Stevie Nicks Turned Down an Early Version of This Blondie Hit
Stevie Nicks has always made wise choices in both her music careers. But she isn’t perfect. Nicks has made mistakes, including turning down future hit songs for various reasons. She turned down Dave Stewart and Tom Petty’s hit “Don’t Come Around Here No More” simply because she’d been fighting with producer Jimmy Iovine and was put off by hearing Petty’s vocals on it. She also turned down working on “Purple Rain” with Prince.
However, turning down one particular future hit was out of Nicks’ control.
Stevie Nicks turned down an early version of the Blondie hit ‘Call Me’
Italian producer Giorgio Moroder first chose Nicks to record a song titled “Man Machine,” the main theme song for the 1980 film American Gigolo. According to StevieNicks.info, this was an early version of Blondie’s 1980 hit “Call Me.”
However, Nicks turned the song down because she’d recently signed a contract with Modern Records. So, Moroder presented the song to Blondie’s frontwoman, Debbie Harry. She agreed to collaborate with Moroder if he allowed her to work on the melody and lyrics.
Eventually, Harry changed the entire song, but it still resembled one of Nicks’ hits with Fleetwood Mac. The verse in “Call Me” has the same chord progression and melodic outline as “Rhiannon.”
Blondie’s Chris Stein said Harry’s lyrics were subtler than Moroder’s
Blondie completely changed Moroder’s original song. According to the band’s producer and bandmate Chris Stein, it was for the better.
“Debbie’s lyrics are much more subtle than what [Giorgio] wrote. He was very direct like saying, ‘I am a man and I go out and I f*** all the girls.’ Debbie’s lyrics are a lot more subtle, and the movie in a way is not that blatant,” Stein said in Dinner With Blondie… and William Burroughs by Victor Bockris.
Harry’s reconfiguring of the song only took a few hours. She wrote the lyrics from the main character’s perspective in the film, a male prostitute. “When I was writing it, I pictured the opening scene, driving on the coast of California,” Harry said (per Far Out).
How well did ‘Call Me’ do in the US?
“Call Me” helped Blondie’s success skyrocket. “As soon as I heard Deborah singing a rough version of ‘Call Me,’ I knew we had a hit,” Moroder said. He was right; “Call Me” became Blondie’s highest-charting single of their career.
It earned a Grammy nomination and spent six consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. After all that success, Moroder was supposed to produce a full Blondie album, but he quit due to the band’s attitudes toward one another.
“There were always fights,” he recalled. “I was supposed to do an album with them after that. We went to the studio, and the guitarist was fighting with the keyboard player. I called their manager and quit.”
Still, we wonder what Nicks would have done with the song had she not been tied down by her new recording contract.
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