“Call Me” is a song by the American new wave band Blondie and the theme to the 1980 film American Gigolo. Produced and composed by Italian musician Giorgio Moroder, with lyrics by Blondie singer Debbie Harry, the song appeared in the film and was released in the United States in early 1980 as a single. After the great success of “Heart of glass” in 1979, certainly one of Blondie’s most recognizable songs, “Call Me” hit #1 for 6 weeks in a row on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it became the band’s biggest single and 2nd #1. It also hit #1 in the UK and Canada, where it became their 4th and 2nd chart-topper, respectively. In the year-end chart of 1980, it was Billboard‘s #1 single and RPM magazine’s #3 in Canada.
“Call Me” was composed by Italian disco producer Giorgio Moroder as the main theme song of the 1980 film American Gigolo. Moroder asked Debbie Harry of Blondie to perform a song for the movie soundtrack after being turned down by Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac for being under contract already. Debbie Harry was asked to write the lyrics and melody, that Harry did in only a few hours. The lyrics were written from the perspective of the main character in the film, a male prostitute.
Harry said the lyrics were inspired by her visual impressions from watching the film and that “When I was writing it, I pictured the opening scene, driving on the coast of California.” The completed song was then recorded by the band, with Moroder producing.
First Moroder and his music crew recorded an instrumental version of the song at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, with the tape locked to SMPTE timecode so that it would synchronize with the film. Then the project moved to New York for the Blondie recording session, at which the band surprised Moroder by insisting they would play their own parts. Faltermeyer was engineering when Harry sang and Chris Stein played electric guitar. Stein’s guitar and amplifier were buzzing and noisy, so his setup was repaired to get a clean recording. The band had difficulty locking to sync, so Moroder stopped the unfinished sessions to save time, and took the project back to Los Angeles to more quickly add the final parts with his own picked musicians, including a keyboard solo by Faltermeyer. On the American Gigolo soundtrack album, Blondie the band is credited only for vocals, with other credits naming Moroder’s crew of Keith Forsey on drums/percussion and Faltermeyer on keyboards and arrangements. Faltermeyer said the band was angry about being replaced by session players, but the song turned out to be very successful, so they took it in stride. Blondie keyboard player Jimmy Destri was obligated to play Faltermeyer’s solo in concerts.
Debbie Harry recorded an abbreviated version of the song that was 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 was certified Gold (for one million copies sold) by the RIAA. It also spent four weeks at #2 on the US dance chart. The single was also #1 on Billboard magazine’s 1980 year-end chart. The song lists at #57 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100. It was released in the UK 2 months later, where it became Blondie’s 4th UK #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 #283 on the list of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 1981, the Village Voice ranked “Call Me” as the 3rd-best song of the year 1980 on its annual year-end critics’ poll, Pazz & Jop.
In 1981, the song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, as well as for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
There were two videos made:
- One was clips and video footage of Debbie Harry in New York City. The video can be found on the 1991 UK video compilation The Complete Picture: The Very Best of Deborah Harry and Blondie.
- The other, which came out in 1981, did not feature any of the band. It depicted a New York City taxi driver (who had appeared in several other Blondie music videos) driving his Checker Taxi through Manhattan traffic. This version was part of the 1981 “Best of Blondie” compilation video.