Category Archives: inspiration

Celebrating Pop Art and Artistic Influence

On today’s date in 1987, the world lost Andy Warhol. Many, if not most Duranies are at least familiar with the name – if not for his infamous soup can artwork, than definitely for his friendship with Nick Rhodes.

I remember hearing that he’d died, likely from television or perhaps the radio, and wondering how the band was taking it, and of course particularly Nick. Like most fans, I had seen photos with Nick and Andy, and some along with Julie Anne. I also remember feeling particularly sad that there would never come a day when Andy Warhol would do the cover of one of Duran Duran’s albums. In hindsight, the thought seems strange only because at the time, I was 16, fairly self-involved, and I don’t remember ever really paying much attention to their album covers. I hadn’t truly discovered art just yet, but apparently something led me to think that having Warhol do a Duran cover would have been amazing.

I still do.

Most people really only know Warhol for a few pop art paintings. Maybe it’s his soup can series, or perhaps it’s the Marilyns. I think what always attracted me to his work was likely his thought process. “Art is what you can get away with”, being one of many.  I still like that thinking, because later in life, as I took Modern Art and learned more, I realized that is exactly what art is. The difference between Warhol and many others, including myself, is that he dared to put it out there, to think differently, to challenge someone’s ideas of what art is, drawing from every day, simple things – like a soup can – or like celebrity in general.

It is not really a surprise to me, although I have to remind myself from time to time, that the band draws upon a similar spirit when writing and recording. They challenge themselves (and later, their fans) to think about music, about pop…and certainly about themselves as a band, differently with every single album. They are not content to re-record Rio over and over. I think at times, it is difficult to accept progress, as a fan. We somehow program ourselves to believe that Rio, or the first album for instance, is their “signature” sound. Albums should come packaged with a photo of themselves on the cover, and all meanings should be clearly stated, ambiguity need not apply.

When I think about Duran Duran as artists, given those parameters, I realize how unfair fans might be at times. Should they never grow or mature past the 1980s? What about us as listeners? Are we really  to never consider other options, or different sounds?  Over the past several months, I’ve thought about this a lot. I’ve come to the conclusion that if Duran Duran had never changed, I would have gotten very bored by now.  As much as I defiled RCM…and I really did… in a variety of online message boards, I have to give the band credit. They really stepped out of their box for that one. It doesn’t matter now whether or not I think it worked, because through that experience, as well as the one that followed, All You Need is Now, came Paper Gods. The evolutionary process of making music continues, and seeing every day things, even their own music, in different ways continues the pop art tradition.

So when Duran Duran mentions that they’re working to score a ballet out of one of the pieces of music that was left off of Paper Gods, or that they’re devising a musical, my first question isn’t, “Why aren’t you working on another album?”, but instead, “Where can I sign up to help make this happen?!?” I hope it’s incredibly outrageous and forces me to see in yet another different, but equally glorious light.

I would expect nothing less.

-R

 

Inspiration, look see.

Inspiration is what makes this blog really run. I was not in New York City last night, but I did catch the opening lines before the second screening, thanks to a friend of mine who kindly took video so that we could share the moment. Something that John said kind of hit home – he mentioned that the band is in the inspiration business.

Granted, he went on to explain that New York City is special to them, and that anyone who comes there can find inspiration at any time, day or night – and while I’m sure that for the band, this is true – the important part of that statement for me is that they are in fact in the inspiration business.

The band has inspired a lot of people in one way or another…whether they’ve inspired people to write, create visual artwork of many different mediums, go into the music industry in some capacity, become concert photographers, become collectors of memorabilia…the list goes on and on. In that sense, the band has been a remarkable driving force to a countless number of people, many of whom have never once seen the band play live, met any of them, gotten a photo or even a signature. That’s astounding when you think about it, and for that reason, I have to agree with John 100%. Much of their work really IS inspiration, because that inspiration is what keeps us coming back for more. Whether we hear a particular important line for ourselves in “Salt in the Rainbow”, a line of melody that becomes an earworm, or see some artwork from an album that becomes the color scheme for something else we do…it is that inspiration we seek. It speaks to us, to our hearts and minds, in some way. Inspiration.

