Category Archives: Astronaut

My Astronaut Story

Last month, I began a little blog series in which I took a look at the albums Duran Duran released during the month of October.  After giving facts and statistics about those albums, I then shared about my relationship with those albums.  I discussed Big Thing and Medazzaland.  Today, I turn to the last of the October albums, Astronaut.  I revealed the stats surrounding the album here and now I offer a little bit about myself and this album.

Astronaut represented the Fab Five’s reunion, the return of the five original members.  It represented my return as well.  In the early 2000s, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to Duran Duran at all.  I spent my time working, as a young teacher often does.  I remember sitting at my then dining room table on many Saturdays and Sundays creating curriculum.  If that wasn’t enough, I attended graduate school then as well.  I needed to add some teaching certificates in order to continue teaching students with special education needs.  On top of that, I figured that a master’s degree wouldn’t hurt.  Those two activities kept me plenty busy.

Despite (or maybe because) of my schedule, my social life lacked activity.  The city I lived in was new to me and making friends isn’t something I do easily.  Luckily, I had one lifeline, the internet.  Around the time of the reunion, I joined a fandom, but it wasn’t Duran.  It surrounded a little sci-fi teen drama called Roswell.  Looking back, I smile at the focus of my fandom.  It wasn’t super serious but there was something at the heart of the show that I related to.  Perhaps, it was the focus on people who felt alienated despite appearing like everyone else.  I have felt that way my entire life.  The combination between having internet access and admiring a TV show led me to message boards.  These message boards then provided the means with which to meet some people.  These people are, for the most part, still friends of mine (no pun intended).

As the Roswell fandom died down, I discovered that one of my Roswell associates was a Duran fan as a kid just like me.  That’s all it took.  It felt like someone lit a match over gasoline.  The fire caught instantly and grew quickly as we began sharing pictures, memories, and memorabilia with each other.  This led to searching the internet for the current status of Duran Duran.  Luckily, for me, grad school just ended and I found myself with more time and more money.  I spent my time reading every piece of Duran news I could find and my money buying albums I didn’t have.

Of course, part of what fed this fire was the idea that the original five reunited.  To say that I was excited would be an understatement.  I distinctly remember the first time I heard the song, Sunrise.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as goosebumps appeared on my arms.  It was beautiful and it was Duran.  For me, as someone who had been working her butt off for years, I felt like this reunion was my reward.  It felt like the world was adjusting itself back into proper alignment after being off kilter for decades.  For me, the end of the Fab Five coincided with a hard move.  After hearing Sunrise, I felt like the wrong of my move as a kid was made right.

Needless to say, I dove back into the fandom.  Unlike my childhood fandom which centered around watching MTV and buying magazines, now it was all about being online and chatting with fellow Duranies.  In early 2004, before the album came out, I joined and lurked at many Duran message boards, looking for a similar home to the one I had found with the Roswell fandom.  Duran’s official website had one, but it didn’t work for me.  I hated the chaos of how it looked and found it hard to follow.  More than that, it felt unfriendly to people like me, people who had stepped away from the fandom.  The official fan community appeared friendlier in terms of board format but also seemed to be tough to break into.  Finally, I found myself at DuranDuranFans.com.

This tiny message board looked great!  The group there was small but clearly liked each other.  While I wasn’t certain that I could break in there, either, I thought I had a better shot with a smaller group.  On top of that, the board had information regarding a little convention in New Orleans that was to take place in the fall.  I needed something to break me out of my boring, yet somewhat unfulfilling all work and no play existence.  Attending something like this, out of state, pushed me out of my comfort zone but also to a place of growth.

The convention took place a few weeks before the album dropped.  Yet, many in attendance possessed a copy already.  I took advantage by listening to the album there for the first time.  I loved what I heard.  Looking back and recognizing that this renewed fandom was so adolescent, so teenage crush like that I would have loved the album, no matter what.  I loved that the band was back together, which meant that the music had to be great.  Now, I still enjoy the album quite a bit but recognize some elements that could have been better.  That said, it represents the beginning of the second and more significant chapter in my fandom story.  It always will bring back positive memories.

In looking back on the three albums that Duran Duran has released in the month of October, I’m surprised at how well my fandom story lines up with Duran Duran’s history.  Big Thing represented a period of transition for the band and the same was true in my own life.  Likewise, Medazzaland represented a time in which the remaining members of the band were trying to hold on to their career.  The same might be said for my fandom at the time.  Lastly, Astronaut represented the return of the band from the 80s and my fandom followed right along side.  It will be interesting to see if the same thing will be true when I examine the albums released in November in future blogs.

-A

Astronaut Facts and Stats

Astronaut Facts:
Released on October 11, 2004
Produced by Dallas Austin, Don Gilmore, Nile Rodgers, Mark Tinley and Duran Duran
Had 12  tracks except for in Japan which had 13

3 different songs were released as singles:

  1. “(Reach Up For The) Sunrise” (Australia 20 September 2004, UK 4 October 2004) – Charted No. 5 in the UK on 10 October 2004; Charted No. 89 in the US on 13 November 2004
  2. “What Happens Tomorrow” (31 January 2005) – Charted No. 11 in the UK on 6 February 2005
  3. “Nice” (European radio release, iTunes download)

Personnel:
The band at that time was made up of John, Nick, Roger, Andy and Simon.  With backing vocals by Sally Boyden and Tessa Niles.

