Eiffel Tower – New Song from Simon!

While on vacation, I noticed DDHQ post a link to a song on Soundcloud with a very familiar vocalist. The song is titled “Eiffel Tower” and the singer is none other than Simon Le Bon, of course. I had almost no data connection, so I had to wait to listen.

The lack of data didn’t stop me from seeing the comments, and nearly everyone had something positive to say. I couldn’t wait to hear it myself! I made a mental note to listen as soon as I could and thought about it throughout the week(s).

(On a side note: if you’re obsessing over a song you haven’t heard yet by a member of the band, not even the band as a whole – I kind of think that might make you a Duranie. Only another hard-core fan would understand the kind of obsession that drives us!)

So today, I promised to sit down and listen. I found the link, clicked on it, and almost immediately felt the familiar chills and goosebumps on my arms. Simon’s voice is like silk, and the music is like a favorite blanket. Lush and soft – its gorgeous. The guitar is beautiful!  The track is full of emotion and it doesn’t overpower the rest of the music. I can even hear strings in the background, and they lead the listener further into the music.

Layered songs with many different tracks like this one can sometimes get very messy and end up sounding like background noise to vocals, but not here. The production is done extremely well. At the end, there’s a gorgeous, beautiful guitar solo that I have heard is Warren, and it is done masterfully.  The guitar doesn’t overpower, it simply led me back out of the song in the same way that the strings held my hand and drew me in.  Brilliant.

But back to Simon’s voice. It blows my mind into pieces. I don’t know if he is responsible for the lyrics, but even if he didn’t write them, he delivers them like poetry.  I’d forgotten his velvety voice when he is relaxed and not trying to reach a crowd of 20,000.  Absolutely stunning in every single way.

The song ended, and I caught my breath. I realized I’d been holding it for quite some time while I listened.  This was a song that was going to stay with me, and I love when that happens. This single piece took me on a journey, and not many pieces of music do that for me these days.

And then, another song began. The instrumental version. I almost couldn’t take it. I was already completely sold on the song, but somehow, this piece took everything I loved about the first one, stood it on its head, and made it even better. 

I’m a sucker for a full orchestra. I won’t lie. Let’s face it: I spent much of my childhood playing in an orchestra, so it makes sense, really. But this is different. It’s kind of like hearing the orchestral version of A View To a Kill, but even better.  Again, I get the chills going up my arm and the hair on the back of my neck stands on end.  I was already on a high from the first version, but the orchestral version took my feelings up a notch.  My eyes welled up, and the emotion I’ve had bottled up for the past six weeks spilled over. I won’t be able to forget this song for a very, very long time.

Which is exactly how I like it.

Take a listen for yourself and see what you think.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower (Orchestral Version) 

-R

Sometimes You Have No Choice: Tragically Hip’s Final Curtain

I’m back from vacation, and I can’t even believe I’m already thinking about school for my kids. I don’t know about anyone else, but this was truly the shortest summer ever! I start ordering school curriculum this week, and our first parent meeting is on Friday.  Goodbye carefree days!

College application time begins for Gavin. He is a senior, and forgive me as I stumble over those words. As with my daughter Heather, I fluctuate between joy and sorrow. The time went by so fast. Yet, I’m also ready to let him use his wings and fly on his own. I can see that he needs to do some of the hard work to finish growing on his own without my constant guidance, and I’m ready for that.

Heather, my oldest, left with the rest of her things last night. It is time for her to settle in to apartment living. Today she begins her sophomore year in college. I know I’m going to blink and she’ll be graduating. Not ready.

Our vacation was wonderful. Two weeks spent in Arches National Park in Utah and then up to Yellowstone National Park. We did everything from hiking and horseback riding, to taking a boat tour and seeing a rodeo. (my first one)  I focused on family.  Writing and Duran Duran would wait.  Of course, that worked until my darling husband and brother-in-law mentioned “Hungry Like the Wolf”,  every day.  (Can’t get away even if I try!)  We arrived back at home on Saturday night, in time to read about Tragically Hip’s last concert.

