Category Archives: Music

A Profound Loss: George Michael dies at 53

I was cooking dinner yesterday, standing at my sink preparing potatoes. My sister, visiting from Chicago, was sitting at the table looking at her iPhone. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed. “George Michael  passed away.”

“NOOOOOOOO!” I yelled, reaching to grab my own phone. Honestly believing it was a hoax, I scanned Facebook and Twitter to confirm my suspicions.

I think we all know that of course, it was true. George Michael left us yesterday. Christmas, of all days. For me, and likely most of you—George Michael was more than just another musical icon. He was a significant part of the soundtrack to my life. I loved Wham!, adored his solo career, and yes—I admired him as a person, too.  Many of my friends met him at various points, and the one characteristic that continued to be mentioned over the years was “generous”. He was generous with his time, his feelings, and even his thankfulness for his fans.

I was in disbelief yesterday when I heard the news. I didn’t have time to really process, and my house was full of people who have no understanding. To them, rock stars are just rock stars…people who make little indent on our lives. To me, they are something quite different. The music and people who matter most to me, and George Michael is/was certainly among them, changed my life forever each time I listened to their songs. They matter. Forever.

Today, I’m sad. The sense of loss is profound. Wistfully, I think back to the times when my friend Karen and I would sing every word to “Young Guns (Go for it)”, or when I discovered “Wake Me Up” (which in my opinion, is impossible to listen to without smiling – no matter how sick of it you might be!). I remember putting “Faith” on repeat in the car when I’d drive back and forth to Redondo Beach to see my then-boyfriend (now husband), or watching the video for “Careless Whisper” over and over.

Yes, I was one of those girls who would squeal for George. He was incredibly good-looking – and just got better with age. Sure, he came out as gay. That didn’t stop me. I had believed those songs were written for me before, and I still believed that after. I worried for him when I heard about his drug problems and his stint in jail. I didn’t look at him with disdain, but with deep concern. I didn’t want anything to happen to George, because for all the happiness he’d already given me over the years, I felt (and still feel) he deserved it all to come back to him at least two-fold. I remember when he was sick in the hospital with pneumonia, and I breathed a sigh of relief when he emerged. I wanted to watch George continue to age gracefully, and still keep singing with that gorgeous, uplifting, incredible voice.

Sometimes, even the most heartfelt wishes can’t come true. I know I’m not alone today when I think about just how many people—really good people—have left us this year. 2016 feels particularly brutal in that regard, but I am also aware that we’re aging, and these things are likely to continue happening. I don’t like it. George Michael was an 80s icon and he was a huge part of my young adulthood. I don’t want to say goodbye to that anymore than I would want to say goodbye to dear friends. The sadness is profound, gut-wrenching, and overwhelming. Knowing that others feel similar should be a help, but truthfully—it isn’t. I wish that none of us needed to weather the loss.

Yes, the music is here forever, and death is a part of life. That does little to stop the sense of loss right now.  In time, the music will help heal, and I look forward to that.

-R

To Lighten Up Your Mood

Do you listen to music to match your mood or to change it?  For example, do you find yourself picking upbeat, dance music to get you moving in the morning or to join you on a workout?  Or is it a situation in which you are angry so you pick a song to scream out your frustrations?  If I was asked this question, I would definitely state that I’m more of a find a song to match my mood kind of person.  Perhaps, this is one of many reasons that I like Duran so much.  I appreciate that they have songs to match every mood.  There are a lot of artists out there with catalogs that all sound the same, in terms of tempo, feeling, etc.  Duran isn’t like that.

It may come as no surprise to anyone reading this who knows me that I have not been feeling particularly upbeat, happy, joyful lately.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that my mood swings from anger and frustration to deep sadness.  Underlying all of that is a strong, unbreakable feeling of anxiety, worry, fear.  I have not even been playing a lot of music in the last month as everything I might choose seemed off the mark.  Again, the goal I have is to match the music with my mood and no songs in my library includes all of those emotions.  I find songs that express the anger but not the sadness or vice versa.  Forget about finding music that really expresses the fear I have.  Because I do love music, I have not given up as I attempt to find the right songs or the right combination of songs to match my moods.

