Saturday, 7 March 2020

Book #18

Face It by Debbie Harry

‘I was saying things in songs that female singers didn’t really say back then. I wasn’t submissive or begging him to come back, I was kicking his ass, kicking him out, kicking my own ass too. My Blondie character was an inflatable doll but with a dark, provocative, aggressive side. I was playing it up, yet I was very serious.’
BRAVE, BEAUTIFUL AND BORN TO BE PUNK

I’m very rarely interested in any type of autobiography. There’s something to be said about the phrase ‘never meet your heroes’, and to me an autobiography is a type of meeting; a bare all. And yet, ever since I was around twelve years old and heard Maria for the first time on the radio, Debbie Harry has been one of my heroes.

She’s a phenomenon, a powerhouse, a woman at the beginning of punk, shaping it into something new and visceral. She’s stunning, a badass, absolutely everything you could ever dream to be. I had to read her memoirs, and learn as much as I could.

I did enjoy it. I loved finding out small details, and reading of mad events that could probably only happen in Debbie’s era of emergence. It started off wonderfully, as Debbie describes her childhood, her small town escape, her awe and wonder as she first falls in love with New York.

Then, it dips. Debbie chooses to describe things factually rather than emotionally, and we’re presented with a bombardment of places, names (a lot of fucking names), and moments in time. There’s very little description of how she felt, how things impacted her, or her motivations and reactions. She flicks around in time, shadowing forwards and backwards, rather than sticking to more of a linear narrative which would’ve worked better as we tried to keep apace with these thousands of happenings and constant introductions to people.

Her saving grace, and the reason I’m still glad I have the book, are the photographs and fan art peppered throughout; they really are something to behold. She tells us of keeping all fan art she’s given, and some of it is spellbinding. To have someone love you so entirely that they sit down and recreate your face on paper must be a wonderful accolade.

Still a phenomenon, still a dream, maybe just not great at weaving her thoughts into an engaging piece. 

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