Call Me (as made famous by Blondie)

“Call Me” is a song by the American new wave band Blondie and the theme to the 1980 film American Gigolo. Released in the US in early 1980 as a single, “Call Me” was number one for six consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it became the band’s biggest single and second No. 1.[1] It also hit No. 1 in the UK and Canada, where it became their fourth and second chart-topper, respectively. In the year-end chart of 1980, it was Billboard’s No. 1 single and RPM magazine’s No. 3 in Canada.[4][5]

“Call Me” was the main theme song of the 1980 film American Gigolo. The lyrics were written from the perspective of the main character in the film, a male prostitute.[6] Italian disco producer Giorgio Moroder originally asked Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac to help compose and perform a song for the soundtrack, but she declined as a recently signed contract with Modern Records prevented her from working with Moroder. It was at this time that Moroder turned to Debbie Harry and Blondie. Moroder presented Harry with a rough instrumental track called “Man Machine”. Harry was asked to write the lyrics and melody, a process that Harry states took only a few hours.[7] Harry stated that the song is about driving, and that “When I was writing it, I pictured the opening scene, driving on the coast of California.”[8] The completed song was then recorded by the band, with Moroder producing. The bridge of the original English-language version also includes Harry singing “Call me, my darling” in Italian (“Amore, chiamami”) (Love, call me) and in French (“Appelle-moi, mon chéri”) (Call me, darling).

In the US, the song was released by three different record companies: the longest version (at 8:06) on the soundtrack album by Polydor, the 7″ and 12″ on Blondie’s label Chrysalis, and a Spanish-language 12″ version, with lyrics by Buddy and Mary McCluskey, on the disco label Salsoul Records. The Spanish version, titled “Llámame”, was meant for release in Mexico and some South American countries. This version was also released in the US and the UK and had its CD debut on Chrysalis/EMI’s rarities compilation Blonde and Beyond (1993). In 1988, a remixed version by Ben Liebrand taken from the Blondie remix album Once More into the Bleach was issued as a single in the UK. In 2001 the “original long version” appeared as a bonus track on the Autoamerican album re-issue.

Harry recorded an abbreviated version of the song, backed by the Muppet Band, for her guest appearance on The Muppet Show in August 1980. It was first broadcast in January 1981.

The single was released in the United States in February 1980. It peaked at No. 1 and remained there for six consecutive weeks until it was knocked off by Lipps, Inc.’s worldwide smash hit “Funkytown” and was certified Gold (for one million copies sold) by the RIAA. It also spent four weeks at No. 2 on the US dance chart. The single was also No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s 1980 year-end chart. The song lists at No. 44 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100.[9] It was released in the UK two months later, where it became Blondie’s fourth UK No. 1 single in little over a year. The song was also played on a British Telecom advert in the 1980s. 25 years after its original release, “Call Me” was ranked at No. 283 on the list of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 1981, The Village Voice ranked “Call Me” as the third-best song of the year 1980 on their annual year-end critics’ poll, Pazz & Jop.[10]

In 1981, the song was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.