Category Archives: Duran Duran

Book Discussion-In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 12-16)

It’s Monday!  This means that it is a book club day at the Daily Duranie!  Today, we are discussing chapters 12-16.  Read up and join in on the discussion by responding to the discussion questions and/or giving new discussion questions!

Chapter 12:  Shock Treatment
Thoughts about John’s description of that very first show as Shock Treatment?
A – A few things jumped out at me from his description of that very first show at the school dance.  First, the line, “Before tonight I was nobody, but now I was in charge,” caught my attention.  The second lines I really took note of were, “I wielded enough power and electricity..to shake up everyone’s perception of who they thought I was…some substantial, chemical, hierarchical shift was taking place.”  Up until this point, I really thought John’s motivation to forming a band had to do with being in a group and performing music.  Now, this added another dimension.  John seemed to like the idea that this was going to change what people thought of him.  Did he have some burning desire to be thought of as cool?  I think back to that story about John in school with the glasses.  Was this a way to destroy that embarrassment of being uncool?
R – I don’t know John Taylor, but I think there is something to be said for destroying the perceptions that others have of you when you’re a teenager.  I think most kids try to at least blur those boundaries if not knock them completely apart.  They might do this in the way that John did with his band; or maybe they will reinvent themselves when they go on to college and so forth.  In my opinion, it’s about finding out who you really are, and I think it’s an essential part of growing up.  


John talked about residencies for bands.  Do they still have those?  If so, do they still fulfill their purpose as John mentioned?
A -You know what I have always thought was interesting.  I have always enjoyed music and like live music.  Yet, I have never been one to go see local bands.  The only time I can think of is when I was friends with the band members.  I wonder how many people do go to see local bands.  I have heard of some local bands getting a decent crowd but enough to say that they are going places?  Not really.  Yet, what John mentions here makes sense.  Bands must learn in order to have a residency and to have it serve a purpose.
R – The most “local” band I ever took time to go see on a regular basis was Clear Static, unless you count my going and seeing my high school boyfriend’s band play – and they didn’t really DO a residency.  I’m not sure how many bands actually do this here in the states.  I really have no idea. I would imagine that some bands have regular places that they play – like Clear Static and the Key Club on Ruby Tuesdays, for instance, but now I’m curious how many bands actually have “home” clubs that they play. We didn’t really have clubs that bands would play at near me, so this whole concept of “residencies” was/is pretty foreign to me.  What John says does make sense in some ways, because having that “home court” also allows for a group to cultivate the beginnings of real support, i.e. fans.  That said, I also am a firm believer in not resting on one’s laurels.  It’s one thing to work a crowd that is already behind you – they are fans – it’s another to learn how to work a crowd that has never seen you before.  In my opinion, that is easily as important if not more so, and it’s where a band earns their chops.  They have that solid fan base at home, but can they earn fan support elsewhere?  Is this band going to be one that can appeal beyond their friends from high school?  It’s where I’ve seen many a band completely lose it.  They thought they were hot stuff because their high school buddies would come see them play, but yet they couldn’t draw a crowd to save their lives on tour.  Gotta keep playing live, no matter where or to whom. 

Chapter 13:  Barbarella’s
Does this scene at Barbarella’s seem familiar and does it serve a purpose to John’s story?
A – When I first read this chapter, I could absolutely relate as I used to spend quite a bit of time in a local club.  Like the scene John described, it was very red from the light bulbs to the furniture at one time.  I, too, used to go on “school night” except in my case, it was the night before I had to teach!  The second time I read this chapter, though, I wondered if it really fit.  John spent a great deal of time describing the scene but did it further his story along.  I don’t know.  Yes, I know basically how they got there, what they did there but…I suppose it serves as a transition to the next chapter.
R – the only “regular” club I attended was Fashions on the Redondo Beach Pier when I was in college.  It was a dance club though, and it was where I met my husband.  (and it too had lots of red furniture, red carpet…red paint on the walls, along with black trim and a black/white checked floor.)  I think John used the chapter just as you say Amanda – it was transitional for him, and to be fair, I think that at the time he considered it as a sort of second home.  

Chapter 14:  Ballroom Blitz with Synthesizers
Reactions to the influences of the Heartbreakers and Human League?
A – It seems to me that Duran is constantly asked about their influences.  Typically, they seem to respond with David Bowie, Roxy Music, the Sex Pistols, Chic and a couple more.  Yet, I don’t think I ever heard the Heartbreakers mentioned or Human League.  Of course, after reading this chapter, I totally get it.  Were these bands just an influence to John?  Is this a case when the band gives a party answer?  Makes me wonder.
R – I didn’t really notice this – it didn’t jump out at me, probably because we have heard about their influences SO many times, even I can give their “party line” answer.  I have to say though that this book really is John’s story, so it makes sense that his influences might differ a bit from those that the band gives as a whole.  It’s what I really enjoyed most about his book – it’s HIS story. Not that I don’t need to read about Duran Duran, but I really liked reading about John Taylor, as I know you did!  

