Category Archives: Duran Duran fandom

Astronaut Anniversary and Turning Points

This past week, Duranland celebrated the 15th anniversary of the release of Astronaut. As we all know, this album was the first album after the Fab Five reunited and certainly represents a time in which Duranies flocked back to the fold, excitement was at an all-time high and the future seemed nothing but bright. I, for one, always appreciate acknowledging the big dates for my fandom but this one make me think on a more personal level.

Feel the New Day

Duran’s reunion in the early 2000s came at the perfect time for me, personally. I had spent much of the late 1990s and early 2000s settling into my adult life in a new city. I remember how laser focused I was at that time to get started in my career and to do what needed to be done just stand on my own two feet. I only thought about how to get a full time teaching job and how I would pay the bills. There was little time and money for much else. Then, I found a way in to the district with a teaching job, but outside of my original license. I still had much to learn. In this quest, I found myself back at school. This time I was adding a master’s degree and additional teaching certifications. Finally, after a few intense years of teaching full time and going to grad school, I graduated.

At that moment, I literally felt like my world opened up simply because I would no longer struggle as much, financially, and had more free time. I was ready to turn my focus, my energy into some other aspect of my life even if I didn’t know what that was. Enter Duran Duran. Now, I had been a fan since I was a kid but I was no where near the fan community at the end of 2003. I knew that there was a reunion and shows but that’s it. I avoided looking too carefully, too closely to not lose my focus on grad school and my career. But once I was settled into my career, I was ready. At the same time, someone I knew mentioned that she, too, was a big Duran fan. After a quick search, resulting in me hearing Sunrise for the first time, that’s all it took. I became obsessed.

I sought out everything. Internet searches helped me to fill-in any gaps that I had, including the band’s history, albums, videos, solo and side projects and more. Everyday felt magical and like my birthday because there was so much to find, to watch, to listen, to buy that I couldn’t get enough. This, of course, combines with all of the new news that came out. In 2004, for example, it seemed like there was something new each and every day from hints about the album, to appearances, to video clips from the band and more. In the process, I found my new focus. I had to find others who felt so much for this band, too. Message boards called out to me and I tried out many before I found the right one. This led to much time spent on those boards, chatting with other fans, and making plans to attend a fan convention and begging for a tour.

Looking back, that time was so fun as it felt like all Duran, all the time in my mind, in my free time. Everything felt so positive and I ignored anything that potentially would put a damper on my fandom.

Is it out of choice that you’re here next to me, or just the aftermath of moments as they pass?

15 years have gone by. My love for Duran Duran has not waivered. Looking back, I recognize that in many ways, my love has been weaved into my life. It isn’t this special, must spend 24/7 on it to express it, to reinforce it, to find others with the same feelings. No, it is now way more secure. It isn’t like a flame burning bright while being under threat to burn out. Let’s be real here. A lot of Duranies during the Astronaut era went all in and did not come out the other side. It is like they checked off some boxes on their fandom bucket list. Once that was done, they were out, ready to move on. I chose the other route. I chose to normalize my fandom, to just make a part of my existence in order to keep it going.

Here is where I think the fandom analogy of romance works. In 2004, it felt like I had just started a new romance in which the subject of that romance could do nothing wrong. It was definitely the honeymoon period. Many fans want to live in that honeymoon and are not willing to hang out passed that. They don’t want to deal with the negatives or the less-than-exciting times and others of us accept all of it. Again, in a early romance, you might spend most of your waking hours with the subject of that romance. I did that in 2004 with Duran Duran. Now, I don’t. It is like my parents who have been married for 52 years. They don’t need to constantly talk about each other or be with each other all the time to know that they love each other. The same is true with me and Duran Duran. I can and do have many things in my life that get my focus, including teaching, politics, my family, writing and researching and Duran Duran. For me, I need all of those in my life to be happy. So, at times, I miss the intensity of those Astronaut days but I recognize that where my fandom is now is more securely fastened in my heart and in my life.

-A

Change the points of view ’bout what is fake and what is true

Last week, I survived my school’s Back to School night. For those unfamiliar, this is an evening in which parents and guardians come to the school, see the various classrooms and meet their students’ teachers. This year’s went much like it usually does in that it made for a very long night and week but was rewarding to not only meet so many parents but to hear that students are enjoying my class. One aspect of the night was a little different, though, and proof that sometimes my students do actually listen to me.

This year I tried a different activity for the first day of school after receiving feedback from former students that they wanted to know more about me. Basically, I came up with a list of various things about me, which included one lie. The kids then had to figure out which one wasn’t true. Of course, this list talked about some fun facts including where I was born, that a letter I wrote as a kid ended up on the radio, that I had an Elvis impersonator sing to me at college, and more. One fact I shared was that I had seen my favorite band in concert more than 50 times. Funny enough, many, many students picked that one as the fib. Their reasoning? “There is no way that you have seen one band that many times!” I think if I had said it was only 10 times, they wouldn’t have questioned it. Funny enough, that was not my lie. This led them to ask who the band was, where I saw them and more. Somehow I answered their questions, while feeling a little embarrassed and exposed but secretly hoping that they might check out Duran Duran themselves.