Videos:

Two videos were made from this album:

(Reach Up for the) Sunrise

What Happens Tomorrow

Electronic Press Kit (EPK:

The Tour:

The tour begin in January of 2005, despite having played a few gigs at the end of 2004.  The band played a show in UK before moving to North America for the spring.  The summer saw shows in Europe, the U.S., and Japan.  The band returned to the UK around Christmas.  Then in 2006, the band played in different cities in Europe before a doing a mini-tour of the U.S.

This album represents a significant time in Duran’s history.  The reunion that many of us longed for and never thought we would see come to fruition.  A lot of fans, including myself, jumped back in.  It began the second half and most significant part of my fandom.  I toured for the first time, really, and saw many shows.  I also made many friends.  It was a fun time!  My whole story will come next week.  Until then, I would love to read your stories surrounding this album!

-A

Wristbands and Mother/Daughter Moments

It was twelve years ago today….or rather…last night…that I stood in a very long line with my oldest daughter, who was seven at the time. We were waiting to purchase our copies of Astronaut, and hoping to get wristbands for a meet and greet a few days later.

If I remember correctly, I had taken my daughter out of school early in order to drive up to Hollywood and wait in the line. I remember the entire process being a pain because Heather was on a competition dance team at the time, and it was all cutting into her dance classes. I had no fear of taking her out of school, but dance class? Oh my.

By the time we had gotten to Hollywood, the line was incredibly long.  We had several hours to wait because the album didn’t go on sale until midnight. I wasn’t sure we’d even get a copy, much less wristbands. As we stood in line talking with a new friend, trying to convince ourselves that we would not come away empty-handed, I silently reminded myself that it didn’t matter if I ever met the band, and that the important thing was that I was there with Heather, sharing a very important, yet pretty secret (at the time) part of myself with her.

Given her age at the time, I know she got bored and tired as we stood there, but she also learned a lot about her mom. I could see her widen her eyes with wonder as people would talk about their experiences seeing the band, and she would watch how I would react when people would talk about meeting band members. She listened carefully when I would reminisce over my memories from junior high school, or my first concert. I think she could see just how much the band meant to me—and that wasn’t something I’d ever really talked much about at home.

I’d just gotten home about a week or so earlier from my first convention in New Orleans. Duran Duran was a fairly new subject in our house—prior to the convention planning, I really didn’t bring them up often. I was a mom, busy with kids and activities. My outside interests didn’t really come up much. For my kids, and even Walt to a certain extent, the convention was the start of it all, and even then, they had no idea.

(some might say they still don’t!)

Every single year that passes, I take the time to remember that night, and naturally the one that followed later in the week.  It was the first time I’d ever driven up to Hollywood just to buy an album. I felt like such a bad parent for being bold enough to sign Heather out of school a little early (I’m a rules follower!), but something in me just clicked. I wanted her there with me.  I wanted to show her that being a fan, even as a mom, was still OK.

As the line finally started to snake in and out of the aisles of Virgin Records Megastore (unfortunately it too is gone now), Heather got excited. The store had the album playing, there were videos (I think it was Sunrise) playing on the monitors, and the atmosphere was as celebratory as possible. After all, this was the first album from the Fab Five in twenty-five years! With every step closer to the cash register, I could feel my excitement growing ten fold. I got to the point where I could hardly stand still, because I knew that I was going to get Astronaut on vinyl, and wristbands were going to be in the bag with it!

Heather and I came away victorious that night, but not just because of the music or the wristbands. It was the first time that I can remember where I felt like I could actually talk to her. That doesn’t mean we were best friends after that. She was seven and I was a parent, but something about that night gave her a little more insight into who I was as a person. Just in the same way that spending so much time with her training in dance has given me a lot of insight into who she has become as an adult. We’ve been close ever since, and she is still one of the first people I will talk to about my Duran Duran adventures. She reads the blog, follows us on Twitter and sees how others react.  I think it can be tough sometimes to parent and not have some regret over things that were said and done, or even things that weren’t said or done.  I have zero regrets for sharing that time with her.

It’s a good memory to reflect upon.

-R

 

Makes my hair stand up on end

Happy Monday, everyone. I’ve been spending my morning trying to catch myself up with the world. I left with my daughter Heather very early Thursday morning to fly to Ohio for her very first college dance audition. The next two days were filled with seminars, meetings, classes, auditions, interviews, tours and talking to parents. There were several moments over the weekend when I would look over at Heather and just marvel at where we are in life. Parents, like myself, just don’t realize how quickly it all goes – one day you’re registering for elementary school and the next you’re talking to college administrators about dormitories. It is crazy! Time really does fly. Ten years ago, I don’t think I really believed this moment would arrive. I was busy thinking about album signings and getting to see the band play. College felt incredibly far off and not something I really needed to think about.