The other morning, I attempted once again to find just the right song while I got ready for work.  I decided to go for shuffle and hope for the best.  Duran’s Paper Gods came on.  Instead of skipping it, thinking it wouldn’t match my feeling, I opted to turn it up.  Soon enough, I found myself singing along.  I noticed that my brain stopped thinking as I let the music wash over me.  I remembered the joy of seeing the band on stage during this past summer.  Then, the next song that came on was a remix of Wild Boys.  I continued to listen and sing along.  I wanted to keep listening but I had to leave for work.  As I locked my house and moved down to the garage to drive to work, I realized that my negative outlook returned but that for a few minutes, while listening to Duran, the cloud lifted.  The songs did not change my mood but offered some relief.

As I drove to work, I allowed my thoughts to turn to the upcoming shows in Washington, DC at the end of the month.  I understood in a new, more concrete  way that I needed these shows.  Now, when I say “need”, I recognize that I won’t die without them.  Duran shows do not equal food, water, shelter or other essentials.  Of course not.  Yet, having the chance to experience some real joy will not only give me a reprieve from the harsh reality of life right now, which is more than welcome, but will also help me get a boost that I need to keep fighting the good fight.

Music is powerful.  It can say what we can’t say ourselves otherwise. It can also sway your mood or provide you with the necessary escape.  More than that, music brings joy which all humans benefit from, but especially when life is throwing a lot of challenges your way.  This week, I was reminded of the power of music.  Add on the fact that Duran’s music also has music for every emotion and the power intensifies.  Right now, at this moment, I am thankful for Duran and their music and really looking forward to those shows.

-A

Its a New Religion: Rio and the Self-Titled Debut

I’ve noticed that Amanda has been telling her own stories regarding each album lately, and so I’ve decided to join in.  Perhaps you’ll decide to share your own – and we certainly encourage that!

I’m going to start with the first album…and actually Rio… since that seems to be the best place to begin! This is going to require some memory on my part.  I cannot guarantee I’m going to get the chain of events completely accurate, but it is how I remember it!

As I’ve mentioned previously, the very first time I heard Duran Duran was on KROQ. What you don’t know, is that I stumbled onto the station by accident, really. I’d overheard girls—popular girls— talking about KROQ at school. I had no idea what it was, or why the station was cool, but I was desperate to fit in. If I remember right, I’d heard the call letters way before I knew what the number was. I never actually asked anyone at school because I was too shy to bother. It was just one of those things I kept in the back of my mind, and once I finally saw where the station was located, I ran home to find it.

I remember trying to find 106.7 on the radio dial. Back then, as I’m sure many will remember – the dials were touchy. I didn’t have a digital display telling me what station it was on, I had to go by this orange little hand that would move as I turned the dial on my radio, and it wasn’t completely accurate. So I’d fidget with it, get it to tune in, and then wait to see if I had the right station.  Finally I must have gotten it, because Rodney on the ROQ was on, and he was introducing this band that he swore we’d hear more from.  The band was Duran Duran and the song was Planet Earth.

I liked the song immediately, but at the time I was far more astounded that I was actually listening to the right station, the one everyone else – or at least everyone who I thought mattered – was talking about. I went back to school and reported it to my group of misfit friends. One of the girls in this group knew all about KROQ and Duran Duran. This is where my memory gets wonky, because I can’t remember how long it was between that time and when they really became popular. In my head it wasn’t that long, but I’m not sure.

What I can tell you though is that I didn’t buy a Duran Duran record right away. Instead, I heard them a lot on the radio – but it wasn’t the first album I was hearing. It was Rio, and it hit BIG here. By then, it wasn’t just KROQ playing them – it was every station. I want to say that Marsha – the girl in the group that had already known who Duran Duran was – invited me to go with her to buy their album at the record store.  This was a major thing for me because I didn’t really own much in the way of music beyond KTEL records: a few Shaun Cassidy albums and a copy of Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog.

We got to the store (Wherehouse records!), and I remember looking at the Duran Duran albums…but here is where my memory fades again. You see, my very first DD album wasn’t their self-titled one. It was Rio. I bought Rio first, only to find out later that there was an earlier album. (which I then bought, of course!) I can’t remember if the first album was there on the shelf with Rio and I just didn’t know what it was (obviously when I’d heard Planet Earth I didn’t know what album that was from or much else about the band). One might wonder why I wouldn’t have bought both if I saw them, and I can only guess:

  1. I must have only seen Rio?
  2. I only had money for one album and had to choose?
  3. (and this is the one I’m leaning towards because of my memory) The stores only HAD Rio at the time because that was the album that was huge on the radio, and it was later that we got the self-titled one with Is There Something I Should Know on it rather than To The Shore)

I know that it wasn’t long after I’d bought Rio that I then either bought the first one or it was given to me for a holiday or birthday or something. I also remember seeing Carnival in the stores around this same time, but…in my frugal thinking back then…I couldn’t understand buying an album that I already had all the songs from. Yes, I’ve spent time kicking myself (at least up until I actually bought Carnival myself).

