Category Archives: fans

Fans are fans: we’re all of the same stuff

I’m taking a break from life to reflect on a couple of very different, yet incredibly similar things I saw this morning.

As I woke up this morning, I grabbed my phone. I got into the nasty habit of doing this back when I worked at our resource center (think school). Sometimes a teacher would call in sick or I’d need to prepare for a sudden change in plans, so checking my phone helped to alleviate the panic I’d feel when walking through my office door a bit later to discover complete chaos. Nowadays, it is primarily that habit that drives me to grab my phone each morning. I check social media, often landing on Twitter to see what the people are talking about.  On this day, I saw a poll from a friend.

The friend – you may recognize his Twitter handle as “GuyFansofDuran” – had posted a poll asking for people to vote for their favorite. Sounds like a normal poll question we’ve all seen before, right? Well, there was a small twist – the songs were listed by abbreviation ONLY, and they weren’t your simple “AYNIN” or “HLTW” or even “TUA”.  No, these were songs that, for the most part, were more obscure, deeper cuts.  I enjoyed the challenge, figuring out the songs fairly quickly and then choosing my favorite. Others may have had a little more difficulty, taking the puzzles in stride and solving them with the help of Wikipedia or maybe even the discography on DD.com.

I don’t think knowing the abbreviations makes me any different from other fans, by the way. I think I just happened to wake up with all cylinders firing today, for a change! There have been other days where I couldn’t even think of what “MOW” or “DYBIS” could possibly stand for, so, take heed.

I loved that a group of fans could look at abbreviations, work through a bit of a puzzle, and continue to have a discussion over worthy answers. It felt to me as though one would have needed to be pretty astute with their Duran discography to easily grasp the answers. However, if someone really wanted to participate – it wouldn’t have mattered, because the answers could be found online. Even so, from what I could tell, most of the participants were fans I recognized from the community. I dare call them fellow “die hards”, and I appreciate our commonalities.

I enjoyed the banter, even though I knew as I clicked on my choice (which I am leaving vague on purpose) that it would be the least favorite.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the eight years I’ve blogged – we’re all different, and I don’t like choosing the same things as everyone else.

Only an hour or two later, my friend pointed out an example of an entirely different level of devotion to me.  Someone had taken the time to make a .gif that flashes through an animation of each of the album covers the band has created over their career alongside a tweet asking which was their favorite. I didn’t take the time to read all of the answers, but the one that caught my friend’s attention was one that didn’t call out a particular album by name, but by its background color.

Sure, one could make some assumptions based on that answer. I don’t know if the person knew the name of the album but didn’t bother to give it, or maybe they didn’t know the album at all and simply liked the color and imagery. I’ll never know for sure, and it would be a mistake to guess. What I can say though, is that in both cases, people engage on whatever level they’re comfortable. In as much as people took time to answer the poll by figuring out song titles, and sitting through the .gif to find a favorite album – fans were engaging.  A point upon which my friend and I agree.

The best fans aren’t necessarily the ones who know every song, every word, and every note. What does “best” really even mean, anyway? Knowing what “era” specific pictures come from based on hairstyles and clothing doesn’t help to rate the quality of a fan. Some fans might not know anything beyond Paper Gods. Maybe they don’t know that Warren ever played guitar, or that Andy left the band twice. They just know the music, or maybe they only know one album. Fans are fans. There is no good, better or best. Rating one another does very little to encourage people to engage.

Listen, I know how it is between fans. I’ve been at more than my fair share of meet-ups. We greet one another and then ask questions like, “How many shows have you seen?” or “Have you met the band before?” Some pose these questions in order to find common ground, others do it as a sort of fan “sizing up” ritual. I have watched eyes narrow, and then widen, while fans tell tales meant to impress of meeting band members, or narrating accounts from the front row.  It is what is done, and to pretend that sort of thing doesn’t happen or exist is foolish.

What I’ve come to know and accept, is that in the end, none of it really matters. Fans are fans. Sure, some know and have done more. Others might not even have enough experience behind them to know the full history of Duran Duran’s career, but they love that one album with the black and white cover, or the one that looks like a map on the back. That’s great!

-R

The Next Line: Should a band move on?

Duran Duran is my most favorite band. But there are other bands I also love and adore, and like more than a few Duranies out there – Spandau Ballet is on that list.

Up until a few years ago, I’d never seen Spandau live. I’d always wanted to, but timing (I grew up just a couple of years too late), and their own break-up made that pretty impossible until 2015. But the wait was worth it. I didn’t go all-out for tickets in the same way many of my friends did, traveling all over the country to see them, but I did see them a few times that year. And each time I saw them, the show seemed tighter, the band seemed more on fire, and I was thoroughly convinced that it wouldn’t be the last I’d see of them onstage together.

The end of the tour arrived, and not terribly long after, Spandau announced that Tony Hadley, their lead singer, would not return. He had his own plans for a solo career, and he was apparently satisfied with what he’d accomplished with Spandau Ballet. All good things must come to an end; out with the old, in with the new, and so on, right?

But what about the band? Many long time Spandau fans felt like Tony’s departure meant the band should also come to an end. I can’t tell you how many times I read that Tony’s voice is what made the band Spandau Ballet.

Actually, yes I can give an approximation of how many times I read that – just imagine the same happening in Duran Duran, and you’ll know exactly how often it’s been written.

I understand where those fans are coming from. There’s no denying that Tony’s voice is important to the sound we recognize as Spandau Ballet. If it were Simon and Duran Duran we were talking about, the very same could be said, and we’d all nod our heads in agreement. Yes, I’d also argue that the guitar, drums, bass and even sax are important parts, but the voice is the voice.

