The Tide Is High

Album: Autoamerican (1980)
Charted: 1 1


  • Lead singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein wrote most of Blondie's songs, but not this one. "The Tide Is High" is a cover song, originally recorded by a Jamaican vocal group called The Paragons in 1967. Harry and Stein heard the song on a compilation tape they picked up in London; they thought it was too good not to record. Their version was a huge hit, going to #1 in both the US and UK.
  • The song was written by John Holt, who sang tenor in The Paragons. Holt wrote a lot of love songs; in this one, he's willing to wait out the high tide to get his girl back. When Blondie recorded the song, they switched the gender so it from:

    I'm not the kind of man who gives up just like that


    I'm not the kind of girl who gives up just like that
  • 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."
  • 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 "The Tide Is High," but 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."

Comments: 8

  • Anonymous from New Zeal AndUb40 and blondie would be magic singing together that’s what I reckon anyway
  • 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!
see more comments

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