At some point over the weekend, likely Saturday as I waited at the airport, I saw that Roger had posted his thoughts about the anniversary of Astronaut. Ten years. I took pause when I read the words because these ten years went by in the blink of an eye. Ten years ago, I had my then seven-year old waiting with me to meet the band. She and I shared a very special moment because she saw a side of me  that until then, I kept very hidden. She saw me live out a dream – meeting the band at the LA Virgin Megastore signing. My kids knew I liked Duran Duran, but until then, I hadn’t really participated much in the whole fan community thing. It was that year that I went to the convention in New Orleans, and it was the following March that I traveled to see my first show. However, it was the two nights I spent waiting in line with Heather, first to buy the album and then later that week coming back to have our album and CD signed, that really bonded Heather and I in a way I couldn’t have expected. She started to understand that her mom was much, much more than just the lady who comforts, cleans, cooks and drives. I wasn’t JUST a mom, I was a person, with my own likes, dislikes, friends, wishes and dreams. Heather marveled at how much going to that signing meant to me (It mattered so much that I signed her out of school to go with me – and if you know me, you know that kind of thing NEVER happens.), and I think she was thrilled I shared that with her. She could see my excitement during those evenings, and although she still remembers Simon quizzing her about her favorite books and having Andy excitedly jump out of his chair to shake her hand (cutest thing ever), it is the time that we spent together that she remembers most.

This past weekend, she and I shared another pretty monumental moment. I saw my daughter not as this incredibly disorganized, chronically LATE but beautifully talented child, but as a young woman, getting ready to make her own way in this world. She’s standing at her own fork in the road here, trying to figure out which way to go. The comforts of home beckon her to stay – which would be the easiest, but not necessarily the smartest; the unknown intimidating her even though I think down deep she realizes she still has plenty of growing to do. Just as Astronaut changed my life in many, many ways…college will change Heather’s. Standing here as “The Mommy” is much more difficult and heart-tugging than I thought. I found myself fighting back tears, both happy and sad, during the few moments of solitude I savored over the weekend.

Life changing moments happen without warning. I suspect that I will look back on #DD14 (when in the heck are they EVER going to name it?!?!!) and equate it to another pivotal moment –  high school graduation and college for my first born.

-R

 

 

If Notorious and Big Thing Could Talk…

by C.K. Shortell

Sometimes, I think Duran Duran albums talk to each other. Specifically, they talk to their predecessor. I remember the first time I listened to The Wedding Album and hearing the line “You rescued me from liberty” in Love Voodoo, and wondering if I was reading too much into the lyric to wonder if Simon wasn’t taking a shot at the last album.  Or the beginning of “Hold Me,” when he starts with “This time…” — somehow I got into my head that “Hold Me” was one of the first songs written for Notorious and that line/ad lib was basically Simon’s way of expressing the uncharted territory the band was in, now down to a trio.  Additionally… all the lyrics to “Still Breathing,” which I took as a declaration against the previous lineup of the band. I can’t prove any of this, it’s just in my head when I listen to these songs and albums.

This topic circles in my head for a few reasons. First, we are between albums. Speculation abounds about the sound of DD14. We know the band never does the same thing twice. We also know that, on AYNIN, they finally felt comfortable “reclaiming” some of that old ground/sound. So what will happen on the next album? In what way will it be a reaction to what they did on AYNIN?

Additionally, Notorious, the album, has been in heavy circulation on my iPod for the last few months. I think there are a lot of parallels between Notorious and All You Need Is Now. Both feature very strong title tracks that will likely be a staple of the band’s live set as long as they continue to tour (I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that the song AYNIN will continue to be featured, but you never know).   Both were heavily anticipated after a pause in the band’s career in which it was uncertain what direction they would take. Both were heavily influenced/co-written by the album’s producer, and both featured a mix of guest musicians on other tracks (and in the case of Notorious, it remains the only Duran album that features the work of both Andy and Warren).

Why do I bring up these parallels? I am trying to draw conclusions about DD14, and I think we might gain insight by understanding the relationship between Notorious and its follow-up, Big Thing.

I’ve always viewed Notorious as being a very solid, “orderly” album, with perfect alignment between the A and B sides, the Hitchcock theme, and the neatly packaged video that tied back to the album artwork. Big Thing is the exact opposite. It’s noisy, disorganized, loud (at least the first half), moody (the second half) and unconventional. Notorious features a virtual all-star cast of guest musicians, including Nile Rodgers, Andy, Warren, and Steve Ferrone, not to mention the album cover featuring super model Christy Turlington. Big Thing boasts no such lineup—it is the truly the first (and ultimately only, as it would turn out) Taylor-Rhodes-LeBon collaboration, with Warren sprinkled in, albeit in a non-writing role.  On Notorious, the songs tend to follow the standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/outro format, which the exception of Winter Marches On. On Big Thing, it’s the exception when a song follows that format. Notorious is defined by its title track; the song Big Thing mocks itself and the music industry in general, and is probably one of the more forgettable songs on the record.

When John, Nick, and Simon hosted an hour-long countdown of their favorite Duran videos on MTV in 1988, they commented that on Notorious, they were very polite to each other and trying to figure out how to function as a band. Not so during the Big Thing sessions, where “we were all screaming at each other.” This is not surprising. The trio had weathered the uncertainty of the Notorious era; they had put out an album and toured and had success despite the loss of Andy and Roger (of course, they were no longer the biggest band in the world, but at least they knew there was still an audience for their music, albeit a smaller one than before).

So, with that out of the way, they pushed themselves creatively on Big Thing. What resulted was an album of disparate sides: the first consisting mostly of noisy, dance “house” music, and the second slower, moody ballads. Side one featured the hit single “I Don’t Want Your Love,” that is possibly the band’s most underrated and forgotten hit (and one of my personal favorites), and the follow-up single “All She Wants Is” which didn’t chart as well, but did see a lot of club play. The B-side is built around the lush anthem “Land,” one of the longer Duran songs in the catalogue that clocks in at just over six minutes. Preceding it are the haunting “Do You Believe in Shame?” and airy “Palomino.” I remember first listening to Big Thing and strongly disliking the second side, and then about a week later I had a strange tune stuck in my head…and it turned out to be “Palomino.”

