It seems to me that there are parts of John’s book that we are all going to relate to. I might not have grown up in Birmingham, England, but I, too, grew up. I, too, have had to figure out how to be an adult. I think we all can and will relate to those elements of John’s story. Can we really relate to being a rock star? I don’t think so. Then again, I have wondered the same about my own life lately. Are some experiences so intense, so unique that they not only change one’s life but also make it so that anyone not there, not present, not part of it, can never really understand. I suspect that must be what it is like for the band. I feel that way about my own life. If you have been reading the blog for any amount of time, you probably know that when I’m not on tour, writing the book, or talking Duran, I’m either teaching or I’m campaigning. I have never gone into detail about those here. Frankly, I haven’t gone into that much detail with my friends or family in real life, either. They might think that I do or have, but I don’t really. Why is that? Obviously, part of the reason is that politics can be extremely divisive. I don’t want to drive anyone away. Teaching shouldn’t be problematic but it is. Right now, I work in an urban middle school. Most of my students live in poverty and are also minorities. I feel like I always have to be cautious as people will draw conclusions about them or about teachers. Many of those conclusions I have seen drawn by the general public have been hurtful. Thus, I have kept these aspects of my life to myself.
That sounds like the perfect solution, doesn’t it? I keep aspects of my life away from others in order to avoid conflict or hurt feelings. I think I also keep these things away from others because, like I imagine John Taylor or Nick Rhodes to feel, I doubt that anyone can really understand. How can anyone understand how frustrating, how emotionally draining, how wonderful teaching can be? Campaigning is like that as well. It is intense, detailed work filled with what seems like silly tasks that turn out to be essential. Can people who have never done it really understand? Likewise, how can John really explain what it was like to be him in 1984? How can I explain what it is like to teach my students on a daily basis? I wonder how open and honest John will be with this time in his life. Will people make assumptions that he is making more to it than it was or will people think he is censoring himself? I can’t wait to find out how he is able to balance honesty and openness. Like many times in my life, I hope I can learn from John here.
Of course, beyond John’s general experience as a famous rock star, I wonder if he has had moments in his life that truly changed him. Did he have a specific moment that lead to his decision to finally get sober once and for all? Was there an experience that pushed him to decide to leave or rejoin the band? If so, will he share that with us? Will he be able to explain the emotional intensity of those experiences in such a way that we, the readers, really get it? In the past year, I had a moment during the Wisconsin protests that shook me to my core. It is an experience that will live on forever. Again, I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to alienate anyone but I also don’t talk about it because I don’t think people will really understand how haunting this experience was for me. This, of course, brings me back to teaching, to work. My students just recently finished the book, Maus. This is a young adult graphic novel that depicts one person’s story during the Holocaust. It begins before the concentration camps and goes all the way through until liberation at the end of World War II. The story is written by the survivor’s son. Throughout the book, the author openly wonders if he is giving the story justice. That’s what I’m wondering here. I’m wondering how to give my own story justice. I have no doubt that John Taylor will give his story justice. I have such confidence that he will be able to explain what life was like for him in a way that creates an emotional connection with all of us readers. Maybe then, I’ll be able to explain my life, my experiences to those closest to me.
This weekend I was out with my husband (I can’t even remember why we were actually out of the house without a child in tow…) and over lunch we had the oddest conversation. As we were eating lunch, completely out of nowhere, my husband asks me what I think would happen if one of the band members was in a karaoke bar (yeah, right there is when I should have tuned out…) and heard someone attempt to sing Rio, or Hungry Like the Wolf. Sigh. To begin with, I really need everyone to understand that Duran Duran really doesn’t occupy THAT many of my thoughts on a Saturday or Sunday. It’s my weekend. So once I snapped into reality and recognized that yes, he really wanted my answer to this question. I rolled my eyes as only a wife can do, and said I didn’t know. Sadly, this wasn’t enough for my dear husband. He continued on saying “Let’s say it was Simon.” (Oh yes, let’s!) “Does he go up and sing a DD song, or does he sing something else?” Sigh. More eye rolling. I really don’t know what he’d do. Why would Simon go to a karaoke bar anyway? Isn’t that sort of like my husband hanging out at a trade show just for the fun of it??
Yes, these are the sorts of conversations we’ll have when my husband is left to his own devices. I still haven’t answered him. Luckily, I found another topic to badger him about. Any guesses from the rest of you out there??