Obviously, as Duran fans, we must be happy that John’s parents allowed him to take a year to focus on music.  Would you do the same in that situation?
A -This part really hit me because I constantly feel like I’m battling between wanting to do something I love and being able to pay my bills.  For example, if I wanted to write about fandom full-time, I couldn’t live on that.  The same could be true if I actually went for a paid job in a campaign.  It would be a job, but not enough of one to live the life I’m used to.  Besides, I think most people would think like John’s parents did, that both of these other “jobs” of mine are a hobby, at best.  Nothing more.  While I am really jealous of John’s ability to follow his dreams like that, I know that I can’t. I don’t live with my parents.  I have to pay my own way (no pun intended!).  Perhaps, I should have done it when I was John’s age, but I didn’t.  I was quick to prove myself to be a responsible adult.  Of course, I could have had it worse.  I was, at least, allowed to pick my own college and study what I wanted to study without too much of a concern about what my chosen career would be.  I was allowed to just be a student.  A lot of my friends were pressured to go to college to be trained for a specific career.
R – I am going to be completely honest here.  There is absolutely no way on this planet that I would have EVER gone to my parents and asked them for such a thing.  Had I done that, my dad would have lost it, and I wouldn’t be here today anyway.  I knew exactly where the boundaries laid – and taking a year off to “find myself” or try to get a music career started were well outside of what was expected for me.  As a parent, I am going to do my best to try and remember this sort of thing.  I have a daughter who is at the age where we’re beginning to look at colleges. She is brilliant, and I’m not just saying that – she is one of those kids who is both gifted at the arts as well as in math and science (she is lucky the genes went that way), and she finds herself divided between doing what she wants in her heart (going into musical theater/acting/directing/etc.) and getting a degree that might not be what her heart wants, but she will easily be able to make a good living.  I keep telling her the same thing: if she wants to be on Broadway so badly that she is willing to sleep in her car to make it happen – then that is what she really ought to do. Of course I say that, and then I remind her that she doesn’t need a college degree in acting in order to become an actress, and that even though she really wants something – she does still need to be able to take care of herself. I don’t think my husband and I are in the position to have the kids living at home with us into their thirties so they can follow their dream, nor do I think that every child who “wants” to be a rock star will make it.  Hardly.  So, it’s a very tough balancing act.  I just try to be supportive but realistic.  Sometimes I succeed, and a lot of times I fall far short.  *sigh*

Chapter 15:  Everybody Dance
Was Duran Duran Version 2.0 important in Duran’s history?
A -What seems to amaze me in reading John’s account of early Duran is how things shifted until the band finally becomes the band we know and love.  It seems like every step was a necessary one to get to where they needed to be.  First, John had to form Shock Treatment and have that initial taste of being a performer.  Then, he had to meet Stephen Duffy, which lead him to Andy Wickett and to Roger Taylor.  Roger, along side of John’s first exposure to Chic, seriously seem pretty significant to me thirty plus years later. This is when, of course, John switches to bass and him and Roger start to form the rhythm section.  I did find myself wondering how Nick and Roger would tell the story of this time in the band’s history.  Did they get how each step got them closer to where they wanted to be?
R – I think this is one of those things that you probably don’t really *see* until many years later – hindsight is 20/20 and all…

Chapter 16:  Plans for Nigel
Did John need to change his name?
A – I found his thought process fascinating here.  On one hand, he wanted to reinvent himself, which I could  totally understand.  I remember that I was Mandy for years.  Years.  In fact, my family still calls me Mandy as opposed to Amanda.  In school, I went by Mandy for years, too.  It was when I moved that I switched.  I didn’t get why I did that then, but I have an idea now.  It was my way of saying to my new town (a small town away from Chicago that I wanted nothing to do with) that they wouldn’t have or get to know the real me.  It was a way of hiding, I suppose.  Yet, I had a friend in college change her name to reinvent herself and she has stuck with it ever since.  I suppose that part of what struck me about John was how he wasn’t that confident to be a Nigel in the music business crowd.
R – I have a friend that completely changed her name from what I knew it to be in high school.  First, last, middle…all of it.  She moved to the UK, and if she hadn’t found me on Facebook I would have never known what happened to her.  I don’t know why she chose to make the changes she did, but apparently she felt strongly enough to make it all happen.  As for John, I know plenty of people who changed their names to be in the “business”.  In some cases, they changed their names to somehow substantiate a difference between their private and public lives.  In others, perhaps they felt like John.  It’s interesting to me as a fan though because I only know John as well, John.  The book gave me a little taste of Nigel though – and I sort of think the real catharsis here is that John has come to terms with Nigel and vice-versa.  

Final Thoughts:
A -I really liked to see how all the steps lead John to form Duran and how each of those steps lead to the Duran we know and love.  Of course, in any story, those steps seem obvious and logical. I’m willing to bet that there were many times when John and Nick couldn’t tell if they were on the right path or not.


Next week, we will be ready to discuss Chapters 17-21.  🙂

-A
 

  

I Built You a Shrine…

Today, despite my campaign insanity, which has included being interviewed by the French press and spending time talking with a White House staffer, I realized that we are officially in Duran downtime.  I know, I know.  I’m late.  I should have realized that on Wednesday.  Heck, Rhonda even talked about it and I’m still slow to pick it up.  Nonetheless, I thought about I would like to pass the downtime with minimum displeasure AND be productive!  After all, I will soon be focusing on things other than wards, candidates, turfs, rallies and volunteers.  The big thing that I will be putting all of my attention, of course, will be that book of ours.  One of the areas of the book that I want to expand some is the section on representations of fandom.  This won’t be the first time I have talked about this.  I did a blog way back in April of 2011, which you can find here.  During that blog, I talked specifically about the movie, Music and Lyrics.  In other blogs, we have talked about the movie, Fever Pitch, and I talked about the documentary, Something You Should Know.  Rhonda also took time to discuss the book, Talking to Girls about Duran Duran.  Yet, there are many, many other books, movies and TV that show fandom.  Thus, my plan is to take one representation of fandom per Sunday to discuss.

Of course, I have a list of what I plan to start with, but I’m sure that there are many more examples of fandom in books, movies and TV shows.  My list of movies is as follows:  Sugartown (wonder which famous bass guitarist is in that one?!), Trekkies, and Almost Famous.  I did see a movie by the name of Groupies once that I hope to track down.  From what I remember about the cover, it was some super cheesy horror film, which I’m sure presents groupies in the best of light.  Not.  The only TV show that I can think right now is Samantha Who, which again features a bass player that we might know.  For books, I have the following list:  Juliet Naked, How Soon is Forever, and I Love the 80s.  What I need for you, my dear readers, is other suggestions.  What am I missing?  What should I check out?

The other question, besides what representations should I check out, is what kinds of things should I be watching for.  The biggest thing that I will be watching for is how they represent fans.  Do they show them to be normal?  If not, what do they show them doing?  Do they show them in stereotypical ways?  If so, which stereotypes are they showing?  Are they showing just female fans?  Is there a difference between male fans and female ones?  Are they showing them to be obsessed and out of touch with reality?  Are they showing fans as unintelligent or unthinking people?  What questions am I missing?  I am obviously not expecting the representations of fans to be generally positive or well-thought out as most of these mediums are used to entertain and I realize that stereotypes are more amusing than not stereotypes. 