In full disclosure, I don’t know much about Tragically Hip. I recognize the name, but that’s about it. They weren’t huge in America, but I suspect that if I listened to a song, I’d probably recognize it. I’m funny that way. Names don’t stick, but music does. In any case, all I knew was that the band was giving a final concert, and it seemed to me that all of Canada was going to stop and watch. And they did. But why?

Gord Downie, the lead singer of Tragically Hip, is dying from brain cancer. His prognosis is the absolute worst, and yet this guy decides to spend his last days doing what he loves. It’s almost a “fuck you anyway” to the cancer, along with a warm final embrace to the country he loves. You see, it wasn’t just ONE show as a good-bye. No, he’s been touring the country with his band. It was just this final show that was televised in town centers and on televisions, preempting the Olympics, and even had the PM in attendance.  It seems to me, as just an ordinary American, that for just one night, Canada was wrapped-up in fandom.

And I loved reading that.

Maybe fandom isn’t really much of a story. And maybe if I personally had my own juicy secrets to share it’d be more interesting, but you know, there’s this other side to it all that fascinates the hell out of me and I’m compelled to share. And maybe, just maybe, that fascination is happening to you too, dear reader.

An entire country put aside their lives to rejoice in the music and career of a band, along with the outstandingly well-used life of one man for just one night. It made me wonder if that could ever happen here, in the states.

Sadly, I found myself doubting. Do we even have artists we consider to be national treasures on quite that scale? Bruce Springsteen?  Madonna?  What about Michael Jackson? Prince? Sure, they’ve passed – but what about beforehand? Did we really think enough to love or embrace them before destiny came to call? I don’t know. I see America as such a throw-away society at times.

We hug really tightly (sometimes much too tightly), and then we cast aside in favor of the next big thing. Can anyone really see the US doing something similar for any performing artist out there?  Let’s face it, even if you can imagine an artist of that caliber, can you imagine preempting a sporting event in favor of performing arts of any kind?? And, if you can get past all of that in your head, can you see a vision of your town coming out to watch a broadcast of such a thing in your town center?

The Olympic Torch came through my town when I was about 13.  My family packed chairs and sat on Arrow Highway to see it go past. My entire neighborhood, if not quite all of the Charter Oak area, was there. And then there was Hands Across America. I remember standing and holding hands with strangers along the same street, but for the life of me I can’t remember why, or how I felt doing it.

I guess that’s the difference. Those events, while marked in my memory, have no reasoning or emotion earmarked with them. Fandom, on the other hand, is all about emotion.  All of Canada shared in those emotions with Tragically Hip this past weekend. Maybe there’s something to be learned here.

Remarkably sad. Incredibly uplifted. Hopeful. All things I feel when reading about that concert…and all things that music really gives. I am left remembering words that Simon said each night while introducing “Save a Prayer”— those of us who have hope cannot give in to the evil around us. He is right, whether that evil is a disease we cannot control, or potential violence that threatens us each day.

Peace.

-R

 

Question of the Day: Monday, August 22, 2016

Yesterday’s winner:  Too Bad You’re So Beautiful

Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist:  Hold Back the Rain or Out of my Mind?

Summer Tour 2016: By the Numbers

Today marks the official end to my summer.  It isn’t that the calendar states September whatever to indicate the beginning of fall or that my students arrive in my classroom tomorrow.  It is, for me, though the last day before I go into that classroom and prepare it for students.  Yes, kids, this teacher is going back to work tomorrow.  (Please note…the utter enthusiasm…HA!)  Before I do that, I want to take one last, long look back to my summer and, more specifically, the summer tour!  Following in our touring tradition, I give you all our summer tour by the numbers!

Miles Driven:  2348

On the road to Toronto
On the road to Toronto

We drove a LOT.  I mean A LOT.  For the first leg, I drove from Madison, Wisconsin, to Toronto and back.  During the second leg, Rhonda drove from her place in Orange County to Paso Robles to Vegas to Chula Vista back to Orange County.  It is definitely the most we drove for any  “tour”.  I can speak for Rhonda when I say that we are SO thankful that we have days and breaks in between driving.