Apparently, some students took this fact and shared it with their parents as I had a parent ask me about it, which was definitely a first. After finding out which periods of US History I cover (1865-1945, by the way), she then asked out of nowhere, “Have you really seen Duran Duran over 50 times?” I almost choked. Instead, I nodded while smiling slightly, hoping that would be the end of it. Unfortunately, she followed up with, “Wow. How is that even possible? I mean, I would get it if it was the Rolling Stones or the Grateful Dead but Duran Duran?” There was a lot that I could have responded to but I focused in on the how. I explained that I travel. Then, quickly, I added about how great summer tours are so that I can go to many shows. After all, I didn’t want her to think I neglect my kiddos by going on tour during the school year (which sometimes I do). She nodded as I said this before responding with, “You would have to!” Again, I wondered what the heck she meant by that. I couldn’t ponder too long as more parents entered the room.

Interestingly enough, I had a similar question the next day with a new colleague. After a meeting in which my blogging came up, he confessed to me that he had, indeed, checked out the blog. Again, I found myself uncertain with how to respond. Do I thank him? Do I ask him what he thought? Do I try to move to a different topic? I gave some non-statement about how that was cool or something. Much like the parent, my colleague said, “It looks really hardcore and for such a niche band,” implying that there are not a lot of Duran Duran fans.

Normally, after interactions like this, I dissect my reaction, my statements and wonder if I responded as I should have. This time, however, I was left thinking about the assumption that both the parent and my colleague made. They believe that Duran Duran is not a big band or not that popular. The parent has no idea of how often Duran Duran plays shows. Yes, I suppose, in fairness, that she might think this because they don’t play in Wisconsin (the last time was 2005). If I was waiting for them to come here, I would be waiting a long time. Maybe she doesn’t know anyone who is willing to drive to see a band, forget about flying to see a show. Beyond that part, she also implied that the band isn’t big enough to have people traveling to see them. They aren’t equal to the Rolling Stones or the Grateful Dead in her mind. Now, I recognize that non-fans do not know what I know, but still. It bothered me. Don’t put down Duran Duran. Of course, Duranies would travel to see them. Did I defend them in this way? No.

I didn’t even defend Duran Duran with my colleague who I don’t have to prove myself in the same way that I might with a parent. With both conversations, I left feeling frustrated and sad that they don’t know how many serious fans Duran Duran has even now. They are worthy of traveling to shows. They deserve to have people like Rhonda and myself writing a blog about them. Heck, it isn’t like we are the only ones out there who spread the word about Duran Duran. There are other blogs, facebook groups, message boards, podcasts, and more. Our fan community isn’t that small, right?

It amazes me that after interactions like these, all I want to do is to defend the band. Have you ever been in situations like these? Have you defended your fandom? Your favorite band?

-A

You Speak to the Crowd

I spend a lot of time thinking, listening and reading about the current state of politics. Last week, among many other stories, I took note of the giant rally Senator Warren held in New York City. While the size of the crowd was worth noting, the part that caught my attention was that she stayed after (as she always does) to take selfies. This resulted in four hours of selfies until late in the night/early in the morning. As pundits discussed this, one point that was made over and over again was that this is a great strategy for social media as people post their pictures and get people interested in Senator Warren as a presidential candidate.

While I’m fascinated by that as a political organizer, I could not help but think about how this might relate to fandom. I think it is save to say that when people share pictures or videos with Duran Duran, it helps the band’s cause as well. When people who are already fans see this kind of thing, it might excite us more. I know hearing Bridey’s story this week gave me all sorts of warm fuzzies. Of course, I definitely would want to be a fan of a band who treats their fans in the way they did with her in Tahoe by meeting her backstage before bringing her on stage during the show. It makes me proud to be a Duranie! Then, what does this do for people who like Duran Duran but might not consider themselves to be big fans? I would think that it might make them think about Duran, which could increase the amount of time listening to their music or watching their videos. As for people who aren’t fans, could it cause them to give Duran a try? I think so!

Okay, so if seeing pictures with a band could translate to more or more intense fans, what about people who just share thing or talk about the band? Could that make a difference in terms of the number of fans or the intensity of one’s fandom? I think about the people who share pictures or videos or start conversations about the band on various facebook groups. Why do they do that? Yes, I think a lot of it has to do the fact that people love the band and want to express it. I’m sure that they begin discussions from real curiosity about what other fans think. Fans want to talk to other fans about the subject of their fandom. We all know this. This is what causes facebook groups and/or message boards to form in the first place. Is it simply about meeting an urge to talk about any and all things Duran or can it be about more at the same time? Could people posting also help out Duran Duran, indirectly? Speaking from my own personal experience, when I see something posted about Duran in my social media timelines, it keeps Duran in my thoughts. Often, it reminds me of what I love about a song, video, tour, era, etc. Does this help keep my fandom alive? Absolutely.

