The Tide Is High

Album: Autoamerican (1980)
Charted: 1 1
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  • Although made popular by Blondie (and later remade by Atomic Kitten), "The Tide is High" was written by the Jamaican DJ Duke Reid in the 1930s. It was put on a piano roll for a player piano and then arranged later by John Holt for his group The Paragons, whose original version was released in 1967. After they disbanded, Holt did an updated version. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jim - Seattle, WA
  • Blondie experimented with many different sounds. They were a punk/new wave band in their early years, making a name playing clubs like CBGB's in New York. This song was their foray into reggae, but they played around with rap on "Rapture" and with disco on "Heart Of Glass."
  • Debbie Harry said in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: "I first heard 'The Tide Is High' on a compilation tape that someone had given me while we were in London. Chris (Stein) and I both fell in love with the song and decided it was too good to resist."

    Blondie wanted to give the song a Jamaican feel, so they hired three percussion players and created a new string and horn arrangement to give it an authentic sound. According to Chris Stein, the percussion includes "eight tracks of drum sticks tapping on a piano bench."
  • Eric Clapton became the first white artist to transform a reggae song into a #1 hit when he covered Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff" in 1974. The first reggae song to top the chart was "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash in 1972.
  • Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were both fans of the British ska revival band The Specials. Stein revealed to Mojo magazine May 2008 that they asked The Specials to back Debbie Harry on this recording. However they didn't want to do it.
  • In 2002 Atomic Kitten returned the song to the UK #1 spot with a more pop-oriented cover. They combined "The Tide Is High" with the freshly composed "Get The Feeling," which was added at the suggestion of Hugh Goldsmith of Innocent Records. This made "The Tide Is High" one of two songs to top the UK chart twice with versions by two different female vocal acts. The other song is "Eternal Flame," which was a hit for Atomic Kitten again as well as the Bangles.
  • In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Sean Lennon said: "My father had an old Wurlitzer in the game room of our house on Long Island. It was filled with 45s, mostly Elvis and The Everly Brothers. The one modern song I remember him listening to was 'The Tide Is High' by Blondie, which he played constantly. When I hear that song, I see my father, unshaven, his hair pulled back into a ponytail, dancing to and fro in a worn-out pair of denim shorts, with me at his feet, trying my best to coordinate tiny limbs."
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Comments: 7

  • Drew from Birmingham, AlThe Paragons, who did the original, are Jamaican, as everyone may well have known. It's interesting to note how much Blondie's rendition sounds like a Led Zepp song punny-named off Jamaica (D'yer Mak'er). I wonder whether Led Zepp intentionally pointed back to the Jamaican Paragons and this song in the subject matter, sequelizing "The Tide Is High" with a downer ending. Think about it: if someone vowed to become someone's #1, u'd probably ask "So... did u make her (D'yer Mak'er)?" or something to that effect, asking how it went. Led Zepp's "D'yer Mak'er" is like a reply saying that it didn't go as hoped. Someone oughtta make a sequel with a happy ending, considering "The Tide Is High" made #1! The shot was called! When Sean Kingston sampled Led Zepp's "D'yer Mak'er" and UB40's "Red Red Wine" into his "Me Love", did he also perhaps have this song in mind?
  • Mike from San Antonio, TxThe X-pensive Winos was formed in 1987, which means Keith Richards made his version 7 years after Blondie did.
  • Jack from Newton, MaAfter some research, I wrote up a history of the song (with YouTube clips) tracking it from rocksteady (Paragons) to reggae (Holt, solo) to New Wave (Blondie) to girl band pop (gag, Atomic Kitten) and even to hip hop (Kardinal Offishall).
  • Ian from Nyc, NyI'm morbidly curious. How did they steal a song from Keith Richards if he didn't write it? Anyway, any more details about the claim tht Duke Reid wrote the original?
  • Mchael from Winston-salem, NcApparently Blondie stole this from Keith Richards and his part-time Stones side band called "The Inexpensive Winos".
  • Joshua from La Crosse, WiThe coolest thing about this song? The chorus includes the line "I'm gonna be your #1" - and sure enough, the song did indeed hit #1 in both the US and UK. Talk about calling your shot!
  • Robert from Puyallup, WaYou want to have fun with this song? Sing it in a thick Jamaican accent!

    "I'm note de kinda bloke
    Who geeve up joss like dat!
    Oh no-o-o-o-oh!
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