So, readers, we will start with something fun next weekend, Samantha Who.  I hope that this episode is available somehow, someway if people haven’t seen it or want to watch it again.  🙂

-A

Do Crowds Just Make You Feel Lonely?

I have had a long day.  On top of all day of canvassing, I am clearly fighting some sort of bug as I have a sore throat and had a fever most of the afternoon.  I realize that this is because I’m run down and that I need to sleep for about a decade.  I had ideas about what to write about, but I have decided against all of them.  Some of the ones I decided against just weren’t all that interesting.  Others, I feared controversy and since I have no time or energy to react, I opted not to.  Yes, I’m chicken.  I can go talk to voters and volunteers for hours at a time but have to face angry or annoyed Duranies, no thank you.  Ha!

When I look back on the reading/signing event on Tuesday, one part that I don’t think I mentioned much in my long blog was meeting and talking with other Duranies.  I did admit that I was a bit overwhelmed by the crowd, initially.  I’m not sure why that is, but I have always been like that.  Crowds and people can be too much for me.  It isn’t that I don’t want to be social.  I’m just not that good at going up and introducing myself.  I won’t lie.  I’m much better after I have had a glass of wine or a vodka tonic.  How sad is that?  Of course, I would have been better with Rhonda there.  Yet, I didn’t have either of those cushions/crutches there.  Again, this is particularly amusing since I lead a team of volunteers and since I teach groups of children.  For some reason, I’m able to overcome my awkwardness in those settings.  I think it is because I have a job to do, a focus.  Duranie events are about being social.  Old childhood fears return as I wonder if people will like me!  LOL.  Then, of course, since doing the blog, I’m never sure how people are going to take me.  That said, when I was able to let my guard down and be social, I had a really good time, which was really the point of this blog. 

There is something to be said for being around Duranies.  We understand each other without having to say much.  After all, we share a common interest and this interest is such that it isn’t a little interest but a big one, one we, generally, feel intensely about.  For example, everyone I was in line with the signing was excited and slightly nervous.  We all talked about what we might say, how we looked, etc.  Dinner discussion was filled with stories of past Duran experiences, like past concerts or past meet and greets.  We didn’t really talk much about our lives beyond Duranland but we didn’t go to an event like that to have real life interfere.  It is quite the opposite, in fact. 

So, as I was sitting here together struggling to organize 184 turfs of voters and 40 plus volunteers at any given time, I thought back to Tuesday and how much fun I had.  Of course, it was fabulous because of John Taylor.  That goes without saying, but it was definitely the other fans that made it better than fabulous.  I, then, thought about how I won’t go three years for an album and/to tour to be with Duranies again.  I won’t.  That’s just silly and would make me unhappy.  While Rhonda and I discussed plans for some events, there is nothing that is stopping me from trying to get together with Duranies nearby, right?  Maybe, that is the just the thing that I’ll need to have to look forward to once I have my life back.  Heck, maybe, I’ll pressure Rhonda to come visit then, too!  😀  Thus, Midwest area Duranies, I want you to start thinking about when might be a good time! 

-A

And so it begins. Or ends. Or keeps right on going!

I think this might be the first day of John’s vacation. Or at least I hope it is. Seems to me that while the rest of the band has been on hiatus for the past couple months, John has been working overtime.  Maybe it’s not really “work” for him.  One can at least hope that he’s enjoyed the potentially cathartic moments that may have occurred while he has gone to several cities to read portions from In the Pleasure Groove and sign thousands of those books. I did see signs that perhaps the book tour got to be too much for him…anyone who checked out Facebook or Twitter last night may have seen the same.  Judge for yourself.

So I think a vacation might be good here. In fact, I insist. Looks like you both (Gela and John) could use some time off, and maybe even just a bit of sun.  🙂

All joking aside, I know many of my fellow fans out there that have commented, both to me and indirectly on Twitter that they were beginning to bite their nails in a sort of nervous dread for this day to arrive – when there would be little or no “news” from the band, and nothing to look forward to on the not-so-distant horizon.  What now?

I can certainly understand and even empathize with this feeling of uncertainty.  I’m not all that uncertain about the band and what will come next – but there is this sort of uneasiness that comes as a fan.  This is really the first “hiatus” that we’ll all live through on Twitter and even on Facebook to a lesser degree.  John and Simon have done such an amazing job connecting with us on Twitter – and even Roger and John (again even though he is less comfortable) on Facebook that many wonder if they’ll just vanish during the next several months (years?) on social media until they are ready to bring another album into the world again.  The answer of course is that I have no idea. If I did – I’d tell you all.

This problem all stems from the same basic issue: we feel a sense of familiarity with the band and the individual members therein, that is not reciprocated on the same level. This is not a complaint, it is simply reality. Let’s admit it, many of us feel like they’ve embraced the fans this time around in a way we’ve never seen – at least not in recent memory, and definitely not if you didn’t grow up in Birmingham or at least England back in the 80’s. I am not one of the “familiars” that stood outside of John’s home in the 80’s, and to the best of my memory – I never wrote a single piece of fan mail that actually made it to the UK. I am not likely to be someone he could pick out of a crowd, and we’ve never been formally introduced on any sort of level. I think it’s safe to say that aside from my sometimes slightly sarcastic and perhaps even humorous replies on Twitter (or Facebook), he has not a clue about me – and even then – I only mention this because he has retweeted @dailyduranie a couple of times. (to which I am always thrilled. How could I not be??) My point being of course that while I know plenty about John – or at least what he has chosen to share – it’s entirely likely that he knows nothing about me. I might not even exist in his reality. *gasp*  I know.  It’s hard to imagine, but there it is.  We try to chat with them when they’re online – oh believe me I’ve sent FAR more than my fair share of tweets to a certain @dombrownmusic in my day, a few to @SimonJCLeBon and even posted replies to a Roger Taylor on Facebook – but I think it’s important to note that most of above mentioned never really reply….lest we forget.  So now, when it is assumed (on my part) that many if not all will take a break from public life and retreat to the quiet (or semi-quiet, because let’s face it – they’ve all got kids or young adult children and we ALL know how “quiet” that can be!) confines of private life, I find myself entering conversations such as the one below:

Twitter Buddy: “Have you seen _________ online?”
Me:  “No. I’m sure he’s taking a break.”
T.B: “I know, but does that mean he’ll NEVER get online again? I mean, are we just fun to talk with when they wanna sell something?”
Me: “No.  I don’t think it’s that, but let’s face it – they don’t KNOW us. It’s hard to remember we’re not friends, but we really aren’t.”
T.B: “I know. I sound pathetic. I need a hobby.”
Me: “YOU need a hobby!?! I write a blog. That IS my hobby!”
T.B: “Ha ha. Yeah, but at least you have a reason to keep going. I’m bored, and I know how I sound – I send tweets all the time.”
Me: “Oh, I send tweets. I think we all do. We all hope they read them, and that we keep them laughing when really they’d like to commit all of us to the crazy house. It’s sort of the way it works, isn’t it?  The point is recognizing that yes, we really all do sound like crazy people.  I think it’s the people who act crazy and don’t know that they’re acting crazy that would worry me most.”
T.B. “True.  So, you think they’re gonna do those summer dates?”
(note to John Taylor here: I’ll bet you’re sorry you tweeted about MAYBE doing summer dates, especially if they don’t happen. If it is not to be the case, may I suggest taking a long vacation…perhaps very far from any sort of internet connection. Just for your own safety, of course. I worry for you. Although by then, if my calculations are correct, the Duranies will have already begun the process of killing one another off by then….so the problem might already be solved.
Me: “I sure hope so. It’s only November and I’m already bored.  I need to find a hobby!”  (long pause) “Oh wait.”

The good thing of course, at least in my life at the moment, is that as of Tuesday say 11:59pm my time, still before my birthday (…which is a National Holiday in my house. Yes I realize that doesn’t make sense. The kids still buy it, and that’s what really matters if you get my drift…), Amanda will be finished with her campaigning.  Happy Birthday to me!!!  (Ok, so that has nothing to do with me whatsoever.  I’m slightly narcissistic in my spare time.) She’ll be back to Daily Duranie, we have a surprise in store for our blogosphere of readers, then we will work steadfast on finishing the book, and we’ll have Thanksgiving here in the US, and then Christmas and New Years.  I feel the busy coming on, and I welcome the feeling.

So John, enjoy your well-earned break. (obviously that goes for the rest of the band as well, should they be taking a break!) We’ll continue blogging here – I sense there to be a blog about a certain someone’s experience at a signing tomorrow.  We’ll keep discussing that fascinating book of yours, and should you choose to drop us all a line – we’ll gobble it up like the piranhas you know we are, and then we’ll sit, over-think, dissect and examine our way through to the new album.  Good times ahead!

-R

Digital and Audio Truth (Not even John’s book can escape from being used as blog title…)

Happy Halloween!!

I’m still struggling with the concept that it’s really Halloween.  I put up all of our decorations, I’ve got the Tinker Bell costume ready for the youngest…and naturally I have a good supply of candy on hand for our trick or treaters this evening, but wow….it’s really Halloween and the end of October??  Already??

Part of this problem is that of course, this means my birthday is coming in a week and sadly I must add another year onto my age.  I’ve been “practicing” saying 42 already.  Ick.  I’m going to just switch the numbers around.  I like the sound of “24” much better, although my oldest – bless her for bringing me down to earth – tells me that there is “NO WAY” I could pull off 24.  Before I take that as an insult, I must remember that she is in fact nearly 16.  I definitely did not have a child at the age of 8 *big sigh* so I suppose she’s right.  Damn.

The OTHER part of this though, is that as of about midnight last night (give or take since I wasn’t there in person), John’s book tour is over.  Thus begins the long dry spell of being a Duran fan, I suppose.  It will likely go months before we hear any news about the album (given that of course they haven’t even begun studio time yet), and still much longer before some small little snippet that makes absolutely no sense and gives no idea of direction or anything else comes to light with all of us tweeting “Wait, is that for real?  Is that from this NEW album or something that was unearthed from before?”  or “Is THAT what they’re doing?  Gah – that sounds like crap!  Where’s the guitar?” (or bass, or keyboards, or drums…etc.)  “Who are they working with now?  Why???”  Oh yes.  I can hardly wait.

I won’t give away the details of Amanda’s signing experience last night – as that’s for her to tell, but I will say that I got a very excited phone call from her after it was over.  She had three hours to kill on the way home, you know.  I will also say that I have a signed book coming from Wisconsin, which I am really excited to have and hold.  In addition, I will say that my book has a little doodle of the American flag on the page that John signed.  I’m amused by that, and I’m  amused that Amanda’s book and my book complement one another – just as I believe she and I complement one another on the blog and in real life.  Our friendship works well, even when some would assume otherwise. (because we are so very different)

I haven’t gone to a signing, but I have been spending my afternoons with JT in the car as I drive to pick my oldest up from school.  I have to tell you – and I know this isn’t our typical book club day on the blog, but if you haven’t gotten the audiobook yet, you really should.  I read the book back in September when it came out in the UK – I bought myself a Kindle copy.  I read the book very quickly – within mere hours as though it were a last meal.  (Truthfully I just didn’t put it down)  Then I received my US version of the book along with the audiobook. I really didn’t know what to expect with the audiobook because I’d never listened to one before.  I LOVE IT.  Love. IT!  Sure, it’s John Taylor reading the book, and that definitely has it’s own sort of appeal, but it’s not just that.  Having him read the book, as though he’s telling his story directly to you, gives him the opportunity to put emphasis on the things he feels are important. The spoken word is extremely powerful in a way I really hadn’t considered before. For instance, today I listened to John read chapter 56 – Dead Day Ahead.  I have to admit that when I first read the book I don’t think I really picked up on the subtle nuances that John was trying to convey.  It’s not just about his being “wired to the back teeth”, or the fact that out of clear blue nowhere he up and decided to write a chorale for Fr. Cassidy.  Sure, you can certainly read it that way – as I am sure many did.  It’s so much more than just that though. When John speaks his truth, tells HIS story – you can hear his frame of mind.  You can hear just how slightly manic he was, how slightly off the rails he’d really gotten.  Sure, it was the coke, and the last line in this chapter says it all.  “I had just enough coke left to get me through this next call.”