Over the course of the nine years of this blog, people have stated or implied that what we do here doesn’t really matter but in thinking about this, I completely disagree. Just like those people who post on message boards or social media, I believe that what we do here helps keep Duran Duran in people’s thoughts. Maybe, at times, it has encouraged people to check out an album, song or video that they don’t know anything about. Lately, for example, our questions of the day have been about who owns what album and in what format. I wonder if asking about each album has caused people to go out an buy an album that they don’t have. I have seen that with people in my personal life, too. For example, I know that my fandom has led friends and family to check out Duran Duran more. I have a lot of friends who follow this blog simply because they want to support me but many of them have listened to the band more from seeing a blog post or two.

Then, I think about our meetups. There have been times when people have come to a meetup, met fellow fans and found friendships that way. Does that matter? While that might not directly put money in Duran’s bank account, could it help to sell more tickets to their shows? I think so. I know that if I didn’t have my Duranie friends, all of whom I met at various meetups, I wouldn’t go to many shows. I would drag someone to a show nearby and that’s it. Having lots of Duranie friends means that I want to go to as many shows as possible to see my friends, to get together with my friends. This results in more concert tickets for me and for the band.

We definitely didn’t start this blog to help the band but now that I have thought about it, I’m glad that it is a side affect. I think it is pretty cool that this blog along with other blogs, podcasts, message boards, facebook groups, etc. are part of a larger effort to campaign for Duran, in some small way, intentionally or not.

-A

The Way You Did When You Were Younger

The other day my friend messaged to me to say, “Guess what I’m listening to?” Now, this isn’t the first time I have gotten this exact question or something super similar. I always know that the answer has something to do with Duran Duran. Turns out that my friend was listening to Ordinary World. Once my friend identified the song, she went on to say, “I know. This is not your favorite song or album.” Obviously, we have had conversations about Duran Duran and this particular era before. Sadly, when we have talked, it is not quite the same as if, say, Rhonda and I were talking. My friend’s knowledge about Duran is limited. I struggle to explain everything I think without overwhelming her with information. Nonetheless, the conversation got me thinking.

This friend of mine (no pun intended), a fellow teacher, is about ten years younger than me. While we share much in common, the age difference comes up, especially with something like Duran. I remember playing the video for Planet Earth in my classroom when the most recent anniversary of the song came up. This friend came in and said, “I wasn’t even born then.” Oh boy. That’s great. Anyway, the first Duran songs she heard were, in fact, ones off of the Wedding Album, which makes sense based on her age. To her, this is Duran Duran. After all, this was her first exposure to the band. The brain put the sound of the Wedding Album as the default Duran Duran sound. That isn’t necessarily bad but explains why she doesn’t see the big deal out of the Rio era, for example. She doesn’t get it when I explain that most of the original Duranies turn to the first three albums as the default sound. After all, that was the first Duran Duran we heard. The Duran Duran we fell in love with.

Interestingly enough, the Wedding Era sound is her favorite despite me trying to expose her to other eras. She cannot connect in the same way that she did to Ordinary World and Come Undone. I, on the other hand, find myself seeking out a Rio like sound whether that is the Rio album itself or an album like All You Need Is Now. After all, that is the first Duran I heard. While I can appreciate the Wedding Album sound, it isn’t what typically comes to mind when I think Duran or when someone mentions the band. No, I think about that early 80s era.

So, in thinking about all of this, I have another question. If I wasn’t a kid in the 1980s and I didn’t hear that early Duran, would I have still become the Duranie that I am now? Would the Wedding Album instead be my go to sound if I was born ten years later or would I simply not be into the band? What about my friend? Would she have become a bigger fan if she was born ten years younger?

Then, I broaden this thinking. Was it just about the music? Did I become a fan just because I liked songs like Save a Prayer or New Moon on Monday? Or did it also have to do with everything else that was in place then? For example, I know that I heard Duran first before I ever saw them but what if MTV wasn’t a thing? What if they didn’t make videos? What about all of the media attention? I couldn’t escape seeing Duran Duran on the cover of multiple magazines when I went to the store. They couldn’t be avoided, really. If all that wasn’t enough, Duran Duran merchandise was everywhere. I had Duran Duran pajamas for crying out loud that I bought at my local box store. They were simply everywhere. So, did I become a fan because of the music, the other things or a combination of both?

