As always, when I do a blog post like this, I start with a little clip. As a b-side, there was not an official video made but it was played live some throughout its 30 years. Here is one of the most recent live performances of it in 2011 in St. Augustine, Florida.
Here are the lyrics:
Wise on a birthday party in a world full of surprising fireworks
And sudden silence shh
Lying on a strangers bed the new day breaks like a speeding train or an old friend
Ever expected but never knocking
Holding your own in a battered car all night parties cocktail bars
And smile when the butterfly escapes the killing jar
Sure eyes awake before the dancing is over wise or naked in secret Oktober
Freefall on a windy morning shore nothing but a fading track of footsteps
Could prove that you never been there
Spoken on a cotton cloud like the sound of gunshot taken by the wind
And lost in distant thunder racing on a shining plain
And tomorrow you’ll be content to watch as the lightning plays along the wires and you’ll wonder
Sure eyes awake before the dancing is over wise or naked in secret Oktober
Sure eyes awake before the dancing is over wise or naked in secret Oktober
So what could these lyrics mean? What kind of theories are out there? There are a few out there on the internet. The first theory is that it is about rethinking one’s life on a birthday. Life used to be a lot of parties but that life has gotten tired. Second theory is that it is about someone thinking about suicide. A third theory is that it is about Simon’s attempts to meditate and have out of body experiences. Of course, we recently learned that the song was written and recorded in one night, done quickly as they needed a b-side for Union of the Snake. Interestingly enough, the meaning of the song was also an Ask Katy question. Simon responded that it was about escaping one’s birthday. So, do any of these theories hold up?
Theory #1: Rethinking life and choices on one’s birthday
The first line definitely fits this idea since it is a birthday party and being wise means that one might have learned something. The new day could also imply that it was the day of a new year and it could be that one is thinking of those all night parties and cocktail bars. Maybe the memories do bring a smile to one’s face. Then, the second verse sort of throws me. Is it about the thoughts one will have in the future if the first verse was about the past? The future then will be stormy with the references to thunder and lightning? I’m just not sure this completely follows the theory.
Theory #2: Suicide
The only thing that I could see connecting to this idea is the gunshot. The last line of the second verse, though, doesn’t fit. “And tomorrow you’ll be content to watch as the lightning plays…” If you are going to kill yourself, you won’t have a tomorrow and you won’t be content. Right? Am I missing something?
As soon as the documentary gets started, I can tell that this documentary follows in a similar path as the ones I mentioned earlier. It follows some specific fans and features some celebrities. Part of me cringes at this. Why showcase some fans over others? How were they chosen? Were they chosen because they represented the norm or because they didn’t? Yet, even as I question this, I wonder how one would show a fan event like this without focusing on a select group of fans. After all, you want the viewer to develop some feelings, some emotions with the subject and individuals could provide that. I know that Rhonda and I tried very hard not to have our book be focused solely on our own experiences, even though, those are featured, but tried to keep it broad to all Duran fandom and even all fandom. Nonetheless, having this focus on a select group of fans and a few celebrities isn’t necessarily bad, in my opinion, as long as they, generally, represent the entire. One thing I did like is the overview, in the beginning of the documentary, of the history of the convention. Pictures from the first few conventions were shown, which clearly documents how small it was. I think it is important for students of any particular fandom to understand its history. For example, one can’t talk about the Duran fandom by ignoring the 80s, can they? This history also shows that a big part of this convention was the ability of fan to meet, to talk with, to get information from those in the business, either as the celebrities out in front or those behind the scenes.