I won’t lie. A part of me died when I read that.  I felt mortified for John and worried about what might happen next.

I love books. I absolutely adore reading, and I try to read as often as I can. There’s a sort of family folklore surrounding the age in which I first started picking out words and then sentences to my dad – he read to me every single night before I went to bed.  It was his job, and I so looked forward to that time each night.  (I guess I’ve always enjoyed having someone read to me!) The story goes that one night when I was about two-and-a-half (those six months are important), my dad made a mistake while reading – he missed a word or something, and I pointed it out.  Then I started reading sentences to him.  I guess that by the time I was in kindergarten at the age of 5, the teacher didn’t know what to do with me because I was already reading full books.  Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was a favorite.  There are probably a lot of reasons why I love reading so much, but the truth is – nothing transports me away from reality faster than a good book.  I have a tough time putting them down, and John’s book is no exception.  Even though it’s his story (not Duran Duran’s story – I don’t know why fans have such a hard time with this concept – the members of the band are individuals, each with their own experiences, brains, emotions, etc), when I read, and more importantly when I listen, I feel like I’m right there in the moment with him.

I still kick myself though, because there is way more to John Taylor than just his pretty face and just this band.  I hope that other fans can read the book and really absorb that.  Judging from our book discussions though – very few are taking the time.  It’s kind of sad, actually.

-R

Put on your Dancin’ Shoes….

It’s nearly November…which means the highly anticipated DDUK Convention is almost here!   On November 17th, Duranies from around the world will converge upon Birmingham – the “birthplace” of Duran Duran, for a night of friendship, fun, a celebration of fandom, and just the right bit of debauchery!

While it goes without saying that the mere idea of a convention for fans likely needs no promotion or hype, we thought it might add a bit more excitement to get to know each of the hard working convention organizers a bit better in the weeks leading up to the date!

Each week we’ll feature a short blog written with love by the three brave souls who have dared to put their personal lives aside to plan this fantastic convention.   This week, we will get to know Laura, otherwise known in the Twitter world as @Queenofthe80’s (follow her if you’re not already!)  Read on, Duranies!

-R

**************************************

By Laura B.

I am the music maestro for this fabulous Duranie event on the 17th November 2012, otherwise known as the DD UK Convention!  My two counterparts, Dave and Michelle, talked about the convention to begin with, and then I got involved as I am a DJ/presenter, a long-term Duranie…and FREE!  I agreed to take on the playlists and function as the presenter (emcee) that night.

I’m sure you’re all wondering – is this an easy job?  Well, no!  However, it is a lot of fun attempting to put together the perfect playlist for over 200 Duranies who have traveled worldwide to the “Holy Land”….Birmingham. (cue angels and harps)  Fans are coming for the ultimate Duranie party, and we plan to deliver!  So after months of pondering, picking the brains of other Duranies, following Daily Duranie’s exploits on Twitter, messaging other fans on Twitter, Facebook messages and hundreds of emails…the question becomes, will the hard work pay off?  Most definitely!  The lovely JT is fully aware of the event, and I have asked him to tell us what he believes is the ultimate Duranie song.  Of course, I’m still waiting for his answer on that…but when given a task that monumental, even JT needs time to deliberate!

What has been the most interesting to me thus far has been the sheer number of requests for material off of the most recent album (All You Need is Now), as well as gems that the diehard Duranies love but the band has yet to play on stage.  I’m not quite finished getting the playlist completed, and will probably be in my own bit of “Girl Panic” the day before the convention, but one thing is for sure: There will be something for everyone!  Do NOT leave your dancing shoes at home!!

Laura B. is by day Insurance Broker, but by night a hospital radio presenter of 11 years who loves the 80s and is a Duranie who in 2012 is stepping out with the ultimate playlist for DDUKconvention 2012.
 


Book Discussion-In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 7-11)

We continue our book club with Chapters 7-11 of John’s book.  This section of the book continues to focus on his childhood.  Like last week, I will not be summarizing the book but will be posing some discussion questions and responding to them.  I then welcome all of you to respond to the questions and/or post new questions to be discussed.  This book club is all of ours!  So, pour your favorite beverage and join in the discussion.

Chapter 7:  Junior Choice
Were you surprised that while John’s household was musical, no one played an instrument?
A – I wasn’t surprised by that since I knew that John didn’t pick up an instrument until he was older, but I was surprised by how much music was a central factor in their day-to-day lives.  Clearly, the fact that they played the radio all the time struck a chord (ha!) in John.  I would imagine that if I were to have children, they might experience something similar since I don’t play an instrument myself but would have their worlds filled with music!  I did like that music seemed to bring John’s family together.  I could relate to that.  It isn’t music in my family but White Sox baseball.  🙂

R – I think that to some degree, I was a little surprised.  I don’t know why, I guess I just would have thought that somewhere along the line someone would have played an instrument. It’s obvious though that his interest in music comes from his family though, and that’s really the more important thing – just having that interest cultivated. 

Chapter 8:  My Moon Landing
What was your reaction to John’s lack of interest in school and John’s parents’ being unaware of John’s performance in school?
A – As a teacher, I couldn’t help but to think of how John would be one of those kids in school who often gets lost.  He clearly wasn’t a behavior problem, other than his skipping class.  He also wasn’t a shining star, academically.  It saddens me that they “gave up” on him since he is obviously so intelligent.  As for John’s parents, I would have thought that they would have been really involved in his schooling since he is the only child.

R – Oh I so *got* this.  As many know, my son Gavin is homeschooled, and it’s because his school just gave up on him.  He’s not a bad kid, he’s actually extremely intelligent, but he doesn’t fit into the “box” that the teachers need him to be in (and with classes that are about 40-45 kids in junior high school – they really can’t take the time with him).  What I was surprised by most though is that his parents just didn’t notice.  I think that this is a sign of that time though.  My dad was horrible in school and his parents never really worried about it or cared much. (he more than made up for that with my sister and I though….) I just think that generation wasn’t quite as involved.

