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Daily Record 1/26/11: Parallel Lines-Blondie (1978)

In 1970s, 1978, Blondie, new wave, pop, record collecting, records, Rich's House of Vinyl, rock on January 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Sometimes the facts get in the way of a good story. So what does one do? Go with the facts or the good story?

Such is the case when it comes to my memories of how I first acquired Blondie’s 1978 album, Parallel Lines.

First, some words about Parallel Lines. Blondie’s third album, Parallel Lines was released in September 1978 and was the band’s big breakthrough. It generated two Top 40 hits in the United States, including the #1 smash “Heart of Glass,” and numerous other songs were hit singles throughout the world. Parallel Lines established Blondie as a leading new wavin’, pop rockin’, smash hit single producin’ juggernaut, at least for a few years, after which the band imploded.

Parallel Lines is seriously high on my list of all-time favorite albums; has just about the greatest opening album 1-2-3 punch I can think of (“Hanging On  The telephone,” “One Way Or Another,” “Picture This”); and had an enormous effect on me as a 13/14-year music listener/human being; Blondie lead singer Deborah Harry, wearing that little white dress and a “don’t mess with me” look on the cover of the album, had a surreptitious but undeniable effect on me as a 13/14-year-old boy going through all those “special changes” that start happening around that age (but more on that if some of the other Blondie albums turn up in this Daily Records project).

Bottom line: more than 30 years after its release, I still find Parallel Lines to be an enormously entertaining album. Blondie’s masterwork (and that of producer Mike Chapman) doesn’t sound dated to me at all, but I suppose the older one gets, the less one should trust one’s instincts about whether something sounds dated or not. I suppose to my kids, Parallel Lines probably sounds like a dusty nostalgia trip. After all, for Jimmy, who is now the age I was when the album was released (13), listening to Parallel Lines is akin to the 1978 version of me listening to a record made in 1946. Yikes.

All of this leads to the day I bought Parallel Lines. Here is what I remember, followed by what actually happened:

One day in the spring of 1979, my friends Denise, Tomi and I caught a bus to Granite Run Mall. I’m not sure of the logistics of this, since we all lived in different areas: whether we prearranged to meet on the bus, whether we met at the mall, whether there was parental transportation that I’ve long since forgotten.

In any case, once we were at the mall, it’s a good bet that Chick Fil-A sandwiches and maybe even an Orange Julius were consumed. We stopped at Listening Booth and, while there, I made the bold decision to risk some of my paperboy money on this Parallel Lines album, from which I heard the songs “Heart of Glass” and “One Way or Another” on the radio. This was new, kind of unexpected music for me: while I could grasp the disco-y nature of “Heart of Glass,” there was an edginess to “One Way or Another” that fascinated me, particularly since the tune was sung by this wickedly fierce-looking woman wearing the aforementioned ice-cold stare and little white dress on the album’s cover. I bought the album.

Later, after making my Parallel Lines purchase, Denise, Tomi and I went to Things Remembered, where we all bought engraved I.D. bracelets. 

However, the mostly nondescript diary I kept in 1979 tells a different story and illustrates how I’m beginning to transpose and scramble memories as I get older. Here is my complete diary entry (misspelling intact) from March 24, 1979:

“Really bad bowling. Went to the mall with Deniece and Tomi and got Bootleg and I.D. bracelet.”

So, we see that most of the details are correct, with one crucial error: Parallel Lines is not mentioned, because I didn’t buy it that day. “Bootleg” refers to Aerosmith’s album Live: Bootleg!, which is the record I bought that day.

So if I chose the bad boys from Boston over Blondie on the day of the Things Remembered I.D. bracelet purchase, when did I buy Parallel Lines? Again, I turned to my diary for an entry from July 7, 1979:

“Went to Granite Run Mall with Deneice and Tomi. Got Lisa a Sgt. Pepper shirt and got myself Blondie’s Parallel Lines.”

[Note: the Sgt. Pepper shirt would have been tied into the Frampton/Bee Gees movie, not the actual Beatles album.]

Mystery solved, though I like the version better in which my girl friends and I buy I.D. braclets from Things Remembered on the same day that I bought Parallel Lines.

Finally, I should note that on that day when I bought Parallel Lines, my family was living at my grandmother’s house in Upland. Not long after my eighth grade graduation, my family moved out of the house in which I’d grown up in Aston, but the new house in Boothwyn wasn’t finished yet. We spent the summer of ’79 in transit, first at Grandma’s, then at Uncle Ed and Aunt Mary Jo’s place. I was feeling a little dislocated, but I do remember those first few listens to Parallel Lines at Grandma’s house, thinking how cool the album was and, by extension, how cool I was for listening to an album that was so cool.

Ending grade school and moving from the only neighborhood I’d ever known, I was leaving much of my childhood behind. But the day I bought Parallel Lines, a record unlike any I’d bought before, I found something new and different that I could bring along with me into whatever my new life was going to hold.

Parallel Lines and the adolescent version of me turned out to be a good match.

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  1. .In the liner notes for the Parallel Lines vinyl album there are lyrics listed for a Parallel Lines song though no such song exists on the album.. The lines I have that you read between. Ships that pass in the night..Evangeline stream – Evangelines dream Its parallel lines that will never meet. .

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