As the documentary moves to modern times, we are shown, right away, one significant aspect of this fandom, which is the cosplay or dressing as a specific character in a movie, TV show, comic or video game. In seeing that, I’m taken a back a bit since this is so far removed from my fandom. Most Duranies don’t show up at Duran events dressed like the woman in Rio or the main nurse in Falling Down. That said, as part of Durandemonium, people did dress somehow related to the lyrics/music of Duran for the banquet. Similar, I suppose, but not the same. Beyond the cosplay aspect, viewers can also tell just how massive this event is by seeing the convention floor and the number of attendees. This, obviously, isn’t a common event, for sure. Yet, before they dive into the main convention attendees, the documentarians work to describe the general characteristics of Comic Con attendees, including what they do in their spare time, their focus on collecting and more. I like how they gave the general overview of the “fans” before they got specific. Then, we begin to get to know the focus of the documentary, who includes people from different spots around the country and their different reasons to be there. One guy is from Missouri who is looking to show his artwork there, but who is into comics and who has Trekkies as parents who met at a Star Trek convention. He defines the convention as a job fair. Another convention attendee is similar in that he is going to show his work, but is from North Dakota. Already, the viewer can see that the attendees are from different parts of the country, races, family backgrounds and more. Both of these guys are clearly fans but both have jobs, families and do not seem so extreme of some of the fans focused upon in the other fan documentaries. Then, there is a woman from California who makes costumes for costume contests, cosplay, etc. Her goal is to win the costume contest, or masquerade, but admits that she would like to be a costume designer for TV, movies, etc. Like the gentlemen, she is working towards her career goals. What all three of these fans show is how much time and dedication fans give towards something they love. I get this. I write a blog, wrote a book about fandom and planned a convention myself. The next person introduced is a comic book dealer, a vendor, from Denver. He goes to the convention to sell his comics and has for decades. His experience shows how the convention has morphed or changed over the years from having more of a focus on comic books to less of a focus on them. He also shows how much serious collecting can be, money wise. The other side of that coin is the collector who attends the convention to buy collectables. The last of these main attendees include a couple who started dating at Comic Con and who will get engaged there as well. They, I believe, show how fandom can bring people together. Clearly, these individuals were chosen to represent the types of people who go.
Beyond those individuals, there are also brief interview clips with other fans, celebrities and those in the business. The celebrities and other random fans work to explain the hows and the whys of the convention. Sometimes, they explain conventions better than I ever could. For example, Joss Whedon, known for things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, said that it is the place that everyone is great for being so obsessed with something, no matter what it is. To me, that is fandom—having a passion for something or someone. The random fans filled in the gaps with why they come, what their focus is, etc. They mentioned everything from seeing the artists, to meeting certain celebrities, to panels, to buying, and more. Thus, while the main focus is that group of specific individuals, the documentary doesn’t rely on just them. These random fans, like the specific ones, seem to have a bit of range but no one is too out there, too extreme. They seem normal. As these fans describe their experiences and reasons for being there, one can sense the love that they feel towards their fandom(s) and each other. Then, it seems obvious why people would want to be at an event like this, to be surrounded by so many who feel the same amount of love of something must be awesome. I can and did relate. Likewise, I also related to the statements about how it was an escape from the real world. To me, this is part of the reason I tour. Also, I liked how the celebrities and those behind-the-scenes people told why they come. For them, they have a chance to show their work, to interact with their fans all at the same time for just a few hours or a few days without too much hassle. They get to sell their work, their products—tangible or not. I also enjoyed the celebrities talking about how star struck they have been with other celebrities!
In seeing and hearing from all of the fans, celebrities and people in the industry, you get a real sense about how much there is at an event like this, what it is like and why go. You get a complete picture of the event. You don’t just see the stereotyped fans or the extreme fans. Those fans are not hidden but they are put into perspective unlike other documentaries of a similar fashion. All fans are shown and explained. Fandom is shown and explained. While I’m not a fan of comics and many other fandoms shown, I found myself able to relate and wanting to go to something like this. I could feel the passion of the fans and the celebrities alike.
21 Signs that You Worship Duran Duran in 2013:
1. You celebrate Duran Duran Appreciation Day on August 10 as an international holiday!
2. You accept the current line-up of the band to include Simon, John, Nick, Roger, and Dom. Some might even prefer it.
3. You attend or plan Duranie meet-ups, get togethers and/or conventions.
4. Your vacations are weekend or week long trips in which you travel to see a number of shows!
5. You believe that the band’s 2010 album, All You Need Is Now, is one of the best Duran Duran albums of all time along with the classics.
6. You know and can imitate all of Simon’s dance moves including the punchy-punchy of Notorious, the round about of The Reflex and the chicken dance of Wild Boys.