At first, I can tell you that I liked Rio far more than I did the first album. To me, the first album was “weird”.  I liked some of the songs on it – like Planet Earth and ITSISK, but I wasn’t a big fan of GOF. What’s more, later on I discovered that one of my KTEL records had GOF on it. It was actually a song on the B side that I tended to skip!!  (Ha, that’s a true confession!)  Clearly, in the years since that initial purchase I’ve changed my mind! But yes, it was probably Rio (and HLTW if I’m being honest) that made me fall for Duran Duran.

My favorite song on Rio was New Religion, although Rio ran a close second along with yes, HLTW.  When I went back and got the self-titled album, I can remember being incredulous that it came out before Rio because it wasn’t until after Rio came out that we heard ITSISK. I just wasn’t aware of the chain of events, I guess.

So, my favorite song on the first album was – yes – ITSISK. I wasn’t aware until years later that the real first album didn’t even have that on it, it was just pressed that way for the US. Live and learn, I suppose.

Someday I’ll have to tell you about the first time I saw their videos with my friend Marsha.

-R

 

My Own Way: Album Ranking

Welcome to Monday. It is my first day back after a nearly a week of festivities, and so I’m going to start slow…by doing my own ranking of albums.

In full disclosure, I read diffuser.fm’s take on Duran’s career, as well as Amanda’s, prior to making my own choices. Both gave me a little more to think about, but neither swayed my decisions. I know we’ve done this before, but as Amanda mentioned, I haven’t even considered it since Paper Gods came out.  Why not revisit?

My own countdown is devised so that I mention the album and the reasons for where it sits. Some albums may have a paragraph, others might have a sentence or two. I left Arena off of my list completely as it only has one studio song on it and if I were to rank live albums I would do them all.

I’ve learned that I cannot hem and haw around while I am ranking things or picking favorites. I feel a little like I’m mowing down the field of Duran Duran albums as I go through the process, quickly deciding what should go where and why – but I go with my first instinct, my gut, and don’t look back. I do fine as I begin, but somewhere around #8 I start worrying, but remind myself to go with  my gut. I look back over the list as I’m finishing and realize that for now – today even – it’s how I feel. Tomorrow?  Who knows.  That’s kind of how it’s always been for me as a fan.

Perhaps it’s really gotten to the point that I identify so closely with their career – each album marking a particular point in my own life – that it’s difficult to be objective anymore. I don’t know, but I tried. I’m sure I’m not the first fan to be stumped by ranking albums or picking favorite songs. In fact, I know I’m not!

Thank You

I just never felt they hit their stride here. While some songs, such as Perfect Day or Lay Lady Lay are so silky smooth you can’t help but enjoy them, others, such as 911 is a Joke, make no sense at all.  Then there’s White Lines, which is great live, but on the album it tends to fall flat. I can’t fault the band too much for trying something few other bands of their calibre have done, but it just does not rank high on my list of favorites.

Red Carpet Massacre

Anyone who knows me probably saw this coming, and I’m sorry for being predictable. I don’t think this album can or should be swept under the proverbial carpet and forgotten – because it is how we got here, to this place we all currently occupy. I can certainly see and hear the parallels between this album and Paper Gods. I’m glad they tried out some of the things they learned from RCM over again to get them right.

Pop Trash

I would characterize Pop Trash as the fast food of Duran Duran’s career.  Perhaps fitting? While the album is nowhere near “bad”, I never felt that there was a lot for me to sink my teeth into and devour.  It lacks the depth of some of their other work, which is why it ended up in this place on my list.

Medazzaland

Ah, Medazzaland.  If there were any album that had changed for me over the years since it’s release – it would be this one.  I just didn’t get it when it first came out. In fact, I listened to the album in full one time before shelving it for many years. Lately though, I’ve listened to it, and I’m finally starting to get it. No, I’m still not a fan of the title track (sorry Nick), or Silva Halo, but I do really like Big Bang Generation, Who Do You Think You Are, and Midnight Sun. There’s a lot hiding amongst the shadows on this album, and I think it’s worth a revisit.

