Welcome to the irregular series where I say something that I am almost sure may get me invited to a public flogging ceremony, but I’m bound and determined to do it anyway! Call it a confessional, call it crazy…hell, call it stupid if you will, but I’m doing it anyway because I can!
I think “Leave a Light On” is probably one of the weakest Duran Duran tracks I know, carelessly thrown onto on one of their strongest albums. Now, before you start throwing tomatoes (I see you out there. Put the tomato down and back up slowly), let me make my case.
Spoiler alert: it’s the music. Not the vocals, and not the lyrics. Simon brings his end of the bargain…but what about the rest of the band?
There aren’t a lot of songs in the DD catalog that force me to quell an urge to cringe upon hearing the first note. No, not even Hungry Like the Wolf does it to me (although the eye-roll is automatic) This song though, is pretty damn cringe-y. (is it with an e? Without? I can never decide since it really isn’t a word….)
It’s that keyboard that has the somewhat ominous sound of a cheap Casio model. Now, I know that Nick is about as likely to employ the use of a Casio keyboard as I am to get remarried in a pink suit surrounded by flamingos…but I can’t help what I hear. (so that means it’s not totally out of the realm of possibilities, but the overall chances? Not good)
Once upon a time, I wanted to be Nick. I bought a couple (ok, a few) Casio keyboards. Turns out, it wasn’t the keyboard that was the problem. Oh well, back to clarinet I go…. Anyway, while I’m definitely no expert, and Nick should have not one single concern about losing his place in the band, I can replicate the beginnings of Leave a Light On pretty easily. Sadly, I can’t decide if that’s a win or a lose.
Moving on to the other perpetuators of this sonic disappointment…. The beat is so slow. So, so, SO very slow. I know it’s meant to be a ballad, but the tempo drags like I do after a Last Night in the City with Amanda. After that initial cringe, I feel like I’m in need of finding a couch to nap on nearly every time I hear it. I have to ask – where in the heck is the bass? What about the guitar? It’s hardly in there! I know, I know – Dom is even listed as songwriter. That alone makes my confession blasphemous. Alas…
There’s no bottom to the sound, so the keyboards sound completely unsupported and out on their own. The sound is thin and I dare say, cheap. To my ears, it is a song that is in the process of being written on a keyboard in hopes of having other instruments join in later. Maybe that’s the point, and it’s meant to sound impromptu. That Casio keyboard. My ears!!
Sure, Simon sounds great. When his voice comes in, I can feel my body relax. His voice pours over the melody like honey. The lyrics are solid and heartfelt. I like the meaning I’ve applied to them, because the song kind of reads like a love song to the fan community…at least in MY head. His voice softens the entire song, particularly that whiny, tinny keyboard line, and I almost start to think I might come around to liking the song after all…and then it’s it’s the last verse, and I can hear Simon’s voice start to strain a bit, and then it’s decided. Nope. Hard pass.
For the longest time, I pretended this song wasn’t on the album. It totally ignored it’s existence in the same way I ignore Nite Runner. People would ask about All You Need is Now, and I’d dutifully nod and say I liked every song, never even casting more than a nervous glance in the general direction of Leave a Light On.
I can’t help it!!
This tune. I just can’t. Now, I understand what kind of social suicide I’m attempting by even daring to mention that a song off of this, or any Duran Duran album, might be weaker than most. Particularly on an album like All You Need is Now, where nearly all of the songs tick the right boxes for me, it is hard not to see and hear this song as the sore thumb. I’ve lived in secrecy long enough! Come at me, world.