It’s true, for us the band has been our source of inspiration. We were inspired to try writing a book about what it is really like to be a fan.  We wanted to really answer the question, “What do you really get out of being a fan?” For us, it’s not just pretty photos with band members or VIP events and cocktail parties.  It’s the friends and connections we’ve made along the way. We kind of made an unspoken bet between the two of us that the same held true for many other fans out there.  The band inspired this blog (obviously), but the blog isn’t just about Duran Duran. Again, it’s about being FANS of that band. What inspires us as fans to continue sticking around, buying music and going to concerts – in some cases for over thirty years now? Whatever that is – we try to write about it and describe on our own terms.

Interestingly enough to include here as a sidebar, and probably very selfishly and naively at the same time: at one point we had some sort of tiny glimmer of hope that eventually, the band might take notice of this silly blog. Painfully raw for me to admit here, but I have never NOT been honest on this blog. So here it is in all of it’s glory. I don’t know what we were hoping for – some sort of spoken/acknowledged/respected synergy maybe? Perhaps a thank you? Do we deserve that? Do we dare ask for that? Who knows… I guess that for me, I had hoped that the band would see this as a link to their fans and embrace it. They’d really have a window into what we’re thinking, and somehow…some way…it would actually be useful. Another funny thing about me, something that is as much my downfall as it is a nice quality, is that I seek approval. I very much want to be accepted, respected, approved, included…etc. etc. I wish for that validation, and yes, I need it. Sometimes, it never comes.

However, Amanda and I are fairly aware that we’re good at what we do here. We understand fandom in a way that the “suits”…or the “Powers That Be” absolutely, positively, never will. They don’t get it, and we KNOW they don’t get it because they see fans as dollar signs with legs and faces, and we see fans as people who can choose to stay or go – especially because at our age (we’re an aging community whether we want to believe it or not), there are only a few things keeping them here and the big one is the connection to other fans. It’s time to recognize and treat it as importantly as we do the music, because make no mistake – it IS important. We know what brings fans together, and we know how to drive that engine to keep it going. The band inspired us.

Amanda is pretty much ready to branch out past the narrow scope of this band. She wants to reach more people on a different level. She has a lot more faith in herself and her abilities than I do in my own, that is for sure, as I am currently questioning my role in all of this. Together, we put on a pretty amazing convention on a shoestring budget. If you weren’t there, didn’t want to shell out the cash or just couldn’t go – yeah – you missed out. It was worth the time and every penny. Amanda is through waiting for the future to happen, she’s ready to make it happen, and I’m proud of her for that. It takes a certain amount of bravery that I really don’t have, and a lot of inspiration.

We’ve been called “Sad People” by our own fellow fans. People who have apparently read the blog, called us whiners, and laughed. There are people that believe the blog is worthless, and that we just look pathetic. Maybe so. I think we look pathetic because we’re working our asses off each day and the band doesn’t even seem to care…and maybe they really don’t need to do so. That’s pretty painful to admit, because clearly we’ve failed – I’ve failed – but there’s a ton of fans out there that do care. They send us thank-you notes, notes of encouragement, and are our biggest cheerleaders. YOU, our readers, are our inspiration, and if we’re saddos, then I guess we’re all saddos together.

I don’t really know what the future holds. I am not certain that Amanda’s sense of direction is one I really share, interest-wise. Amanda is the organizer, I’m more of the business-head I guess. I really would rather write a novel than deal with people. I like words. I like working behind the scenes. I don’t enjoy the very things that she does.  We’re so opposite, it’s really kind of funny. I think that the next step for me, one we’ve been discussing for a long time now –  is going to depend on how I can see myself fitting in to her vision. No matter, it is true that Duran Duran is in the inspiration business. They inspired me to simply begin. I’ve been waiting a long time for a little approval and validation (again, I already said this was silly and naive of me) – because that is what *I* do. Clearly, it’s time for me to learn that one doesn’t always receive what they think they need most, and it’s not always obvious what direction someone should head next. Sometimes the inspiration comes when and where you’re not necessarily looking.

-R