7. You spend hours on twitter hoping to see tweets from one or more band members and hope that you will one day get a response or a retweet.
8. You still go searching for Duran vinyl.
9. New pictures make you *squee* just as much as older pictures.
10. You know what Durantime means and are used to it but still hate it.
11. You want to see a Duran show in Birmingham, England, or are thrilled that you have.
12. Your friends are mostly Duranies or people who have been willing to learn as much as the band to understand what you are talking about.
13. Any and all daily plans are thrown out the window whenever there are official Duranie alerts, especially when snippets of new music are released or tour dates are posted.
14. You have experienced the full range of emotions that occur on presale days, including stress, fear, frustration, hope, elation, joy and excitement.
15. You go to a Duran show, see new Duran footage, or read articles about Duran and recognize at least 25% of the audience/fans.
16. You understand that the biggest debates in the fan community have to do with the guitar players and Red Carpet Massacre.
17. You still buy t-shirts and other Duran merchandise either at concerts or on the internet, including ebay to replace any item you “let go” in college when you thought you were “over” the band.
18. You have a Facebook page, a blog or a website based on Duran Duran or have creative projects influenced by Duran in some way.
Some of the creative people we have showcased here, including author and friend, Karen Booth, and tribute band, Rio.
19. You go through the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) when you miss an important event, especially if the band was there and interacted with fans.
20. You know that Duran Duran has formed the soundtrack to your life and you wouldn’t want it any other way.
One of the best stories in the podcast is about the lyric “sing blue silver”. Simon got it from book he read as a child – Children Move Through Time. I guess you just never know where some of the most iconic ideas will originate!
During much of the podcast, Denis’ approach and career is discussed as opposed to just Duran Duran (which makes sense, it’s Denis’ who is being interviewed!). Duran Duran mentioned in a recent interview that Denis became a sixth member of the band – touring with them and becoming part of the group – which gave him the space to really become a part of the “inner sanctum” without being too close. (so that he could still maintain an unbiased point of view in order to photograph them) I thought that was interesting, and they do expand upon that a bit more in the podcast.
What really struck me, and the reason I suggest giving it a listen – is to soak in the sheer amount of music history that Denis has experienced through his photography. While it is absolutely true that I feel the book Denis has done is incredibly priced – it is also true that Denis O’Regan is not your average band photographer. Having photographed everyone from our beloved Duran Duran to the Rolling Stones, Bowie, The Damned, Deep Purple and so on, one cannot help but have plenty of respect for his experience, even if his latest collection of photographs is priced to the point where most Duranies cannot even begin to hope to own a copy of even the cheapest edition of the book. For me, this is not really much different than learning about an artist and respecting their work, whether Picasso or maybe even Dalí, even though I know there’s absolutely no way I can buy anything more than perhaps a mass-market printed coffee cup to enjoy at home.
I’d like to extend a thank you to Salvo (Duranasty) for finding this podcast and sharing it on Facebook. I would have never found this piece on my own, that is for sure. This is one thing I really appreciate – those of us who write blogs or do webzines, etc tend to share information freely with everyone. This isn’t about who posts something first, or which one of the websites, fanzines, blogs or podcasts comes up with the best material. I feel as though we’re all in this together out of a love for this band. We work together, create a special brand of Duranie synergy, and make sure the word gets out. We work to make sure that Duran Duran keeps getting talked about, even when there’s no new music or a tour happening. In doing all of this, we extend one another a sort of professional courtesy by taking that second to say thank you, or to say “Hey – I didn’t find this first, another fan did, and I just want to say thanks for finding it.” I realize it’s not always popular to admit that we weren’t first to find something – and maybe it’s even embarrassing for some to see that a mere fan came up with a news byte or a fantastic picture first – but let me just say this: giving credit where credit is due is important. It creates a tight knit, trusting environment – which is key for a loyal fan community – where information is openly shared, as opposed to a competitive, unfriendly environment where fans are clamoring for even the smallest mention because acknowledgment and credit is rarely given, not to mention that it is the professional and right thing to do.
Food for thought.
