Call Up Your Numbers

Moments madness

I don’t know where the idea of “Galentines Day” came from, but it is definitely not happening here today. I woke up twenty minutes late, far too late to shower and get ready for the day like a normal human. Instead, I woke up groggy from a strange dream where I was at an amusement park, riding a roller coaster over and over again in search of something or someone I never found. It was 7am, and I should have been up at least twenty minutes earlier. What a way to wake up.

I stumbled into the bathroom, squinting because my head, neck and right ear hurt so bad. Apparently I slept in a bad position. I threw on clothes, went out in 35-degree weather without a jacket to feed the chickens (it was cold and woke me up a bit!), made a sack lunch for my youngest, put coffee on, and got her to school just in time. Came home, grabbed the dog and took him to his “spa day” at the groomers. You know, for Valentines Day, because he’s my dog and deserves the pampering.

Along the way, I started thinking. When was the last time I had my hair done at a place that didn’t just squirt it down with a spray bottle before chopping? As an aside, gotta love the experience in going to those places. I look at my hair one last time before getting out of the car and wonder, “Well, how bad could it possible get?” It’s like a game of Russian roulette. Sometimes I’m lucky, and other times, I grow out a very bad haircut for several months. Always an adventure!! But really, how long has it been since I had a real stylist? I think it’s probably been at least seven years, and likely more. Our bank account loves it – I pay about 1/10th of what I used to pay for a cut and color – but I secretly fantasize about just going and getting it done again. I miss having great hair. Oddly, my husband says he doesn’t even notice the difference. Awesome.

Sure to pass

Spa day?? What’s that?! Needless to say, I’m in a mood. It’s not really a bad mood…more like a “Who needs a good slap?” sort of mood.

Oh wait, you’re saying that IS bad? Hmm. I may need more coffee.

Once I was back home, I scanned social media. It didn’t take long to find fuel for blogging. After seeing a article from one of those teen mags titled Stars on 45’s – it gave me the creative inspiration I needed. John Taylor was the star, and he reviewed a collection of singles, including ones from Human League, Tina Turner, Echo and the Bunnymen, Nik Kershaw and Lionel Richie. To cut a long story short, John was less than impressed with anything he heard. Words like “disappointed”, “charmless”, “hated”, “faceless music” populated the article, to the point where I admittedly found myself chuckling.

He wasn’t a fan of Alison Moyet’s voice, hated Lionel Richie’s “Stuck on You” (I have to quote him, “I don’t know why people call us millionaires when Lionel Richie is around.”), and he very much didn’t like “What’s Love Got to Do with It” from Tina Turner.

Falling off the same mountain

Granted, I agreed with him on several of the singles, even today. But, I think even John might agree with me that the article makes him sound like a complete egomaniac. Clearly John was on the side of “Nothing is going to ever sound as good as the music we create. Why can’t these people up their game a bit?” To be fair, Duran Duran was at the very top, the apex, the Mt. Everest of their career at that point. They were so in the middle of it all that there was no way for John to know that in just a couple of short years, he’d be looking UP at the top of that mountain. Hindsight, you know. It’s 20/20.

So while I feel like I can poke the bear just a little bit here (it’s all in good fun),I also read the article knowing exactly what was about to happen. I know that John was young, and at that time – the ego was probably on full display for all to endure! Can you imagine, even for one minute, what it must have been like for Simon, John and Nick in 1986? They went from being the biggest band in the world (yes, I said *the* biggest), to arguably at least struggling to keep a grip on the mountain trail back up to the crest! They might not have lost their way completely, but they had definitely begun the extended slow slide downward.

In 1984 when this article was written, John was about 24. That’s only a year older than my youngest, which is fairly mind-blowing. He grew up rapidly from the time that Duran Duran first solidified itself with Simon at the helm to that point. I’m not entirely sure John really knew who he was as an adult at that point. I mean, he went from teenager to teen idol with the turn of a page. He never had an opportunity to really know himself without a legion of screaming, adoring fans following him. He went from that one year, to less-than-full audiences in small theaters over the course of what – maybe five or six years? Perhaps even fewer?

Never let the zeros get you down

How does the ego manage all of that? Never mind the drugs and alcohol – although let’s be honest, we all know how much that played part. Even without it, for the most well-adjusted amongst us, can you imagine having to deal with it? When you’ve pegged your own “self” to what you have created…or when the band you are in becomes bigger than YOU are, what do you have left when the audiences inevitably fade? Sure, we can all take the encouraging high road and say it doesn’t matter. The thing is though, when you’re young and still very much learning and developing (they say the frontal lobe doesn’t finish maturing until the late twenties!), it does matter.