8 Shows:  (1 extra for each of us)

During this summer leg, we saw 8 shows together and one extra separately as Rhonda went to the LA show in May and I drove up to Minneapolis.  I know that some might think this is excessive.  My response to that is simple.  We did just as many shows during the All You Need Is Now Tour.  They were just split up more.  (Logical response, right?!)

Chicago July 8
Chicago July 8
Chicago July 9
Chicago July 9
Detroit
Detroit
Toronto
Toronto
Paso Robles
Paso Robles
Las Vegas
Las Vegas
Irvine
Irvine
Chula Vista
Chula Vista

7 Hotels

We stayed in 7 different hotels in the following places:  Chicago, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Toronto, Tinley Park, Paso Robles and Vegas.  I generally like staying in hotels but they are a killer on the pocketbook!

7 States/Provinces:

Like the hotels, we were in 7 different states or provinces:  Wisconsin (just me) Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ontario, California and Nevada.  Those places remain standing.  As for their vodka supply…perhaps, not so much!

Those Damn Pants:  

If you were reading our blog while we were on tour, you might

Las Vegas
Las Vegas

have seen a mention or two (hundred) about John Taylor’s pants.  I won’t go into detail other than to say that they were not my favorite and I saw him wear them for 5 shows (Chicago night 1, Detroit, Paso Robles, Vegas and Irvine).  Call this acknowledgement closure on my end.  I promise.  They will never be mentioned again.

Holy Confetti Batman!

Our summer tour began without the confetti at the two Chicago

Irvine
Irvine

shows.  We missed it terribly.  The other 6 shows more than made up for it!

Average Number of Drinks:

Cheers!
Cheers!

Uh…I thought about doing this one as just a straight up number but I figured that it might scare people (or me!).  Let’s just put it this way.  We had quite a few vodka tonics.  Maybe we had more than a few.  Some might say we had a lot.  So, I think we averaged between 4-5 per day.  I think.  Maybe.  We apologize to all of those cities that had to replace the vodka after we left.

5 Setlists:

Our Paso Robles Setlist
Our Paso Robles Setlist

One of our touring traditions is to suggest a setlist for each show we go to.  This time, we gave the band a break on the first leg since Nick was not there.  By the second leg, we felt confident that MNDR knew how to bring it leading us to suggest a setlist or four.  Of course, the fifth one was the one we actually got, you know…from the band, on stage!

 

 

 

4 Official Meet-ups:

We organized and hosted 4 official pre-show meet-ups in Chicago (both nights), Toronto and Vegas!  We had a good time and were thrilled with the turn out!!!

1st night in Chicago
1st night in Chicago
2nd group meet-up in Chicago
2nd group meet-up in Chicago
Toronto meet up
Toronto meet up
In Las Vegas
In Las Vegas

2 Bloggers on Tour:

Sometimes, touring can be lonely.

All by ourselves in Irvine
All by ourselves in Irvine

Sometimes, touring can be tiring.

Catching a few zzz's
Catching a few zzz’s

One Wristband Given:

For this tour, we had new wristbands made with the idea being that sales of them would go towards next year’s convention.  Many people at our meet-ups bought one (or more than one!), which we are truly thankful for.  I am forced to admit that I did give one away, but just one…to this guy below.

Nile wearing the wristband
Nile wearing the wristband

One Future Blogger:

The Irvine show had a special attendee.  We are hoping that she will be ready to take over for us one day!

Sabrina's sign

One Awesomely, Amazing, Durantastic Tour and Summer!

I have had other summers that featured touring but nothing quite like this one!  I felt like I was on tour for literally most of the summer and when I wasn’t on tour, I was either getting ready or recovering from it.  I’m anxious to go it again, but I doubt it will be any time soon.  That said, I’m willing to plan for an East Coast show, though…

-A

Split Personality

The  end of a tour usually brings thinking and introspection.  This summer tour is no exception.  In fact, it might have brought more, especially since I go back to work next week.  Yes, the school year officially starts for me even though the kiddos don’t arrive until September 1st.  The classroom needs to get ready.  Lesson plans need to get written.  Adjustments to curriculum are required.  Despite the fact that I have been teaching a LONG time (this will be my 19th year!), I still don’t feel like I have the beginning of the year smooth.  Perhaps, I wonder if the lack of intensity is to blame.