If you haven’t caught the interview yet, please allow me to direct you here to read it. I’m not going to comment on everything, but I do want to touch on a subject that has been mentioned more than a few times as of late. The interview, at least in part, seemed to center around the band’s younger years (due to Denis O’Regan’s Careless Memories pop-up gallery and photography book) and how they would find girls hiding in their wardrobes, hotel rooms, etc. In the interview, Simon admits Duran Duran were “sexist”. “But not misogynist. We like girls in bikinis but the women always win in our videos. We wouldn’t have made the Robin Thicke video. It’s just a bit too …” He gropes for the word, his hand a claw of agony, “… you know.”
Oh, I do know. Sometimes, I swear the band knows what I’m thinking, and if I were really deluding myself, I’d swear they were reading my discussions on Twitter.
Just a few weeks back, similar comments from Simon were also in the press. I couldn’t help but agree with him and said as much openly on Twitter. I’d commented many weeks prior that at least in theory – that Robin Thicke’s video was probably a mistake. Maybe I’m just getting old and less tolerant overall, but his video is just a little bit (a lot really) over the line for me. I think there is just a certain tone to his video – the fact that the man wins (using Simon’s words!) and that the woman really seems to not be in control, that registers pretty highly on my “this is complete sexist and cruel BS” meter. It makes me very uncomfortable to watch, in a very similar way to how I’ve felt about Chris Brown. I realize that for Robin Thicke, that video is likely just an act, but that’s not the point. Why do women really need to be used like that?? What year is this again?? I’d said as much on Twitter, and gotten into quite a discussion with a few others on the subject. We never came to full agreement, but I enjoyed the subject – just not the frustration of having to explain my thoughts in 140 characters or less. Damn Twitter.
I’m getting ahead of myself here, because I’m forgetting to mention that when those comments of Simon’s became public, the response and outcry was rather swift. “What about Girls on Film, Simon?? Did we forget all about that Duran Duran video then?”
Yes, what about that video?
This was exactly the point of discussion when I took to Twitter at a later date about Simon’s comments. Yes, Girls on Film (to begin with) does seem to be a bit of a problem when looking back on Duran’s career as one reflects on Simon’s feelings about Robin Thicke’s video. The women in the video are put in various situations including a lovely little pillow fight while on a cream-slathered candy striped pole (oh, the subtle innuendo), a cowgirl riding and then giving a horse a bath…a sumo-wrestler being massaged after losing a fight…and my personal favorite, the lifeguard “saving” a young woman drowning in a kiddy pool. And that’s just the R rated version. If you want to really see something, the “Night” version has even more going on backstage…but I’ll leave that to you to find if you haven’t already seen it. In the interview linked above, Simon mentions that in their videos – the women “win”. To be fair, I suppose it is possible to see that the women do end up in control of whatever situation they seem to be put in here. After all, it IS the lifeguard who ends up being left in the pool, and who is riding the horse but the woman?? Again…I cringe at the innuendo, but yes, the woman do seem to be on top. (Go ahead, cringe at my play on words!)
However, not all fans see it that way, and to be equally fair – I think they too have a point. Why make a video like Girls on Film at all? Was the music not enough to stand on it’s own? Probably not, I’d say. I love the band and adore their music..but back in the 80s?? Getting attention meant taking the risk to shock the public. If you’ve ever seen the full length video, you know that at the end of it the entire band holds up a banner that says “Some people will do anything to sell records.” That alone speaks volumes to me as a viewer, and by the way…it worked! Continually throughout the bands career, the “sex” label has been stamped on their heads or branded across their bodies. When you consider the sheer amount of videos, albums, artwork, etc. that they have had in their career that contain images of women…it’s pretty impossible to say that the band is not sexist, which to his credit, Simon openly admits.
However, and I think this is a huge point most fans (among many others) that have criticized Simon’s comments miss, or at the very least misdefine: Misogyny is a pretty strong word.The definition of a misogynist, according to dictionary.com, is “a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women.” To me, it’s tantamount to calling someone a homophobe or a racist. It runs in that same vein of hatred, and I have to ask: does the band really hate women? Think about that for a minute.