One thing I always find interesting when talking with my friend is how little video played a role in her life. When talking about Ordinary World, she, in fact, stated, “Yeah, I think I saw the video once on VH1.” I had to take a deep breath after that. Well, then. This has led me to ask about other videos only to discover that she has never seen Hungry Like the Wolf with its exotic locale and missing Simon storyline. She must struggle to really understand why I am so into Duran and how that happened. After all, I do think the context matters, including all that media attention but also where I was, personally, coming from at the time that first heard and saw Duran.

As the conversation moved away from music, I couldn’t help but to think how lucky I was to grow up in the 1980s in order to experience all that I did with music and pop culture. It made me not only the fan I am now but also the person I am.

-A

Still Fangirling

I came by invitation

When I was in middle school, my experience as a fan pretty much consisted of buying teen mags, searching for pinups I didn’t already have, gabbing with friends about Nick’s seemingly new (to us) hair color, John’s fedoras, or maybe even Simon’s tiger baby pendant. I would listen endlessly to the Duran Duran albums I had, and whenever my friend Marsha’s mom agreed to take us to Tower Records, I’d search the record bins and inevitably I’d find new Duran Duran singles in there that I’d never heard of prior. As MTV arrived in my town and Friday Night Videos or Video One became a thing, I spent a fair amount of time waiting for the next video to arrive, or calling in to local radio stations, begging the DJ’s to play a request. Concerts weren’t really a thing for me, although I would sit and listen intently to friends who had either already seen the band at the Greek theatre (not many of us were that lucky), or were planning to go to the Forum in 1984.

I didn’t really have stories of my own to tell. No descriptions of late nights, running into a band member as he walked out of a club. There were no tales of sitting in lobbies, or trying to tail them from Milwaukee back to their hotels in Chicago. There were just the pinups, the music, the videos, my friends, and me.


Going on to somewhere

In many ways, those times were easy. The only way we could truly “compete” for Duran Duran real estate, so to speak, was through knowing everything there was to know about the band, and whatever we owned – pinups, music, t-shirts, and other merchandise. We’d each lay claim to our favorite band member, and hope no other friend decided to make a contest out of it…although I suspect that even then, we knew there was almost zero chance of any of us ever meeting the band, much less marrying one of them!

Decades later – and in a lot of ways it pains me to type those words (how can I really be nearing 50 anyway??) – fandom, or at least the practice thereof, has changed a bit for many of us. Hannah Ewens wrote in Fangirls, “Fandoms are a sphere where contribution increases with age, the more stories the better, the more access, the more information, the more gossip, the longer loving.” I’ve been thinking about quote that a lot this morning.

Back in 2003 as I attended my first Duran Duran fan convention, I can distinctly remember being fascinated by the stories. So many people I met had their own Duran Duran tales to tell. Stories of traveling, of meeting them in the 90’s, running into them in bars, hotels, restaurants. I wasn’t jealous, I was shocked. The world I never thought would collide with my own was right there, almost within reach.

A crush panic

I can’t really argue that as I’ve aged, I’ve done things that would have seemed completely out of this world in 1984. The very idea of ever being in front row, for example. In late 1983, as tickets for the Sing Blue Silver tour went on sale – my parents were dead set against the idea of even trying to get a ticket. My dad felt that I was far too young, and without having any older siblings (he absolutely wasn’t going to be taking me), I was pretty much sunk. My friend Marsha’s father stood in line the day they went on sale and came up completely empty. The tickets sold out very quickly, and she was sad when she came to school the following day. We stood around at break, listening to some of our other friends squeal in delight that they had not only gotten tickets, but their mothers – clearly wiser and far more hip than our own – had called a local ticket agency and gotten even better seats. Some of our friends were as close as third row, and their moms had no issue with forking over $100 or more to be up there.

This was 1984, I’ll remind you. One of my friends went to the Forum show, and I believe her seat was $11.00. Comparatively, $100 seemed like a fortune. It absolutely did to my dad when I told him later that night! After watching my dad’s face go from his regular ruddy complexion, to tomato red as he gasped in horror at the ticket price, declaring that he would never be “the kind of fool to pay those kinds of prices just so his kid could sit near the front of a damn rock concert!”, I figured front row wasn’t going to be an option. Hell, even just going to a concert was a long way off as it was. Little did I ever realize that someday, I would do exactly that…more than once!

My stories aren’t that amazing in the sense that no, I don’t have tawdry backstage tales, or memories of hanging with the band. I do, however, have some wonderful friends I’ve made. We’ve traveled to far off places that, back in 1984, wouldn’t have ever been in my biggest daydreams. My fandom is so much bigger at 48 than it was at 12 or even 13 – I wouldn’t have ever thought it possible.

Midnight traffic in her eyes

My tears during Seventh Stranger in Las Vegas were as much about my youth and experiences along the way as they were the band’s. Seeing the images I remember of Duran Duran from the 80s, bigger-than-life onscreen, combined with the Duran Duran I know from today felt like a lightning strike on my heart. We’ve walked a lot of miles together. Duran Duran created a safe place for me during my most awkward years. They gave me a place to grow, to feel connected to others, and to be understood. They still do.

