Chapter 73: Learning to Survive
What was your reaction to John’s brief discussion of Andy and Dom?
A – Like everyone else, I wondered if John would discuss Andy and Dom. Obviously, he acknowledged that things did not work out with Andy due to “differences” but he did not go further. I am glad that he didn’t say more. He did not use this book as an opportunity to bash Andy or criticize him. He wasn’t harsh by acknowledging that there were differences. Yet, at the same time, this makes it pretty clear that Andy isn’t coming back to the band, in my opinion. As for Dom, he certainly was very positive, wasn’t he? He said that Dom was a “player of great depth and versatility”. John also mentioned how he appreciates their friendship.
R – I was curious what he would say, if anything. I was pleased to see that he didn’t use the opportunity to say his peace. To be honest, I’d have lost respect for him, and not because I am loyal to Andy, but because it’s none of our business. His not saying anything only proves that he is still loyal to his relationships with his band members and friends, which I completely respect and admire given their long history.
Did you have any connection to the story of John’s dad’s disappearance in 2007?
A – This event, in which John’s dad took a very, very long drive and ended up needing help, took place on November 2, 2007, the first Friday night of Duran’s run on Broadway. John got the news that his dad was missing before the show. I was actually at that show and I have to say that I couldn’t tell that anything was wrong. As I’m sure you all are aware, I tend to focus on John during a show and I tend to be sensitive to heightened emotions. Yet, I had no idea. I give all the credit to John as he was such a professional that night even when I’m sure he was out of his mind with worry.
R – Nope. I was at home incubating (and very sick, I might add!). Horrible story though. I can only imagine what that must have been like…and it’s a story that we all fear as our parents begin to really age.
Were you surprised that John’s dad’s memory seemed stuck on his war experience?
A I wasn’t surprised by that. In fact, I would expect that his memory would focus on those events as he got older and struggled more and more with memory. It is so typical of long term memory to get stuck on those most traumatic moments. I was glad to see that he talked enough for John to be able to get a glimpse of what he went through. Obviously, he went through so much and saw so much horror during this death march that somehow he survived. Based on the fact that this is the chapter is titled, “Learning to Survive”, clearly, that is the message John learned both from his parents and from his life. He learned to survive.
R – I’m not at all surprised by this because it’s what the human mind does. It was a very sad chapter overall.
Chapter 74: Coachella, Indio, California, 17 April 2011
Do you agree with John that things were different with AYNIN versus RCM?
A – I absolutely agree that things were different. He seems to focus on social networking and while I absolutely agree that social networking made a HUGE difference, I think there were other factors that made things different and seemed to keep the band separated from the fans. For example, to many of us, the band didn’t follow their usual path by bringing in Timbaland. That created a wall. Then, Andy’s departure didn’t help. Again, the distance between the band and the fans grew. Lastly, the band didn’t know how or didn’t seem to reach out to the fans at all. For a lot of us, we began to wonder if they even cared. All of these things seem to feed that theory.
R – I can really only answer this as a fan and in my own experience – and yes, I think the two albums (and how they were made) were completely different. I’ve written more than a few articles on how removed I felt the band had always been from their fans. One should remember that I grew up in the US. There were no fan letters from band members sent here – I think by the time they were on a majority of our minds in the 80’s they had “people” sending out responses for them, and we all know how crazy things were for the band back then. For their own safety I really don’t think they could have reached out to fans. Then during the reunion, I recognized while they were standing there in front of us, it still felt very much as though they wanted to keep that mystique going, and by that time – I have to admit, I rolled my eyes at the idea a lot. I think that for a while, there was a concerted attempt to create more of a demand by making them seem completely unavailable, untouchable, unreachable…even to fans. That was a serious error in marketing, in my opinion. I think it took the band entirely too long to warm up to the idea that they should actually interact with fans once again, and in some ways I think they’re still paying the price for that. A lot of fans simply walked away in favor of either supporting bands that actually seemed like they were not only thankful to their fans for being there (and not just saying the words at the end of every show) and wanting to get to know them and interact…or they just got busy with their everyday lives and kind of put concerts into that box labeled “childhood” or “adolescence”. It happens. Then of course RCM came out, and in my opinion – if they weren’t already acting as if they didn’t want us around (longtime fans), that album certainly nailed that point home. The album seemed to be created with the idea that they needed to take a huge departure and reach out to a younger fan base. I give them credit for taking that risk, even though I still feel that was a mistake. I still stand by my assessments, that the album did absolutely nothing to help the band and did everything possible to turn long time fans away. When they announced All You Need is Now, I was shocked they were really going to complete another album, and when it came out I cried silent tears of joy because they were finally beginning to accept who they are…and then at the same time they started embracing social media, and I give them credit for sticking with it. I have enjoyed being a fan more in the last three or four years than ever, and I really doubt I’m alone.
What is your reaction to the following quote?: “At day’s end, my job is to be the catalyst for connectivity, to help bring people closer together.”
A – He’s absolutely right. That is what anyone who has fans SHOULD do. The focus should be about bringing people together. The music may bring us to Duranland but it is the other fans and the friendships that develop that keep us here. He knows this. He gets this. Clearly.
R – Gosh, I’d swear I’ve read that somewhere before.
What did you think of the ending?
I loved how he described in detail what he feels as the show starts and how there is “a million tiny seductions all at once.” Again, John has a way with words that truly shows exactly what happens. Likewise, the very last line, “And the music never sounded better,” was perfect. Perfect. As a decades old Duranie, he is right. The music has never been better.
I just have to add that I really hope that they continue in this spirit. I hope they keep embracing the band they really are and that Mark is able to allow them to expand upon the journey they began with AYNIN rather than having them completely reinvent themselves for the next album. There is something to be said for not needing to reinvent the wheel, but they can certainly be proud of who and what they are – as they should. The last line is the best line – the music has never been better. He is right.
John ended the book with probably the saddest moment with his father’s passing and with an incredibly high moment at Coachella. I think that is very telling. John made it a point in saying that he learned an important lesson from his dad and that is how to survive. It seems to me that John learned to survive through it all–good and bad, up and down, sad and happy.