Music

39 Years Ago, Blondie Goes Country With Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire'

Debbie Harry of Blondie in Philadelphia while on a press tour to promote the album Parallel Lines, 1978. © Scott Weiner / MediaPunch/IPX

As we all celebrate Debbie Harry's birthday today (July 1), take pause to enjoy her band Blondie's version of "Ring of Fire" from the 1980 film Roadie.

The band wears its own blend of new wave and cowboy fashion, as if to predict a "yee-haw" future for us all, while adding its usual pop pep to one of Johnny Cash's most beloved tunes. On the punk rock Cash covers scale, it rates favorably compared to Social Distortion's riff-heavy homage and Wall of Voodoo's uneasy send-up of the same song.

 

Blondie's rendition of a Cash classic comes from a film filled with country-rock crossovers. It stars Meat Loaf and features Soul Train's Don Cornelius and longtime Hee Haw cast member Gailard Sartain in major roles. On-screen musical acts include Roy Orbison, Hank Williams Jr., Alice Cooper, Utopia, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Alvin Crow, Asleep at the Wheel and "Ring of Fire" co-writer Merle Kilgore. You even get to see Austin, Texas' mayor at the time, Carole McClellan, portray a sheriff.

If big screen schlock from the early '80s isn't your speed, at least check out the film's soundtrack. The double album includes Blondie's "Ring of Fire" as well as songs by Williams ("The American Way"), Asleep at the Wheel ("Texas, Me and You)," Orbison and Emmylou Harris ("That Lovin' You Feelin' Again"), The Joe Ely Band ("Brainlock"), Eddie Rabbitt ("Drivin' My Life Away") and Jerry Lee Lewis ("(Hot Damn) I'm a One Woman Man").

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39 Years Ago, Blondie Goes Country With Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire'