Keeping the Rhythm Going 28 Years and Counting: Liberty

Liberty was released on this date in 1990. My excellent math skills tell me that adds up to birthday #28 for this album. Back on the 25th anniversary, Simon posted some thoughts about Liberty on dd.com.  If you haven’t read it yet, you really should.

Liberty is one of those albums that feels like a guilty pleasure. I have been known to blast “Violence of Summer” on long drives, some of which may or may not have taken place at like 2am on the way home from gigs at the Key Club in Los Angeles. The word “overproduced” has been used in tandem with this album frequently over the years. At one point, I suppose I might have agreed. I tried to be one of those critical listeners that might be taken seriously. These days, however, I’m far more apt to say “So what??? I think it’s fun and I like it!”, than anything else. Life is far too short to worry about explaining why a song or two makes my heart sing.

The album is 28 years old. I think it might be fair to put the criticisms aside and just love the music. Frivolity and fun are not bad qualities. I happen to agree with Simon on “Serious”. It is by far one of the best Duran Duran songs ever recorded. It ranks right up with “Ordinary World”, and I applaud its simple beauty. “My Antarctica” is another stunning example of the band’s songwriting genius.  I don’t know what Simon meant by the lyrics, but when I think about them, they remind me of the saying “life happens when you’re making other plans”.  Simon seems to call out a relationship with someone who is set to have the public see his/her life one way when in fact it is completely another. I love the vagueness and how the words allow themselves to tell your own story. It is absolutely some of Duran Duran’s best work, and hits home with me far more than some of their major hits. It is a song I wish they’d play live.

There is plenty on the album to love. While Simon wasn’t fond of “All Along the Water”, I adore the song, even with its fair amount of cheek. Again – it’s FUN. It keeps me moving, and I’m certainly smiling. Is it lyrically captivating? Probably not as much as others, but not every song needs to punch me in the gut with emotion. I love it.

When I think about Liberty and this period of time, it makes sense to me when Simon says it felt like part of The Wedding Album. On my own Duran Duran timeline in my head – there’s not really much I remember about the time period for Liberty, only that it was released, and before I knew it the band was on to something else. Maybe they needed that album as a creative precursor to what came next, but I believe it is worthy of standing on its own and not be known as the “also appearing” album of the 1990’s. In fact, I’m going to give it a listen today!

-R

 

Classic Pop: Welcome and Conquering Planet Earth

Guess what came in the mail?!  That’s right.  My copy of the Classic Pop:  Duran Duran 40th Anniversary Edition magazine.  Right away, I can see that there is a LOT here as it is really over 100 pages.  Clearly, I won’t be able to read it all at once, not if I want to really take it in.  So, I will simply read one article at a time and discuss it then talk about the magazine as a whole.  After all, I can tell that the creators took time to worry about the details.  This can be easily seen because as soon as you open the magazine there are pictures of various album and single covers.  It reminds me, as a fan, about how much the band really has done.

Welcome:

I loved reading the welcome written by the editor.  Said to say that it is rare to read glowing words about Duran Duran outside of places like our blog or other fan creations.  Yet, this intro was all that and more.  Clearly, the editor views Duran as a band who has had adversity but has worked hard to be successful.  “They’ve marked out by a peerless flair for melodic songwriting as well as a remarkable resilience, digging in and clinging to their dreams when the naysayers foolishly try to write them off.”  Exactly.  Then, before the first article, the magazine acknowledges the graphic design and art used for the album and single covers.  I approve.

Conquering Planet Earth:

Initially, I assumed that this first big article would just be about the very early days but it goes all the way up through the 1980s.  Before I read the article, I did glance at the photos.  I assumed I had seen most of the Duran pictures before but I swear some of these images were new to me.  I love that!

The beginning part of the article focuses on the formation of the band and the Birmingham scene.  Nick is quoted in the article talking about how the Rum Runner was “more real” in comparison to the London scene due to the Berrow brothers bringing music from the States and with the look of the club with mirror tiles and neon.  That said, I’m not sure that they got the history totally right.  I think the list of people is accurate but I’m not sure things happened in the order that they are listed, specifically around the topic of lead singer.  For example, it sounds like Andy was in the band a long time before Simon and I don’t think that is true.

One aspect of the article that I found interesting was how the videos were described.  First, it implied that the reason to use video was because the band had five good looking guys.  While that is true. they also could send videos to places that were hard to get to like Australia, which the article leaves out.  That said, they  do state that the Girls on Film video might have objectified women but other videos objectified them like the Rio video.  Hmm…

Of course, the band’s success was featured as well.  The author commented that the band members’ private lives were quickly impacted by all of the fans and attention.  Now, artists would be able to post a picture or tweet to appease their fans but then they couldn’t, resulting in fans following the band everywhere, claims the author.  Interesting.  I don’t know if I agree with that idea.  Would a picture or a tweet really satisfy fans then?  I think a lot of fans would have just wanted more and more and more.  What do the rest of you think?  Would that have eased the frenzy?

Overall, I think the article did a nice job summarizing the 1980s.  I appreciate that it included some of the late 80s as too often that part of Duran’s history gets ignored or glossed over.  I also liked that the interpretation on issues like fame made me think.  Lastly, the little touches made it extra special.  For example, the article covered four tracks more deeply to show the range of Duran’s work.  I liked that and the fun little facts written in tiny writing on the side.  The magazine did not waste space!

Now, I cannot wait to have a chance to dive deep into the rest!

-A

Running Against the Tide

On this date in 2012, Rhonda and I saw Duran Duran play in Biloxi, Mississippi.  This was the first of our little mini-tour around the southeast to finish up the All You Need Is Now album cycle, at least for us.  That little tour meant that the next time we would see the band play at all would be almost three years later in April 2015.  It began a weird sort of desperation.  The cause was obvious.  The AYNIN album and tour marked the best time we had (I think) as fans up until that point.  We attended a bunch of shows, managed to see the band play in the UK and began holding meet ups before shows.  Truly, we didn’t want the party to end.

Despite all that, if you look back at my posts from that time, they were not all happiness and light.  I questioned if I needed some sort of break from fandom.  As much as I loved it all, I wondered if it was creating some weird sort of pressure.  I’m sure that part of it was also because not everyone loved what we were doing and saying.  Yet, instead of walking away, we dove in more by planning a convention.  Interestingly enough, six years later, I’m finding myself in a similar emotional space.  Looking back, I knew that I felt a lot of angst but I didn’t really know why.  I assumed it was fandom, but I don’t think it was.  The summer of 2012 included an upsetting political loss while preparing for another campaign.  It also meant changing teaching positions.  I think I felt like the ground below me was unsettled.  I reacted to that by first trying to finding something to blame, which I stupidly thought might have been fandom.  Then, instead of running away, I increased my commitment.

Now, I also feel like my foundation has been shaken.  Last school year was tough and there are changes there that make me less than excited for the upcoming year.  Politically, I have faced some big losses while trying to gear up to the next one.  On top of that, there is more stress surrounding my aging parents and feel like I have less support to assist with it all.  Again, my desire is to seek security like I did in 2012.  The only aspect of my life that I questioned then was fandom.  Even when I wondered if fandom was making me happy, I remember just wanting people to reassure me that fandom could and would continue to bring joy.  I wanted people to want me to continue writing this blog, planning events, etc.

Did I handle my feelings in the right way then?  No clue.  Should I have questioned other areas of my life?  Maybe.  Probably.  I often wonder if I stay too long, that I stay when I should not.  I think about the fact that six years ago I changed positions at work.  I should have done it years before that.  I’m not good at timing.  This leads me to wonder if changes need to be made now.  Should I continue to double down on my path in life with teaching, campaigning and doing fandom?  I don’t know that I have any answers, just more questions.

All that said, now that I have poured all of this out on this blog post (most of you are probably thinking that I have over shared or wished that I hadn’t opened my big, fat mouth at all), I do realize one thing.  Duran tours and other happenings have been mile markers in my journey of life.  That tour in 2012 was more than just 4 shows.  It made me recognize that things in my life weren’t as awesome as I wanted.  It made me question things.  I appreciate that even if my recognition did not lead to some amazing changes in my life.  It reminds me that Duran’s history has helped to form my history, even if I couldn’t see it when it was happening.  It makes me wonder what will Duran do next that will form the backdrop to my own life.

-A

Confessions of a Duran Duran Fan Podcast Episode

I love when people send me links or information about something Duran Duran related.  This week a friend of mine sent me information about a podcast called, The Mortified Podcast:  Share the Shame.  Apparently, this is a weekly podcast that features storytelling in which adults share embarrassing pieces from their childhoods.  This particular episode (75) focused on being a Duran fan.  I can relate to that title.  My friend said that it was “hilarious”.  I could not wait to listen and assured her that I would be covering it here.  Before I dive into what I thought, has anyone listened to this podcast?  What did you think?

Right away, it was off to a good start with a little “remember the 1980s?  The music that is playing in your head is Duran Duran.”  Indeed.  Then, they go on to say that it wasn’t just the sound of the band that created the 1980s but also the look and the attitude.  Sigh.  So true.  Then, there is a mention about how fans weren’t just in love with the lead singer but also that bass player.  Now, I am finding myself really relating as I, too, fell in love with John Taylor then!  Apparently, this podcast episode focused on two female fans.