In a desperate attempt to catch up on the RSS feeds I chose to ignore last week, I was scrolling through some this morning and came across an article about superfans. While reading, naturally I referred back to our own fan community here. It talks about things such as naming your fans, giving approaching fans undivided attention, tagging fans (or allowing fans to tag themselves, actually) in panoramic concert photos (as in taken from the stage), sharing “dark secrets” on the blog, developing shared symbols, playing smaller venues, and a few others. If you are interested in reading the original article that I’m commenting about before blasting me with love notes about how ridiculous it is to use the term “Superfan”….read it here.
I stopped to consider why on earth the article ever needed to be written, not really whether or not Duran Duran fans meet the criteria or whether the band employs these methods. (We’ve been fans for over 30 years in many cases. That should pretty much answer that, yes?) I almost liken this to attempting to write a chart-topping ‘hit’. If you’ve got to TRY to create superfans rather than just allowing it all to happen organically out of loyalty to the band or to the music, is it really the same thing? In our case, much of the time we’ve had relatively little contact with the band directly. Sure, they’ve come on tour and we’ve gone to see them, but unless you happen to live in the UK to visit them at the studio, their homes, etc…most of us have never that chance on a regular basis, if ever. We’ve stuck by them from the beginning because we believed in the music, and many times, it wasn’t anything more than a transactional relationship that kept us there. It’s only been as of late that the model has really evolved to where we have more opportunity for interaction – whether that is through having the opportunity to travel, to see them locally, to get involved in social media, or other methods. I like the theoretical ideas of Fan Empowerment or Direct-To-Fan. However, when it gets to the point where manuals are created on the “How To” of cultivating superfans rather than letting the music chart the direction and fan loyalty create the ties that bind, we’re running dangerously close to having the same synthetic and formulaic feeling of many ‘hits’ that top the charts today. It feels like being stuck in a studio with Timbaland. (Yes, I dared to say that.) Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that Duran Duran hoped to create loyal fans and that their attempts to reach us on Twitter or by creating a fan club early on were all about cultivating that loyalty. Was it all really that mind-numbingly calculated? I suppose the proof is in the pudding – somebody drop me a line in twenty or thirty years and let me know how it works out for some of these newer bands and their fans.
Interestingly enough, yesterday’s question had to do with which was Duran’s best era. The most frequently given response was now. I did not hesitate to post the video for All You Need Is Now. It seemed fitting, right? Then, I started to think. A big part of the message of song is to appreciate the now. Am I doing that with my focus on when things are getting done or what is happening? Am I forgetting to live in the moment by doing that? Does Duran do that? I wonder. They often say in interviews that they are just focused on the “now”. They don’t spend a lot of time looking back on the past and they don’t really think about what they are going to do next. Now, obviously, it is possible that they say that in interviews and don’t really do that in reality. After all, typically, they are doing interviews to sell a current product. Thus, they don’t want to talk about old projects or what they might be doing in the future. It doesn’t help their current bottom line. Nonetheless, I don’t get a sense that they really do spend a lot of time looking back. What about the future? Could they have their own countdowns?
Just recently Duran finished up a quick tour of South America. It sounds like it was an absolutely fabulous tour! As much as I’m sure Duran loved that tour, and all the other tours, were they counting down until the end? Were they anxious to finish up, spend time at home with their families? Were they excited to sleep in their own homes, in their own beds? Would they or could they make a countdown for an album release? I think of an album, like AYNIN, that they must have been so proud of. Were they checking off dates in the calendar for the rest of the world to hear the album?
Is my habit of counting down until the end of some horribly busy, stressful time something Duran would do or are they truly more focused on the now? If they are focused on the present, do you think they could teach me to like getting very little sleep and being worried about how things are going to go? It is definitely one lesson I need to learn.
My writing partner Amanda has her own stress going on. She is deep within the throws of a hotly contested campaign to recall the governor of her state, she is extremely passionate about the issues, and this is very important. All the while, she is considering changes within her career and finishing up the school year for her students. Truth be told, Duran Duran has taken a bit of a backseat for both of us in this moment. That’s part of life though, the natural ebb and tide, the give and take. It’s not always easy or simple to find a way to accommodate our interests as well as take care of business. Don’t even ask us about book writing….