When I’m in the audience at a Duran show – I can see thousands of different versions of myself in the audience. The shy introvert, the confident mom, the girl who saved up extra change from lunch to buy her first Duran Duran t-shirt, the new mother who survived post partum depression, the middle-aged woman that isn’t completely satisfied with her life or marriage. The seventh grader who just wants to be accepted. We’re all out there, living the music, enjoying the moment, together.

“Being a fan means you don’t have to be the person you are in this moment, restricted by time, space and circumstance, rather you can be strengthened by and exist through all the others you’ve been.” (Ewens)

-R

So Complicated Part 2

Yesterday’s blog talked how simple fandom can be in as I wrote about the three interactions I had with random people who either were fans or knew fans of Duran. At the time, I found myself envying the simplicity. It was just a matter of liking the band’s music. In one case, that’s all there was. The woman in the second case went further in that she attended concerts near her and the last case, the person talked about how big of a fan he was. Yet, I suspect that while these fans like Duran, they do not participate in the fan community at all. They might not know other fans and might not talk about the band much. There is no traveling for shows, friending or following other fans, collecting merchandise or any other fandom practice. Their fandom can be described as casual.

I, of course, am on the other end of the spectrum in that my fandom consists of producing new material related to being a fan (like this blog!). Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I am a bigger or better fan by acknowledging that. I’m just pointing out that I devote more time and money to fandom than these people do. (Again, maybe, I’m the crazy one!) We just express our fandom differently. One is not better or more important than the other. In meeting these people, a part of me was jealous of them. It must be nice and easy to just be a casual fan. I know that it is easy for me to be a Killers fan as I just buy the albums and go to concerts nearby. That is the extent of my fandom there. No one in the fan community knows me and I don’t know any of them. Part of me wishes that is how things can be for me in the Duran world.

So, the first question is why? Sometimes, being part of a fan community is tough. Initially, it might feel totally awesome as you are meeting tons of people who love the same band you do. You can gush about how fabulous the music is or how there is nothing better than their concerts. But, then, you realize that it is not that simple. Some fans might not like how you express your fandom or disagree with your fandom philosophy and you to them. For example, some fans enjoy reading this blog. Others might never click on it, thinking that Rhonda and I are terrible people. Sometimes, people love what we have to say or do and others totally disagree with us. By writing this blog, it put us in a position in which we can be judged. I am not saying that to earn sympathy. On the contrary, we knew that criticize was going to happen and still went ahead and wrote the blog anyway. We accepted how this was going to go, for the most part. While we get it, it doesn’t always make things easy.

The next question is can I go back? If I stopped writing the blog tomorrow, could I go back to be like those casual fans I met this week? When I think about my real life, the people I run into and interact with, I know that if I stopped listening to Duran today, they would still associate me with the band. A couple of weeks ago, a friend from high school was passing the area when Duran apparently came on the radio. She immediately thought of me and messaged me to get together. Duran Duran leads people in my life to think of me. That would not change if I stopped writing this blog or even stopped being a fan. What about in the fan community? Could I go back to being anonymous there? I don’t think I could get rid of every evidence of this blog existing or all of the meetups we have done. Could I be anonymous at concerts? I have met a lot of fans at concerts. Would I want those people to forget me? Could I forget them, especially those fans who go to a lot of concerts? I don’t think so.

Finally, would I really want to go back to how things were in 2003 or early 2004? As much as that might be easier, I have never been one for easy. I am teacher. That is not exactly the easiest profession. I’m also an activist. Both of those are such that I work really hard for sometimes minimal changes. Yet, I don’t give up. Even when things are tough in our fan community, I cannot see myself walking away. I am part of this fan community and always will be.

-A

So Complicated Part 1

Sometimes, I need a reminder that fandom can be simple.  I have had three in the last few days.  Then, of course, the follow up question is: “Could I go back to simple like this?  Is it even possible?  Would I want to?”

My brother and sister-in-law were visiting this week.  On Wednesday, we went to a zoo and a local museum of sorts.  I didn’t think too much about this plan when I got dressed so I put on a Duran Duran t-shirt.  Let’s face it.  It is the summer.  I wear t-shirts pretty much every day.  The fact that it was a Duran shirt added nothing of interest to my day or so I thought.  Yet, it provided me of a reminder that fandom really can be simple. 

