Debbie Harry: I'm just thinking about the first time we met. It was at Carnegie Hall.
Lady Gaga: I remember I was really nervous around you [laughs]. I listened to your new album, Panic of Girls [out September 13], and I love it, and I have some questions for you. After everything you've been through — so many albums, tours, the reality that you're the most iconic female in rock 'n' roll — what is the first thing that runs through your head when deciding the next album you want to write?
DH: I've never really done an album that's a set concept piece. It's a continuous thought process. Especially when I work with Chris [Stein, Blondie's cofounder], it automatically becomes encapsulated as a story from a particular time, but I guess it's not so easy to say that it is a concept piece. Mostly I want to reach out and share my experience.
LG: I love that answer, as I'm always obsessing with the concept. One of my favorite songs from your new album is "The End the End." My favorite lyric is "You're my one and only chance; let's walk before we dance." Is that about finding the person that you spend the rest of your life with, and is "the end" a representation of the end of life? I actually just put out a song called "The Edge of Glory" because I just had my first experience with death, but what does it mean for you?
DH: Yeah, I think you've nailed it. It is about having a long-term relationship. It is probably a romantic notion, but it's true that this is the relationship of your life. It carries on, and you're willing to stay to the end with this person.
LG: My other favorite, I think, is "Words in My Mouth." What inspired you to write this song?
DH: Somehow or other, I got hooked up with Shirley [Manson] from Garbage. I met her when she was a wee little girl, and we actually shared the same manager when she did Garbage.
LG: I am such a huge Garbage fan. When I was in middle school, I had a rotation of your albums and Garbage's albums. I used to put them in my Discman and walk around the block because my mom wouldn't let me walk more than one block by myself.
DH: That's so sweet. In any case, she told me that she was looking for a new song, so I wrote the song for her. They didn't use it in the end. So I did.
LG: It's hard to make records that you are happy with artistically and then be aware that you have a record label and it must be commercially sold. Tell me more about "China Shoes." I actually started to cry when I first heard it.
DH: You're an artist, and you're feeling things and giving them your own interpretation; we embrace it, and the emotion touches us, and then we apply it to our lives. I mean, even jokingly, you know how women feel about their shoes [laughs]. It becomes very important.
LG: It made me very, very emotional. It reminds me so much of my life, especially when you mention Brooklyn, because I live in Brooklyn. It reminds me of how sometimes I feel that moments in my life are interrupted because I'm so dedicated to my work. I often feel like my shoes are the only part of me that know what I'm doing all the time because they're always with me. There's this one pair of boots that I always wear, and sometimes when I'm so alone in my hotel room, I look at them and I think how they really are the only things in my life that know exactly what I've been through all day. So is that what the song was about, or was there a different meaning?
DH: I try to put a core of real sensitivity and make the words childish to just say simply, This person is going away, and I'm missing them very much. I'm not going to recover unless they come back soon, and I'm leaving this note in the back of a book because I know you're going to read it when you are traveling.
LG: That's so funny because I had a lover who was a writer, and I used to leave him notes in his book, so it meant a lot to me. I know it sounds so crazy that the lyric would fit perfectly to my life, but that song was just really beautiful.
DH: I'm loving it too, and we actually do it now in the show. I've seen one of your shows, actually. I went to the Garden. It was fantastic.
LG: Oh, you were at the Garden? Actually, it's probably best that I didn't know you were there because I would have been too nervous.
DH: I mean, that's an extensive show. That's a whole lot of work.
LG: I can't wait to see your show. I would say to all the readers that they should buy your album just based on the song "Le Bleu" alone. I just want to turn all the lights off and take a bubble bath and think about love.
DH: Ah, you take bubble baths!
LG: Sometimes [laughs].
DH: I know your bubble dress.
LG: I would take a bubble bath in my bubble dress! Now, this is a more over-arching question, but are you aware of the tremendous effect you had on women when you dyed the underside of your blonde hair black? Because when I experiment with a different blonde, like I did that very yellow blonde and a teal blonde and a lavender blonde, I put a black root in because of you.
DH: I did it for practical purposes because I was always doing my own hair and I didn't think I could do the back. But I ended up really liking having the back be this sort of dark side of the moon. Because when I was in school, that was one of my nicknames: Moon. It seemed perfect, that here I was with the bright side of the moon and the dark side of the moon.
LG: Did that have anything to do with Pink Floyd?
DH: No [laughs]. Could have been; you know how things seep into our thinking.