Rest assured, we will continue writing Daily Duranie. We are hoping to share some rare interviews and other tidbits as well as the same type of blogging you’ve all grown to expect over the next few months while our lives are working themselves out. We discussed taking a bit of a hiatus (we’ve been at this with no break for over a year and a half now), and while we may still take advantage of that, neither of us want to stop writing the blog completely. I promise to keep going however we can!
So, with that in mind, we want to open the door to our readers. We are looking for guest bloggers for Daily Duranie. Is there a subject we’ve missed that you feel a burning passion to write? Did we miss the mark somewhere and you’ve been dying to revisit a topic? Amanda and I would love to hear from you and give you space to write here on the blog! Drop us a line at our gmail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let us know what you’ve got in mind!
In thinking about leaving the school that I have called home for the past 12 years, I think I have experienced every emotion known to humanity. Obviously, if I am looking for another job, it hasn’t been good. It has never been an easy job, especially when I work in an urban middle school with students who often have many issues to deal with on top of having a disability. It is a job that has pulled my heartstrings more often than I can count and I fully expect to be holding back tears on graduation night like I always do. Yet, over the course of years, I find the job more and more difficult. The kids haven’t really gotten any harder but my ability to bounce back from major and minor setbacks has been weakened. Then, the last few years have seen additional struggles involving people that should be on my side. It is a fight that I don’t know that I can do anymore. It is a fight that I don’t want to do anymore. While my job situation might be completely different than being a rock star, I’m willing to bet that John Taylor felt many of the same emotions when he was getting ready to leave Duran.
When I listen to interviews John has done about leaving Duran, I really find myself relating to much of what he has to say. First, he often stated about how he wanted to get out for a long time. I, too, have felt that way, long before I openly admitted it. So, why didn’t he? Why didn’t I? As I stated before, long histories make it tough to walk away, to leave. You know that when you leave, you are leaving behind people who you care about. John had to leave his band mates, his good friends. That can’t have been easy. He knew that people wouldn’t necessarily understand why he was doing it, no matter how much he explained. All people would see is that he left. He left Simon, Nick and Warren. He walked away. That sense of loyalty can be very tough to break free from. Second, he has talked about how it was something he had to do something for himself. I, too, feel this way. I, obviously, like kids and I like teaching. I love the idea of me helping these kids who need so much, but, I need to do something for me for awhile. Of course, the jobs that I’m looking at, right now, may still involve teaching, but they will be very different. Two of the schools are less urban and serve a different population. The other school would mean that I would be changing teaching roles to doing Social Studies. Thus, I would keep involved in education but in a different way, a different environment. John did the same thing by going solo. He didn’t quit music. He quit where he was. He changed the scenery and, by doing that, he changed the expectations people had for him and the expectations he had for himself.
Then, of course, there are similarities beyond what John ever said in any interview. John formed Duran Duran. He had this vision of himself as a very successful rock star and one who could not only handle all that comes with that job but embracing the role. I did the same thing, only with teaching. I wanted to be the super successful teacher, the one who not only wasn’t afraid of those at-risk kids but the one who embraced them, who loved, who helped them. Like John, I was successful. I am successful at it. Yet, there often comes time when walking away, when leaving is the only chance at coming back. I suspect that if John didn’t leave when he did, he wouldn’t have made it. Perhaps, then, he would have left Duran five years later and the band would have ended and Duran Duran music would have stopped in 2002. Instead, we had a reunion of the Fab 5 around that time. Maybe Roger and Andy would have never come back. When John left, he didn’t just twiddle his thumbs. He wrote and played his own music and dealt with issues that needed dealing with, issues that he couldn’t as a part of Duran. I feel this way, too…not that my life is like John’s or vice versa. I just feel like I need to take some time for myself, to evaluate my life and what I would like it to be from now on. I know that I can’t do that if I continue in the same position. I would be too drained to do that. Perhaps, then, like John, I would be able to return to a job like the one I’m in now. Nonetheless, it isn’t an easy process. It is tough, especially when nothing is certain. Heck, I may not even be offered a new job. Yet, at this time, I choose to follow John Taylor’s words and deeds by taking it one day at a time and by trusting the process.
I was mostly out of reach for the weekend, so I took some time this morning to read the blogs Amanda had written. One particular comment made me stop and think. So much so that it’s turned into my topic for the day.