Liberty

How can I rank this above Pop Trash or Medazzaland? 2am drives from Hollywood, that’s how.  Our personal experiences shape our listening choices, and for me – that’s why Liberty works. It kept me awake many times during college and beyond, so I’m going with it.

The Wedding Album

I have to admit that I agree with Amanda – while there are two songs on this album that are iconic for Duran Duran, the album as a whole isn’t nearly as impressive as others (which I recognize is tough to do when you’re Duran Duran and have had so many successes).  So it’s not that I think the album is bad – it’s that the band has too many great ones!

Astronaut

Oh yes I did rank this one about The Wedding Album. Please see the line about personal experiences.  For me, this album is all about the Fab Five. I can’t ignore it, I can’t get past that, and it was a dream come true for me. Yes, it’s pop. Sure, there are songs on it that I didn’t love and I still take it personally that they didn’t include Beautiful Colors, Salt in the Rainbow and Virus on it. Even so, I’ll take it.

Notorious

I am pretty sure that at one point or another, I ranked this lower on my list. Again, I didn’t get it. But just a week ago, I pulled the album out and gave it a good listen. What is most remarkable to me about Notorious, is that it came after Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Those albums were hugely successful. Then they had two band members leave, and rather than sticking with what they knew, they took the opportunity to blaze new territory. It was like deciding to take a giant left turn out of nowhere. As a child, I had little respect for that sort of thing. In fact, I don’t think I really understood.  Even as an adult I sometimes get caught up in what I think DD should be or should sound like – but I’m working on it.

Big Thing

Another album I didn’t really get until adulthood. The first half is as dance music as I’d expect from DD, and the latter is the culmination of some of their finest songwriting moments. The emotion that comes across threw the B side of this album is astounding, and in my opinion, it is the best DD album that no one has really heard.

Paper Gods

Here’s the thing about Paper Gods for me – I like it. I don’t know that I love it, although I’ve tried. It ticks a lot of the boxes for plenty of people, but it is also an album that I really needed to come to terms with. I didn’t fall in instant love, but I would say I’ve grown to respect each song and the work that went into making the album overall. I can’t fault an album that hit top ten, if only for a brief, shining moment.

Seven and the Ragged Tiger

This goes bad to personal experiences for me. This album is my seventh grade wrapped in vinyl. Awkward, sometimes overdone, but still well-loved. Sure, it might not be their best songwriting, but I love it all the same, and that’s why it is near the top of my list. All I have to do is hear the opening notes to Union of the Snake and I’m back on the lawn with my friends at recess, gawking at the latest edition of Tiger Beat. For me, those memories are priceless, and that is what makes music so powerful.

Rio

I know what you all are thinking.  Yes, I really did put Rio third. The trouble is, it could easily be second. Or first. The final three on my list here are probably interchangeable, if not completely tied. I cannot think about Duran Duran without thinking about Rio. If there were ever a reason why Hungry Like the Wolf is played at every single DD show – it is because of Rio. Try as we might, we simply cannot separate Rio (the album) from the band, in the same way that we cannot separate HLTW from them either. I get it. I may not always like it, but I get it. And I respect it.

All You Need is Now

It pains me that the band left this song, and many songs from this album, off of their set list this past year. For me personally, this album is easily as iconic as Rio. It describes the band, and their relationship with their audience, to a T. To think that Duran Duran wrote this album during their third decade together simply blows me away. It is an album that never got it’s justice, and it is still one of my very favorite.

Self-titled Debut

I really don’t think it is all that surprising that one of my favorite albums is the one that started it all for them, and for me. I love the rawness, the lack of expectation, and the realness of the music. There is no ego here, no trying to outdo what has already been done. It is simply music from  a band ready to take it’s place in the world.  This is an album from Duran Duran before they were DURAN DURAN, and it is the most real we’ve ever gotten from them. that is why it remains number one for me.

My choices weren’t all that surprising, but the exercise was fun. I don’t anticipate others to agree with me – in fact, you shouldn’t. We all have had our own journey, and that is what makes it all fun.  I’m no music expert, and I only have my own taste to rely on, so by all means make your own list and have fun with it.

-R

 

 

My Own Way/Like An Angel 1981

On this date in 1981, the single for My Own Way/Like an Angel was released.

First of all, let me marvel just a bit over the fact that I’m writing about a song that has now been around for winces thirty-five years. I think that must be impossible because I’m only thirty myself, right??

