The Tide Is High – Blondie | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1); 1981

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

Blondie, the new wave band fronted by Deborah Harry and named after the name Manhattan truck drivers called her on the street, racked up four Top 20 hits, all of them number ones, and all but one of which were written by group members.

The #1 in question was first recorded by the Paragons, a Jamaican band, and written by its lead singer, John Holt. Blondie first heard The Tide Is High on a mix tape passed along to the group while they were in London.

Everyone was immediately taken with it so they rearranged it for Debbie Harry’s female voice, and added island-flavored percussion and horns. Tide hit the British chart in November of 1980 and appeared stateside in January.

Music fans took to Tide like a surfer to the perfect wave. Within weeks Blondie’s reggae rhythms were brightening up the Top 10 both here and abroad, reaching #1 in both countries.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Mike Chapman

Lyrics Written by:

  • John Holt


  • RIAA Gold 45 Single Award