Conversely, I did love “Edge of America” the minute I heard it, and still do to this day. And I always have considered “Edge of America” and “Lake Shore Driving” to be one song, even if they have different titles and are on separate tracks. It’s an unconventional way to end Big Thing but it works, as the Nick’s synths and Warren’s guitar bring the proceedings full circle to how the album started.

There are many other details about Big Thing that we could cover (the two different producers, the controversy over the mixes of “Drug” that highly annoyed John, etc.) but those can be left to another blog. The question is, how can Big Thing’s differences from Notorious inform us as to DD14’s differences from AYNIN?

For starters, I suspect that there will be more of a balance between ballads and dance songs on DD14. AYNIN was heavily skewed toward upbeat music (much like Notorious) with several well-placed slower songs to even out the album’s pacing. I think it’s natural for the band to be inclined to write some more moody material after an album as upbeat as AYNIN.

And speaking of the band…by all accounts, it’s just them, just like it was on Big Thing. Or at least it’s more of “just them” than the AYNIN sessions, which included Mark Ronson, Ana Matronic, Kelis, Owen Pallett, and Nick Hodgson, as well as newscaster Nina Hossain. There was a report that Ronson worked with them initially but every quote I’ve read since indicates that it’s just the five (Rhonda says four…because we certainly don’t hear much of Dom being there lately. Just saying..) of them in the studio.

Is this a good thing or not? I think time will tell. Duran has made some tremendous music when they close ranks and keep it “in house”—see Big Thing and The Wedding Album and Astronaut, at least as originally conceived. But therein lies my concern: Duran Duran also seems to make ill advised decisions when there is no outside producer to referee things. (I’m convinced that Ronson or even Timbaland—yes, Timbaland—or any of us, for that matter—would have told them to keep “Beautiful Colours” and “Salt in the Rainbow” on the Astronaut album.  As it was, they went through three producers on that one.)

Do you think I’m reading too much into the relationship between Notorious and Big Thing to infer anything from AYNIN and DD14? And are you worried about the apparent lack of an outside producer tied to this project?

438d2-ckshortellC.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, one of whom loves watching concert footage of the band.  When he’s not struggling to explain to a two year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.

 

In This Moment, Everything Is Born Again

The other day, the Duran universe acknowledged an anniversary.  An anniversary, in fact, that seems very fitting right now to what is happening with the two of us.  This, of course, was the 9th anniversary of the Astronaut album.  This feels very fitting to Rhonda and I because the last convention was right before Astronaut was released.  In fact, the convention literally took place a few weeks before.  Not sure how they could have gotten the timing better.  We aren’t as lucky this time as the release date for Duran Duran 14 is still unknown.  Nonetheless, seeing people posting about Astronaut brought me back to that time.

As you all know, this was the era of the reunion.  The energy and the excitement within the fan community was so high, so unbelievably high.  We couldn’t believe that our beloved band was back.  The Fab Five was back!  For many of us, who were fans back in the 80s, this was a dream come true.  I know that there were many of us who wanted to see them live when they were kids but couldn’t.  Maybe, the first time you saw the band was when it wasn’t John, Roger, Andy, Simon and Nick.  Maybe, the first concert saw just Nick, Simon and John or was John, Simon, Nick and Warren or even just Simon, Nick and Warren.  If that was you and you became a fan during the 1980s, then, probably, you were super excited to see the original band on stage.  It was a BIG deal for most of us!  Of course, the band seemed to sense this as all of the shows started with the band in the front of the stage with no lights on with a heartbeat that increased in speed.  Of course, the band was seen with all the cameras flashing.  It created such a level of intensity to start the shows.

The convention in 2004 just increased my excitement over the album.  I really couldn’t get enough of the band then.  I will never forget the day the album was released.  I didn’t have to work all day for some reason or had a teacher meeting or something.  Anyway, I had lunch with my friend, Sara, and my mom.  Before we went to lunch, though, we stopped at the nearby Best Buy to purchase my deluxe edition, the one that had both the cd and the dvd!  When we got to lunch, I couldn’t stop looking at it.  In fact, I had the cd insert sitting on the table with us while we ate!  Ridiculous but fun!  Then, of course, Duran seemed to be doing promotion everywhere and anywhere.  It seemed like a day wouldn’t go by without them on some sort of TV talk show, in some magazine, in a newspaper article, etc.  They were everywhere and I, for one, tried to collect it all!  Here’s a performance on Regis and Kelly from this very date in 2004:

The song, Sunrise, really did seem to capture the mood of the moment.  The music was between us and a new day entered our lives.  The lyrics weren’t that poetic or mysterious.  They weren’t deep but they sure felt meaningful and I wouldn’t have asked for anything else.  The rest of the album seemed to feature other fun pop songs like Nice and Astronaut and some ballads like Still Breathing.  Yet, despite any serious song, the album still had a sense of a carefree nature with Taste the Summer or the humor of Bedroom Toys.  Now, of course, we might look at those songs or that album differently than we did then.  I know that I wasn’t super objective about the quality of the songs, the lyrics, etc.  I was too dang excited to have the band back, my band back.  Of course, as we know, enthusiasm like that, at that level, couldn’t last forever.  It had to settle down and it did as we became used to the band being back and then we accepted the loss of Andy again in 2006.  Yet, I’m glad that we commemorate the release of the album to remind us about what it was like and what it felt like.