But there is another side to this story, and that’s of the band. Those other guys. There are many who feel like they’re worthy of some importance. I am firmly in that camp, whether we are talking about Spandau, or even Duran Duran. (yes, I said it) Is it fair for one person to call the shots for the entire group? Is it right that one individual decides the destiny for everyone else? Spandau vowed that this wouldn’t break them, and that they would return.  While I knew that in the moment they probably did mean every last word – I wasn’t so sure The Next Line would actually come to them . It’s one thing to be indignant and insist a group can move on, it’s another to actually do it.  I was supportive, but silently doubtful.  Let’s just say I was thankful I saw them live when I did, just in case.

All was fairly quiet until yesterday, when a curious email hit my inbox. Spandau Ballet sent an email….and yes my friends, they are about to write The Next Line. I silently cheered at my desk. They have a new, yet to be announced lead singer, and they are not only announcing their return, they’re playing a show in London at the Subterania on June 6th. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10am GMT. They will sell out in a flash, and I desperately wish I could be there.

As any fan might, I wanted to see the reaction from social media. That’s the difference between today and thirty or even forty years ago – within a couple of clicks I can see fan reaction. Suffice to say, all was not well. There were fans, like myself, who were excited to see the band go on. However, many were not. Some say that because Tony has left, Spandau Ballet as we’ve all come to know it, no longer exists. Rename, reframe, and move on if they care to do so, but using the same name isn’t right. Many others think that no matter what the band does, it won’t be the same and that they should just quit.  Apparently for those people, Tony was the band.

I don’t know what Spandau will sound like. I’m assuming it will be very different with someone else at the microphone. Even in the case of Duran Duran – band members have changed, but Simon has always been the singer – changes still come with every album.  Some, I’ve loved, others, I have not. There’s no argument from me that a new lead singer will take getting used to, only that I really believe  they have the right to try.

As for the name of the band, that’s a legal thing, worked out amongst the members.  Tony continues to have Spandau Ballet songs in his set, although they’ve been totally rearranged so that the highlight is completely and totally on his voice. He doesn’t tour as Tony Hadley, ex-Spandau Ballet or whatever-you-will, he just tours as himself with a backing band. I think it’s bizarre (and not entirely successful, in my own opinion) to hear Tony singing, but to have other people playing a different arrangement of the songs I grew up with. He’s covering Spandau, so to speak. I think it sounds a little weird, but it is his right to move on.

Can you imagine if it were Duran Duran?  Spandau Ballet fans are easily as ardent as Duran fans. They are certainly as opinionated, and possibly as stubborn. I cringe and shudder to think what might be said if Simon were to go it alone and leave the band. I’m sure many are saying that the band would hang it up. Maybe they would. It is certainly their right to do so. But it would also be their right to try.  Wouldn’t we owe it to them, at least in some sense, to applaud their strength and fortitude to have a go at it?  We might not like it (but hell, as I said above, there have been entire albums I haven’t necessarily loved and yet I survived!), but I still applaud their willingness to keep going. That’s the creative process at work.

As a fan, it is difficult to see past the emotionality, but we should try. The band name brings out certain feelings and memories. To the band themselves – it’s more than that. In the eyes of the courts, Spandau Ballet is a partnership, a legal entity. The business is entwined with the time and energy spent together.  In the midst of the drama, I suspect the arrangements and legalities become more about the pieces of paper indicating who is entitled to what and so forth moving forward, than history and emotions. Someone said that dissolving a band partnership is like a divorce, and I don’t doubt that. In this case, the vocalist starts over, single and free with a solo career, the band keeps the name and marries a new lead singer. Fans are caught in the middle, just like the children. We’re pissed that our family name is continuing to be used by someone we don’t even know or recognize. It’s hard.

Ultimately, Spandau is trying to move on. I can’t blame them.  I wish them nothing but success. I suspect it must really be difficult to be in their shoes right now, and I applaud their bravery. I wish fans would think about that a little more before being so quick to tell them to hang it up. For us, it’s about music we love. For the band, it’s their career.  Why shouldn’t they keep trying? I’m going to keep cheering them on, even though I would love to be there in person to witness The Next Line at that first London show.

Here’s to possibilities and not giving up! Cheers!

-R

 

Why is it necessary? Because studying fans is our passion.

No one really needs to read this blog. In fact, no one ever did. To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never coerced anybody into paying any kind of attention whatsoever. We just decided to write and the rest took its course.  We appreciate that our subject matter resonates with people, and we certainly enjoy writing, otherwise we’d stop.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself of that, particularly when things don’t go well or as I’d planned. Amanda and I decided to write. We also decided to study.  Whether or not people read, or like what we say, is honestly and truly immaterial at this point – although I do get a good chuckle when someone chooses to not only respond, but in doing so also illustrates whatever point we were writing about, with exacting precision. I can’t even bother being outraged. The irony.

This blog and website represent a small part of our lives. The blog is our hobby. Conversely, studying, researching and the real writing – not the musing you find here, but the real writing – is the passion.  Most wouldn’t know that, because it is far easier to assume that Amanda and I have nothing else to do with our lives other than wax poetic about Duran Duran. Stereotypes live long and prosper. I get it, but nothing could be further from the truth. We make the time for this hobby. For Amanda and I, it isn’t even about Duran Duran, although the band was certainly what brought us together and we obviously love the music and them as people even if we don’t always agree.  No, for us it is about fandom. Fan Studies. Fannish practices.

Duran Duran is where we find enjoyment. We go to concerts. We definitely put on meet ups and things of that nature. Those events are for fun. They give us joy. We write about Duran Duran here. We celebrate being fans.

