It has been a while since I was really able to blog with abandon. 🙂
About ten days ago (feels like months now, which should give some indication as to my state of being at the moment), I decided to take a couple of hours and try to listen to the BBC 2 broadcast at the Eden Project. I really didn’t think I’d be able to hear it since I’m in the US, but I figured I wouldn’t know unless I tried. Imagine my surprise when it worked! Before I knew it, they were announcing Duran Duran taking the stage in Cornwall.
Rest assured, the show was fantastic. Two things really struck me that afternoon, though that made the experience so worth my time. As if I had to force myself to listen, right? The thing is, I really did that day. I still had major writing to do, and our self-imposed deadline was still looming (IS still looming, I might add). Even so, taking the time from writing might have been bad enough, but if I was going to do that, I probably could have spent the time catching up on cleaning or laundry, or 50,000 other things. I didn’t. I sat down, and for the first time in I-can’t-quite-remember-when, I listened.
Since I was not there in the audience and was sitting at home with nothing to distract me, I was able to pay so much closer attention to the smallest audible detail. I could hear notes and loops that I don’t think I’ve ever really noticed before, which really changed the entire show for me. Like any other fan out there, I’ve listened to their albums more times than I can count. I know every word in the same way that I’m sure those of you reading this do. But when was the last time I really listened? Amanda and I haven’t done a review in a while (we will, I promise!), but even then – I am never really just sitting. I’m always taking notes or listening while reading something else – anything to multitask. And then, there are the times when I’m just listening for fun. I am not sure I can say I’m always paying rapt attention. My mind wanders, or something grabs my attention and the next thing I know the song (or album) is over. I heard it, but I may not necessarily have really listened 100%. So that afternoon was different for me in that respect. I had nothing in front of me, nothing to do, other than listen to the music, and I found myself hearing things I would never notice while in the front several rows of a venue. No distractions, no one to focus my attention on, and the experience was wild as a result.
As I listened and marveled over the sound quality—it was so crisp I couldn’t believe it—I also considered fandom. That shouldn’t be a surprise. For the last two and a half months, my days have been nearly entirely spent on considering fandom. MY fandom. What has really changed since I first became a fan in the 1980s? Well, plenty….and I’m not just meaning my age. 😉 I’m not giving away anything I’ve written about when I say that at least for me, the single biggest thing that has changed fandom for me has been the internet. Prior to the days of the reunion, basically, being a fan was something that really felt sort of isolating. Singular. It was something I did alone. Yes, when I was younger (and I mean much younger—like middle school), I had friends that loved the band as much as I did. We’d sit on the grass (the “quad”) at school during our breaks and lunch and we’d talk about Duran Duran. We’d bring our latest issues of Bop! or Teen Beat—whatever cover they happened to land on that month—and we’d read the articles. We took them all so seriously, too…but I digress. The point being that after those middle school years, as we moved on through high school, that happened less and less. By the time I got to college, I definitely wasn’t talking about Duran Duran with anyone. My sorority sisters, particularly the few I shared a room with on campus, didn’t even know I was a huge fan. That didn’t change after I got married or had Heather, and at that time, I was living in Illinois and knew no one. When Medazzaland came out, there was no one to talk about that album with. When the band showed up on the Rosie O’Donnell show to promote—I happened to catch that episode by pure luck. I was excited to see them (as I fed my then-newborn), but there was no one to marvel over their looks with, or talk about the songs (of which I knew very little). The internet changed that for me.
By the time the reunion was announced, I was dipping my toes into the message boards. I didn’t post, but I definitely lurked and read. And when I found a message board where I felt comfortable, I began posting. Little by little, what was once something that seemed isolating— being a Duran Duran fan—was something that united me with other people. The internet has allowed me to participate and share fandom with people all over the world. And, that’s what I did that Friday. While I was listening from California, I was able to see (on Twitter) that others were listening from parts of the UK, the east coast of the US, and even South America. And yet, our individual locations really didn’t matter, because we were all together. It made no difference where we were from, what our primary language might be, our ages….none of it mattered. We were all people, all gathering in love, sharing our joy for a British band.
I dare say that on that particular day, it didn’t matter that the set list seemed to be pretty much the same as I’d heard before, and that I was nowhere near the front of the stage and couldn’t even see the band. I experienced a show like I never had before in many ways, and it was just as thrilling (as being there) in a completely different way.
On days like yesterday, and even today as we absorb the aftermath of a horrific event, I like to think about how much smaller the world really seems, and how lucky I am to have friends from all over the world. Fandom doesn’t have to be an isolating thing, anymore. At any given moment, whether in pain, joy, sadness or elation, I can go online—likely to Twitter in my case—and share those feelings. Someone from half a world away is likely to answer, and the one thing I likely have in common with that person is a little band from Birmingham. We’re all incredibly different, but also the same.
Say what you will about Duran Duran. Pigeonhole them for being a teenybopper band (although I’d personally like to point out that I stopped being a teenager about 25 years ago now), and never mind all the critical claim that may be their just due after all this time. This crazy band brought us together and like the Energizer bunny – just keeps going and going. If that isn’t worth acclaim and respect, I just don’t know what is.