Dana:

She introduced her story by talking about her school experiences and how Duran Duran and John Taylor helped her get through.  She goes on to read from her diary in 1984 where she stated that she was devoted to loving Rob Lowe and Duran Duran.  After buying Seven and the Ragged Tiger, she wrote about how much she loved John Taylor even though she had never met him.  (As I listened, I could see my diary being very, very similar….)  She commented that she had liked him for almost a year (which must be a record)!  Ah…to be that young.

She goes on to talk about getting tickets to their concert and hoping that her dad could get her into rehearsal (ha!).  From there, maybe, John would talk to her and she could invite him over.  Likewise, she considered using a boy at school who liked her as practice for John Taylor.  I think you probably get that this is absolutely hilarious!  I particularly enjoyed the story of the concert where she was given a stuffed animal that had landed on stage…not by John but by a roadie but still, he could have touched it!

Julie Ann:

Like Dana before, Julie Ann turned to MTV and music to escape.  In her case, it wasn’t school but her parents’ divorce.  This of course became an obsession with Duran Duran, which included writing fantasy stories with her best friend.  She read one of these.

The basic gist of this story was that the main character’s parents died and she ran into John Taylor (whose father had a mild heart attack).  He was clearly interested so asked her out.  They formed such a connection that the band insisted that she move in with them (after one day!) but…there was a complication.  Simon liked her, too!  Then, something horrible happened to John!  Oh, the drama!!  Never fear, Duranies, it ends on a happy note!

This podcast was simply enjoyable as heck.  Both women were great storytellers.  Part of me always worries that when stories of teenage fans are released that people will use those to diminish or dismiss female teenage fans or former teenage fans.  After all, neither one of these women shared anything about the music.  Instead, they chose to focus on John and the other band members and their looks.  This could lead people to assume that they only liked them for their appearance.  But people are dumb.  Female teenage fans could have loved John for how he looked and how he played.  If they had focused on the music, it just wouldn’t have been as funny.  Simple as that.  Sometimes, it is also good to laugh at ourselves and the silliest part of ourselves.  So, I highly recommend this little podcast if you would like to laugh at yourself former teenage self and fellow fans!

-A

Duran Duran live in February 2019. Can you wait?

Time is flying by, my friends. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon school supply shopping with my youngest. She is ten, going into fifth grade this year, and is in all of her preteen glory. I can’t believe she’s really approaching the same age I was when I first discovered Duran Duran. It hardly seems possible, although judging by the growth spurt she has had this past year, I shouldn’t be surprised. So we are staring down into the tunnel of a new school year, one that will include many changes, no less. I’m not ready. Summer was fairly non-existent. Twenty years of solid abuse takes time to undo, particularly when the main fixer-upper person lives elsewhere during the week. I’ve gone to two shows this summer, and I’ve been out with my husband alone three times. No vacations, no camping, just a lot of sweat, dirt, and achy muscles.

School starts in about two and a half more weeks. Our house goes on sale Tuesday. Why move during the summer when you can pull out your hair, move boxes and shuffle holidays, children and school around mid year??  My husband and I have a certain way about planning, as evidenced by the sheer genius spacing of our children – Heather is 21, Gavin is 19, and as I said – the youngest is 10.  (my sarcasm is alive and kicking) Mark my words, I will be moving over Thanksgiving weekend if not even mid-December when things are even nuttier. I can feel it coming, and I’ve already accepted my fate.

Meanwhile, there is this band I “kind” of like, and tend to blog about on an almost daily basis. They’ve been semi-awol for a while now while I’ve been in my own rabbit hole. I think they’re around, enjoying their own lives. Imagine that! Earlier in the week, DDHQ had tweeted a photo from #Duranlive, saying that there would be no live shows until February, but that they liked the picture.

This, my friends, was news I needed. I can’t lie, this entire year, I’ve had this little niggling, nagging, thought in the back of my mind.  Would the band end up doing shows this year? If they did, how would I get there? I’m awful, because there I was, husband just starting back to work, me up to my neck in boxes, and I worried about Duran Duran. I mean, not the kind of day-and-night worry. Just the kind that would appear in my head when I heard “Rio”, or “Paper Gods”, or thought about drummers and guitarists. It was a thing. Even the band themselves seemed unsure, saying that there was a chance they’d have a one-off show here or there before year-end.  Uncertainty drives me crazy.