Studying fandom though – that is our gig. We want to know and learn why we fans do the things we do. The fascinating thing is that in our particularly fandom – we don’t operate or behave in the same ways that other fandoms might. After years of studying and researching, we think we’ve finally hit on why that might be, so we decided to write a paper, and a proposal to present it at the Pop Culture Association International Conference.  We wanted feedback from the academic community, which we received. Suffice to say, we weren’t wrong.

That conference wasn’t a convention of people thrown together for a weekend of drinking and hi jinx. Professors, grad students, independent scholars and authors came together to test out new theories, receive feedback and make connections. It was a time to watch other people present their hard work and hopefully allow that creative juice to flow. This was not a Duran Duran fan convention, y’all.

Yep, to many of you, that might seem incredibly dull or even a waste of time. To Amanda and I? It is what each of us studied in college. My bachelors degree is in American Studies. I spent my time taking full semester courses on subjects like “A Sense of Place”, “The Culture of Los Angeles”,  “1960’s America”, “1960s Youth Counterculture”, “Spaghetti Westerns”, “Disneyland” (Yes, a full course on Disneyland and how it represented our culture in 1955 and beyond), “Beatlemania”….not to mention several survey courses I had to take along the way. Amanda’s class topics were likely similar, but while I studied American culture, she studied the culture of women in society.  We like studying groups of people and learning why they act, react, and interact the way they do—and how all of that is influenced, or influences, society in general.

For us, the conference was right up our alley. Everyone there was just as obsessed with their field of study as we are with ours – there was someone who studied Buffy the Vampire Slayer and was presenting on that subject. She saw other presentations on topics such as the Use of Memes in the 2016 election, Pop Culture in the Classroom, Handmaid’s Tale in Fan Fiction, Beauty Bloggers on YouTube, and Social Media and activism. I can’t remember all of the subjects I saw on the schedule, but the point is that our study of the uniqueness of female fandoms was not at all out-of-place. I would have loved going, that is for sure.

Amanda and I don’t look at our research and study as a waste of time, but we also realize that it is way beyond what most Duran Duran fans are interested in. We share what we’re working on with you because after nearly eight years of blogging, some of you are personal friends and have asked us to keep you posted. She and I also find it kind of funny that a band brought us together, and here we are. So yes, we share that journey with anyone who wants to read—and apparently even some who say they don’t.

As I’ve said before, no one is making anybody read this blog. We don’t have a traffic “requirement” and we’re definitely not making money here, so if you’re offended by what we write – don’t bother. It’s really that simple.  We know we’re not for everyone, and I don’t think either of us really cares anymore.  We have fun with what we want to do. Amanda and I write what we want. We don’t compose blogs with the intention of getting high traffic to the site, and Daily Duranie is never going to be for the fans who ONLY want to fawn all day long over the sights of Simon, John, Roger, Nick and/or Dom. We’ve done a fair share of that over the years, but we also write about why and how it all happens.  Sometimes, those are hard truths to read.

In reference to yesterday’s video posted by Amanda, someone kindly asked why we felt the need to “point those things out”.  First of all, we posted the video because our readers asked us. We have friends here that have followed us from nearly day one and they were interested in hearing the final presentation.  Amanda spoke as she might to the academic audience, for the most part. She wasn’t directing it at the general public, or our regular reading audience. We didn’t expect everyone to like it, but we posted it for those who were interested. Rest assured, sometimes – we just want to go to a show and have fun, too (and we do).

Secondly, is it really such a crime to know that (most, not necessarily all) women seek validation from men? Why does that truth bother anybody? Do you wear makeup and dress nicely? Do you comb your hair in the morning? I do. I do it because it makes me feel human, but I also do it because I like hearing my husband say that I look nice. The same goes true for when I go to shows. I don’t mind looking nice, and hey – if the band looks at me and smiles or Dom holds up a sign saying hi to me (at the urging of a friend), I get as giggly about that as anyone else. It’s harmless. That said, I also realize that society has taught me, both directly and indirectly – to look and need those things. Is that a character flaw? Maybe, if I allow that validation to become more important than other relationships and people in my life.

Lastly, and most importantly – I say this at risk of offending some – we write what WE want to write. We have fun here the way we want. Just as the band writes the music they want, we’re going to do this our own way. Come along if you want, we’ll make room!

-R

Help a Fellow Duranie!

Last week, I got word that a distant cousin of mine was in the hospital. Before I go further, I should explain that I don’t know him well, and that after an initial scare, he’s making good progress.  However, he had an aortic dissection, which caught my eye. My mom has an aortic aneurysm, as does one of her sisters – and a dissection is a possible eventuality. One of my mom’s brothers had a massive heart attack two weeks after his 50th birthday, and another cousin of hers died (the mother of the distant cousin I mentioned above) from an aortic aneurysm. So, it’s probably fair to say that heart problems seem to abound in my mom’s family, if not aortic aneurysms specifically.  But I digress.

I think it was the very next day that I saw something on Instagram from a Duranie – someone I have met personally – about an aortic dissection. She was in the hospital, and from what I can gather, she’s lucky she survived. Two of these stories in the same week happening to people I know? That’s crazy! I said as much to this Duranie, who many of you reading may know or have heard of – Amanda Pants.

Amanda is a vibrant, friendly Duranie. I met her during the Paper Gods tour. She has this vibe about her—as though she not just living life, but getting every possible ounce of joy out of each moment—that is engaging and magnetic. She is someone who I really can’t envision bad things happening to, yet I’m certain she’s been through many of the same (or more) struggles that we’ve all had. I only met Amanda and talked with her during a few moments at the shows where I saw her, so my impressions of her are merely just instinctual. She is positive, and has grabbed life by the tail in a way I’ve never been able to manage. If I ever tried to be so colorful and vibrant, it would come off completely fake and wrong—yet on her, it’s natural, organic, and very real.