One of the first stops we made on Wednesday after the zoo was a coffee shop.  I was in desperate need of some caffeine and a break from running around.  As we got into the coffee shop, the barista noticed my shirt and said, “I like your shirt.”  I didn’t even remember what the heck I was wearing.  I glanced down and mumbled a quick thank you, wondering if I should be embarrassed, proud or indifferent.  I went with the latter before I turned my attention back to the menu.  Before I could order, the guy beyond the counter says, “Duran Duran.  They are an old band.”  Rather than be insulted, I said, “Well, they are still around, you know?  They still make new music and tour.  They played like a week ago, in fact.”  The guy seemed shocked as he mumbled an “I didn’t know that.”  If this interaction happened years ago, I might have been annoyed that he was so ignorant but now, I had a burst of excitement in that I could educate this guy.  Will he go out and buy Paper Gods?  I don’t know but he might. 

Not an hour or so later, I found myself getting information from the front desk clerk at this museum of sorts when I was interrupted by another employee saying, “I love your shirt.  I love Duran Duran.  You know it took me 22 years to see them live.  22 years.  I always wanted to see them live but my mom wouldn’t let me.  They haven’t played in Madison since I a kid, you know. So I had to go see them in Milwaukee as part of the Astronaut Tour.”  Before I could overthink things, I commented about how great the band is live and how I, too, was at that Milwaukee show.  I thought about mentioning how I have seen them live since and I travel to do so but I didn’t. Would this woman really care?  Would that diminish her experience?  Figuring that it might, I let it go.  She doesn’t care what I have done.  She ended by saying that she hoped to see them again and I concurred, loving the idea of them playing in Wisconsin while not holding my breath for it at the same time.

Then, yesterday, I was at a meeting for work when I was asked about concerts by my boss.  Had I seen Duran Duran this summer he wanted to know.  I, of course, have not and responded as such.  He then wondered aloud if I had “maxed out” on them.  Ah…no.  Not exactly.  He tried to tell me about someone else he knows who loves the band.  Okay.  Cool. Part of me wanted to meet the person he referred to while the other part was nervous about that. Would this other fan be cool?  Would I have to prove myself to him?  Would he to me? Then, I realized that none of that would matter. It isn’t about that.

These three people reminded me that being a fan can be as simple as liking someone or something. Yes, for some people that might mean liking a song or two like I suspect was the deal with the coffee shop guy. For others, they might take it further by attending concerts nearby. Still, some might be known to be “big fans.” Is one better than the other? No. I could say that the “big fan” might take their fandom more seriously. They might spend more time or money on their fandom but they might not.

With each of these interactions, I had the same overall feeling. First, I was happy that others like the band. Then, I had moments of being envious of them. They clearly aren’t part of the fan community. No one in the community knows them. They are anonymous. They are free to love the band as much or as little as possible. Sometimes, I wish for that as it might feel freeing. Could I do that, though? Would I really want to give up the blog? Could I retreat back to that anonymous situation? What else would I have to give up? To be continued…

-A

It’s a Crush Panic: Lyrics Describing Duran Fandom

Duranies are so dang clever, I swear! The other day I posted a simple, little question on social media: “What Duran Duran lyric describes how you feel about the band?” We got a ton of responses on both Facebook and Twitter, which I loved to see. When I asked the question, I just wanted people to participate in the fan community. As a bonus, I also love reading Duran lyrics. All that said, it became super clear that this question shed a bit of light on our fandom, one that I was not expecting. It seems to me that I could put the responses into categories to help show what I learned!

Emotional connection:

“Your rhythm is the power to move me. It’s something you control, completely.”

“I think you’ll find it’s true. These words are like the sand, just get blown away. All the things we’d like to say. We need you.”

“You make me feel alive, alive, alive.”

“Some people call it a one night stand but we can call it paradise.”

“A smile that you can’t disguise. Every minute I keep finding clues that you leave behind.”

“You know you’re something special and you look like you’re the best.”

“All she wants is…MORE!”

“My immaculate dream, made breath and skin..”

“The price of my blue star eyed weakness…”

“Like a birthday or a pretty view…but then I’m sure that you know it’s just for you.”

“A hit to fit reality. It’s just a state of mind and you, and it, it’s more than just. And that’s what you’ve got to find. We’ll make you spin. We’ll make you sweat. All you have to do is choose me. And if you would try an alternative high, then tell me, what have we got to lose now?”

“Maybe it’s something they put in your perfume or the look in your eyes”

“Now you’re on the sandman everyday. Dancing with the bulls in any old way. Running like a fox…”

“Hold my hand. Please understand me. You’re never alone…”

“And your telephones been ringing while you’re dancing in the rain”

“So easy to disturb with a thought, with a whisper”

“Wild boys always shine”

“You’ve gone too far this time…”

“You shine where others fade…”

“…and we’re gonna go to space, kid, cause I’m leaving with an astronaut!”

“Save a prayer till the morning after”

“Waiting…”

“And she wonders how she ever got here as she goes under again”

“I may be a deluded fool but still fascinated”

“But now I feel your presence in a way I could not know”

“It doesn’t have to be serious”

“Must be lucky whether when you find the kind of wind that you. Come on. Show me all the light and shade that made your name.”