For me, art of any type is incredibly personal. It reaches me on a soulful level – that is, if it really and truly speaks to my heart. Naturally, not every piece of art achieves that, and conversely what might touch my soul may very well not touch someone else’s. That feeling of connection holds true whether we’re talking about music, visual arts, dance, theater or even writing. That doesn’t mean to say that I can’t admire a drawing that my four year old does with crayon (typically I can’t see much beyond the possible stick figure and perhaps a sun with a smiley face in the background – and that’s on a good day!), nor does it mean that I can’t enjoy listening to a song like Bedroom Toys (For me that song is humorous and cheeky). It’s about the depth of where it all reaches my soul.
The argument of course is that not all music does that – and that doesn’t make the music which does NOT do that any less pertinent. I’m not sure I would agree, but that’s also the point in which I’m trying to make here. It’s personal. The way someone might feel when they hear Rio or using a non-Duran reference here: Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears is almost certainly not the way I might feel when I hear them.
Here’s a short story to elaborate: nearly four years ago now, my father was in a hospital ICU. He was hooked up to a ventilator because his lungs had decidedly stopped working due to a disease called Pulmonary Fibrosis. On the day that my mother, sister and I finally agreed to shut off the machines and allow nature to take it’s course – my son was home sick with the stomach flu, AND I had a not-quite two week old newborn to handle. The only thing I could bring myself to do that day was the laundry (I don’t know why) and watch Greatest by Duran Duran. It was about 1:30pm that day when my mom called to tell me that they’d shut the machines down, and as I hung up the phone – knowing that it could be hours or even days before I’d get the final phone call – I sat down with my baby in my arms and watched Rio over and over again. I don’t even love that video or the song that much! I just couldn’t really do anything else and it was the only thing that took my mind off of what could possibly be happening in that hospital room. Thankfully, it was only about an hour and a half later that my mom called, telling me that my father had passed on peacefully, and I went back to folding laundry – bath towels, actually – as if nothing had happened.
Later on that same month, I stood up in front of close family and friends to deliver my father’s eulogy. Truth be told, I’d been preparing for that moment since we’d gotten his diagnosis three and a half years prior. My father, who was never devoid his sense of humor – insisted that I play the song Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears. It was the one song by the one band I liked that he would allow to be played in his beloved motor home as we would go on vacations when I was a teenager. He felt so strongly about this that he would openly and humorously threaten to haunt me if I didn’t play the song for him at his funeral. When I heard that song long after I’d grown up but before his diagnosis, I’d picture us lumbering down the road in that motor home, and there was a sense of comfort that came along with the song. Now, my dad wanted me to play the song to send him off in a completely different way. Tears for Fears is probably one of my most beloved bands after Duran Duran. Sadly, after that day of playing that song at his service, that song no longer holds the same memory, but rather is a painful reminder of all that I’ve lost, and trust me – my dad is a big loss. We were incredibly close. Those feelings are intensely personal.
Yes, art and specifically music are intensely personal. After years of wondering why it is that all of us act so crazily at times by the least little bit of news we might receive regarding the band, for instance news of who they might be working with to produce an album, or a specific musical direction they might be taking on a particular song right down to the setlist choices for a tour, I think I finally understand why. When you feel that deep-seated connection with something, there is a certain amount of feeling as though you own it. I don’t mean that in the literal sense, although I think sometimes we get confused by the definition of “own, it’s just that it’s so personal you can’t really draw a line between yourself and the creator(s) of such things. That’s how I feel about Duran Duran at times. They’ve been the soundtrack of my entire life. My highest moments, and the lowest of lows. Hell, they’ve been in the background even when it was the last thing I wanted to hear. (Hence that moment of coming back to consciousness after I’d flatlined when I had my youngest only to hear Hungry Like the Wolf in the background) It’s hard to think of my own history without feeling intertwined with theirs. There are times when words fail me, and other times when I think I’ve gotten it as right as rain. Last week I wrote a blog for andytaylor.tv which you should read here. If you don’t feel like I’ve gotten it all – everything you would say to the band (or any band) if you could – I encourage you to add your own.