Seeing her, or at least part of her, in a hospital bed, complete with newly minted scars from surgery, was a total, unwelcome, surprise. But the good news, as she put it, was that she didn’t die on Saturday. She survived.

The next photo I saw from her was of a lot of prescriptions. I’ve seen the piles of drugs my brother-in-law had to take each day, and this was pretty similar. I’m lucky, as I only have my blood pressure medicines and an allergy pill to take each day. Yet, I still struggle to afford them while my husband is out of work. Don’t even bother talking to me about Affordable Healthcare. Insurance for my family, even with my husband out of work, is over $1800 a month. COBRA insurance is exactly the same. Walt brings home less than that in unemployment each month, and like everyone else in the world, we still have other bills and our mortgage to pay, much less have money left to feed ourselves. The numbers don’t compute. Sure, this is temporary for our family, assuming he gets a job soon. Not everyone is quite so lucky. Can you imagine having to take ten or more medicines each day? (and keeping them all straight? I struggle with remembering if I’ve taken my blood pressure pill!) Even better, can you imagine paying for them all?

When I saw that a friend of Amanda’s had set up a Gofundme for her, I felt like I had to do something. Admittedly, right now I am not in a situation where I can help financially, but I can certainly get the word out. If you’re able, I know she could really use the hand up.

No, this really isn’t Duran Duran news. I hope that those reading can see their way clear to helping if they’re able.  A member of our Duranie family is sick, needs help, and I’m putting it out there. I wish I could do more.

If you didn’t see the link above and want to find out more or even help, click below:

GO FUND AMANDA PANTS!

Good luck and get well soon, Amanda!

-R

You can fight it, or invite it

OK, so I obviously didn’t make the trip to Dubai for yesterday’s show. I know a few people who did, and I saw plenty of others who commented to Duran Duran on social media. The comments were by far positive. For the few songs I did see (thanks to the magic and power of the internet!) – I would wholeheartedly agree.

One surprise in particular was The Chauffeur. First of all, I applaud that it was put in the set.  The Chauffeur is one of those songs that gets circulated in and out of their set every so often. I’ve seen it live several times, but it isn’t in every set list.  Seeing it on occasion is  special. That said, last night’s rendition seemed different. I’m not sure if it was truly that way or because of how it was recorded. The end was the most noticeably different, but I could hear the guitar loud and clear, and it even sounded a bit different from I remember.  Granted, I like the hard edge of a guitar, and last night – the sound really delivered! I don’t know what it was, but I loved the juxtaposition of the guitar against the synthesizers at the end of the song. In the past I can’t say I picked up on it quite as much.  Anyway, I loved it. He didn’t overpower the song or anything, it was just that I could hear the guitar slice right through the music, and I felt it was just what the song needed. Others might disagree, to be expected.

In addition to some great footage from the show, I’ve seen quite a few snippets of video from some sort of an after party. The only band member I’ve seen has been Simon in short snippets. This brings me to reason #567,983 why I am thankful I’m not famous.

First of all, I don’t know why the person taking the videos feels the need to do so. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my Kodak moment with Simon too, and of course I posted it. I just don’t know why you’d take video and pictures of Simon doing whatever it is he’s doing during his own downtime and then broadcast them to all of humanity. To me, it’s a fine line that I don’t want to cross, and yet I know other people have no problem. I just don’t get it.

He’s with a group of women in a couple of the short videos, he’s playing bartender in a couple of others, and while all of them seem  innocuous, I don’t think that’s the point. I mean, it isn’t that I’m not amused. Part of my hobby here is teasing the hell out of the guy and that’s not going to stop. (He gives it right back at times, and I’d expect no less) That said, it will be a very cold day in hell before I start taking video of him and post it online. (outside of when he’s onstage, of course…in which case, game on!)

I know what many will say. “He should be used to it” , “I’m sure he doesn’t mind”, “it’s funny”.  “You’re the one with the problem.” Yep.  All of those things, I’m sure. I’ve had numerous conversations with various people about this over the years, and if we’re going to treat him like you would anybody else, why on earth are we still jumping over cocktail tables to get to him? It’s one thing to ask them for a picture. Lots of fans do that, and by all means – it’s part of the deal of being a fan, right? No one, least of all me, is saying that’s wrong. Don’t send me hate mail – take all the photos you want and post them.

But here’s another scenario:

Let’s say you’re at a show, and some friends invite you to a bar afterward, mentioning that the band “might” show. For most of us, we’d probably go along willingly. We’d have that nervous feeling of excitement welling in our bellies, only to tell ourselves that they probably won’t show. We get to the bar, grab a seat and settle in. Before long, a friend nudges you under the table and you look up to see Simon walk in. You grin, because well – of course you do! I haven’t met a fan that wouldn’t, even if we’re trying to cover it with a mock sense of coolness.

It takes a while, but Simon has this way of working the room when he wants. He eventually makes his way to your table. Inside, you’re screaming because again – of course you are!  He strikes up a good conversation. The next thing you know, he’s sitting down with your group and you’re having fun. Are you really going to film the entire thing? Are you really going to take out your phone, pretend you’re taking video of something else, and get him instead?

