Title, Introduction and Brighton 29 July 1981:
What was your reaction to the very first picture of John Taylor being mobbed by fans? Was this the right picture to include right away? Do you think it is the most defining moment of his life? Most important?
I wasn’t surprised that a photo of John being surrounded by fans was included. After all, it is an image that pops up into most people’s minds when they think of John Taylor. That said, when I saw it, I hoped that the book dived deeper or beyond fame and fans as there is much more to John’s life.
Does John describe what a Duran Duran show is like? Was that description only valid at the height of their popularity?
I found his description to be fairly accurate, even now. While we all might not be saying “take me”, I think there is “an overwhelming force” of energy, at least from the hardcore fans when the show goes well and the band does their part.
What is your reaction to the line, “They have come to hear themselves. To be heard.”?
This line really stood out for me as someone who studies fandom. In many ways, I absolutely agree with this line. Fandom really is about the FANS and not about the idol(s). When fans get together, they are the ones who make the noise and can make more noise than, in this case, the band–both literally and figuratively. I also think that fans come together to be heard in the sense that they want to share the love of their idol(s) with each other. They/we want to be a part of something and that is a story, in itself.
Part 1: Analogue Youth
Chapter 1: Hey Jude:
What did you make of the title?
When I first read the chapter, I kept expecting John to make a reference to the Beatles. He didn’t. Yes, obviously, it is the name of his church but he didn’t just say the title of his church. He used the Beatles song.
Then, he explains how Jude is the patron saint of hopeless cases. I thought that was interesting and I wondered if he thought this fit with his life.
What influence do you think his physical environment had on him?
I took note that he lived in a basic house that shared a wall with another, what in America we would call a duplex. Then, he attended church in a very basic building. I wonder if this didn’t affect him by wanting some spice, something different, in terms of aesthetics, fashion, art, etc. Did he feel it necessary to creative because creativity seemed to be lacking in his physical environment? I think it is possible.
Chapter 2: Jack, Jean and Nigel:
What affect did John’s dad’s experience as a Prisoner-of-War during World War II and his method of dealing with it affect John?
Obviously, there are some experiences that are so meaningful and profound that they remain forever with someone and most war experiences fit that description. Being a POW is probably even more intense and even more profound. History often does live on in people’s lives. That said, as was the time, John’s dad didn’t talk about it, which definitely could have taught John that one does not/should not talk about upsetting situations. I wonder if we will see John withhold how he is feeling as his story progresses.
Did John’s childhood home seem familiar to you or very different?
I could totally relate to his parents’ story of courtship, marriage and home. My parents met and married a decade later than John’s in a different country. Yet, my childhood home was a small one in a suburb and my parents, too, had the working class life.
Chapter 3: Sounds for the Suburbs:
How did John’s mother’s focus on church and the radio affect John?
I took note that John’s mother did not make friends easily and that she sought her socializing at church. She also sought entertainment or company with the radio, including the Beatles. I think you can see how John could have learned that music done as a group could provide an escape from loneliness because it seemed to with his mother.
Chapter 4: The Catholic Cavent:
What was your reaction to John’s story about when he first got glasses?
When I hear stories such as his, I always wonder if any child who had an experience like his comes out without that bothering him/her. It reminded me about how important those early school experiences are and how much damage can be done even with the best of intentions.
What was your reaction to John description of the Catholic Church?
Obviously, religion is an intensely personal subject and one that is difficult to talk about in a way that remains respectful but it makes up much of this chapter and John’s early life. Clearly, John questioned what he was being taught and found the message of his church at that time to be scary. When I read this chapter, I immediately thought about my father who also attended the Catholic Church frequently as a child and who attended a Catholic elementary school. Like John, he also questioned the teachings.
Chapter 5: A Hollywood Education:
What did John really learn from his dad?
It seems to me that John learned that a number of things from his dad. In this chapter, we find out that John’s dad taught him not only about the world but also that there is a lot more to living than just the little bubble of Hollywood, church and school. Obviously, the idea of travel is a seed that is planted here. I loved how John’s dad used to quiz him on geography. My dad used to quiz me and my siblings at the dinner table about a variety of topics, but mostly state and local geography and other social sciences.
Chapter 6: In Between and Out of Sight:
John mentions how he wanted to avoid being first and avoid being last, how he wanted to hide in the middle. Do you see that play out in his life and role in Duran?
I think many people saw John at the forefront in Duran since he got so much attention from fans, from the media, etc. Yet, I don’t think that was his goal. I never heard him say that he wanted to be the frontman. That would have put him first. He didn’t become the drummer either so he couldn’t hide behind the drum kit. It seems to me that he did attempt to put himself in the middle in the band, even if that isn’t how it worked out.
Were you surprised by John’s military model making, especially in light of John’s dad’s experience in war?
I have to admit that I was. Yet, after hearing John describe this as a method to seek his father’s approval, I think I understand it more. He knew his dad was in the war and saw him as a hero. Thus, wouldn’t he approve of John idolizing other military men? A kid would probably think so. I think the interesting thing here is that it shows John’s intensity over whatever he did/does.
Any other final thoughts?
It seems to me that these first chapters provided pieces to the puzzle that is John Taylor. Obviously, he experienced love and safety within his home and family life. He learned that one can experience joy from traveling and knowing the world. Yet, he also learned that one shouldn’t talk about trauma and that an escape to loneliness is through joining a group and through music. Embarrassment and judgement seemed to be emotions that he truly wished to avoid so he began to seek out being lost in the middle. Intensity also seems to be rewarded. He saw his dad focus on cars and John, in turn, focused on military models. The next section seems to talk about how this intensity switched to music as he entered adolescence. Next week, we will read Chapters 7-11.