I remember being a kid or even a young adult and feeling determined to figure out exactly who I was and where I needed to be.  Should I commit myself to being an activist, I asked in college.  A teacher should focus 110% of the time on one’s classroom and students, I believed early on in my career.  Where and how does fandom fit in with all of this, I periodically asked.  Yet, I felt that I had to choose ONE.  There was only one path that led to personal success.  Success required intensity and extreme focus.
As I have gotten older, I began to see and feel life with more complexity.  Yes, I’m a teacher and, yes, there are parts that I LOVE about the job.  I love when my students get into a serious debate over political issues of our time or the moves that were made by the United States throughout history are discussed.  My favorite moments are when I see my students’ passionately engaged in a topic.  Unfortunately, I’m well-aware of aspects of my job that I feel less (in some cases, much less) excited about.  I am not a big fan of meetings filled with educational jargon about the latest trends that will supposedly increase student achievement.  Grading is time consuming and often painful.  I despise the amount of time and energy this “full-time” job takes.  During the school year, I desperately long for breaks or at least a day away from school related work.  Teaching is not my whole life and it is NOT the defining characteristic of who I am.  It is one part of who I am.
Beyond teaching, I can be a political activist.  At times, that has meant diving deep to work on specific political campaigns or for specific candidates.  At other times, it means joining a protest or two about issues that matter to me.  It almost always means that I’m watching politically focused shows and reading the latest news.  Many conversations with friends and colleagues feature political discussions.  Yet, like teaching, it is not who I am but a part of who I am.
Likewise, fandom is a part of who I am.  It is just as big of a part as teaching or being an activist.  The commitment I have made with regards to this blog or our various projects show that.  If it didn’t matter to me, I simply wouldn’t do it.  I wouldn’t take the time to read the latest Duran news and the reactions from fans.  I wouldn’t write about Duran or the fandom surrounding the band.  There would be no Duranie focused event planning for me.  Is everything about it perfect?  Of course not.  Just like in teaching or campaigning, there are elements that frustrate me, that I don’t like.  Do those negative aspects affect what I do with my fandom?  It can and does.  I’m only human.
Sometimes, I think I would be a better teacher or activist or fan whatever you want to call it if I would focus on just that aspect of myself and my life.  I wouldn’t be distracted by the other two.  I wouldn’t be split into thirds.  Maybe this singular focus would help make my good teaching great or make my political activities so much more affective.  The laser focus might improve this blog or my writing or the fan events we plan.  Yet, I also know that I’m wouldn’t be happy just doing one over the other two.  Some aspect of my personality needs all three or a FORM of all three.  Do I have to be in a classroom to enjoy teenagers engaging with historical topics?  No.  Do I have to be writing a blog to be a good fan organizer/writer?  Probably not. Yet, I would need something like those examples.
Does my participation with all three hurt my performance, actively hurt it?  Maybe.  Some think so.  Then, the question becomes how do I make myself happy (while still paying my bills) by acknowledging all three aspects of myself without harming or muting what I could be doing with these three ambitions?  How can I commit myself more to them, individually, while maintaining all?  How do I make it so the lack of time and energy from doing all doesn’t kill the reason I love these?  I need to find a way to show and maintain my passion for all three to be the most effective and most happy.  While I feel as though I have accepted the complexity of myself and my passions, I feel like I struggle to keep those passions AS passions or struggle to show them as passions.  My goal for this year is to figure out how to do just that.  Clearly, it won’t be easy but I have a feeling that it will definitely be worth it!
-A

Question of the Day: Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sorry about the broken link yesterday!  Let’s try this again!!

Friday’s winner:  Out of my Mind

Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist:  Taste the Summer or Too Bad You’re So Beautiful?