I guess if you’re nodding your head yes, I’m responding that I wouldn’t. I definitely haven’t. That moment, or evening, or whatever, is yours. It was mine. I don’t need the video to remember it all.  I also wouldn’t want to ruin the moment by reminding him that I’m one of those teenagers that had his posters on my wall. Not that I think he’d forget, but wouldn’t it nice to have a conversation that doesn’t revolve around the elephant in the room?? Yep, inside, I’d be freaking out for a bit, and sure – afterward I might have a good case of the squeals (who wouldn’t?), but that’s for later!

Perhaps I just don’t get it. That’s very possible. Maybe it’s just ME, and I don’t realize that since he’s been a rock star for seemingly forever, he doesn’t mind being treated like a circus animal even when he’s trying to wind down for the evening. I kinda think he does mind – but that’s just my opinion, take it for what it may be worth.

I wouldn’t want to be treated that way, so I’m not going to do that to him, or anyone else. Based on my limited experience, I suspect Simon prefers having a drink, making a toast to a good night or whatever, and not having people stick their camera phones up to video every last second to post online later. He might act like he doesn’t care, but I’ll bet it’s annoying. Maybe as you’re reading you believe I’m wrong about that, and hey – that’s fine. You all can do what you want to do. But, if you’ve ever wondered why there’s no video of us with Simon, or anyone in the band for that matter – what I’ve written is exactly why.

-R

The Web of Youth, Duran Duran and Justin Timberlake

Youth seems to be the theme of the day for me, as far as writing goes.

Like many, I watched the Super Bowl yesterday. It is the one (American) football game I tend to watch each year. I don’t have the patience to sit and watch a lot of sports, and I certainly don’t design my weekends around who is playing. In that sense, I’m not a fan. Even so, I feel compelled to watch the final championship game each year, whether we go to a party or not. Yesterday, we stayed at home. I’ve been dealing with a sinus infection, or at least a recurring one, for nearly all of winter, so I was happy to have downtime.

I won’t lie, one of the biggest reasons I watch the game each year is the halftime show. Typically, I’m not even a fan of whomever they have playing, but I always watch out of sheer curiosity. Most of the time, the NFL hires someone who has incredibly wide appeal, whether that is Prince, Lady Gaga, Madonna, or even Paul McCartney. They typically do a medley of their hits because, with just about ten minutes (give or take), there’s not much else that makes sense. Invariably, people complain. That doesn’t really change from year to year, no matter what.

This year, it was Justin Timberlake taking center field, and not even he could escape the virtual “spin cycle” of justice found on social media. There was drama surrounding the proposed use of Prince’s hologram—regardless of where you sit on the debate—was shot down prior to show time. Instead, there was a giant, larger than life projection of Prince onto a piece of fabric as a tribute, and the lights outside of the stadium appeared to turn purple and morph into the design of Prince’s one time logo/name. I say “appeared” because there is apparently much debate over whether or not it really happened or was just the magic of TV.  I don’t honestly care.

While watching his performance though, one thing became crystal clear: Justin, now a father, is no longer a kid himself…and he seeks the same youthful image as every other band and artist out there. While a reasonably large portion of his fan base is in my age range, the “fans” he had surrounding the stage were as youthful as they get. 20-somethings, full of energy, happiness, and style, similar to the odd camouflage-design stage costume Justin wore, likely in a nod to his upcoming album*, “Man of the Woods”.  Even with all of that, youth matters to this industry.

My point isn’t to critique his use of a planted audience (they ALL do it), or to talk about his backing track. I don’t care about any of that because these days – it is more commonplace than not, particularly on live TV. I’m far more critical, if that is really indeed the right word for it, of the industry standards themselves.

At 37, Justin is far from the fresh-faced, curly-haired kid in N*Sync.  His solo career has done what many might have believed impossible, spanning generations of listeners. Even so, Justin finds himself in the undeniably difficult space of trying to connect with a younger audience in order to create buzz for his upcoming album.

As my husband and I watched last night, Justin ran up into the stadium itself to dance and revel with fans during the few final moments of his halftime performance. Mixed in with the sea of white males was one 13-year old kid named Ryan, who is young enough for braces to be on his teeth. Justin posed for a selfie with him, and social media did its work. Today, and even last night, memes of this kid looking at his phone and appearing “unimpressed” by Justin are all across social media, proclaiming that yeah, even Justin Timberlake has gotten to the point where today’s youth don’t know who he is.

Here’s the thing: Ryan knew who Justin Timberlake was. He was probably as shell-shocked as I might have been to be picked out of a crowd. He probably doesn’t know much about N*Sync or even a lot of Justin’s songs, but that doesn’t really matter.

You know what matters? The same thing that my husband and I commented on last night. Out of all of the fans in that crowd, Justin ran up to a kid. Sure, he did it because: A. Kids are cute and B. That kid was the only one around. But he also did it because like it or not, Justin Timberlake is a shrewd businessman. If you’re gonna stop and take a photo with someone, may as well be the kid who is most likely to buy your music. That’s not a slam against Justin. It’s reality. The industry says that it is kids like Ryan who buy the music, who decide which albums make it big, and which will ultimately be albums that only the hardest-core fan base will remember and embrace. Ryan took a selfie with Justin Timberlake, and that selfie went viral. With one well-timed photo opp,  Justin is now likable, accessible, and interesting to a brand new generation of listeners and music-buyers. Bingo.

Is it really just the youth that matter? I’m not sure. Here I sit as a 47-year old that still buys as many concert tickets as she can get away with to see the same band that she’s loved since she was a pre-teen. I’m not the only crazy person out there with multiple copies of Paper Gods, All You Need is Now or even Red Carpet Massacre and Astronaut.  I hardly think I’m the gold standard “fan” that the industry wants to think about. In turn, I’m also not the fan that the band wants to brag about – at least not business-wise. It’s frustrating on one hand as a long time fan and now blogger, and yet completely understandable on the other. But anyone who thinks it is only Duran Duran having to adjust their appeal to a younger audience need look no further than Justin Timberlake.