Those were good times, indeed.

-A

My Moment in the Sun: The Day I Met the Band

At some point recently, it occurred to me that I’ve never really blogged about the one and only time I met the band.  This was at the Los Angeles Virgin Megastore signing for Astronaut in October of 2004, and yes – it’s the only time I’ve ever really met them.

I had heard murmurs of a record store signing when I was at the Duran Duran Fan convention in New Orleans, but I knew the signing was in Los Angeles, and in the middle of the week. I told myself there was no way I was driving up there, that I had too much going on, and that was that. At some point over the weekend though, a story someone told me just clicked. That “someone” was my friend Machelle, and I don’t even know if she remembers telling me the story of when she first ran into John Taylor. (No really, I don’t honestly know if she remembers.  It was one of those weekends!) I really can’t even remember the details of the story, other than she had me almost crying I was laughing so hard, and that at the very end of it all I mentioned the signing and she said to me “Rhonda, you have to go. You’ll continue to kick yourself forever if you don’t.” She said those words with such a declarative tone…who was I to argue?

I really don’t know if I would have ever gone to the signing if it hadn’t been for that weekend and of course my conversation with Machelle. Just the act of going to the convention had been a huge step in the direction of finding myself once again after many years of just being “Mom”. But, on the way home in the plane from the convention, I gave the idea of going a lot of thought. Part of me was completely willing to put that part of myself: The Fan, back on it’s appropriate shelf when I got home. Being just “Rhonda” wasn’t especially comfortable on me yet, and absolutely not in the presence of my husband or children. I also worried about how I’d feel meeting the band. At the time (and is frequently discussed in the community), I suppose I really did have the band on their prospective pedestals. In October of 2004 I hadn’t yet heard the Astronaut album, gone to Chicago to see them with friends…or really seen them with anyone but my husband. I know that I gave thought to the idea that if I truly went to the signing and actually got past the door, that perhaps in some way the fantasies I’d had about all of them from the time I was a child would somehow change. That concerned me.  By the time the plane had landed though, I had made up my mind that yes, I would go to the signing…and I’d take my daughter with me.

That’s right, not only had I decided to take my chances and go, I wanted my oldest to go along with me. There were a number of reasons I’d made that decision, but most importantly – I wanted my oldest to know her mother. I wanted her to see and maybe get a tiny taste of what I was really like as a person. After all, I wasn’t an awful lot older than she was when Duran Duran first came into my life. (She was 7 years old at the time we went to the signing.  She’s now 15.  Time flies!!!) After convincing my husband that I wasn’t crazy and that she and I would both be perfectly safe, we put our plans into place. She was so excited to be going along with mom, and I have to tell all of you – if I had to do it all over, I wouldn’t hesitate for a single second in asking her to go with me.

That’s the real story here. Sure, meeting the band was something I’ll never forget and I’ll get into that in a second, but the real story is how much just taking my oldest child with me changed our relationship as mother and daughter. She was just a little thing, but she has always been far more mature than her years. I wanted her to understand that it is OK to have other interests that are outside the boundaries of family or career, even as a woman. I wanted her to understand that it’s OK to love a rock band, and it’s even OK to do crazy things once in a while – even when you’re grown up. Honestly, I just wanted her to see that living can really be a lot of fun sometimes! I really think just standing in line the night that Astronaut went on sale (you had to buy an album at midnight when it went on sale, and then a wristband came with the purchase for you to come back later in the week for the signing) really taught her a lot about who I am. She listened intently as I told her stories of going to the grocery store to buy magazines each week or how crushed I was when my parents wouldn’t allow me to go to see them in concert back in 1984 for the Sing Blue Silver tour. If that weren’t enough, people around me chimed in with their own personal stories, and it became very clear to my daughter that while plenty of other people around us had met the band, gone to shows, and even traveled for them – her mom had done next to nothing. The closest I’d ever come to actually meeting the band prior to this signing was back in the summer of about 1985 when Power Station was touring. John Taylor had done some sort of an appearance at a Tower Records store in Van Nuys, and my cousin and I begged to go. Her parents took us, but the line was what seemed like miles long, and after about an hour of standing in 100 degree heat outside, John Taylor left in a limousine…taking our dreams of meeting him right along with him. So this signing for me was about finally seizing my own moment.  Somehow, I was able to properly convey, in terms she would understand at the age of seven and yet still remember quite clearly at the age of fifteen, just how important it was for me to be in that line with her that evening.

The moments to midnight seemed to take forever.  I was so proud of my little girl though, because she was a real trooper that night.  Never once did she ask me to pick her up or tell me she was tired, even though I knew she had to have been.  We talked and joked up until the time we got up to the door of Virgin Megastore, and then once inside they had Duran Duran videos running along with the music from the new album playing in the background.  I was still nervous until we got up to the register though, because I recognized that there were probably only so many wristbands – and that line sure did seem long outside, stretching for a least a couple blocks up Sunset Boulevard.  We did make it to the register though, and I remember her huge grin when she handed the salesperson her money and got her wristband for the signing.  I was just as excited when I got my own!