My Own Way was released to kind of “mind the gap” between “Girls on Film” and their next album, Rio.  As you might notice by the date, My Own Way was released before Rio.  My Own Way did fairly well, hitting #14 on the UK charts, and paving the way for Rio.

The single has a much faster tempo along with some very disco-strings. The album version is slower, less frenetic sounding, and the lyrics are very slightly different. The album version is a little more on the new wave end of things, and it was also remixed by Kershenbaum for Carnival. The band has said that this My Own Way is one of their least favorite singles, and with so many different versions out there, it would seem to me that perhaps the song has a bit of an identity problem. Or maybe it just has multiple personalities!

Then there’s the video, which didn’t arrive until 1982.  I’ve always felt the video had a bit of a latin theme going for it, along with the striking red and black staging….and that parrot…which still amuses me.

This leads me to Like An Angel, the B-side. I’ve always felt this was the more interesting song of the two. That seems to happen a lot for me – I end up liking the B-sides more so than the single.  Anyone else?? I like the tonal quality of Simon’s voice in Like an Angel When you hear this song, I think one can really tell it is earlier Duran Duran. One thing I know for sure, they weren’t afraid to use different keys instead of the “golden” rock chords like D-A-G, etc.  I wish I could put my finger on all of the qualities of their earlier songs that just seem to change when the band gets to Rio – maybe it’s just a raw-ness that disappears. I’m not sure, but I love giving myself the opportunity to go back and listen on occasion!

-R

 

 

All Over You As They Say: Tomorrow is Election Day!

Tomorrow marks a day I have been awaiting for over 500 days now.  It is Election Day, and that means the end is nigh. No, I don’t mean the end of the United States or the world… I mean Decision 2016 will finally come to an end. I don’t know what will happen in the days following, but I do know that the political ads on television, radio, and other media will finally end. That alone is worth celebrating. For what has seriously been over a year now, celebrities of all kinds have voiced their feelings, concerns, and even a certain amount of vitriol on every type of social media. Musicians, including but certainly not limited to Duran Duran, have used their own on stage soap boxes to comment on our election, regardless of where they’re from, or their right to vote (or not) in our elections.

I have no shame in writing that the idea for this blog came from Lori Majewski. She asked on Facebook if fans mind seeing musicians making political comment. The answers and opinions were widely varied, as you might have expected.

As I’ve commented before, my views are unlike many other DD fans. I vote as a Libertarian these days, because I lean conservative when it comes to fiscal (money) issues, but I am also socially liberal. I am not here to tell you how to vote – only to admit how I vote so that no false assumptions are made as I continue writing.

I pondered Lori’s question as I read some of the replies posted. On one hand, I really believe music and politics go hand in hand. Throughout history, music has been used within cultures to describe, create, and foster social change. That doesn’t happen without people willing to put their opinions out there. Punk didn’t just “happen”. Gospel music didn’t just come out of nowhere. Someone had to come up with the words, thoughts and feelings.

I believe music has the potential to change people. It is what I believe to be the great common denominator. Music brings people together, and it is the essence of what is truly good. Even when the message isn’t one I necessarily agree with, I recognize that there are many others out there who probably need that message communicated.

Additionally, music has been used to make people aware. I think about Bandaid, USA for Africa, LiveAid, FarmAid, even Rock the Vote.  So in one sense, yes it’s OK with me if a musician I admire makes political comment. I expect it!

However, there is also a part of me that dreads seeing it. This comes into play when I see celebrity after celebrity trying to tell me, the voter, what is the “right” way to think or feel. I really dislike the parade of musicians and celebrities that come out in favor of one side (and in the US – I don’t think it’s any shock that they’re mostly Democrat). They use their celebrity draw to influence the vote. I’m equally bothered, if not more so, when the musician or celebrity isn’t even from this country. Should they even have an opinion? I suppose it’s a slippery slope. Yes, of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. It would be wrong of me to insist that they never voice it. But, I’m still bothered by it, whether or not I happen to agree with their stance. As I said—it’s a slippery slope.

