Category Archives: Music

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

 

Eiffel Tower – New Song from Simon!

While on vacation, I noticed DDHQ post a link to a song on Soundcloud with a very familiar vocalist. The song is titled “Eiffel Tower” and the singer is none other than Simon Le Bon, of course. I had almost no data connection, so I had to wait to listen.

The lack of data didn’t stop me from seeing the comments, and nearly everyone had something positive to say. I couldn’t wait to hear it myself! I made a mental note to listen as soon as I could and thought about it throughout the week(s).

(On a side note: if you’re obsessing over a song you haven’t heard yet by a member of the band, not even the band as a whole – I kind of think that might make you a Duranie. Only another hard-core fan would understand the kind of obsession that drives us!)

So today, I promised to sit down and listen. I found the link, clicked on it, and almost immediately felt the familiar chills and goosebumps on my arms. Simon’s voice is like silk, and the music is like a favorite blanket. Lush and soft – its gorgeous. The guitar is beautiful!  The track is full of emotion and it doesn’t overpower the rest of the music. I can even hear strings in the background, and they lead the listener further into the music.

Layered songs with many different tracks like this one can sometimes get very messy and end up sounding like background noise to vocals, but not here. The production is done extremely well. At the end, there’s a gorgeous, beautiful guitar solo that I have heard is Warren, and it is done masterfully.  The guitar doesn’t overpower, it simply led me back out of the song in the same way that the strings held my hand and drew me in.  Brilliant.

But back to Simon’s voice. It blows my mind into pieces. I don’t know if he is responsible for the lyrics, but even if he didn’t write them, he delivers them like poetry.  I’d forgotten his velvety voice when he is relaxed and not trying to reach a crowd of 20,000.  Absolutely stunning in every single way.

The song ended, and I caught my breath. I realized I’d been holding it for quite some time while I listened.  This was a song that was going to stay with me, and I love when that happens. This single piece took me on a journey, and not many pieces of music do that for me these days.

And then, another song began. The instrumental version. I almost couldn’t take it. I was already completely sold on the song, but somehow, this piece took everything I loved about the first one, stood it on its head, and made it even better. 

I’m a sucker for a full orchestra. I won’t lie. Let’s face it: I spent much of my childhood playing in an orchestra, so it makes sense, really. But this is different. It’s kind of like hearing the orchestral version of A View To a Kill, but even better.  Again, I get the chills going up my arm and the hair on the back of my neck stands on end.  I was already on a high from the first version, but the orchestral version took my feelings up a notch.  My eyes welled up, and the emotion I’ve had bottled up for the past six weeks spilled over. I won’t be able to forget this song for a very, very long time.

Which is exactly how I like it.

Take a listen for yourself and see what you think.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower (Orchestral Version) 

-R

RIP Sir George Martin

I went to bed really early last night and missed the tweets announcing that Sir George Martin, long time producer, arranger, conductor and “Fifth Beatle”, had passed away at the age of 90.

My journey through the wonderland of Beatles music began long after they had stopped recording as a group and moved on to other things, but that didn’t stop me from discovering them and falling in love, even going so far as to take a class on just their musical catalog when I was in college. (My professor was terrible. Talk about ruining what should have been the best class ever….)

 If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George.

Sir George Martin was part of the heart and soul that was The Beatles. It is no small thing that Paul McCartney acknowledged the title of “Fifth Beatle” in his kind condolence letter after the news came out late last night (or this morning if you happen to anywhere else in the world…) If George hadn’t been producing them, he was arranging them, conducting the orchestras that worked with them, and much of the music that came to be known as favorites – “Yesterday” among them, would not be the same without his influence.

Two of my favorite songs ever were touched by the hand of Sir George Martin – “Eleanor Rigby”, as he arranged it,  and “Fixing a Hole”, where he played harpsichord. Plenty of the more “experimental” things The Beatles did over the years was completed with George Martin at the helm. Think of “Day in the Life”, or “Strawberry Fields”, even the circus atmosphere in “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”.  It wasn’t until very late in the band’s career,  notably the White Album, that The Beatles really produced on their own, meaning that it is likely that much of the music we listen to from The Beatles today we can thank Sir George Martin for, at least in part.

