One Way or Another
"One Way or Another" is a song by American new wave band Blondie from their 1978 album Parallel Lines. Lyrically, the song was inspired by Blondie frontwoman Deborah Harry's experience with a stalker in the early 1970s, an incident which forced her to move away from New Jersey. The song's music was composed by bassist Nigel Harrison, who introduced the Ventures-influenced track to keyboardist Jimmy Destri.
|"One Way or Another"|
|Single by Blondie|
|from the album Parallel Lines|
|B-side||"Just Go Away"|
|Blondie singles chronology|
"One Way or Another" was released as the fourth North American single from Parallel Lines, following the band's chart-topping "Heart of Glass" single. The song reached number 24 in the US and number 7 in Canada. It was not released as a single in the UK, but later charted in 2013.
"One Way or Another" has since seen critical acclaim for Harry's aggressive vocals and the band's energetic performance. It has been ranked by many critics as one of the band's best songs, has appeared on several compilation albums, and has become a live favorite for the band.
Written by Debbie Harry and Nigel Harrison for the band's third studio album, Parallel Lines (1978), "One Way or Another" was inspired by one of Harry's ex-boyfriends who stalked her after their breakup. According to Harry, the boyfriend's constant calling and persistent stalking forced her to move out of New Jersey. The stalking had taken place in 1973, when Harry was a member of the Stilletoes; Harry's former bandmate Elda Gentile recalled, "It was freaking us all out, especially Chris [Stein]". Harry explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
I was actually stalked by a nutjob so it came out of a not-so-friendly personal event. But I tried to inject a little bit of levity into it to make it more lighthearted. I think in a way that's a normal kind of survival mechanism. You know, just shake it off, say one way or another, and get on with your life. Everyone can relate to that and I think that's the beauty of it.
Musically, the song was composed by bassist Nigel Harrison, who first introduced the song to keyboardist Jimmy Destri. He explained, "My original music for 'One Way or Another' was this psychedelic, Ventures-like futuristic surf song gone wrong. Jimmy [Destri] really liked this piece of music, and we would play it on the road. Then Debbie picked up on it; she came up with the 'getcha-getcha-getcha's'". Harry later claimed to have worked out the song live with Harrison. The song was recorded between June and July 1978 at New York's Record Plant studio. According to Harrison, producer Mike Chapman came up with the chaotic ending section.
"One Way or Another" was released as the fourth single from Parallel Lines in the US and Canada, as the follow-up to the number 1 hit "Heart of Glass". "One Way or Another" reached number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 7 on the RPM 100 Singles. Although never officially released as a single in the United Kingdom, the song charted there from download sales in February 2013 due to the success of One Direction's cover/mashup "One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)". Adam Boult of The Guardian considered this version of the song to be an "abomination".
In addition to its appearance on Parallel Lines, the song was included on the US and Canadian versions of the band's first hits compilation, The Best of Blondie (1981), as it was released as a single there, but not on the international releases. It has since appeared on multiple other compilations, including a re-recorded version on 2014's Blondie 4(0) Ever.
Blondie released a manipulated live version of the song (with the audience noise removed) as the theme for the 1999 US television series Snoops. This version was released in the US as a bonus track on the Live live album. The original un-edited live version was later included on the European edition of Live, which was re-titled Livid, instead of the manipulated one. Harry has since noted the song as a live favorite, recalling concerts where the crowd would point back at her and sing along.
Since its release, "One Way or Another" has seen critical acclaim. Billboard said that "One Way or Another" as "moves in machine gun fashion as Debbie Harry's vocal sounds almost demonic." Pitchfork praised the song as "exuberant new wave, far looser than the stiff, herky-jerky tracks that would go on to characterize that sound in the 80s," while Louder said of the track, "It was the song that took them from the punk clubs of New York to the arenas of the world, and cemented Debbie Harry’s status as rock's foremost badass." Rolling Stone ranked the song at number 298 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Paste ranked the song as the second greatest Blondie song, writing that the song "stands as one of the best songs—by Blondie or anyone else—of all time." Billboard ranked it as the band's fifth best song, while Ultimate Classic Rock named it as the band's sixth best, writing, "From the opening stabbing guitar riff to the song's wailing, chaotic finale, 'One Way or Another' is the sound of a great band earning its rep." Far Out Magazine named it as Blondie's seventh best song, calling it, "the band's most iconic song", while The Independent named it as the band's ninth best.
- US 7" (CHS 2336)
- US 12" promo (CHS 10 PDJ)
- "One Way or Another" (Harrison, Harry) – 3:31
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