Even if you think the Girls on Film video completely objectifies women – which it very well might – the women do seem to end up with the upper hand. If we look at other female images that the band has given us over the years, it would seem that the women almost always look stronger than the band. How about Rio? That woman in Rio makes each band member look ridiculous! She yanks Simon off the boat, Nick can’t even bring himself to pour champagne properly, poor Roger ends in some sort of a fish net, and then there’s John – who daydreams about being a soldier, only to be stopped dead in his tracks by yes, a woman. Such weaklings. This band does not hate women. They are not misogynists, even though by Simon’s own admission they have been sexist, a point to which I would wholeheartedly agree.
We can have the discussion about whether or not we’re all sick of seeing models in the band’s videos. We should acknowledge the band has been branded with the word “Sex”, and whether or not we think that’s propelled their fame. We should talk about the band’s sexism. We can even discuss the music and that should really be the point they stand on, historically speaking. What we we must stop doing, is applying the term “misogynist” to describe the band. It is not fair, and it is not a accurate. Oddly enough…if one really felt that way, especially as a woman, how could one be a fan?
Amanda and I had mentioned the quiet last week in various ways – she even blogged about it – and we’d commented to one another that it would be great to finally hear something. A few notes. ANYTHING (!!!) from the studio. Yes, we’re impatient, but we’re also just downright curious. And nosey! For me, and I highly doubt I’m alone, it’s not just the excitement over getting something new, although don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely that too. It’s hearing that first burst of creativity and then wondering where it will go from there. How will it end up? I still have snippets from the last album, in particular the one that Mark played on his radio show (I believe his words before playing it was that he was going to get in big trouble but that he was going to play it anyway. I saved it. Of course.). I haven’t listened to it in a long time – like since the album came out, but I can remember listening very intently. I frowned, trying to focus on every single note. It ended nearly as soon as it began, and I played it over and over again, trying to make sense of it. Did it sound like Duran Duran? Did it sound anything at all like Red Carpet Massacre? What about Rio, did it sound like Rio? Is there really guitar in there??? All of those questions, and many more went through my head. I still remember exactly where I was when I first heard the snippets. I was sitting on my bathroom floor while my youngest was playing in the bathtub! (Yep, it’s nothing but glamour, glamour, glamour here at Casa Rivera.) I remember shaking my head when it ended, wrinkling up my nose and thinking “What in the hell was THAT!” There was one teensy snippet though, that when I heard it, I thought “Now that, is Duran Duran.”, and that was what became the very beginning of Runway Runaway. It was really cool to hear that on the album once it was finished. Kind of like my own “A-HA! Now I get it!!” moment.
On the other hand, any time we’d mention the snippets on either Facebook or even here on the blog, we’d be met with a barrage of “If it’s not coming directly from the band you don’t know if it’s real”, as well as “I refuse to listen to those. I want to wait until the final product.” Fair enough. Let’s face it, we’ve had our plenty of “fake” snippets rise from various black holes, to be toted as being “the newest music leaks from the studio”, only to be debunked within hours. That’s why Daily Duranie has never, nor will we start posting snippets now, unless the band starts sending them and TELLS us to post them. We don’t do leaks out of respect for the band. That said, we very well might comment on what we’ve seen or heard, but we’re not going to be posting that sort of thing here unless TPTB (The Powers That Be) ask us to do so. No matter, I can understand why people are less than willing to believe the rumors and news unless it comes from the band. We are well aware that there are plenty of others who want to be the first to post the leaked material, and we’re just going to leave them to it. As for those of you masochists out there who will sit back and somehow restrain yourselves from clicking on the snippets, well…you’re better than me. I can’t do it. Just know up front that I’ll be clicking enough for all of you combined, and occasionally we’ll talk about what we’ve heard here on the blog. I will do my best not to spoil it for you!
Naturally though, I can’t let this subject go by without an offer for discussion. How do you feel about the snippets from the studio? Do they help to get you excited by an album? Do you wish they wouldn’t release a thing until it was done? In a past Katy Kafé, Simon mentioned how if they release too much, there is always the concern of listeners having preconceived notions before the album is finished. What do you think about that? I’m curious to know if I’m the only person out there that actually enjoys the whole experience of getting the snippets and talking about them. (Aside from Amanda of course. There IS a reason we started Daily Duranie, you know.) Let me know what you think!