“Chill, is it something real or the magic I’m feeding off your fingers?”

What you want the band to do or know:

“Is there something I can say to make you come my way?”

“And it hurts me to think you might never know that I’ve got this thing about you.”

“My obsessive fascination is in your imagination!”

“Because you’re lonely in your nightmare, let me in and there’s heat beneath your winter, let me in.”

“…in case you don’t understand, there’s something else I meant to tell you, there is nothing better than being with you.”

“I love you so much, I keep your cigarette butts.”

“I do what I do to have you”

“The music’s between us”

“Don’t say you’re easy on me, you’re about as easy as a nuclear war”

“I know this is real, believe it. We belong together. Whatever happens you’re gonna be with me forever”

Song Titles:

“Wild boys.”

“What are the chances.”

“All you need is now”

“Notorious”

“Faith in this colour”

“Big Bang Generation”

“So Misled”

“New Religion”

Childhood/Teenage Years/Good Times:

“And you sway in the moon the way you did when you were younger, when we told everybody all you need is now.”

“Everybody everywhere feel it in the air. It’s time to take the pressure off!”

Now, in fairness, my categories are not perfect. Obviously, for example, some of the song titles are also lyrics, for instance. That said, I thought it was interesting how people responded to the question. Some people clearly went for a positive, why I love the band, which is cool. Others seemed to pick lyrics that would speak to the band from the fans. What also interested me is that not all of the lyrics were completely positive. For example, “so misled” could be a dig that the band isn’t what they thought. Same thing could be said about the nuclear war lyric. I think, overall, the answers show that there is a diversity of thought about the band and fandom, which is cool. All in all, I enjoyed the heck out of the super smart responses and plan to ask more questions like this. It was fun! I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t decide to do something else with these lyrics, too.

What did you all think? Did you enjoy the question? Do you have suggestions for other questions?

-A

Built on Hope and Burnt by the Sun

I had hoped that the summer would bring me more time to be involved and to be thinking about any and everything in Duranland. The last couple of weeks have definitely fulfilled that goal. There has been a lot more thinking, writing, discussing Duran, for sure. Interestingly enough, it has made me question some things rather than just bring me back into the fandom fold. Questioning isn’t a bad thing but different from what I thought would happen.

When I think about my history in this fandom, I go back to 2004 and what I wanted then. When I jumped in online, the reasoning was a simple one. I wanted to make friends and I wanted people to go to shows with. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less. Did I accomplish that? I have met a ton of people through this fandom. There is no doubt about that. I couldn’t have been more excited and happy. I remember this feeling of utter contentment. Some of those friends did attend shows with me and many of them remain as people I would still list as friends even if we don’t speak much anymore. Of course, Rhonda is the big exception.

Speaking of, we quickly discovered that we could tour together easily and have so much fun. I never laugh so much than when I am with her. So fandom in 2004 and 2005 was just joy. Of course, this perfectly coincided with the conclusion of graduate school, which meant more time and money. Life felt pretty good. I was filled with hope that this could continue indefinitely. Naive is probably the best word to describe how I was then. Soon enough, as 2005 turned to 2006, cracks in the pavement (pun intended) started to appear. I began to notice that not all fans got along with each other and definitely felt the wrath of those who believed that I did not express my fandom appropriately, at all times. On top of that, the reunion excitement fizzled as Andy left and the Red Carpet Massacre era brought division.

Hope remained high still for me. Those intensely positive memories from the Astronaut era offered protection against the negatives even when I began to worry that I was all alone or would be all alone soon enough. I remember making the decision to go see the band during their Broadway run in New York City in 2007 as the band promoted RCM. I went with a college friend who knew next to nothing about Duran but was excited to see me and wanted to support my interests. I had a good time (as I would at any Duran show) but it wasn’t the same.

By the fall of 2008, my hope began to return as Rhonda and I began studying fandom. If I understand this social phenomenon, I thought then I could do what needs to be done to keep it all positive. Then, the All You Need Is Now era began and, for the most part, my life in Duranland was great. It wasn’t perfect but it was pretty good. I went to the most shows ever and had a chance to see the band in the UK. We began to do meet ups and even planned a convention, hoping these events might bring friendships and joy to other Duranies like we had and that the fan community might be a more positive place.

Paper Gods brought a lot more shows and new friends. However, as the fandom wheel continued to go around, I found myself relying on shows and touring as my main means of escape and joy. Fandom provided the balance to the ever increasing stressfulness of my job and the real world. But I began to realize that the balance that fandom brought was delicate. Real life began to feel like I was walking on a very thin railing and hoping that I wouldn’t fall off. If I could make it to the shows or to a tour, it would feel like I made it across the railing to get to firmer ground. Yet, that firmer ground was getting shorter and less fun. It felt like I needed fandom differently than I had in the beginning. In 2004, I needed it for fun. By 2017, I needed it to keep me from falling into a deep, dark hole of sadness and loneliness.