In the few days leading up to the signing, she had listened to the album nearly non-stop, making sure she knew each song. (Or wait – was that me??) She’d already announced that Sunrise was her favorite, and she was really thrilled to have the chance to see the band and have them sign her CD. We spent several hours over the course of the days leading up to the signing talking about how my room looked as a kid, and what I did to find out what the band was up to. (No internet in those days!) She was surprised at how much work it took to be a fan back then. (Me too!!) We talked about which band member was my favorite, and how much her dad – my husband Walt – looked like Roger Taylor. (Huh. Interesting coincidence I suppose. He doesn’t really look THAT much like him any longer, but the olive skin, dark eyes and dark hair seems to be a common theme. Go figure.) In fact, one night she asked me aloud at dinner when her REAL dad would be coming to pick her up. Of course, she said this just to yank her dad’s chain – and to her surprise Walt responded “Well, whenever he does show up here I’m going to show him the bill for your dance classes. ‘Bout time that man starts paying up!” She collapsed in a fit of giggles that night, I’ll never forget it.  (Of course we were all joking and nobody, least of all ME, thinks Roger Taylor is my oldest’s father!!!!)

The day finally arrived and after driving up to Los Angeles, we waited in another very long line.  After what felt like an eternity, the line slowly began to creep up Sunset, getting ever so slightly closer to the side door of Virgin Megastore. I could feel my nerves heighten as we crawled closer to the door, and I got very quiet. Mostly, I was doing some serious “self-talk” before I got anywhere near that door. Wanna know what I was saying to myself?

Rhonda Lynn (My middle name and how my mother still refers to me to this very day).  You have been waiting for this moment for over twenty-five years now. You will not make a fool out of yourself.  There will be no giggling, no requests for a hug, marriage proposals or anything else that will make you appear stupid. You will smile, speak with intelligence, and most of all – there will be absolutely no fainting. NONE. Furthermore, under no circumstances will you forget that your oldest child – your only daughter (at the time) is with you. She will remember every silly thing you say or do and use it against you later, so do not let that happen!!!  (I was totally right about that, by the way.)

Once we’d gotten to the door, my daughter stood in front of me and I had my hands on her shoulders, both to keep her from running in there as well as to steady myself. I could see all of them, huddled over the table hurriedly scribbling their signatures over the albums and CD’s put in front of them. Nick looked up, gave a big smile to my daughter and called her over. I could have died right then. We both went over, and he took her CD and signed it – sending her down the line. Then he looked at me and asked if she was mine. I said yes, that I was doing my part to raise her right, and he smiled. Next was John. John didn’t even see us – he was doing what *I* would have done had I been on his side of the table, which was keeping his head down, signing the damn CD’s as they went by, and not looking up to see the wall of people closing in on him. I did say that the album was beautiful, and to that he did look up – but he had no idea who had said it and just said “Thank you” to the air. Next was Simon. Now, I’d heard outside that Simon arrived in a somewhat pissy mood that day (by this point in time the stories of Simon’s moods had made it to my little spot in the community), but he’d had some red wine and seemed to be a bit better by the time I got to him.  Hey…he’s a scorpio. So am I. I get the moods. Anyway, he was busy quizzing my daughter when I turned to look at him. She had carried her book in with her, and he wanted to know what she was reading.  So, she showed him and then he guessed her age. (Good guess, Simon. She was dully impressed.) Then he narrowed his eyes at her and asked what her favorite song off of the album was. I think Simon thought he was going to catch her, but guess what Simon?  My daughter is wicked smart! She smiled with her “You think you’ve got something on me, but actually I am way over your head” smile and said, “Sunrise is my favorite off of THIS album, Simon.” She even used his name, I was so proud. He grinned and pushed the CD down to Andy. Oh, Simon didn’t even bother looking up at me. Andy was amazing though  Easily the best reaction of the night because he literally jumped out of his chair and practically dove across the table to shake hands with my daughter. She was giggling like crazy and saying hi. I loved it. He seemed so happy to see a little girl there, and it warmed my heart. To this day she remembers Andy, and he is still her favorite. Finally, there was Roger.  This was the one *I* had been waiting for. My daughter knew this, and she stood off to the side of the table waiting for me. I asked him if he was tired, and he looked at me and said “Yes”, but quietly as though he didn’t want to make a fuss. Then I thanked him for doing the signing, explaining that I’d never had the chance to see them as a kid and that I was really glad they were back together as the original 5 member band. Then I lost all of my senses (no, I still don’t have them back, I guess) and told him that he had always been my favorite for all of that time, and that he still was.

Hey!  Hey!!! I hear the groaning back there!!  Knock it off!

Time stopped at that moment, as Roger looked up at me, smiled the *best* smile ever, and said thank you, that it was really sweet of me to say. Then I said goodbye, collected my daughter and floating out of the Virgin Megastore.

As we got out of the store and I regained the feeling in my body, my daughter leans over and says “Wow mom, thought for sure you were just going to propose marriage to the guy right then and there.”

She was just seven then….  Just imagine how much worse she is now at fifteen and you’ll know why I travel so often.

All of that aside, I’ll never forget that experience. Meeting the band was amazing even though I was just one face of hundreds that night, it meant the world to me. My daughter and I still talk about that week from time to time because as she puts it – it was the first time she got to really know me. Since then I’ve taken her to see them in Vegas (odd place to take a kid to see a band, but we were already there for a dance convention!), and out of everyone in this family, she is the one who understands me most. She still thinks I’m insane, but I know somewhere behind those teenage eye-rolls and sighs of annoyance – she thinks I’m pretty cool.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.  🙂

-R

Funny…or Not?!