Hearing the Words Most Needed to Hear

By Kimberley Crawford

I got my ticket for the Duran Duran show in Atlanta as soon as they announced the dates and went on sale.  I made the decision to get a ticket by myself in the chance that it would get me a better seat.  My other friends made the same decision.  We planned to stay at the same hotel, go to and from the show together and have a mini meetup.

The day after I got my ticket my best girl that I describe as my “egg” asked me if I would mind if she went with me.  I was delighted.  I immediately started looking for a ticket close to me but there was nothing right beside me.  Still, I was over the moon excited!  My best friend wanted to share this with me.  I got her a ticket 1 row up from me in the next section.  So we would be divided by almost nothing but a little space.  This was perfect!  I emailed her and we started to get excited.  My little group booked our hotel rooms and began the countdown.  My mind started to go to giddiness!  Duran Duran, and my 2 best friends.  I even pictured how our pictures were going to look.

My best friend had some family emergencies come up and she was unable to go.  I was bummed.  I felt crushed but was still going.  I worried about the ticket and I worried about the show and worried about our friendship—which should not have been worried about.  I started posting about a ticket I had and hoped to find someone to buy it.  On the day before the show, one of my girlfriends from high school, Crista, said she wanted to go.  She liked the band and thought it would be fun.  We planned on her going.

Three of us, including my high school friend and another friend (Kelle), made our way to Atlanta to see my friends and, of course, my band!  On the way down there, Crista stated that she wasn’t feeling well so she was going to lay down.  I was driving and I looked into the rearview mirror to see Crista asleep in the backseat.  When we got to the hotel, I did the introductions and saw my other friends.  Crista went up to the room to sleep.  I went out to lunch with the friends I was meeting there in Atlanta.  We caught up and were just over the moon happy to be together and to be going to the show.  I came back to the room and Crista said she would meet us at the concert because she still wasn’t feeling good.  My worry level jumped to high, at this point.

I continued to follow the plan to go out for dinner and drinks before heading over to the show.  While at dinner, I got a text from Crista stating that she was there and was happy with her seat.  We talked about enjoying the show, taking pictures, and being happy, having what we call a “Durantastic” time.

The next day we were heading home after sharing goodbyes and more pictures.  Crista told me her love for Simon and she would now be a “Duranie”…which happens every time!! LOL

This week, almost four months after the Atlanta show, I was out with  Crista and other mutual friends.  I heard Crista tell our girlfriends about the show.  She shared something I didn’t know, which moved me.  Something I didn’t mention is that Crista has lupus.  She spends a lot of her time in bed in pain.  Simple tasks like taking a bath can be tough and there are times where she doesn’t leave her house or bed for days or weeks at a time.

She talked about Nile Rodgers and Chic onstage.  She said the minute they went on, everyone at the Atlanta show was on their feet.  Everyone was dancing.  Everyone around her:  young, old, big, small was dancing, laughing and acting like they were all friends.  She shared that in the midst of all the dancing and enjoying the music Nile shared his cancer story or as I call it his testimony.  He talked about how the doctor told him that he didn’t have long but he lived life and beat his cancer.  Crista recalled this story this past week and shared how this made her want to live and enjoy life, which made my heart full.  One best friend couldn’t go, which gave another best friend a chance to hear the words she needed to hear to live her life and try to enjoy the little moments.

Of course, she then went on to tell me how good Duran Duran was live and how all the band members were good looking (DUH!!!!).  I gave her a copy of the Paper Gods CD and she said her favorite song is Face for Today.  That song is so her!  Every time I hear it I think of her.  Every time I look at a picture from Atlanta I think of her.  She wasn’t in a lot of the pictures because of her illness but she is in the memories of my heart and that show.  She made friends with the girls there and this has expanded my little area of Duranies in Tennessee.

Kim and Crista on the day after the show in Atlanta
Kim and Crista on the day after the show in Atlanta

Kim has been a DD fan for as long as she can remember after the video for Hungry Like the Wolf really hooked her.  Kim’s favorite songs are Seventh Stranger and Pretty Ones, but her moods change and she finds herself being pulled toward different songs based on her mood.  Kim is also a John girl and always has been.  She was relatively new to the Duran concert and meet up scene at the end of the All You Need Is Now Tour but found herself at a number of shows and meet ups with a great group of friends since then!  She lives in Tennessee with her husband and pets.

