The other day we posted Jason’s blog about how the track list for Paper Gods is all wrong, in his opinion. As I read it, I found myself shaking my head. While I appreciate that he didn’t like some of the tracks as much as others or that he felt the order was not quite right, I believe strongly that the track list is as it should be. (You can read his original post here.) Now, he was coming at the question from a purely musical standpoint and used previous albums as his guide. I get all that but I tend to look at the Paper Gods album very differently. As Rhonda and I have hinted or stated on here before, we believe that the album is about their career. If that is the case, the order of the songs might be essential and might not fit the traditional method that Duran typically uses. (The same is true for Red Carpet Massacre’s track list being a story but that it the topic for another blog.)
The song, Paper Gods, is a perfect opener to let listeners know or remember about how too much of the public and most critics see/saw Duran Duran. They see them as “paper thin”. Back in the 1980s, they were so easily dismissed as being nothing because of the fact that girls liked them and had posters of them on their walls.
Last Night in the City
I don’t know about the rest of you but this song screams touring to me and I think it does for the band, too. All you have to do is check out a verse like, “I’ve been traveling around now, big world with my brothers, always moving’ to a new town, no time to put the roots down, We can’t stop believing, can’t stop, now we believe in you, Coz when you’re standing in the spotlight, the only thing that matters is tonight.” This track is essential and certainly describes their early years of touring, staying up all night, etc.
You Kill Me With Silence
This one might be harder to place in the band’s career context but it describes someone who keeps in a relationship despite criticism. Couldn’t that all be about Duran Duran with the rock critics? I vote yes.
This track is similar to Last Night in the City in that it could be about live shows since there are lyrics like, “searchlight the crowd.” Could it be about how Duran could let go of all the pressure to be acceptable to the media when they played live? Again, that makes sense to me.
Face for Today
This song’s lyrics lead me to think it is about the band’s acceptance of fame. “You can fight it or invite it.” Couldn’t that it be fame? Then, the idea of “hold on to your time boy,” could be a reference to recognizing that the fame thing might not, probably won’t last forever.
Could this be a song about how they needed to be reminded not to take it all so seriously, especially as the early 80s became the late 80s? Could it be a reminder just to enjoy the music and the dance even if people might judge them? Maybe even that they should be themselves, musically? That it is okay to make dance music?
What Are the Chances?
To me, this is the part of the album that represents the time in which Duran Duran has fallen off the top 40 charts and away from the media spotlight. Fame has ceased to be as all-consuming as it once was. Now, they are looking to change the direction they seem to be heading. “I’m just trying to change my luck.” Part of this process includes remembering to appreciate each other and what they do have, especially since they really lucked out in finding each other in the first place.
Despite this effort to change the direction that they seem to be headed, it isn’t working much. So, they need to remind themselves that it will be okay. “Whatever happens we’re OK – hey we’re still alive.” They reassure each other that they can make it on their own, without the support of record labels, the media, etc. “..if it all goes wrong we’re gonna make it on our own.” I feel like these lyrics represent Duran’s ability to keep going despite the obstacles.
Change the Skyline
By the time the late 1990s roll around, the band members seem to realize that a change needed to be made. They seemed to be realize that it was “time to change the skyline”. This meant that they will have to watch the current version of Duran fade (the Simon, Nick and Warren version) if it means a new one can be born (current line-up), “An empire in a day, Built on hope and burnt by the sun, But I’m happy to watch it fade, What I can raise it up again.”
While the band recognizes that they need to “change the skyline”, they also need to come to grips with where their heads are at. John Taylor is the classic example here as he fought hard to overcome addictions, which I’m reminded of in the lyric, “There’s only one kind of happy in that glass of wine.” I also think of Simon who, from everything I read, was unable to really write a lot of lyrics for Pop Trash. He was in a lyrical hole just like the Butterfly Girl, so to speak.
Only in Dreams
This song always makes me think of the reunion and of our fan community. Wasn’t the reunion in our dreams for years and years and years? We also definitely don’t want to wake up if it means finding out that the reunion and the return of Duran as many of us knew them wasn’t real.
The Universe Alone
For a long time, I think Rhonda and I were convinced that this song was about the end of the line. Could this be why Duran put the album together in such a way that seemed to tell the story of their career with the Universe Alone at the very end? After all lines like, “It’s beautiful the dying sun, The end of everything and everyone” followed up with “I’ll see you in some other lifetime.” Even the very end, musically, with the choir singing left me believing it was the final curtain that was referenced in Paper Gods. Maybe it is them just preparing for the end because they did add bonus tracks, which could be a sign that they are continuing on, especially that first one.
This bonus track seems to summarize how fans still want to see and hear the band live. Maybe, this is why they are still doing what they do as opposed to saying good-bye like they could be doing.
What do the rest of you think? Could this album be about their career? In my opinion, the songs say that it is. Take a hard look at each of the lyrics and think about Duran’s career. Maybe you will see what I see. I might argue that the cover also focuses on their career. (An idea that we have covered already.)