I thought I would take a break from the usual deep thoughts to find something to share with all of you.  Thus, I found myself on youtube and tried to pick out a song, a video, a something that would catch my attention and yours.  After a bit of searching, I decided that I should pick out an interview.  I like interviews!  Interviews give a little bit or more of insight into the band.  Now, the only question was which one.  After all, I have shared quite a few on facebook and twitter as part of the daily questions or today in Duran history.  I wanted to find something that would be new to a lot of people.  I picked out a clip from 2004.  This interview featured John, Simon and Roger and was on some show in the UK.  I know nothing about the show or the interviewer.  Perhaps, someone can give us more information on it and whether or not this type of interview is common!  Now, here’s the clip!

Obviously, the clip is meant to be funny!  It isn’t filled with tough, thought-provoking questions.  In fact, it isn’t filled with many questions at all.  It is more about showcasing the band and their history in talking about a “comeback”.  Does this make sense in 2004?  In one way, it does.  In another way, it does not.  For the general public, Duran Duran hadn’t been around for years or even a decade.  For those of us in the know, we knew that they had always been around.  Thus, it could be annoying that the interview was framed in such a fashion.  On the other hand, maybe, it isn’t so bad.  Maybe, it was good in 2004 to talk about a comeback, to emphasize Duran’s attempt to get back into the spotlight.  What do you think?

Now, I have to admit I enjoyed Duran’s reactions.  Poor Roger couldn’t keep much of a straight face with some of the questions.  John and Simon did better with “acting” and tried to seem annoyed at some of the questions.  I have to admit that I smiled quite a bit at John’s reaction to the question about grandkids or Simon’s reaction to his revealing that he has been married for awhile!  I also loved when John asked if a “rockin'” type song would be “Eye of the Tiger” or when the interviewer included “Walk Like an Egyptian” as a Duran hit!  Talk about placing Duran in the early/mid 80s!  The only part that didn’t really amuse me much was the idea that Duran needed famous collaborations.  That hit home a little too much after the whole RCM deal with Timbaland and Timberlake.  Interestingly enough, they didn’t really seem all excited about that idea even in a joking manner except for maybe Roger. 

I tend to be super critical of Duran interviews.  I usually think that the questions asked are too surface, too common, too annoying.  They typically seem like they haven’t done any research or know very, very little about Duran.  In this case, they didn’t try.  It feels like they knew that they couldn’t do a regular, serious interview well.  Therefore, instead of trying to be serious, they would embrace the silly.  I can appreciate that.  I admit that the interview at least amused me to some extent.  What do the rest of you think?

-A

Behind the Music

I apologize for the late blog entry today.  I wanted to wait to respond to the airing of Behind the Music, which aired tonight in the U.S.  First, let me say that I always enjoy watching shows featuring Duran and I especially like documentary-type programs.  It is pretty funny that I do since I feel like I could tell the history as well or better than the typical documentary, especially since they are pretty predictable.  Most Duran documentaries feature the following:  Why Nick and John formed the band, getting Andy from a Melody Maker ad, Simon’s audition in the leopard skin pants, the use and success from videos, Nile Rodgers, Power Station and Arcadia, Roger and Andy leaving, Ordinary World, John’s drug use, John’s leaving and now the reunion.  This was the first one I have seen since Red Carpet Massacre, however.

The original Behind the Music was one of my favorite Duran Duran documentaries as I felt like they had captured most of the important elements of their history, but, more importantly, they had captured the hysteria of the fandom and placed Duran in their rightful place, historically.  That said, I was dubious about how this new remastered one (interesting that they call it “remastered”, by the way) would be.  I enjoyed the program and was pleased to see that some of the more annoying elements of the original had been removed, including the bad rumor about Simon almost drowning during the making of the Wild Boys video.  I, of course, loved the new parts just because I’m dying for any and all footage of the band in their current state.  That said, I thought that the show’s editing and production could have been better.  They kept parts that I don’t understand.  For example, why keep Simon saying that he missed John?  That statement is out of date.  Why didn’t they ask Roger anything from their early history?  During the original, Roger did not appear but now his voice was noticeably missing.  Certainly they could have edited in some statements from him.  Overall, I just don’t feel like they blended the two parts together well.  They wanted to make it a smooth program but ignoring the fact that some interviews were done in 1998 and others in 2010 seems stupid.  Why not just have a part one and a part two?  Obviously, part one wouldn’t necessarily end the way the original ended but they could have ended part one right before the reunion and start part two at that moment.  It is a logical separation. 

