Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Overall)

It is hard to believe that this series of discussions surrounding John Taylor’s autobiography is coming to an end.  When we started discussing the book back in October, I had no idea about how long it would take, what parts we would discuss and more.  I just knew that I couldn’t wait to hear what people had to say and to really focus on Mr. Taylor and his life.  Let me just say that I haven’t been disappointed by what came out of the book or our discussions.  I wished that more people would have jumped in to discuss but I’m thrilled by those comments and the people who made them.  I figured it might be good to do one more post to wrap up the book completely with some big discussion questions and to give our overall rating.

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.  

-A 

7 thoughts on “Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Overall)”

  1. Arrggg! Hate to see this book closing…have enjoyed your discussions thoroughly and I for one will be reading this book over and over again. I've got two reads in thus far and I feel I am still discovering new information. Enjoying the journey!

    @Chickrat

  2. I personally can't comment on John's book yet as I haven't read it. I did get and read Andy's book a few years back and enjoyed it and for me felt it told the story without being overly critical on his old band members at all. I felt he gave a reasonably well-balanced and respectful account of what apparently happened and considering the animosity that some in the band directed towards him at the time, especially John, that he didn't try to burn all the bridges in return.

    When I do get to John's book I think I'll appreciate learning more about him but it sounds like my questions that I'd like to hear his side and thoughts on remain unanswered.

    Looking past the Fab 5, I've come to enjoy and appreciate the band's work with Dom Brown and Mark Ronson (thanks to my fellow D2 fan for getting me the Best Buy version of All You Need is Now 2+ years ago… I now have created my own favourite version) but still look forward to hearing the last work of John, Simon, Nick and Roger with Andy on Reportage.

    Richard

  3. You should definitely read John's! While he may not share a lot on the “differences” with Andy, we learn so much more, not only about him but even about the business!

    As for Andy's, I had the same feeling you did the first time I read it. When I reread it for the blogs we did in the fall and with some distance, I noticed many points when he didn't need to say or share something but he did and they weren't always so positive.

    -A

  4. Hi Richard – what was the animosity John directed at Andy? I recall the band expressing frustrating at Andy not making himself contactable (ie not answering the phone or emails), but not sure about animosity. What happened?

  5. 1) Many fans wanted to compare John's book to Andy's. Thoughts about that.
    The aim for those fans was to figure out if John “insulted” Andy, as a consequence of their second painful divorce in 2006 and as John usually does on some media.
    I was glad he read “sweeter” than I expected and I was glad the above fans were disappointed.
    Stylistically and comparing the content, the two books are different: Andy read more thoughtful, but his DD venture is shorter than John's one.

    2) What themes could you pick out from JT's book?
    I'd pick up “ambition” and “tenancy”: the memoir could be an amazing essay on psychology in particular on those two themes. I was impressed on these two recurring aspects in all of the DD-JT venture, so far.

    3) What did you think of the book overall?
    At first I thought this book arrived too soon! He's still making amazing music and the memoir releases are made when the artists' career is at the end: maybe John thought like: “You know, the first phase of mine is finished, I think I had enough material to tell….” I think it does cover the main facts of his life and in DD, but since it deals with such enourmously popular people as he has been and although I read it many times and I do trust on him, I sometimes think if he was pushed to tell all of the truth.

  6. Hi Anonymous,

    This is going way back to the Duran Forum days but I recall various quotes specifically by John that were being posted in certain threads and he was making some very pointed and critical statements directly about Andy, some that I though bordered on spiteful and reflected badly on John. Unfortunately that forum is long gone and I don't have any of those posts, or maybe that is fortunate as it's not something I personally wish to revisit.

    In the end when I weighed what Andy had to say about what happened it seemed to me that the band, whether it be the other 4 guys or management, allowed a bad situation to become much worse. And, if it's true they didn't look after his VISA paperwork allowing him to officially work in the U.S. to expire then to say he wasn't showing up is the reason why he was dropped by the band seems like they orchestrated how things went.

    That's not to say that Andy didn't have his role in all this but I didn't get the impression that the other 4 were as understanding towards Andy about the things he was going through as they were towards each other.

    In the end it doesn't matter who is to blame, I'm very glad there was a reunion, that they had a chance to rekindle the flame and record a gem or two and only wish I could hear Reportage and find out if it is indeed a “lost” masterpiece.

    My gut feeling tells me I'm going to like what I hear when it does finally see the light of day ;))

    In the meantime, I like what the band has been doing with Dom Brown so its all good with Duran which is really saying something about the staying power of this band and why I've been a fan for over 30 years now.

    Richard

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