For me personally, it is rare that I find a celebrity or musician who I identify with politically. I’ve gotten used to the fact that I disagree with not only most of my friends, but also a lot of the musicians I admire. I think there is a real risk of turning people off when you wear your politics on your sleeve, but more and more often—I’m finding that it doesn’t matter. This particular election cycle has been ugly. I’ve seen celebrities fire right back at hate and anger with their own hate and anger, whether they’re talking to someone who was once a fan or not. It is a little jarring to see a celebrity tell someone to F*** off on social media, because that someone was rude, and there is plenty of that going on anymore. It’s like we forgot how to be kind to one another, regardless of what “side” we’re on.  In our own community there has been a little of that, which has been equally disturbing.

I don’t think it’s a secret that Katy is outspoken with regard to her feelings for Trump. She has her own Twitter account and is not afraid to use it. Some fans haven’t always appreciated her candor, and voiced that opinion in return. She has since changed her account name (can’t blame her), but some fans really believe that people like Katy should keep their opinions to themselves because they represent the band. I have to wonder if it’s really that people believe that political views from people like her should be kept private, or if it’s really just that fans don’t like the message she’s conveying, so therefore it shouldn’t be said.

Ultimately, I am more concerned about the state of my country after election day. Tomorrow, someone is going to be elected the next US  President. Immediately following, we’re going to have to undo a lot of damage left in the wake. I’ve seen many of my friends say that they’re not sure we’re going to go back to being nice to one another. Many others say that they don’t really want to just be nice again, because they feel very strongly about the positions one candidate seems to convey – and if someone agrees with him even enough to vote that way, they want no part of that person. I have seen the other side say nearly the exact same thing, that there’s no going back.

I think that attitude is just sad. The candidate is one person, regardless of whether or not you agree with those views. I voted for neither of the main candidates. I usually don’t. If I said I wasn’t going to keep talking to people based on the way they voted, I’d be out of friends by now! The people who are voting come from several million different walks of life, with millions of difference circumstances. It isn’t all black and white. The last thing we should be doing is ignoring one another and assuming it will all go away with election day. That’s the thing with music. It speaks when some of us just cannot find words. Maybe it is time we start listening.

-R

Before I forget – thank you for all of the lovely birthday wishes left for me on Facebook and Twitter. It has been a strange birthday this year – my daughter is at school and there’s been no time to really celebrate, so your message brightened up my day and I truly appreciate them. Thank you!!

No Rewind: Download the Song from Road Recovery!

Have you downloaded John and Roger’s new song yet?

Recently John and Roger donated time, effort and talent to Road Recovery – a foundation dedicated to helping young people battle addiction with help from mental-health experts along with “influence from entertainment industry professionals who have confronted similar crises”.   They recorded a song with Road Recovery’s youth titled “No Rewind” which is now available for download.

As someone who is usually thirsty for any new music, I couldn’t wait to have a spare minute to download the new song. I clicked on the link, and found that rather than just paying for the song – the entire project is more about donating to Road Recovery, and a benefit of having done so is to get a download of “No Rewind”. (as opposed to just paying for the song – it’s a subtle, “feel good” difference, in my opinion.)  Along with the donation comes an opportunity to be entered in a sort of raffle for a single prize package that includes the following:

Signed set list from Molson Canadian Amphitheater (from Toronto 7/13/16)
Signed 8×10 band promo photo
Duran Duran Paper Gods Photo unused pass (from Mansfield 17/7/16)
Duran Duran Paper Gods guitar pick
Duran Duran unused ‘commemorative’ Concert Ticket (from Apollo Theater 7/19/2016)
“A Diamond in The Mind” live concert DVD
Signed Paper Gods CD

If that isn’t enough for your taste, you can always donate $5,000 for a Meet & Greet with Duran Duran on the concert date of your choice during a future tour (no travel/accommodations provided). Only 1 available – so you’d better hurry to beat your fellow Duranie to that one!

There are also several other incentives, such as signed drum heads, signed albums, etc…for every budget in between. I liked the idea of donating to Road Recovery. I think most everyone has someone in their family or knows someone who has been affected by addiction in one way or another, and I am all for any organization that helps kids turn their lives around. The smallest things can sometimes make a difference—that’s something I’m seeing more and more of every single time I step into my office at work. So yes, I’m happy to have been able to do something, relatively small as it is, to help.

But let’s get down to it – how’s the song sound?

I have to say, the first notes are unmistakably John and Roger, influenced, whether by style of the music, or by the fact that they’re playing. Funny how I (and probably any of you reading) can tell them anywhere. It’s like coming home – you just know.  Musically, the song is definitely rock. The voice, of course, is not Simon’s – which is sort of strange because I half expect it to be (old habits die hard).  That said, the vocals are more spoken word, or rap. The song is modern, but recognizable, and I find myself liking it simply because it felt good to donate to a worthy cause that John and Roger clearly feel very strongly about.

