Is it just me, of has it been a particularly lovely summer so far?
It’s been warm, with lots of sunshine but not too hot, and enough rain to keep the garden looking fresh. For me, that’s perfect. I don’t mind the odd shower, though perhaps not quite as violent as the one that deluged Glastonbury on Friday evening, causing the organisers to take the rare precautionary step of shutting off the power for an hour while the lightening flashed overhead.
Music festivals have become a big feature of the British summer scene. Along with the huge events like Glastonbury, Reading and Latitude, many places now have their own mini-festivals. Even our little town has an annual music event at the end of June where local musicians can showcase their talents. There’s nothing like sitting in the evening sunshine with friends, quaffing pinot grigio by the pint and listening to a bit of live jazz.
One of the headline acts at Glastonbury this year was Blondie. When I was the age my kids are now, I used to adore Blondie. To me Debbie Harry seemed impossibly cool and sexy and I admired her beyond all reason. Every boy I knew fancied her rotten. So it was with a mix of curiosity and nostalgia that I sat down to watch their set on the TV on Friday evening.
Blondie have had a chequered career since their hey-day in the late 70s and early 80s. Their album Parallel Lines was the best-selling UK album in 1978. Everyone had it. The follow up, Eat to the Beat, which featured ‘Atomic’ and ‘Union City Blue’ also did well.
But then things began to fall apart for them. Riven by internal wrangling and befuddled by drug addiction, by the mid-80s, the band had all but imploded. Then guitarist, Chris Stein, fell seriously ill from a little known auto-immune disease and Debbie gave up her music career to care for him full time.
Many years passed, but then, miraculously, little by little, they managed to reinvent themselves. What was abundantly evident at Glastonbury is that there is still a huge level of public affection for them. They were rock-and-roll superstars, most certainly, but ones that genuinely went through the mill of human suffering.
During the darkest days, they lost everything and went bankrupt. And yet through grace and perseverance, they’ve managed to overcome their difficulties and reinvent themselves. It was oddly moving seeing them making music once again, performing new tracks and many of the old standards in front of huge crowds.
Debbie, despite being within easy reach of 70, still looks amazing. She’s certainly had work done, but those chiselled cheekbones have clearly held her in good stead and her shock of blonde hair is as striking as ever.
Singing along to ‘Call Me’ and ‘Heart of Glass’ made me feel as if those far off teenage years, when my whole life was still ahead of me, were still somehow within my reach; for that I can only thank them.