 

Question of the Day: Friday, August 19, 2016

Yesterday’s winner:  Hold Back the Rain

Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist:  I Believe/All I Need to Know or Out of my Mind?

MNDR for Remainder of North American Dates

Last night, Duran Duran posted the following on social media:

If you haven’t had a chance, read the terrific Yahoo Music interview with MNDR, where she talks about her experience touring with Duran Duran.  We’re happy to announce she will be continuing on the Paper Gods tour for the remainder of the N. American dates!

As you might imagine, the fan community reacted.  As I looked through the comments on both Twitter and Facebook, I found 4 basic types of reactions.

  • MNDR was great at ____________ show and the keyboards are in “good hands”
  • My worry has increased since Nick has been gone so long that it must be serious.  Can we please have an update about what is going on?
  • Happy?  Why use the word ‘happy’?  Who is happy about it?
  • So upset that Nick won’t be at ______________ show.  Expected him to be there when bought the ticket.

None of these reactions surprised me.  Whenever some upsetting news is given, people respond with all sorts of emotions.  It happened in July when the announcement first came that Nick had to return to the UK and it has happened now.  I can’t blame anyone for his/her reaction as they are all very human responses.

MNDR Was Great:

I have to admit that I would probably fall into this camp.  Both Rhonda and I have mentioned numerous times over our shows this summer that we thought she did a fabulous job.  I still think that.  Does that mean that I preferred her over Nick?  Of course not.  It just means that I was happy that the shows could go on and that the quality of the music was not harmed significantly by a replacement.  Many of us have held tickets to canceled shows in the past.  There is not much worse than that.  If the band had canceled, when would they be able to return?  Who knows?  They might not have and if they did, would I have been able to attend the show(s) then?  Who knows again?  Having MNDR fill in was the best choice, I believe.

Increased Worry:

I totally understand people’s concern.  We all want everything with Nick to be fine and for him to attend the shows.  Yet, we know that he is physically fine based on the Katy Kafe that was posted on the 10th.  Clearly, he wishes that he could be on tour but he has something to take care of.  Who I know what that is?  No.  Do I need to know?  Not really.  I look at my job.  Do I tell my students every time I need to be gone from work?  No.  I don’t tell them anything that won’t effect their classroom experience.  If it doesn’t affect the job, it doesn’t need to be stated.  I understand why people want to know.  They care.  They worry.  Yet, clearly, this is something that Nick wants to keep private.  As hard as it is for all of us who care about Nick a lot, I think we have to try and respect that wish.  I know that it is much easier said than done.

Happy???

Ah..word choice.  As someone who writes a blog, I am well-aware of how ONE word can upset people.  Those who are upset about the use of the word, ‘happy’, do you really think that DDHQ means that they are happy Nick is gone?  Or do you think they are happy that someone good can stand in so the shows don’t have to be canceled?  Again, as someone who writes and puts thoughts out there to be consumed by the public, I wish people were a less little critical and assume that there was nothing but good intentions behind it.

Upset

Again, I totally understand those people who have tickets to shows and expected Nick to be there.  I, too, would be upset.  Heck, I was upset that he wasn’t at my shows.  Again, though, I ask that people assume positive intentions.  Nick and the DDHQ didn’t do this to anger people or frustrate ticket buyers or to dupe people out of money.  Things happen.  We don’t have to like it and we can be angry at the situation but I don’t know that the anger should be directed at the band or their team.  I also ask people about the alternative.  Would people really prefer the shows be canceled only to possibly NEVER happen?  Yeah, the situation sucks.  For sure.  Yet, I believe that something is better than nothing.

On that note, I continue to send love and support to Nick and his family with whatever it is that is being dealt with.  Clearly, there are  a lot of people out there doing the same.

-A

Question of the Day: Thursday, August 18, 2016

Yesterday’s winner:  Too Bad You’re So Beautiful

Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist:  Late Bar or Hold Back the Rain?

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!