How important was Eddie’s influence on John, do you think?
A – In my opinion, he was pretty important as Eddie acted to not only expand the focus on music, but he introduced John to albums and artists, which led John to start thinking about the interplay that is found in bands.  This, of course, brings John to seeing himself within the band structure.

R – I think Eddie’s influence cannot be denied, and it’s clear that John looked up to Eddie as well. As much as John says that he is comfortable being alone – and I have no doubt about that – I also think he likes feeling as though he’s part of a group.  His friendship with Eddie is evidence of that, because he had someone that he could learn from, share music with, in a way no teenager really can with their parents.

Could you relate to John’s story of seeing Roxy Music on Top of the Pops?
A – I have heard John talk about this performance of Roxy Music before.  Every time I hear it, I instantly think of my own “moon landing”.  For me, it was the Reflex video.  I don’t remember the very first time I saw it but it changed everything for me, too.  While I didn’t grow up to join a band that focuses on both the sound and the look, I did become a fan for life and now causes me to write.

R – I think everyone, at least every Duran Duran fan, has that moment. It could be a video. For me, I really believe it was two things:  hearing Planet Earth on KROQ for the first time, and seeing the video for (I cannot believe I have to say this but I must…) Hungry Like the Wolf.  They were so different.  The music incorporated guitar WITH the synths in a way that knocked me off of my feet, and the video was unlike anything anybody else was doing at the time.  Oh sure, the band was sort of good-looking too.  For me, Duran Duran was just “it”. I keep telling my husband I’ve loved the band longer than I’ve loved anyone. (yeah he really loves it when I say that…and then he reminds me that none of them even know I exist, and then I remember what “pathetic” feels like.  :D) And now, I write a blog.  For the fans…and I blame it all on Hungry Like the Wolf.  Damn that song!!

Chapter 9:  Side Men
How do you interpret John’s description of Nick when he said that Nick is “settled at centre of his own universe”?
A – I found John’s description of Nick terribly interesting.  I took that quote to mean that Nick has always been comfortable with himself and his place in the world.  He didn’t struggle to get there, just always was.  His luck seemed to continue!

R – I really am not sure what John meant by this. I have to admit, I kind of think John does mean that Nick believes the world does revolve by his own insistence – and you know, that isn’t a completely BAD thing.  I also believe as you do, Amanda – that he’s completely comfortable with that.  It’s not something Nick strives for, it just IS.  Attitude is everything, I suppose. 

What was your reaction to the description of the Mick Ronson concert?
A – First, I couldn’t believe that they received the folder of photos, badges, etc. for just the cost of a ticket!  Then, I loved how John described how this concert going business would not be passive.  That is one thing I truly love about a Duran show–being an active participant.

R – When is Duran Duran going to start handing these folders out at their shows??  Different time…different time…I know.  I agree though, going to shows should never be passive.  When it starts getting that way, that’s when I know it’s time for me to hang it up, and that’s not going to happen!  

Do you think John described being a fan well?
A – This is one of my most favorite parts!!!  First of all, I knew that he really got being a fan when he talked about how Nick and he were fans of Mick Ronson  and that “served to bind” their friendship.  Exactly.  Fandom does work to bind people.  Then, he talks about visiting the venue for soundcheck or following another fan’s info about the hotel where the band or artist stayed.  Who couldn’t relate to that?!

R – I think any Duran Duran fan could have written something similar with regard to their own experiences.  (Well, at least up until the part of knowing where the band was staying and a quick way to get there.  If you gave me the choice of two hotels that the band would be staying at and I had to choose – I would almost ALWAYS choose the incorrect one.  This is why no one should ever expect that I *know* anything about the band.  I don’t…and it’s almost laughable at this point.)  I know that whole feeling though, it reminds me of being in the ocean and just going along with the tide.  I get caught up in the rush of it all like anyone else!  

Chapter 10:  The Birmingham Flaneur
Did John’s description of Birmingham surprise you?
A – As I read this chapter, I kept thinking about all of the negative things I have heard and read about Birmingham.  Obviously, I have been there so I know how great of a place it is.  Yet, before I read this, I always thought that John and the rest of Duran didn’t like it.  I guess I figured that since they moved away.  Nonetheless, I was glad to hear that John liked his home city as much as I do.

R – I loved this part of the book, and I agree with you Amanda – I had always had a negative impression of Birmingham from the things that John and the rest of the band had said, up until I went there.  I know plenty of fans that still think it’s not a very nice place, and to these people I have to say that they have clearly not been to many places here in the US.  I don’t know – I loved Birmingham.  Sure, it’s industrial in parts.  Yes, it has crime.  No, it isn’t the absolute cleanest place I’ve ever been.  It’s a lot like the US and the places I’ve lived, grown up in, and know.  I was comfortable there and I look forward to going back some day.  

Chapter 11:  Neurotic Boy Outsiders
Any reaction to the line about “clautrophobia of Dad’s wartime drama and Mum’s religious fanaticism”?
A – I had two thoughts run through my head when I read this.  First, clearly, this was/is a pretty negative way to view the parents.  Second, I thought this is probably exactly what John, the TEENAGER, thought.  It seems that most/all of us view our parents SO negatively at that age.

R – Written like a true teenager.  I have to wonder what my kids have said about me.  The thing is, there’s always that kernel of truth in the exaggerated and negative opinions kids have of their parents. It’s not that what John felt wasn’t true, it was just without the knowledge that comes with maturity – and I can’t blame him for that.  There are things I still don’t understand about either of my parents, so I can see his point.  


Did John describe the forming of that first band well?  Did the line “lighting the blue torch paper” describe it well enough?
A – I think the line fits well.  I think that, for John, hearing the Sex Pistols forced him to pick up that guitar again.  Then, once he had others to play with, it was done.  It was destiny.  It was his future.

R – I wish I could write like John.  It’s such an appropriate line.  


Final Thoughts?
A – I loved how smoothly John showed the transition here from early childhood to adolescence.  We could see how he moved away from his parents towards music and friends.  Music filled the hole left from not being great at school or at sports.  It definitely gave him a sense of belonging.

