Many fans wanted to compare John’s book to Andy’s. Thoughts about that?
A – I think it is inevitable for fans to compare the two books. After all, they are both autobiographies from members of Duran Duran. Yet, to me, they are two very different books. First of all, the timing of them couldn’t be more different. Andy wrote his pretty soon after he left the band whereas John wrote his in the middle of a Duran project. This fact of timing, I’m sure, played a role in what was written and how it was written. For example, John seemed very careful to be respectful of all people in his book and only shared what was pertinent to his story. Andy, on the other hand, seemed, at times, to take some jabs at people when it wasn’t necessary or added information that didn’t fit. Second, the book titles show the differences in perspectives. Andy’s book is Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran. John’s is In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran. Andy’s book is mostly about his time in Duran, his experiences in the band. On the other hand, Duran is just a PART of John’s story. Duran isn’t the focus. I’m sure that this may disappoint some readers. I, on the other hand, appreciated it. John is more than just the bass player for Duran Duran. Likewise, I would have been happy if Andy’s had a broader scope as well. After all, he, too, is more than the former guitarist.
R – I don’t really know that I could have fairly compared the books other than what you’ve done right here, Amanda. I’ve seen people call Andy’s book anything and everything from “complete negativity and lies” to “the honest truth no current member of Duran Duran would ever admit”…so there you have it. I’m not going to be a party to picking out the truths, half-truths or subtle innuendos that may or may not exist in either book, because each is THEIR story. Who am I to decide what is right or fair? I’m glad both were written and I’m sure that for each of them – it is their truth. One thing I will say: you can definitely hear the voices and personalities of each man in their books, which I think is something for which they should be commended. So many autobiographies sound robot generated and unemotional at times, and that’s not something I would dare say about either book. I enjoyed both for completely different reasons, and I would expect that to be the case in any book by any band member.
What themes could you pick out from John’s book?
A – It seems to me that there are a few themes in this book. First, and I think John makes this very clear, if you were in his shoes, you might have made the same decisions that he did. John faced some pretty unique life circumstances and made some good choices and some not good decisions. The same can be said for ALL of us. Yet, most of us did not experience the fame that he did. Under those circumstances, our decisions might have been exactly like his. Thus, we cannot and shouldn’t judge him. Period. A second theme is connected to the first one. John clearly learned to accept himself and others. Life is short. No one is perfect and that really is okay. Lastly, there is theme connected to the “pleasure groove”. For some time, the pleasure groove might have meant sex and drugs. Now, as it was back in the early years of his life, John’s pleasure groove definitely has to do with music. He truly does love music and his entire life has been surrounded with it.
R – Themes that I see played out throughout the book is that of love for his parents, learning to be Nigel, learning to deal with John, and learning to love – whether that is learning to love his band, himself, or his family. While I did take note of the theme you mentioned, Amanda – the notion that had we been in his shoes we might have done the same – I don’t know that it was all that powerful for me personally. I think it’s part of the literary experience to read and feel emotion, and those emotions go into judgment making. I just think it feels far too preachy to say one shouldn’t judge him for the very actions he writes about. John makes a clear point of presenting many situations that might be viewed as negative and he lays them out for all to see – I think he expects a certain amount of judgment at times, which is why his book reads so honestly.
How did John do in terms of pacing and what he included/did not include?
A – It seemed to me that John took a long time with his childhood and early Duran Duran. The more recent years were not as well-covered. Personally, I think that is how it should be. Maybe this is the historian coming out in me but there is not as much perspective with recent events and can’t be, for anyone. The full meaning of them and what is important and wasn’t isn’t is not well-known. Yet, there is much more understanding about events and times decades ago. Plus, those were the years and experiences that formed him as a person and as a rock star. In order to understand his life, those years were the ones we needed to know. Plus, from my stand point, the part that I loved the most was all of those chapters about John’s early life. I had no real idea about so much of what he wrote about there. Yet, a lot of the Duran stuff I felt like I knew and the recent stuff included a lot of what I have been a witness to, at least as a far removed fan. I know that there are some people who are frustrated that John didn’t include much about his solo days or about his acting career. Yet, I think it is fair for John to choose which events are important and which aren’t. I’m sure that there were some choices that he had to make. After all, the book was pretty long as is!
R – I learned the most about John’s childhood and about himself after rehab. The mid-section of the book was interesting from a fan perspective but I really learned about who John Taylor really IS from the beginning and the end of the book. I know most fans liked reading about his life in Duran and I’m not surprised.
What do you think of the book overall?
A – I knew that I needed to ask this question but I dreaded it, too. How can I summarize my thoughts about the book in just a paragraph or a few sentences? After all, there is so much that has been said and could be said. I think I’ll keep it short and simple. I loved the book. LOVED it. I loved gaining insight into John and his life. I particularly loved the first part that covered life before Duran. My respect for John increased from reading it. After all, he is a great writer and, obviously, took such care in writing it. Also, I think we can all respect what John has dealt with to become the person he is today. He was open and honest, even when it clearly wasn’t easy for him. I learned a lot about him but I felt like I learned some general life lessons about acceptance, about empathy, about being open. I thank him for that gift. My rating would definitely be a 5!
R – I enjoyed the book very much. I l learned a lot about John as a person – he’s so much more than the guy I’ve seen on page or in pictures. I also learned a lot about the band in general – there is a lot more going on behind the scenes, so many more gears in the machine that make it run, than I ever really considered as a fan. I have to thank John for being so incredibly open – I can’t imagine it was an easy book to write in that aspect, and he was brave to do so. I have great respect for John, even when I call the band (or him) out on the carpet here on the blog from time to time. I do feel that there are many more unspoken stories and tales he could have chosen to include, but I don’t believe the book is lacking for having not done so, if that makes sense. I know he’s mentioned writing again – I really hope that when the time is write, he’ll consider the opportunity, and not because I think we need to know about Duran Duran, but because I think that John has more to tell of his own journey – but only if/when the time is right and the opportunity is presented.
On that note, we close the book on John Taylor’s autobiography.