Chapter 56: Dead Day Ahead
Do you think that John needed to include a whole chapter devoted to one night of “madness”?
A – When I first read the book, I couldn’t really understand why he went into such depth to one night in 1985, especially since it seemed like he skimmed over the late 80s. Why include this? What purpose did it serve? Clearly, it was a night that really stood out for John. The storm, the using, and even the phone call to his priest showed the internal battle that was being fought. John was looking for something, some answer and didn’t find it, not that night, at least. Nonetheless, I think the chapter really showed this battle and needed to be included for that reason.
R – I really kind of think that for John, this might have signified the beginning of his rock bottom – which in his case took a long while to settle in – and that was the point of including the evening in such detail. There was definitely some sort of inner battle going on in John, no question there. I like the detail he included regarding the storm – it was just the right imagery.
Chapter 57: In the Dark
After meeting with Roger to see if he planned to return to the band, John stated that he didn’t have time to react emotionally as he was just in survival mode. Do you think that was an accurate way to describe him and the band in 1986?
A – It seems to me that this chapter really connects to the previous chapter. In the previous one, John was focused on finding some answer to his life. In this chapter, John focused on getting the band back as the answer. I, selfishly, am grateful that he did zero in on that goal. Nonetheless, I think the “survival mode” statement is an accurate one. The band and John seemed to be fighting to stay alive. It was interesting to me that John was the one to go see both Roger and Andy to get them back in the fold. I have to wonder if Nick or Simon would have been better. Although, both Roger and Andy seemed determined to walk away so it probably didn’t matter who went to talk to them.
R – Tough part of the book for me to read, to be honest. In some ways, I think that John believed that if he could just keep the band together, he’d be OK. By this point, it seemed as though John’s entire identity was caught up in Duran Duran, and to be fair – I can certainly understand why. John became an adult while he was in the band, he became John Taylor while being in the band. Separating the two personas was probably impossible. So for John, saving the band was likely very similar to saving himself. The trouble of course was that he was missing 3/4 of the problem.
What was your reaction to Warren’s introduction by calling and saying, “Tell them it’s their new guitar player?”
A – I know that this question opens a can of worms, but I had to acknowledge his entrance. When I read this, I had two thoughts pop into my mind. First, I’m sure that this level of “confidence” probably does work to get you where you want to be. Second, it always feels very arrogant to me, which is why I would never use a line like that. Yes, it means that I don’t tend to get very far in life. Anyway, it just feels pushy to me, especially since Duran wasn’t really sure what was happening with Andy. It seems to me that having band members leave is tough, emotionally, and there is some grieving that needs to take place. When someone takes that place so quickly, I wonder how much of it is a genuine fit or how much of it is an emotional need to have that void filled.
R – *sigh* Arrogant much? Yes. Big shock right? The one thing that I *will* say shocked me was that Andy had also broken up Warren’s band. I didn’t realize that. As for the rest – I’m not even going there. Everything I ever needed to know about Warren is right there in that one sentence.
Chapter 58: Notorious
Did you feel like music changed from the early 80s to the late 80s, the way that John described?
A – I do. As a kid, I noticed that there was a shift in music and culture, but I never really knew if that was due to my personal circumstance or because that was really how it was. I moved from the Chicago suburbs in 1985 to a small town. The world felt very different to me on a number of levels. Yet, it did seem to me that the bands and artists who were super popular in the early 80s weren’t in the late 80s. John talked about how pop became political and that sobriety became more common. That would make a difference.
R – There was a HUGE change in music from the early to late 80’s. At the time I don’t think I recognized it – but looking back, I can see it with extreme clarity. Even my tastes changed, as I went from being a middle-schooler to graduating from high school in this period of time. By the time I graduated high school, I was much more into rock, much less so pop.
Chapter 59: Surfing Apoplectic:
What was your take on John’s meeting of the Italian actress, Sandra Milo?
A – To me, stories like this showed John’s ability to pick out important moments of his life but also his ability to convey them to his readers. Clearly, this was a very brief meeting that could have meant nothing to him. Yet, he got the message she gave him, intentionally or otherwise, which was that he can’t get stuck in his past career highlights. I think John probably really needed to get that message in 1987 when the band started to decline from the insane early 80s hysteria. He needed to learn, to remember to keep moving forward. It may not be like what it was but it can still be good, be valuable.
R – I agree Amanda, John is very good at being able to wade through all of the experiences he had and picking out the small moments that meant everything, and then conveying that to the readers. I have no idea who Sandra Milo even is, but it’s obvious that the message she gave to John was significant and has stuck with him all this time.
Chapter 60: Chasing the Wave
Did you realize what the chapter referred to as soon as you read it?
A – I found this chapter fascinating considering what he had learned from the previous chapter about not living in the past with career success. Yes, the chapter title did seem to be a clear one with fame and commercial success being the wave and the fact that the band was trying to get that wave throughout the late 80s and early 90s.
R – Chasing the wave…chasing the concert high…it’s what we all do. I think the mistake is getting caught up in that chase to the point where you don’t enjoy what’s really going on around you. We all make THAT mistake, too.
John discussed a couple of theories he had that would make Duran the success again that they once were. Did any of these theories surprise you?
A – It seemed to me that John really thought that they needed to go back and replicate what they had in the past. Thus, two things needed to happen. One, they needed to become a five piece again so that their live performance wouldn’t need the help of others and so that their writing process could return to what it once was. Two, John needed to be single and available. I wasn’t really surprised by the first theory of returning to a 5 piece band. I think we all sort of feel like that it Duran as it should be, even now (*coughDomBrowncough*). I understand that one, especially when it comes to writing and jamming. It seems to me that the best Duran is when all instruments are present and accounted for. That’s very difficult to do if there aren’t players in the studio to push for that. The second theory about John needing to be single is one that I don’t understand. Yes, of course, Duran had a lot of teenage followers and a lot of those followers thought the various members were cute. There were a lot of fantasies about becoming Mrs. Rhodes, Mrs. LeBon or Mrs. Taylor. Yet, did the fans drop off when Andy got married? Nick? Roger? Simon? I don’t think so. So why would John be any different? Yes, I realize that he was the “most popular” but still…it wasn’t like he had that many more fans. I am sure that John thought and felt this way and I’m glad that he was brave enough to include it.
R – I think it’s slightly bizarre that John really spent time trying to figure out what the formula for success really was back then…in the same respect that I am amused when FANS do it today. We just can’t replicate the past, can we?
I do understand what John meant by needing to stay single though. I very clearly remember my group of Duranie friends getting more and more turned off by Duran with each member getting married. Sure, they were a pop band, but they had a very teenage audience – and girls are funny at that age. They are fickle (Still kind of are, but that’s another observation for another blog post.) and as the boys got married, girls lost interest. Of course, one could argue that these girls were never really fans in the way the fans are today, and I would probably agree, but the fact is that all of those girls still equaled something in sales and interest, and for the band, sure – that was golden, and so John probably did feel some pressure to stay single. I don’t know if it really made a difference, but I know what bands like One Direction and even Jonas Brothers…amongst many others… are/were told by their PR people even today. Stay single. The younger female fans won’t tolerate anything else.
It seems to me that John is just feeling lost during the late 80s. He seems to be looking for something and isn’t able to find it anywhere. He focuses on the band as a means to have a focus but that isn’t met with the success he wants. At the same time, he pushes away commitment with Renee. He even ends Chapter 60 with talking about how depressed he was and how he thought that there was too much “wrong” with him.
Next week, we will cover chapters 61-64, which is right before John enters rehab. Before we get there, though, please join in with your thoughts about these questions or with discussion questions of your own!
-A & R