R – I really think you can see where the seeds were planted. John likes being part of a group.  You can see this from the very beginning of the book, and you can see that he prefers the success that comes along with working towards something as a group. Music was what worked best for John, and you can really see just how much he treasures his memories of  Birmingham.  I really think that his beginnings give me a good sense of who he really is – not just as the bass player in Duran Duran, but of who he is as a person.

I wish I were going to the Chicago signing – have a great time tomorrow Amanda!!!

We will discuss Chapter 12-Chapter 16 next week.

A & R


 

Fan Club of One

There are many things I have noticed over the years as a Duran fan about our fan community.  Many of those things we have talked about in this blog over the past couple of years.  Right now, in Duranland, the only topic people are really talking about is John Taylor’s book.  There was some discussion regarding Andy’s book leading up to the release of John’s book.  For some fans, John’s book release and readings/signings he has done and will do are pretty exciting deals.  For many others, these events aren’t all that interesting.  In fact, I might argue that most fans aren’t really all that into it.  Is that because people haven’t bought John’s book?  No.  Based on its appearance on best seller lists, clearly, many copies have been sold.  Yet, when I glance at our facebook or twitter (granted, I haven’t been looking ALL that much due to my crazy schedule), I don’t see a ton of talk about the book or the events surrounding the book except for fans who are or have attended such events or when people get or finish the book.  Heck, even the first part of our book club didn’t get a ton of comments.  This observation got me thinking.  Is this a new deal?  Are fans not interested in talking about books, maybe?  Are they uncomfortable discussing John’s life and what he described?  I don’t know but, in my experience, it seems to me that our fan community has never really embraced their solo acts. 

Duran Duran first ventured away into side projects in 1985 with Arcadia and Power Station.  Those side projects were pretty popular.  John Taylor’s first solo single, I Do What I Do, was popular as well.  Then, again, everything that the band touched in that era seemed to turn to gold.  This era seemed to be the end of the fan community’s major concern about side and solo projects.  (Please note that I’m not saying that no fan was interested.  I’m just saying that the overall fan base didn’t seem all that interested.)  Andy Taylor’s first solo material followed and didn’t do that well.  I just heard or read somewhere that his first solo album sold something like 300,000 copies.  In 2012, that would be great!  In 1986, that wouldn’t be that great, especially in comparison to Notorious, which sold a lot more than that.  As the years went by, there wasn’t much interest in other side projects like Neurotic Outsiders to the Devils.  There wasn’t a ton of discussion about the second Power Station album either, from what I have seen.  Of course, I wasn’t always as involved in the fan community as I am now so maybe I just missed some of this discussion.  That said, I have seen and heard from many people who don’t know much about those projects or those albums.  Some of you might be thinking that the reason these projects weren’t all that popular is because less popular band members were involved in them, but that isn’t necessarily true as John was in Neurotic Outsiders, for example.  He didn’t get all that much attention during his solo days outside of a very dedicated group of fans even when there would have been easy access to him.  I remember hearing one story about how he played a show once to like 20 people.  Wow.  Of course, during the height of those solo and side projects I referenced, the band wasn’t all that popular.  A lot of fans had lost interest in all things Duran.

Even today, though, I don’t see a ton of interest in the various side and solo projects outside of those very first ones of Power Station (the original) and Arcadia.  I don’t hear about people seeking out the Devils album or searching high and low for all of John’s solo albums.  Of course, I’m sure that there some some people interested or seeking out copies.  My point here is that it isn’t that widespread.  Some fans still are trying to complete their collection of Duran Duran material.  Now, I’m not criticizing any of this behavior.  I’m just acknowledging an observation.  Then, of course, I begin to wonder why it is that fans are not as interested in solo and side projects.  I know that it isn’t because we, as fans, don’t care about the individual band members.  We do, at least to some extent.  After all, I still see people discussing who their favorite band member is and why.  I know that there are tons of facebook groups dedicated to specific members.  Clearly, we don’t totally think that the individual members don’t matter so why don’t we care as much about solo and side projects?  One reason that I thought of is that these outside projects sound different.  They might even be different genres, almost, in comparison to Duran.  Another reason is simply because the whole does not equal the sum of the parts.  The band is much better together than they are apart.  Their chemistry together is a lot more than the chemistry of the parts, or so some people might believe.  Maybe there is another reason that I can’t think of.  Maybe my basic observation is wrong.  So, let me ask you.  Do you care as much about the side and solo projects as you do Duran?  Why or why not?

-A

Happy Birthday Simon!!!

*scratches head*  I keep thinking that today must be important for some reason but I can’t figure it out.  Hmm…I know that I’m distracted from working so much, getting such little sleep and being stressed but still, I usually remember something if it is important.  *scratches head more*  Oh yeah…I hear someone famous has a birthday today.  A famous singer, no less.  Stephen Duffy?  No, his birthday is in June.  Andy Wickett?  Robert Palmer?  Michael Des Barres?  *taps the keyboard impatiently*  I know!  It is Simon’s birthday!!!!  How could I forget that?!?

I think part of the reason it took me so long to remember that it was a band member’s birthday is because I never do the birthdays.  In the 2 years that we have been blogging, I think Rhonda has had every single one of them until now.  So, I’m not used to acknowledging a birthday much more beyond the Today in Duran history that I post.  Now, I could follow in my partner’s footsteps and write about said band member, but I won’t.  It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say.  Oh, I have plenty that I could say but…I want to acknowledge his day by showing what Simon does best, as far as the band goes.  It seems to me that Simon brings the following talents to Duran Duran:  First, his voice is unique and amazing.  Second, when he gets his lyrics right, they are nothing less than fabulous poetry.  Third, his ability to perform is second to none.  I have watched many people at different times go to their first Duran shows.  In almost all cases, when they go, they do not have a favorite but they do when they leave!  It is always Simon, too!  Of course, Simon is also good for creating some humor for himself, for the band and definitely for the fans!  Thus, after we watch some clips showcasing those talents, we will watch some clips of other memorable Simon birthdays as we wish him the most fabulous of birthdays.