Fans have commented that kids today are listening to trash, that the greats have left us. Sir George Martin lived quite a long life – the beauty being that his art stays behind. I’d also add that it is up to us, the parents out there, to expose and teach our children about music. Even my parents, who were by no means experts about music of any kind,  consistently had music playing in our house. I heard everything from Elvis (a LOT of Elvis, I might add) to Elton John and The Beach Boys (“Help Me Rhonda”. sigh)  My kids had a pretty steady diet of Duran Duran, The Beatles, Oingo Boingo, Frank Sinatra, Tears for Fears and even a few Reggae groups in there somewhere…along with countless others while growing up. While I’m pretty sure that my oldest still listens to some pretty cringeworthy stuff (we all do at one point or another…as I recall my own college “Hair Band” years…oh boy), I know she has a pretty diverse library to choose from. My son took the EDM route. If you knew him you’d agree with me when I say it’s weird, but hey, there are moments when he’s listening to something that I’ll do a double take because it sounds just the tiniest bit like a band I know. Imagine that!! (I take a little delight in knowing that as far as he thinks he’s getting away from me…I’m still right there!) My youngest is still figuring it all out, but any kid who will request “Pressure Off” every time we’re in the car has GOT to be on the road to good taste.  I’m sure many of you find the same with your kids. It’s up to us to pass it on, and we should.

RIP Sir George Martin, and thank you for a life well-spent.

-R

Music Wins

It isn’t every day that I feel like I’m on the winning end of something, but today – or last night, rather, I did feel a little uplifted. Eagles of Death Metal returned to Paris, and I must admit it is one show that I wish I could have attended. I’m not even a EODM fan, but their cause matters to me because I love music.

Not all that long ago, I remember sitting at my computer. I’d just finished watching Duran Duran play at the Eiffel Tower, and I was monitoring Twitter while working on a project with my kids for school. I began seeing tweets about something going on in Paris, so I switched on the TV to CNN. It was then that I heard about the attacks at the soccer game and Bataclan, along with other restaurants in Paris. Naturally my thoughts went to Nick, John, Simon, Roger and Dom….which led to the longest half-hour (or so) of my life, as I waited to hear that all was fine. That was a terrible afternoon and evening, even after seeing that all members of Duran Duran were fine. Average, regular people – concert goers like myself or anyone reading, had just gone to see a band play, and didn’t go home.

That night sticks with me. Here I am, sitting at a computer about half the world away – nowhere near Le Bataclan or the terrorist shootings, and I still feel the pain. A certain part of my utopia was crushed that night, because when I go to a concert, I leave the world at the door. That is my time to reflect on nothing but the music, and like anyone else, I treasure that time. I am sure many, if not everyone in attendance to see EODM that night, feel similar.

Then there is EODM. I can’t fathom their pain, or their anxiety about playing live again. To be engrossed in a performance and then look up to see a massacre like that must have felt like something out of a horror movie. But it was of course, all too real. How does one go on from that? I don’t have any clue. But they did.

So last night in Paris, the band played on. There were 2,800 people gathered at The Olympia, including 900 survivors and family members from the attack, which killed 89 “friends of the band” in the club that night. There were counselors present, and from everything I’ve read, it wasn’t about sadness, but about moving on. During their first encore, they played their cover of Save a Prayer. I know that had I been there – it would have been impossible to remain stone-faced and dry-eyed.

It isn’t my interest to comment on gun control, or the laws of other nations on this blog. I leave that stuff at the door here just as I do when going to a concert. Jesse Hughes – the lead singer of EODM, said something that I think sums up my thoughts perfectly. “I don’t really care about guns,” he told CNN. “My weapon is a guitar.”

Music wins.

-R