- 12 Nov 14
Check out her take on 'Dreaming'...
Blondie were one of the great hit machines of the late 1970s and 1980s. They are still going, of course, and the band’s siren, Debbie Harry, continues to exert a powerful fascination: for most of the band’s fans, her sex appeal seems to be gloriously undiminished by the passage of time.
The band created so many extraordinary pop gems: ‘Denis’, ‘Picture This’, ‘Hanging on The Telephone’, ‘Heart of Glass, ‘Call Me’ and ’The Tide Is High’ spring readily to mind. And then there was ‘Dreaming’.
‘Heart of Glass’, ‘Call Me’ and ‘The Tide Is High’ were the band’s biggest global smashes. By comparison ‘Dreaming’ was a lesser hit, with its No.2 showing in the UK the highpoint in a series of what must have felt like disappointing chart placings at the time.
But there is something about the song that resonates still. In part, at least, it has to do with the sentiment. "People stop and stare at me/ We just walk on by/ We just keep on dreaming,” Debbie Harry sings. And then there’s the clincher, the line with which the song ends, the one that you’ll always sing going up or down the stairs. “Dreaming is free,” she declares. “Dreaming/ Dreaming is free.” The beauty of it is that it’s true. Incontrovertibly so.
No wonder Imelda May saw the potential in a cover version, backed only by a ukelele. Imelda's gesture of stripping it back to its purest pop simplicity emphasises the pedigree of the song. Suddenly, you hear it as a classic Tin Pan Alley tune, framed like something from the early part of the 20th Century. They say that this is one of the great tests of a pop song. Can you play it with just an acoustic guitar? If you can, it will last. Playing it with a ukelele is an even bigger challenge. ‘Dreaming’ passes it, with honours.
As it transpires, Imelda May's is a beautiful version, simple and haunting, that powerfully illuminates Imelda’s own sex appeal. On ‘Dreaming’ there is a shift away from the gum-chewing rockabilly side of the Liberties singer; instead, the softer and more vulnerable side of her personality shines through, and with it you can see afresh the fine beauty of an instantly likeable, thoroughly genuine Irish talent. Have a listen. And remember. Dreaming is free…