“Picture This” was released in the UK on 26 August 1978, and was the first single from Blondie’s forthcoming, and as yet unreleased third studio album, “Parallel Lines”.
The album was recorded under the watchful eyes and ears of producer Mike Chapman, who had spent much of the early 1970s teasing fantastic performances out of glam rockers like Suzi Quatro, and The Sweet.
Previously, Blondie had been used to recording several takes of a song and then selecting the best version for release, however Mike’s way of working dictated that each instrument would be recorded separately, and the track would then be layered from the drums up. Chapman forced the band to record and re-record parts, or even parts of parts, until they were absolutely right, bringing the final sound of each track together in stages. The band initially hated this new way of working, as Mike honed in on their sometimes casual, punk rock playing habits.
“The Blondies were tough in the studio, real tough. They were really, really juvenile in their approach to life—a classic New York underground rock band—and they didn’t give a fuck about anything. They just wanted to have fun and didn’t want to work too hard getting it.” – Mike Chapman
“Picture This” was Blondie’s stab at being romantic, and is probably aimed straight at Harry’s boyfriend and Blondie guitarist Chris Stein. The title “Picture This” might just be a neat and colloquial way of saying “Imagine This”, but we think it also cleverly alludes to Stein’s photography. “Picture this, a sky full of thunder, Picture this my telephone number”, is a classic Harry, street smart way of saying that having her phone number is always going to trump any thunder filled dramatic skyline a photographer, like Chris might be impressed with. It’s playful, provocative and it’s absolutely classic Blondie.
“When Debbie showed me the lyrics…I thought WOAH.” – Mike Chapman
“The lyric to me, to this day, is elusive and beautiful, and such an important part of the Parallel Lines experience, and it all came from this amazing girl, who could sell ice to the Eskimos.” – Mike Chapman on “Picture This”.
On it’s way to a UK number 12, “Picture This” vied for chart elbow room alongside Siouxsie and the Banshees “Hong Kong Garden”, 10cc’s “Dreadlock Holiday”, Exile’s “Kiss You All Over”, and the Jam’s “David Watts”. “Picture This” continued to mark out Blondie’s territory as the coolest of the transatlantic hit-makers, spending a total of 11 weeks on the chart, and setting the band up for a major run of hit singles from “Parallel Lines”, including “Heart Of Glass” and “Sunday Girl”.