I suspect that at the very heart of it all, once we are past the dollars and cents, the spreadsheets and profit/loss statements, the constant pressure to appeal to younger and younger audiences must be maddening.

 

-R

*As it turns out, his album was released February 2nd. I’m a few days (and several dollars) short. Sorry about that. 😀

A Little Less Conversation

This blog is massively late today…not entirely unlike I was this morning, speeding down the I-5 towards San Diego!  It has been “one of those days”, to say the least. It is a welcome respite to sit down, write the blog, and think about something other than education.

On this date forty years ago, Elvis Presley died.  That made the year 1977, and I was not quite seven years old.  Oddly, I can vividly remember my parents talking about their shock at the dinner table. There were very few (remarkably few!) celebrities that made their way into our normal dinner time conversation when I was young, but Elvis was a favorite for both of my parents. They had all of his records, and Elvis was indeed on heavy rotation anytime my mom used the record player at home. I can remember many a night after dinner when my mom would play records while she did the dishes. My mom would sing along as she’d hand wash everything, and my dad did the drying and putting away. Sometimes, when things would really get out of hand, she and my dad would dance in the living room!  Elvis Presley was the one artist that she and my dad both loved, and I can’t help but think of my parents when I hear an Elvis Presley song.

That night at dinner though, sadness hung like a damp rag over our table. There was no dancing. No singing, and certainly no laughing. My parents spoke in hushed tones, and I can even remember my mom crying about it. I don’t know that I really had a deep understanding of what death meant at the time. I had already lost a grandfather but I don’t think I really recognized the finality involved. I just knew my parents were sad, and I was completely fascinated with every last detail.  Over the next few weeks, my mom and dad bought all of the “tribute to Elvis” magazines, and I read them all. (I was reading way before Kindergarten, which I know is bizarrely unusual, but it’s true)  I was totally preoccupied with how he died, and how his fans reacted. I guess the whole “fandom” bug had already bitten me even back then, I just didn’t know it!

As years went by, I heard Elvis in our house less and less often. I don’t know why that was. I suppose my parents got older, and maybe it wasn’t as much fun for them after he’d passed away. I really don’t know. It also could have been that not too terribly long after Elvis died, I took over the record player.

I’ll give you two guesses what band was most often played. 🙂

It’s hard for me to imagine that it really has been forty years since “The King” left this planet, and not all of that is due to the fact that I’m looking side-eyed at birthday #47 coming up.  Every now and then I run across another article saying “Elvis is Alive”, or something about his fans – many of which are in their seventies or eighties now.  They have done their due diligence in keeping his music and spirit alive for forty years now. While yes, many might characterize his fans as “obsessed” or “crazy”, or even “extreme”, I have to give them credit.  For forty years, they’ve had no concerts, no meet and greets. No chance meetings on the street, no Twitter, Facebook, or even the internet. Hell, when Elvis died, there were no home computers or cell phones!  His fans have had his music. That’s it. I suppose that the lesson here is that when something touches your heart as deeply as music, not even death can end that connection.

Something to think about.

-R

 

Think Yourself Lucky: Some thoughts on this tour

I’ve been thinking about the Paper Gods tour, or at least the shows that I attended. I have fantastic memories from the past few years, that is for sure. There really isn’t anything like seeing Duran Duran on stage, and being able to go to these shows with my best friend, knowing that however insane I seem – she usually gets it – makes it all the better.

I am pretty lucky that I was able to see Duran Duran play at the Hollywood Bowl, for example. Although I’m not a huge fan of the venue for rock concerts (the crowds are ridiculous and it takes a special sort of patience to handle the parking and traffic issues), seeing Duran Duran there was a dream. To begin with, it was the first show of the tour (for me), not counting Jimmy Kimmel the evening before.  Our seats were amazing – we splurged for second row center tickets, and I just remember how excited I was to be there. We had our friend from Canada with us, and the memories of giggling in the car after the show as I drove over the Grapevine will never leave me.  Amanda read me texts from another friend of ours who had gotten into to the after party with the band, and I was over the moon about the scene she described, wishing I had been there. I still can’t believe I drove all the way from my house, up to Berkeley, then back again, the very next day.

Amanda and I saw a lot of shows this time around. We’ve never done this many before, and I don’t regret a single one.  My bank account does, but that’s alright. You only live once, and I didn’t want to waste the opportunity. I did turn down a few shows—Amanda went without me to DC over New Years, for example—and while sure I wish I could have been there, I also wasn’t ready for the chaos and anger that would have caused here at home. It’s a tradeoff, and not an easy one at that.

When I start thinking about all of the miles and driving and travel—it begins to blow my mind just a little. I’ve gotten to see some parts of this country I’d never seen before, and I even got to go to Canada! I’ve also met a lot of new people, made new friends, and perhaps even made a new pal out of someone I’ve known for a very long time.

I toasted with Simon, saw Nick laugh at me more times than I care admit (I CAN’T HELP ROLLING MY EYES AT HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF – I AM SORRY BUT I TRY MY BEST TO BEHAVE!!), ducked from Simon-spit 16 times (we’re still winning that war, Simon!!), and exchanged smiles with other band members countless times. I can’t even count the amount of moments I would look at Amanda and we’d share a huge grin, because we were in exactly the kind of “heaven” we love most.  She and I made fun of this band at every single opportunity, laughed at ourselves so much our sides hurt, and fell more in “love” with each one of them every single day. Yeah, they’re band members. Celebrities. People. Just like us. We adore them even when we’re calling them dorks. Our readers don’t always understand that, and some really get on us about teasing them – but Amanda and I don’t feel as though we have to apologize to them for our antics. Something tells me that they not only get it, they really kind of like it! Rock on!