Ultimately, any day that I can listen to music with John and Roger is not a bad one. This rhythm section doesn’t suck!

-R

 

 

The Power of Music to Connect and Heal

I am a sucker for heartwarming stories. I believe in the healing power of music, and I know firsthand how much I treasure my fandom. So, when I stumbled across a beautiful story featuring all of those elements, how could I not share?

This story shared with me on Facebook because my friends know I’m always on the lookout for good stories about fandom. In a world filled with near-constant negativity (and election sound bytes, which these days are always negative) – I need the occasional pick-me-up to remind me that the world isn’t all bad.  I would imagine our readers feel the same. Daily Duranie is all about “the good stuff”.  Fandom, for that matter, is the happy place!

So, before I go much farther – here’s the link to the story.  While you read, I’ll be sitting here with my coffee.

First of all, I realize this isn’t a story about Duran Duran. That said, I think every one of us has something to gain from reading. Music heals. I’ve said those words over and over again. This story is just further proof.  The power of music is undeniable. It brings people together, it fights evil, and when many of us cannot get past our differences—it is music that can bridge the gap.

It wasn’t so much that Bruce did anything special. After all, they went to a book signing and spent the same amount of time with him as anyone else. This isn’t really a story about the artist as it is about the family and their journey.  But when you think about it, out of all the music they could have played for their daughter while she spent those six months in the hospital, they played Bruce Springsteen. Tom, Juniper’s dad, was what I would consider to be a pretty hard-core fan.  They mention that he followed Bruce on tour for forty years. It was second nature to play the music that likely comforts him for his daughter. I would like to think that I would have done the same, as would likely many of you.

We all know the music that connects with our heart, whether that is Springsteen, Duran Duran, or something else entirely.  When we take the time to share that with our children, we are giving them part of ourselves. I have no doubt that my kids will always equate Duran Duran with me, long after I leave this planet.  While yes, some days that might be a curse (!!), on other days – it is a gift.  In the case of Juniper and her family, that music not only connected her and her parents when she was so fragile should couldn’t be held, it also healed.

I can’t think of anything else more beautiful than that. This is why music is so powerful.

-R

 

 

 

If You Haven’t Heard It, It’s New to You: Pretty Queen

Today’s blog is the direct result of quiet time in Duranland, when all good Duranies go looking for something, anything, that will keep spirits up and the natives happy.

While most of the world worked yesterday, I spent much of my day wrestling with my new “work” laptop. I’m a dedicated Mac user, the laptop is a Lenovo ThinkPad, and let’s just say I need to properly bond with the machine. Just as I was coming to the end of my day (and the end of my wits), I saw a Facebook post and a Tweet mentioning the discovery, or unearthing, of a song by Simon Le Bon and Nick Wood called “Pretty Queen”.

I was game. It wasn’t a song I immediately remembered (but my memory is terrible), and truthfully, in days where there any news is precious, I took the bait hungrily. I’m not saying I need new Duran music, but I love it when we find new music!

Pretty Queen opens with some pretty hard, crunchy guitar, and I wasn’t expecting it, which was a lot of fun!  I like the feel of the song, although it seems pretty short to me. I saw someone say that it reminds them of the Medazzaland era. I guess in some ways I can hear that, but what I feel the most is some sort of grungy-punkish thing going on . The brightness of Simon’s voice is in direct contrast, and I love the texture it creates.  It was a good find to break up the day!

I googled Pretty Queen because I wanted to know the timeframe it had been written. Someone had told me the song had been used in a commercial, and so my interest was piqued. Simon co-wrote the song with Nick Wood and Miwa,  and it was produced by Nick Wood.  It was released by the Japanese band Zwei (German word for two) on October 14 2004, and this version is in Japanese, save for the title – and sounds quite a bit different from the original version.

In no way would I ever be so bold as to assume I’d heard and knew all there was to know about Duran Duran, or Simon or any of the members for that matter, so when something new to me comes across the wires, I am ready to consume!

Along those same lines, if you look at the other music on that Syn World link, you might see Rio(Pass the Baton) by CSS featuring Simon and John. Again, I’m not sure I’ve heard it before—and I have to think that I would have remembered it if I had. It’s a very jazzed up version of the song we all know and love, and in some sections reminds me of Muzak (sorry but it’s true). Check it out.

