie Harry’s).  Picture this; it holds a local gallery of my personal photographs, a camera to take more and access to Flickr etc. to browse further millions. All the power and flexibility to do what I used to do and so much more besides… including listening to Parallel Lines whenever I feel the urge. I seamlessly switch between my pocket computer, my slate computer and my laptop. My content, my knowledge, my entertainment, my friends are accessible from all of them. The tools each contains are unimaginably capable; the capabilities are limited only by our imaginations."

Well, whichever member of Blondie came up with that line (3 are credited with the song writing), they certainly had imagination.

So, one of the dumbest and one of the sharpest lyrics in the very same song.

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