Realizing this, I began to look around. Was fandom still providing me the same things that it once did? Was it bringing me new friends? Yes, I know people but I’m not sure how many of them I feel particularly close to or feel like I can rely on. So, I did what I had to do and focused some of my attention and energy on friendships outside of Duranland. What about going to shows? I still have people to go to shows with but those shows are getting harder and harder. Lately, it has always meant a long day of travel and the stress of missing work and flying. I have to wonder how much is it worth it. Yet, I fear that once I stop traveling to shows, those goals from 2004 will go up in smoke. It was the mark the end. Now, I am still a fan and will always be one. I just have to wonder if the days, my days in this fandom are numbered. In 2007, a lot of the friends I had made in 2004 and 2005 were walking away and now I feel that same sense. I pushed through then and kept hope alive but I’m not sure that I can now. I’m tired. I’m tired of being the consistently there and consistently strong one. I have to do that in real life so I don’t know that I can do it in fandom, too.

Now, I have been around long enough to know that how I feel right now may not be how I will feel next month or next year. Maybe I will have the most amazing time in Vegas in September that I cannot imagine myself not traveling to see shows. If the timeline about new music coming out next year is at all accurate, that might keep me around for another cycle. After all, I still think it would be cool to see the band play in the UK for their 40th, if that were to happen. This I do know. I cannot force any of it. I cannot control what the band does, what my friends do or how I feel. So, for now, I will try to keep that initial hope alive.

-A

Been Under Quiet Attack

Sometimes, fandom feels like an endurance test. It like the world and everything and everyone in it is just to push you away from fandom. For some people, they might opt to leave, to avoid, to hide. I, on the other hand, am feeling feisty, determined. I’m digging in my heels.

It has never been easy to be a Duran Duran fan. I am sure that a lot of people would think I’m insane for saying that. After all, at one point, they were the most popular band in the world. They were everywhere and you could buy merchandise upon merchandise in the mid-1980s U.S. Yet, for me, it didn’t always feel awesome. Sure, it was great fun with my friend as we watched Sing Blue Silver for the millionth time in her TV room but sucked that other kids at school talked smack about them along with countless DJs, music critics, and random strangers. “Aww…that band sucks. Can they even play their own instruments? Must be rough to be put together by a management company. What’s with the eyeliner? What are they gay?” were just some of the rude and untruth comments I was exposed to both then and now. It didn’t make me turn away from Duran but made me more determined to love them.

Then, of course, the mid to late 1980s was not always kind to the band and their fans. I saw my best friend walk away from the fandom. All the fans had to watch Duran regroup after side projects but also with the departure of Roger and Andy. On top of that, life often got in the way to the point where I found myself moving on while holding on to the that sliver of being a fan. Could I? Would I return to the really join the fan community? I wasn’t certain especially as the 1990s grew older but I know that when I took the time to watch and listen to Duran my love endured even if I remained pretty isolated as a fan.

Of course, I jumped back in with two feet along with countless others as the band reunited. I believed that this would be the best ever. Not only was I thrilled that the beloved Fab Five was back, I looked forward to getting to know more and more fans to share my love with others. Sadly, I also assumed that Duran’s longevity would result in nothing but acceptance and kudos from the music critics and the public as a whole. As we know, that didn’t always happen. Yes, they received more public acclaim than they had previously but they are never quite totally respected. On top of that, I found myself battling on a new front. Now, it seemed that others criticized my fandom because I’m “too old”. I should have let that go as a kid, people would imply. It certainly should not interfere with real life or all those responsibilities.

Still, I figured that I could blow off all those music critics, journalists, and nosey people in my own life as long as the fan community provided nothing but acceptable and joy. Sometimes, it has. I have had tremendous moments in which everything just feels right. I remember looking around, for example, at various points of Durandemonium, the convention that Rhonda and I organized, and thought how amazing it all was. Another example is when it seemed like the entire venue was clapping along to the Man Who Stole a Leopard in Glasgow in December of 2011. Sometimes, I have had it when we have held our online parties. It can be the best time ever.

Yet, there have been other times that it feels like I have battle both the outside world and the inside one. Yes, Rhonda and I chose to express our fandom by writing this blog, by organizing fan events, etc. It’s cool that it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe some people don’t want us to do this or that. Others might not always like who we are or what we have to say. That’s okay, too. That said, I’m not going to stop loving Duran, who I am or how I express my fandom. I’m more determined than ever to stick around, do what I do and love the band with all of my being. I’m looking forward to partying hard in a couple of months at some great shows with my friends. Then, all of the obstacles put in my way will get pushed to the side and all that will remain is what started all of this to begin with.

-A