Listen, I have issues just seeing the natural wave of audience interest and traffic on our site during the years when Duran Duran is actively touring, versus when they are quietly recording. I have learned not to look. It doesn’t matter. (Secretly though, I wonder what it would be like to blog if they truly had a bonafide hit album.) For a time, l worried about the numbers. It definitely did not help my writing. Not one single, solitary, bit.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, think about social media today and it’s effect on youth. All of those “likes”….. they matter. As adults, many of us couldn’t care less about how many people follow or unfollow (I for one can’t honestly say how many followers I gain or lose on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t even know how many the blog has, and I don’t care. Haven’t looked in years!), but kids care a lot. There’s a problem when we start assigning quantitive value to a person based on “likes”, but really – isn’t that the same thing that is done to a band or artist? Sure, perhaps the mode is different. We count albums sold or radio plays, or streaming numbers, which translates into dollars, but the emotion is likely the same.

Nothing really gets that high

A band looks out into the audience and can see how many people are there. I mean, they can’t really count them, but they can tell whether a venue is full or mostly empty. They can hear the cheering and the applause. To go from a club, to Madison Square Garden or Wembley and then back again, all before the age thirty. Well, that’s a trip.

I said today that an experience like that most assuredly needs therapy, and I don’t mean in the form of white powder or alcohol. At 24, I was about to be married. I was young, immature, and stupid – so much so, that I didn’t even know it. My self-worth was meaninglessly attached to things like my boyfriend giving me a ring, the clothes I wore, or the apartment I lived in. I had no idea of who I was, what I wanted to do with my life, or how much I needed to grow. I would have been a total disaster if I’d attached my ego to my popularity or wealth. It couldn’t have been much different for Duran Duran.

-R

PS. Happy Valentines Day!! You’re very appreciated and loved!! We adore all of you who take the time to read, and we hope every single one of you has a wonderful day!

3 thoughts on “Call Up Your Numbers”

  1. I can relate to what they went through because when things are going extremely well as it was for them, you (you in general of course) get an attitude thinking you are the greatest ever and if it falls, things change. I state that because while I wasn’t in a popular band I had a job where I was up there in my career. I worked hard and got many breaks. I just thought I was better than others because I had a fascinating job that paid well and things were going well. Then I was downsized and fell hard and now the jobs I have are nowhere near where they are and I realized I wasn’t as great as I thought. It is a eye opening experience to say the least. This is why I can understand what they went through because to fall that far really does a number to one’s ego. I do wonder whether the group even realizes they will never reach that high again and that it’s okay. I fear they don’t with them trying to pander to a group of people who will never like them. I remember when Notorious came out and while it’s a great album they by then didn’t get the buzz they did from Arena or Seven and the Ragged Tiger.

    1. Thanks for your insight. I think just about anyone runs into that sort of danger with their ego. You don’t even have to be doing that great, but just having a job and then being laid off can be enough to really toy with your confidence. I say that from experiencing the roller coaster my husband has gone through over the years. It’s not easy.

      You pose an interesting question about whether or not the band thinks about reaching the top again. On one hand, I think it would be dangerous for them to even think about it. Maybe it stifles the creativity, or it sets unreasonable expectations…or it changes the way they create. On the other, I have to admit that albums like Red Carpet Massacre lead me to believe that even if they themselves don’t think about anything other than putting out quality music, the labels they are signed to might. Then again, it could have easily been the band wanting to write to what was popular. I don’t think anything good comes from that, though.

      I really don’t know how the band feels about it all now, although I would imagine that they spend most of their time just being thankful for the career(s) they’ve had. I’d like to believe that they don’t care so much about being on the top of the charts or selling out arenas, but I suppose the economics of it all probably insists otherwise. -R

      1. I hope they are appreciative of the fact they still have a job when so many of their peers don’t really. I do think RCM was a ploy to get accepted from younger people and that idea failed miserably. I remember when they posted on DD.com a list of radio stations to contact and most were top 40 ones. Maybe that was the fault of their management who didn’t realize top 40 in the USA isn’t like it used to be, but I am inclined to believe it was them or management who believed they would fit in with acts like Rihanna and Beyonce on top 40 radio. Just a guess though only they know.

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