BLONDIE – “Union City Blue” / “Living In The Real World” (Chrysalis CHS 2400) November 1979
“Union City Blue” is a song by the American new wave band Blondie. The song was featured on their 1979 studio album Eat to the Beat. Written by Debbie Harry and Nigel Harrison, the song was inspired lyrically by Harry’s experiences while acting in the 1980 film Union City as well as her New Jersey roots.
Musically, the song features a drum part composed by drummer Clem Burke.
“Union City Blue” was released in the UK and Europe as the second single from Eat to the Beat, reaching number 13 in the UK. The single was not released in the US, despite drummer Burke’s later assertion that the song would have been a good single release.
The release was accompanied by a music video filmed aerially at the Union Dry Dock in nearby
Weehawken, New Jersey. The song has since seen critical acclaim and a remixed version saw commercial success in the 1990s.
Union City Blue film
“Union City Blue” was co-written by singer Debbie Harry and bassist Nigel Harrison. Harry based the lyrics and title of the song on her experiences acting in the 1980 movie Union City, which she had appeared in. According to Harry, she wrote the lyrics one evening during a break in the shooting.
Director Marcus Reichert later recalled that Harry was not allowed to sing on the film’s soundtrack for contractual reasons, so the song did not appear in the film. Harry, a New Jersey native, had also performed as a go-go dancer in Union City before finding success with Blondie.
Musically, Harry described the song as “one of Nigel’s English drinking songs.” Blondie drummer Clem Burke later stated that the song reflected the band’s New York origins.
Burke composed the drum part himself; he recalled, “I come up with my parts generally, and things like Union City or Dreaming, those were my parts, yeah.” Burke named the song as a favorite to perform, stating, “I definitely enjoy playing that.”