No, they probably don’t know me, but they made this tour worth every last mile I traveled, and a lot of the turmoil that went along with my absence from home. I don’t regret a single moment…well, maybe aside from the moments when we should have zigged instead of zagged. (If you don’t know what I mean by that, you’ll need to re-watch last Monday’s video blog)

Then there’s the way I ended this tour – with a show in San Francisco. It was GA, we were pretty far back, and yet I can honestly say I had a great time. I’d forgotten just how much better the sound can be when you’re back away from the stage, and the crowd energy was infectious. The thing is, of course we wanted to be up closer to the front. Yeah, I’m not afraid to say that I wanted to rock out with Dom one last time. But, we made the best of where we were, stayed present in the moment and danced like crazy. Some ridiculous part of me thinks that he still saw me out there, having a great time. And I did. The one thing I can tell you I thought about that night over and over again, was that I was so lucky to be there.

There I was, standing with my best friend, smiling so hard my cheeks hurt, watching the band we adore do their thing. About 30 seconds into the show, it stopped mattering where we were standing, or that there was a really rude, and very tall kid and his also-tall girlfriend standing directly in front of me, positioned so that there was no way I could see past them at all (he was rude for other reasons, not because he was in front of me).  I was just happy to be there one last night. I don’t know if I’ll always be able to be there, and if nothing else – the past couple of months has taught me that there really are NO guarantees in life. You get whatever you get. I would peek in between the sea of arms and camera phones to catch glimpses of Dom, Simon and John, and I just danced.  Pure bliss. And yeah, I’m pretty sure that by the end of the show, I got a wink or two from Dom. I can’t imagine he really saw me, but I smiled in return. We waved to Simon, Nick, John and Roger, and refused to acknowledge that for us, the tour had ended.

These are my favorite people, and I regret nothing. My two girls are performers. Heather is a dancer/choreographer, and my youngest is a singer and piano player, although she’s only nine so who knows what she’ll really do when she’s grown. I always tell each of them the same thing when they’re about to perform, and that’s to leave it ALL out on the stage. Don’t hold back. It’s the only advice I know to give. The only reason I know to give it is because I wouldn’t want them to live life the way I did for so long before I started doing all of this. I only half-lived, and it wasn’t enough. So this tour, I did the shows I wanted to do, and I LIVED. I left it all out there, no regrets, heart on the sleeve, and all of that. Nobody should wonder how I feel about this band, and particularly about the people within—whether or not they’re members, or supporting players.

Those memories are gonna have to last me until I-have-no-idea-when, so I’ll take them.  I am lucky.

-R

“New Found Appreciation”: Influencing New Fans

Last week, I received a thank you card from my student teacher.  In it, she expressed her appreciation with everything thing she had learned during the semester, including the importance of laughter.  Apparently, I make a lot of jokes in my classroom.  Who knew?!  One other thing she learned to appreciate was Duran Duran.  I know.  What does Duran Duran have to do with teaching?  Nothing.  Since I was her cooperating teacher, she had no choice but to learn about Duran.  I played the entire Rio album, for example, on its anniversary.  In order to test new equipment, I played some Duran videos.  The band provided the background to grading semester finals.

She told me that she knew some of their music but was not super familiar with them.  More to the point, what she learned about the band make her like the band more than she did.  Does that mean that  she is a fan now?  I don’t know if the new appreciation will translate to that, but it might.  I did my best or…could I have done something more?

At some point, I did a blog about which songs should be played to try to get new fans but now, after my student teacher and the book, “The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy,” I wonder if I went about it in the wrong way.

The book has an entire section entitled Resistance Is Futile:  Converting Your Friends to Fangirls.  Here are the suggestions the author listed and my thoughts about each one of them:

Ease into it.

The recommendation here is simple.  Don’t mention the history of a fandom, that’s too intense, too intimidating.  Instead, one should keep it fun by sending pictures or something light.  What do I think about it?  I’m not sure.  On one hand, I can see why the history might be a bit much or make it seem like there is no way that someone could jump into the fandom right now.  Yet, I think there is a way to acknowledge the awesome history but also showing that one can join.  For example, I might say, “It is pretty cool.  Duran formed in 1978, almost 40 years ago and have thousands of fans.  Yet, because they are still writing new albums and touring, new fans can jump in at any point.”  Then, I might send a fun live clip.

Play human recommendation engine.

The advice here is really easy.  Suggest something you know your friend would like.  In our case, if someone likes more ballads play that person “Save a Prayer”.  If they like more rock, I might choose “Careless Memories”.  It is important to know what the potential Duranie likes, music wise.

Discover something together.

The idea here is to find a fandom together.  Okay.  Cool.  Not an option for me with Duran.  Maybe another band?  Although, I can’t really see me liking another band to the same extent that I like Duran.  Goodness.

Make it a party.

The suggestion here is to have a party and invite a bunch of people.  I do have Duran parties but would I really invite non-Duranies to it?  I’m not sure.  Would they be bored?  Feel out of place?  Wouldn’t that be just like the first recommendation where everyone else has a lot of experience and knowledge that the newbie(s) don’t?!  Maybe I would do that if the person is now a fan but not quite to Duranie status to push them over to the dark…I mean Duran side.

Give the gift of fandom.

The author says that giving gifts about your fandom that you think the person will like can work.  Okay.  I have about 20 million copies of Paper Gods that I could give as gifts.