February of 2019 though, is a lot less uncertain. This tidbit, or mile-marker on the journey, makes my heart begin to sing the joyful sounds of “Hungry Like the Wolf” (I can see you laughing at me, Nick. Knock it off.) As I “doo doo doo do, do doo do, do doo do, do doo do, doo doo” my way through packing the precious little that is actually left in this now-personality free house, I’ll be thinking of the fun that is waiting for me in 2019.

Funny how times change. During the Mojave Desert of nothingness between All You Need is Now and Paper Gods, I was desperate. Foraging for anything I could find. A small but tasty sliver of news would have satiated me. A tall, cool drink of Dom or Roger (oh yes, I did just type that.) would have quenched a bit of my thirst along the way. I was dying. I even begged Amanda to fly out to Los Angeles for what could have easily been one (yes, ONE) song performed by Duran Duran at the David Lynch gala at the Ace Theatre. Thankfully, it was a few songs. I nearly died that night in more ways than one, but even those memories kept me going.

This time though, I’m far more patient. I do still miss the band. Any time I see Dom tweet (which isn’t all that often), I grin like the Cheshire Cat. Do I have it that bad? Maybe. I love seeing the very occasional tweet from Simon, or even the photos that John sends to DDHQ to post. Once in a while we’ll get something from Roger or even Nick, and I’m smiling for days. However, I am thankful to have the time to get my life back together. There will time for crazy drives to LA or even San Francisco later. I’m looking forward to getting my own touring group back together for late nights, vodka, cups with no lids and lots of laughing. But I can wait a bit longer. 2019 is beginning to show up on the horizon.

-R

Where is the line crossed from Fandom to Standom?

Hi everyone! Welcome to Wednesday afternoon!  I know I’ve missed a couple of blogging days, so I apologize. I am happy to say though that the “For Sale” sign is out in front of our house, and we have a big open house weekend coming up. Anybody want a house in a nice neighborhood in Orange County, CA?

Meanwhile, there is this blog, which has sadly been neglected this week. I’ve missed writing, and I must warn you that there could be a few more days of that ahead, depending upon how it all works when we actually move. Just recently, I saw a tweet from DDHQ declaring that there would be no live dates until February 2019, and that seems like a good goal for me. Get moved and unpacked by February!  I can only hope…

As I sat down to the computer today, I didn’t have anything in my head ready to write about. Someone must have read my mind and sent me an article about Stans. (Read it here)

A “Stan” is an overly obsessive fan. Funny thing about the words “overly” and “obsessive” – they require interpretation. Where is that line, and how do I not cross it?  This is a question we have continued asking since the blog was in its infancy. It would seem that there is no hard and fast answer, even when many of us would be far more comfortable if there were.

The article isn’t about asking what or who is a stan, but instead talks about the destructive culture itself. What does that mean? Well, in the case of the article, they use a recent incident involving Nicky Minaj and a critic, who dared wonder in print if Nicky could get past the “silly” stuff and write lyric with more substance. Nicky lashed out in return, sending the critic a rather violent and crude response over DM. Not to be deterred, the critic took a screen shot and posted it for all to see. Nicky’s fans went on the extreme defensive, harassing the critic on every known form of social media. They went as far as finding her cell phone number, texting her death threats, and even locating photos of her daughter and circulating them online. In my personal opinion, it was completely unwarranted, unnecessary, and over the top.

The internet allow a shroud of anonymity to hide behind, and some are not afraid of spewing vitriol whenever they disagree with something that they read. In my own experience, it has gotten to the point that I am far more careful about what I say, or even what I write about. For a select few – it in’t enough to disagree, they feel like they need to ruin someone’s reputation, and even harass family members. All for the sake of proving a point?

Disagreeing from time to time with something that is written is normal. I expect people to take issue with things I write, for example. In fact, sometimes I write with that intention in my mind. I would expect that other writers, bloggers, and social media managers are the same. What no one truly expects though, is to have their private lives ripped to shreds because a fan base, or “stan” base.

I can cite numerous examples of this within our own fan community. Attacks on critics who aren’t as positive about the band (that’s putting it mildly – as is the word “attacks”), and even the way we go after one another when someone says or writes something we don’t agree with. But where or when should it be enough? Do we need to “expose” the person on every form of social media? Going after family members and death threats were activities that were at one time left to the most obsessed. They were called stalkers, not fans.  However,  they are commonplace now, to the point where we have an entire category of fan named for them, Stans.

It is my hope that everyone reading this blog will click on the link for the article, and that doing so springboards discussion. The question I  want to now pass on to each of you reading, is simple. Where is the line? At what point do we begin to realize that not every online disagreement needs to end with a threat of questioning someone’s character, or at worst – suggesting death?

-R