Lost in the ’70s: Blondie, “Union City Blue”

Written by Lost in the '70s, Music

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BlondieWhen I was 11 years old and living in rural Grafton, Ohio, there weren’t too many other kids my age in our neighborhood, especially any with my twin obsessions, Micronauts action figures and music. So when I met Ricky, one grade behind me, and discovered that not only did he have both the Baron Karza AND Force Commander figures (those were the expensive ones!), he also had quite the record collection for a 10-year old, I knew I’d found a friend.

Since Ricky’s family was a bit more well-to-do than mine, they also had the first VCR I’d ever seen. You mean you can record “Solid Gold,” then watch it over and over again, whenever you want? So jealous! And you can buy video tapes with music videos already on them like Olivia Newton-John’s Totally Hot video LP? Another video LP Ricky had that we watched again and again was Blondie’s Eat To The Beat, which featured videos for each of the album’s tracks. My favorite song from this was one I never heard on the radio, a mid-tempo tune called “Union City Blue.”

After “Dreaming” hit the charts, “Union City Blue” (download) was released as the second single from Eat To The Beat in the UK, while the US got “The Hardest Part,” a move I could never understand. While “The Hardest Part” is a great album cut, it’s not exactly Top 40 friendly like “Union City Blue” instantly is. As it was, “The Hardest Part” choked at #84 – competing with another Blondie single released at the same time didn’t help … a little ditty titled “Call Me.” But while the US was denied, “Union City Blue” climbed the charts overseas.

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The single ended up peaking at #13 in the UK, and it was an obvious favorite for many fans, including Radiohead, who do an interestingly serviceable cover:

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“Union City Blue” finally got its due in the US, but on the Dance Chart in the mid-’90s, when a remixed version hit the clubs. While the remix was cute the first few times, I still much prefer the original, which takes me back to Ricky’s living room and his coveted VCR every time I hear it. Spoiled brat.

Eat To The Beat has been recently re-released (again?!?), this time including a bonus DVD containing the original video LP.

“Union City Blue” did not chart.

Get Blondie music at Amazon or on Blondie