Don’t get defensive.

If someone doesn’t like your fandom, don’t get defensive.  You can calmly explain that sharing a fandom does give a ton of fabulous experiences and friendships that you wouldn’t have otherwise.  I think it is important to realize that no matter what you share with the non-Duranie, s/he might not ever become a Duranie.  That is okay, too.

Overall, I do believe that it is GREAT to have friends who are Duranies.  It definitely makes fandom WAY more fun and provides a great foundation to a friendship.  That said, it can also be tough when a friend who was once a Duranie is no more or when someone you thought was on her/his way to being a Duranie changes her/his mind.  Sometimes, that really affects friendships, even though no one wants it, too.  So, word to the wise.  Have fun with trying to create a new Duranie but don’t get disappointed when it doesn’t work or doesn’t last.

-A

 

You Won’t Miss Me When I’m Gone

Well, the spring run of shows is over, and the band has gone back to England.

I feel a little deflated, and yet my shows ended weeks ago. If that weren’t enough, I’ve seen a few people comment that they’ve never seen a tour happen this way – and so that must mean it’s farewell.

Oh come on now. Really?

First of all, I’ve seen a lot of tours like this. As in, most, if not all of them. The band always adds dates here and there, at least for as long as I’ve been actively paying attention. They do first, second…sometimes third and even fourth “legs”, and Duran Duran is FAR from the only band in the universe to do this. As John Taylor said recently in an interview, sometimes dates (like the South American shows) come up, and they have to get their whole group together, and so it just makes sense to add in a few more shows to make the trips worthwhile. I’m not going to find fault with that kind of sanity.

Second, if we’re talking about the fact that they haven’t gone many other places aside from the UK, Italy, the US and now South America – again I have to say it’s about money. Like it or not, the band has bills to pay, and they only go where they’re being paid to go. I know it’s hard to imagine, but the cost involved with doing a world tour – a real world tour – are staggering. They can’t just fly to Australia and do one show, and they can’t do more than that if promoters and bookers aren’t getting them shows. It’s that simple, whether we want to believe it or not. Sometimes, I think Duran fans look for conspiracies that just do not exist.

Lastly, even if this is their final farewell, does it really change anything? Does it change how YOU are touring? What shows YOU are attending? For me personally, I’m going to what I can. Even if I knew it was the final countdown, I couldn’t possibly do more shows right now, even if I wanted. I mean, what more could I really want though?

I’m not the type of person that is going to sit and wait for them outside of their hotel, or at an airport. I love them, but I also feel awkward doing that stuff. I know a lot of others do, and that’s great. It’s not my thing. There is only one time I’ve asked one of them to sign something for me, and in all honesty it was Dom, it wasn’t Simon, or Roger, or anyone like that. I’m just not that kind of fan, not that I think those people are wrong or weird or anything like that – it’s just that for me, I don’t want or need much signed. I’ve been to the UK. I’ve seen Birmingham – out of everything I’ve ever done in the name of “fandom”, that was the one thing I really wanted and it lived up to every last possible expectation and then some. Truth be told, I would really like to go back to the UK again. Very much so. I don’t know if I will have a chance to take that trip though, just because of timing and family expenses (again, college is NOT CHEAP).  I’ve taken long road trips with Amanda, I’ve had some wonderful experiences at shows, and I have made a lot of friends along the way. I just don’t know if there’s much else I could reasonably want, except more.

So while the idea of “farewell” bothers me, I can’t go on worrying about it looming overhead. A bit of advice my dad gave me before he died was that I needed to not worry so much about the dying. I’d call him at least a few times a week towards the end, and I’d always ask how he was feeling. It was natural, and I meant it in the most loving way possible – he was my dad and I was worried. Dad got tired of talking about how he was feeling though, because let’s face it – he already knew he was dying. It was no secret. He didn’t want to focus on the end, he just wanted to enjoy the living. So, he told me that the end was going to be just that, the end, and that none of us had much control over when that was going to be, or how that was going to transpire. What he and I could do though, was to enjoy the time we had. So I am, and I will. It was still a shock when the end arrived, and I still went through all of the same stages of grief as anyone might. But, I’m kind of glad my dad gave me that little pep talk though, because it’s come in handy more than once in the almost nine years he’s been gone. That’s my dad – watching out for me up until the very end!

Of course I’ll be wistful and sad when they stop touring. I have friends that I don’t know if I’ll see again when that time comes, even if I don’t think now is that time. I can’t imagine not seeing the band, or Dom, or even some of the roadies again. We fans have known them so long we can’t imagine not having them around and yet they really don’t know us at all. There’s really only one person in or around the band that truly knows me or my name, and I don’t even question whether or not he’ll know me in a crowd. It’s kind of like going to family reunions every time they tour or do a show, and I’ll miss those.

I think that’s really just it. Family. Somewhere along the line, this band and all of the fans that go along with them, have become a family, whether we like it or not! Some I might see as crazy uncles (there’s always one!), and others are probably related only by marriage and we don’t really know how they fit in, but they’re part of the group. I can’t imagine that feeling of family just ending, can you?

I don’t know what the band has coming next. I know that they’re coming back to California in July. I have heard rumblings of other possibilities, courtesy of the monthly Katy Kafes. I don’t think this band is quite done yet, but I’m not going to worry about that. I’m going to enjoy seeing pictures, chatting with friends, and planning for the shows I will see in July. I am going to work on a couple of projects I have going on here at home – including a high school graduation for my son, and I’m going to be reveling in the joy I have bubbling within for getting him to this point. I’m going to savor each moment as it comes, and live in gratitude for each day I’m given, and so should you.

-R