When I think of Simon’s voice, I tend to think of those early albums when his voice is natural and so utterly unique.  I have heard/read many people say that Simon’s voice is such that as soon as the vocals start in a Duran song, everyone knows who the artist is because of Simon’s voice.  Here is a clip of early Simon singing Anyone Out There:

Of course, another factor beyond Simon’s voice that makes Duran’s music so special to so many of us is their lyrics.  Simon truly can be a poet and one that requires thinking and invites personal interpretation.  I enjoy that we can listen to a song and all think Simon is talking about different subjects.  His lyrics are such that we can all put our own spin on them, which makes such a strong connection between the listener and the performer.  Now, many people, when thinking of Simon’s lyrics might pick out songs like The Chauffeur, for its poetry factor, or a song like Union of the Snake, for our collective inability to really determine what it means, but I am not.  To me, one of the best songs Simon has ever written is Before the Rain.  It is complete poetry and really spoke to me when I was dealing with the loss of two loved ones at the same time.  On top of that, he sings it beautifully.

Then, there is Simon’s performances.  Simon has the ability to connect with an audience and to entertain them like no other.  Duran Duran, truly, would have been lost without a lead singer like Simon.  While I might focus my attention elsewhere, I know that Simon is able to get the audience’s attention and to keep their attention.  The shows wouldn’t work otherwise.  As a kid, I remember so many times watching the documentary, Sing Blue Silver, with my best friend at the time.  We saw how Simon got the crowd into participating during Girls on Film and knew, right then and there, that if we ever saw Duran live, we, too, would participate the WHOLE time.  LOL

Of course, there have been times when Simon has become particularly entertaining during a show.  That’s typically when he tries to dance.  I’m still amused by the strange dance we saw during Skin Trade in the summer of 2009 and the video of Friends of Mine from Hammersmith in 1982.

Based on all of the reasons I mentioned above and more, I hope that Simon has a memorable, fantastic birthday.  Maybe it will be just as wonderful as one of these:


Happy Birthday, Mr. LeBon!!!

-A

Kiss Goodbye

Each day, for those of you not following us on twitter or are not friends with us on facebook, we ask a question that we hope fans will answer.  Obviously, this question relates to the band in some way.  Currently, we are doing brackets on the songs.  We are going album-by-album and song-by-song until we get a winner from each album.  Right now, we are on Pop Trash.  Yesterday, I said to Rhonda, “I can’t wait until we get done with Pop Trash.”  Why?  The simple reason is that I don’t like it much.  Before I get hate mail about that, it isn’t that I don’t like some songs because I do, but it just doesn’t inspire me or cause a big reaction of excitement.  What is interesting to me is that lately I have seen many other fans saying the same thing about a particular song or album.  Then, they almost always follow it up with, “Does that make me a bad fan?”  I don’t think so.

What is a fan?  In my definition, a fan is not someone who likes everything the idol(s) does.  Yet, I have people who respond to the daily question about song preference by saying, “both”.  Yes, you can like both songs.  I often do but I am asking people to choose which one people like MORE.  I also have people who say, “neither.”  I can understand that.  I am a Duranie or a Duran Duran fan.  What that means to me that is I like the music and the band, generally.  Yes, they are my favorite band.  Thus, I think that when they get it right, musically or otherwise, they REALLY get it right.  Yes, it also means that I generally think they get it right more often than not.  That said, like the person who always answers with “neither” or the fan who wonders if they need to turn in their Duranie card because s/he does not like a particular song, I, too, have Duran songs that I don’t really like.  In fact, and I know this might be shocking but there are songs of theirs that I hope I never hear again.  We all know that Rhonda would be happy never hearing that song involving an animalistic need for food.  Can you guess which song it is for me?  Some of you might since I have mentioned it before, but I bet the rest of you will be shocked. 

Come Undone.  I cannot stand that song.  Now, I didn’t initially hate the song.  I didn’t.  Probably, at one time, I might have even said that I liked it.  There are other songs that I instantly didn’t like *coughZoomIncough* but this one grew to annoy me, then grew to go beyond annoyance.  Why does it bother me?  First, I have to hear it at practically every dang concert I go to.  Although, if the band would ever read this (yeah, right…), I SO appreciated that I didn’t have to put up with it at the Atlanta show this past August.  That almost made the show for me right there!  What is my problem with hearing it live?  It is BORING.  Now, remember that I focus much of my show on a certain bass player.  He doesn’t move much during that song.  Neither does anyone else.  There is no JoSi or DoJo.  The stage is typically set in a green light and everyone just plays or sings.  Boring.  No interaction with the crowd.  Nothing.  Then, of course, there is that horrible, cringe-worthy moment when Simon decides that it is a good idea to lick his fingers.  *shudders*  Yeah, not my thing.  Then, again, I’m not a Simon fan.  If I was, I might think it was cool or hot but I’m not.  Second, musically and lyrically, it just doesn’t do it for me.  I know that technically there is nothing wrong with the song, but I still don’t like it.  Lastly, it seems that it is overrated among the fans.  Everyone loves it or so it seems.  Everyone thinks it is so great.  Maybe, part of my problem is this album, in general for me.  I saw the band live for the first time during this era.  I went to the show with a few friends and had a good time.  Afterwards, though, I distinctly remember telling my friend that something was off with the band and that they should think about breaking up.  Seriously.  I couldn’t give any reason to that statement then other than it was a feeling to me.  Obviously, I’m glad that they didn’t retire then and yes, I’m glad that this album brought them success.  It just didn’t do it for me.  I don’t know why.  It isn’t bad but it didn’t wow me the way I wanted.  It still doesn’t.

What is my point in telling you all this?  I like to think that I’m a pretty dedicated Duranie.  I write a blog, do a daily question, write today in Duran history each day, etc.  Yet, I still have songs that aren’t my favorite.  I have songs that I hope I never hear again and I don’t think that makes me a bad fan or less of a dedicated fan.  It makes me human.  A fan does not have to love everything the band does.  I look at it this way.  I love my nieces, for example, but I don’t always love what they do.  They are human and make mistakes.  This is how I look at fandom.  I will always love Duran but I don’t love every song and every album.  In fact, some of them I would be happy to kiss goodbye forever!  What about you?  What songs do you want to kiss goodbye?

-A