"The Tide Is High" is a 1967 song written by John Holt, originally performed by the Jamaican group The Paragons, with John Holt as lead singer. The song went mainly unnoticed in the rest of the world, until it was rediscovered in 1980, when it became a US/UK number one hit for the American band Blondie. The British girl group Atomic Kitten also had a no. 1 hit with their version of the song in 2002, and it was also a hit for Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall in 2008.

The Paragons version[edit]Edit

The song was written by John Holt and originally recorded by The Paragons, the vocal trio of which he was a member. It was produced by Duke Reid and released as a 7-inch single on Reid's Treasure Isle and Trojan labels and as the B-side of the "Only a Smile" single.

The song features the violin of "White Rum" Raymond, and was popular in Jamaica and became popular amongst West Indians and skinheads in the UK when a deejay version by U-Roy was released in 1971. Both tracks from the single were included on the 1970 collection On the Beach.


  1. "Only a Smile"
  2. "The Tide Is High" — 2:53

Gregory Isaacs version[edit]Edit

The song was released as a single in 1978 by Gregory Isaacs; this version was produced by "Prince" Tony Robinson. It was released on the State Line label in the US, on Isaacs own African Museum label in Jamaica, and on the Front Line label in Jamaica as a 12-inch discomix featuring a new deejay version by U Roy.


  1. "The Tide Is High" (Gregory Isaacs/U Roy)
  2. "Step It Out a Yard"

Blondie version[edit]Edit

"The Tide Is High"
Single by Blondie
from the album Autoamerican
B-side "Suzy & Jeffrey"
Released November 1980 (UK)

October, 1980 (US)

Format 7"
Recorded 1980
Genre Reggae
Length 4:39 (album version)

3:55 (edit)

Label Chrysalis Records
Writer(s) John Holt, Howard Barrett, Tyrone Evans
Producer Mike Chapman
Certification Gold (US)
Blondie singles chronology


"The Tide Is High"




Music sample
The Tide Is High   0:00 

"The Tide Is High" was covered by US New Wave band Blondie in 1980, in a reggae/ska style that included horns and strings. It was released as the first single, and appeared on the band's fifth album, Autoamerican. It was Blondie's third number one smash on the Billboard Hot 100. It also went on to reach the Top Three of Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, and was popular throughout the world, reaching number one on the UK singles chart, number four in Australia, and number fifteen in West Germany. It was the last UK number one single for the band until "Maria" in 1999. The B-side of "The Tide Is High" was "Suzie and Jeffrey", which appeared as a bonus track on the original 1980 cassette edition of the album Autoamerican and was also included on EMI-Capitol's re-issue of Autoamerican in 2001.

A music video was produced, directed by Hart Perry. It depicts the band waiting out on the street for Debbie, who appears to be trapped in a flooding apartment. All the while, she is being monitored from outer space by what appears to be Darth Vader. She soon escapes the apartment (it is not shown how she got out) and reunites with the boys. They drive to a rocket launch and fly into space. They then crash into the spaceship or space station. Debbie confronts the Darth Vader alien. He turns around and she is quite amused to find he doesn't look a bit Darth Vader, although she decides he does make a good dancing partner.

Official remixes of the Blondie version have been issued twice. First by Coldcut in 1988 on the Blondie/Debbie Harry remix compilation Once More into the Bleach and the second time in 1995 by Pete Arden and Vinny Vero on the album Remixed Remade Remodeled - The Remix Project (UK edition: Beautiful - The Remix Album).

In November 1980, the song was played on radio stations across the state of Alabama in anticipation of a football game between the University of Alabama, whose nickname is the Crimson Tide, and the University of Notre Dame.

In 1981, Swedish singer Siw Inger recorded a German language version of the song. Although the lyrics are not a direct translation, the vocal and instrumental arrangements are virtually identical.

In 1984, Nigerian singer Onyeka Onwenu covered the song for the album In the Morning Light. A year later, parts of this song were taken and used as a sample for Bryan Adams' "Reggae Christmas".

Track listings[edit]Edit


  1. "The Tide Is High" (7" Edit) — 3:54
  2. "Suzy & Jeffrey" — 4:09

7" Re-Issue

  1. "The Tide Is High" (7" Edit) — 3:54
  2. "Rapture" — 4:59

US 7" (promo only)

  1. "The Tide Is High" (7" Edit) — 3:54
  2. "The Tide Is High" (7" Edit) — 3:54

US 7" (Collectables Record Corp. COL 6115)

  1. "The Tide Is High"
  2. "Heart of Glass"
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