By Anu Lehtinen & Bryony Evens
|photo by Anu Lehtinen|
WOW! YES! The possibility to see never before seen photos taken during Sing Blue Silver tour, in a gallery – pure coincidence! A late November trip to London was planned well ahead, with gig tickets bought, but this time on the menu was Howard Jones, Ultravox and Simple Minds.
– as in not seen before. They had a familiar feeling since there was always more than one picture taken from every occasion, and only a select few made it into the Sing Blue Silver book. One of them being John’s huge stage grin. Other photos were merely just similar, not exactly what had been seen, so while many of these photos might be recognizable, most have never been seen. All photos were available for purchase. Most of the photos in the gallery had 25 prints for purchase, but some just 5.
|Anu with Denis O’Regan|
“One other thing I thought about trying with the prints, was to print some as a work desk cover. The one with Simon, where there’s a lot of white – that could work nicely. You could have your laptop and papers in one part of the desk.” (I suggested that a similar setting was behind him, with Andy and black background.) “That’s true”, he said. “The other one I had in my mind, is the contact sheet of John and Nick taken in France. That contact sheet from a photo shoot could really be a nice desk top.”
Nick’s arrival: (sorry this is a link but Blogger won’t let me upload it directly)
As time went by, Duran’s images might not have not had the same level of coverage as they did in the early 1980s, but they didn’t go away. With every new project, with every album, with every tour, image still seemed to be important to the band and the fan. Fans still get excited about new pictures and will get upset if the image presented is not what they want. For example, when the album cover for All You Need Is Now was released, there were many cries of disappointment because it did not feature a picture of the band. Image and visual representations still matter. What the band looks like still matters. It seems to matter to the band and it still matters to a lot of the fans. I don’t know that anyone could deny this. Now, the question of the effects of that importance is a different deal.
While Duran’s image and good looks definitely got them attention and got people thinking about them, it wasn’t always positive for them. When they first got success and fame, the band was often asked if they were only selling records because they were good looking. The assumption there is that their fans didn’t know or care about the music. They just liked them because the band members were “cute”. Many critics assumed that because so many of the fans in the early 80s were young and female. These young and female fans couldn’t know about music. They couldn’t like them for their talent, it was believed. Wrongly, I might add. What choice did Duran have? Do they stop worrying about their image and looks to get more critical acclaim? Obviously, they did not change how they were doing things. They stayed on track. Yet, that criticism of people only liking Duran for their looks remains. I frequently read articles on Duran or reviews of shows that still spend a lot of time talking about what they look like over their music. This truly bothers many fans as well who feel like they are fans of the MUSIC and the music ONLY. They don’t want the looks to be emphasized by the band, the media or the fans. Perhaps, they even get frustrated when fans still focus so much on the band’s looks or images. To them, this behavior stops Duran from getting the respect they deserve. Maybe, Duran fans would be treated better as well. While I understand that concern and desire to have Duran get kudos for their fabulous music, I can’t deny that their image has been important and continues to be. The band hasn’t run from posting pictures of themselves. Instead, I believe that fans can celebrate both–the music, first and foremost, while appreciating their good looks.
Thus, we will acknowledge the good looks by including them in our daily questions. Here is how this is going to work. We will ask people to send us their favorite pictures. Then, we will vote between two pictures a day in our usual format until we find a favorite of each band member then groups. People need to send us their favorite pictures because we can’t choose from the thousands that are out there and don’t want to be voting on pictures forever (and we probably could!). Ideally, I would also like people to send pictures of each time period: 1980-1989, 1990-2001, 2002-present. We are going to go in the following order: Simon, Roger, John, Dom, Nick, Andy, Group, side projects. Right now, we have a little over a week left of questions about side and solo projects videos. Then, we hope to start asking about Simon pictures.
Here is what we need right now. We NEED YOUR HELP! We need you to send you favorite pictures of Simon!!!! You can send them to our email (email@example.com), send us a message on Facebook, or send us a direct message on twitter with them. The key is that we would like to reveal the pictures slowly–two per day. You have from today until Saturday, December 14th to send us pictures! We appreciate it in advance and I’m sure that others will appreciate when we start posting them! 😉 Thanks!!!