The new part was mixed for me.  It started with the reunion and how the idea formed after John left.  Nick and Simon commented about how they had to tell Warren that he wasn’t a part of the future of Duran.  Simon, in particular, seems reflective about this.  Then, Rob Sheffield, the Rolling Stone writer, commented about how this was bittersweet for the fans as we had gratitude towards him.  Obviously, there were and are fans who love Warren and then there are others who were happy to see him go.  I’m not sure that Rob’s comment captures those feelings.  Then, the show moves forward to talk about their plan to tour and to show record companies that there was a demand for them.  This part did remind me of the excitement that the reunion, Astronaut and the tour, that followed, had.  From there, the show skimmed the surface of the controversial topics of the rejection of Reportage, Andy’s departure and RCM.  The narration did not dive into those issues and stuck to the least problematic versions.  While I understand that, in a way, I would have loved for the producers to go further, to go deeper like a real documentary.  Obviously, some interesting statements were made, but not enough to draw a serious conclusion.  First about Andy, Simon said that he was becoming very difficult to work with and that the whole band felt that.  Then, Roger said that it was a “ticking bomb” that they had all been feeling for over a year.  John ended the discussion by saying that they were moving in different directions.  Hmm…As for Reportage and RCM, the Sony executive said that they need an album with a “vibrant beat”.  Simon said that the record label didn’t “get” Reportage and the fans didn’t want RCM.  He isn’t wrong, at least when it comes to the two authors of this blog.  The show ended at the present day with Duran working with Mark Ronson on AYNIN.

I loved the ending of the show and admit to being terribly excited by what I have heard about and from this new album.  Ronson does seem to match Duran well and, clearly, he is an “ultimate Duran Duran fan”.  😀  Of course, the show leads the viewer to think that this is the time for the next wave of Duran success, whatever that might mean.  I obviously have no idea if this is true or not and won’t know for awhile.  What I’m hoping for is that this album is one that they like and are proud of.  This will help the fans to return as well.  One thing I noticed tonight was the number of fans watching and talking about it on message boards and social networking sites.  Clearly, the fans are starting to pay attention and are starting to get excited!

-A

Sharing the Moment

Six years ago today, Astronaut was released, and the band was playing on Good Morning America.  I remember waking up that morning, completely red and bleary-eyed, then rushing to get my son off to school so that I could get back in time to see the band play.  I was a very excited and tired Duranie that morning….

The night before, I stood in a line with hundreds of other people outside of Virgin Megastore in Hollywood on Sunset Blvd.  We were all waiting patiently for midnight, when we would be allowed to buy Astronaut.  The reason why there were hundreds of us outside waiting was obvious – we were clearly insane.  🙂

You see, the band had agreed to do an album signing, and all you needed to do was buy the album and get a wristband to come back a couple of days later for the actual signing.  The key being the store had a set number of wristbands, and so naturally the closer in line you were, the better chance of getting the wristband.  We waited in line diligently that night, agonizing over the length of the line, but hopeful we too would have our opportunity for a wristband.

The best part of this story for me is that in my infinite parental wisdom – I wanted to share the moment with my then 7 year old daughter.  She came with me that night while we waited in line, and she was really a trooper.  Never once did she complain about being tired, even when it was very obvious she was ready for bed.  I don’t know how special the night was for her – I mean let’s face it, she was 7 and much more into Hilary Duff than Duran Duran at the time, and I knew that.  I just wanted her to see that even parents have lives outside of just being parents, and I suppose I wanted her to have a small glimpse into who her Mom really was as a person.  I know that over the years, I’d always wondered what “fun” things my mom did when she was a teenager.  I really didn’t know much about my mom’s childhood other than she didn’t get along with her father and didn’t have money.  I want my daughter(s) to know who I was, who I am…and even whom I aspire to be.  I want them to know that I have had fun in life, and I also want to be able to share some of my “secret fun times” with them.  I suppose in a sense I want to share this part of my life with them because I want them to see that there is more to life than just being a mom, just being a wife…and just being a woman.  It’s OK to step out of those gender roles, and it’s also OK to embrace them.  All of it, the mom, the wife, the friend, the student and even the “groupie” (so to speak) encompass who I am.  I am proud of all of it, and both of my daughters should be proud of who they become and what they love as well.  I couldn’t really ask for anything else as a mom.

Finally, the doors opened at midnight, and the line – which had grown considerably as we stood there and was a few blocks down Sunset by then – wove through the store.  As we walked into the store, Astronaut was playing and they even had the DVD that came with the deluxe edition playing on the TV’s throughout the store.  The line didn’t take long, and we emerged triumphantly with our CD, the deluxe CD set, the vinyl and our two wristbands to return for the signing.  My daughter was very excited because her mom was very excited, and off we went for our hours drive back home.  I think we got home at about 2am.

The next day, I woke her up in time to come and see the band we had gotten wristbands to go and meet perform on GMA.  Yes, I kept her out of school that next day – perhaps not the most responsible parenting thing to do, but one I will never regret.  Sometimes the real learning doesn’t take place in a classroom, but in life.  I don’t know how much she appreciated that wake up call (mmm…probably not much!), but she sat patiently with me and watched the band play.  She giggled as her mom squealed in delight at seeing people she knew on TV – and I don’t mean the band – I mean the people in attendance that morning, and then of course she laughed as I continued to squeak out comments to the band as they played, as though they could really hear me.  I would guess that she saw just a tiny bit of the inner 12 year old in me that day, as well as the evening before – and most certainly a few days later when we went for the signing.

Overall, that experience: the line, the waiting and actually meeting all five of my idols for the first time, was made infinitely more special because my daughter was with me.  I really believe it somehow bonded us, and as she’s grown older (13 now, which is truly a frightening age.  FRIGHTENING!) I think that night opened the door for a certain amount of honesty and trust between the two of us.  While that might not necessarily have trained her to become a Duranie (try as I might!), I believe it paved the way towards a continued healthy relationship, even now that she’s a teenager.

-R