Whether from the mid-90’s or not, it was fun to hear something new to me for a change and learn a little something in the process.  Pretty Queen is pretty cool gem to find in the archives, and it leads me to think there’s got to be a lot more.  I’d love to spend just one day listening to some of the stuff they’ve got to have lying around…. Much better than say, spending the entire day getting my computer to play nicely with my work email server….

-R

 

Oh, It’ll Take A Little Time

So, it’s Thursday evening and I’m just now blogging. Yeah, there’s a good reason for that—it was my first day at work.

The good news is that it was fun, the day went by quickly, and I’m still employed. The bad news is that I’m completely overwhelmed, I have a lot to learn, and dinner seems to be up in the air for tonight. Sorry, family.

It has been twenty years since I last worked outside of my house. Never once during that twenty years did I feel as though I was falling behind, until today. Funny thing—I was always one of those women who laughed as I would hear or read tales of women who would return back to work after being at home for many years. I mean, how much can you possibly forget? It reminded me of the kind of thing TV sitcoms would over-dramatically exploit for an episode.

I stand corrected.

I haven’t spent the past twenty years in a hole. I may not have earned a steady salary, but I definitely worked. I have two college degrees along with a professional certificate. I’ve been an Area Coordinator for an international organization. I planned two silent auctions for a non-profit group. I’ve been a Girl Scout Troop Leader (don’t laugh – by far the hardest job I’ve had!), and then there’s this blog and website. I thought I’d kept up a decent pace over the years.

Wrong.

When I last earned a salary, I had to use a time-card to keep track of my hours. In fact, I’ve always had one because I’ve never had a salaried position, but the point is—I’ve always written my hours out by hand. Even as an office manager in staffing, everything I did was written by hand. The last time I was employed, one would be lucky if their company had a mainframe (now THERE’S an old word for you) to use. In my case, it would have been used for employment applications, and then maybe I could search for certain skills. It was basic, and only one of the companies I worked at had one. We all had phones at our desk, but very few of us had computers, and by computers I mean those old CRT’s that took up half of the workspace on a desk! Today, I was on the phone for half the day trying to get my stupid sign-in to work in order to clock in and out, and at some point while the IT guy and I wrestled with the time and labor functions, I realized just how much I’d missed and how far behind I’d really been left.

Sure, I’m thankful I’ve been at home with my kids. I have thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed that time. I’m very defensive about being a stay-at-home mom for a variety of reasons, but I’m proud that I made the right choice for my family. I have family members that have spent the past twenty years trying to put me in a box, assuming that since I didn’t take a job I must be stupid, and let me tell you my friends, that has been a very bitter and painful pill to swallow. I’ve spent a lot of time fighting back tears at family gatherings, I’ll say that much. And even so, I will go to my grave saying that staying home was the right thing to do. On the other hand, my gosh—when I last worked we didn’t even have laptops. Thinking about everything that has changed since I last set my alarm to get up and get ready for work psyched me out a bit today, I’ll admit. There were a few technical challenges as well, one of which being that I’m a diehard Mac-user and I had to work using my boss’s Windows computer. I managed, sort of.

As I sat with my boss’s cell phone on speaker this afternoon, waiting for Mr. IT Man to make it possible for me to account for my time in the coming weeks, I realized that as overwhelming as it might be—I’ll figure this out. I’ll keep trying things until something clicks, and eventually this new job will feel like an old one. And really, isn’t that similar to what Duran Duran has gone through during their career?

Sure, they’ve continued to record through the decades, but they constantly adapted with each new album, and not just through music. Every time they went back into the studio, the circumstances changed. They’ve lost members. Gained members. The world has evolved, and the industry has been turned on its head. Even if they were on solid ground with their music, everything else around them continued to turn. Talk about being on a roundabout! When I think about everything that has changed since 1981, especially considering my experience today, my head spins.

No, I haven’t always embraced everything the band has done. There’ve been times when I’ve wondered why they didn’t zig when they zagged. Fans question nearly every single thing they do, second and third guessing anything from the release date of a video to their setlist. I’ve been a party to plenty of that, myself, right here on this blog. Wonder we haven’t driven them crazy….

The bottom line, at least for me, is that Duran Duran keeps going. They are cruising through their fourth decade, and they’re not letting little things like time or progress stop them.

Neither will I. Just as soon as I work up the energy to get off of this couch.

 

-R