I suppose that is why, when a band or even when an artist change their direction, it enlists a response from their audience. There have been many, many times in history when a painter changed their artistic direction and it’s drawn anger and criticism well-beyond what I would have considered to be expected. Picasso is one example. People during that time preferred the days before his cubist style, and when he incorporated that style into his paintings of female figures – basically mutilating and destroying their form, crowds become enraged. It was not only due to how he was painting, but rather because of the artistic journey he’d taken from what the public felt was his norm. The same could be said for Duran Duran over the years. The response that many fans had to Red Carpet Massacre was one of anger and even sadness. Many fans felt that this was a slap in the face to long time fans. Still others felt that the band had sold out in order to create a hit. Whether those things are in fact true or not is not the point. Fans felt enough of a connection over their previous style(s) of music that it went beyond just being “a song” or “an album”. To those people, it was a part of their lives. It’s like being a long term bus rider on a specific route, and then getting to that same bus stop one day just in time to see the bus shut it’s doors and pull away, leaving you behind. On one hand, I agree that when we start going around taking more ownership of something than we should it seems pretty silly. I also agree that artists should be allowed to expand their horizons and explore as many directions and avenues as they wish. On the other, to try and lessen the impact that art makes on people by saying “it’s just music” is almost demeaning the artist. As with just about anything, there’s a fine line and while not all music touches each of us on a deep level – I think of the band Weezer and how their music is just fun, tongue-in-cheek music for me, yet for their hard core fans it’s much different. Recently their own fan community took up a donation in order to get the band to simply quit making music because the fans felt so strongly about the musical direction the band had recently taken – ALL art reaches someone deeply. Isn’t that why we participate?
I am probably one of the youngest of the original Duranies (people who became fans in the early 80s) as I was born in 1975 and was only 10 when Power Station and Arcadia came into existence!
When I was a kid, I used to spend family gatherings trying to convince my one cousin about how awesome Duran was. Now, I laugh that he married a Duranie who will go to shows with me!
I knew I was a Duranie when my friend and I decided to call MTV over and over and over again one day in order for Save a Prayer to win the top video of the day or something like that! Duran won and we were thrilled. My parents, on the other, were not thrilled once they saw the bill! In fairness, I was pretty dang little at the time and I had to pay them back!
I celebrate April 16th as my Duranie anniversary! I don’t think that people can really pinpoint the exact day when they became fans but I do know that it was the Reflex that did it for me. It was released on that day! Thus, I have been a Duranie for 28 years. EEK!
I briefly liked Simon as a kid. Very briefly. I saw John Taylor in the Reflex video and haven’t changed since!
In the early 1990s, I decided it was time to move along, musically, from Duran and I gave away quite a bit of my posters and stuff, including my copy of Arena, the board game. I gave my Duran stuff to a good friend, though, who I knew would treat things well. Luckily, a few years ago, she returned the board game to me!!!
I didn’t buy a copy of much of Duran’s 1990s catalog when it was fresh. Instead, I would often go through my friend’s copy and pick out the “good” songs and put them on tape! Oh boy, modern technology was awesome back then! I did the same with John Taylor’s first solo cd.
I saw Duran Duran for the first time in August of 1993 with a few friends of mine. Our seats were pretty much in the back but we had a great time! Nonetheless, I found myself saying afterwards, “They should really break up or end it. Something just isn’t right.” I don’t know if it was that it wasn’t the Fab 5 or that things with John weren’t great but I felt something wasn’t right.
I knew John had gone solo but did not officially purchase any of his music until the reunion. The late 90s/early 2000s were a crazy time for me, job wise and life wise. That said, I’m proud that I own all of it now. 🙂
I didn’t see the Fab 5 live until Detroit in March of 2005. I didn’t tell my friends that it was the first time because it seemed like everyone had seen them in 2003 during their reunion shows. Let’s just say that I needed a few minutes to calm down during the beginning of that show. The only thing that probably kept me from falling apart was my complete exhaustion as it was my 5th show in a week. This week saw me drive 1,984 miles, too. No joke.
I have “met” the band, not including Andy or Dom. I met the others at a CD signing in 2007. Simon yelled at me that day. I bought my third copy of RCM in order to get a wristband but was really hoping to get the Broadway Playbill from the Broadway run signed instead of the album as I had one a signed copy through DDM. Best Buy, where the signing was, wouldn’t let me even ask. Thus, I didn’t even have the cd case opened by the time I got to the front of the line. It probably also didn’t help that I was on the phone with Rhonda up until the very last minute. So, I stood in front of Simon trying to open it. He yelled, “Just give it to me.” My response, “No, I got it.” He did sign his name and added a heart.
I also “met” Roger, Nick and John at their hotel in St. Louis. I walked up to John and asked for an autograph. After I received it, I walked away only to see him again surrounded in the hotel lobby a little while later. I decided then and there that I really needed to think how I should behave around them and with them. Later in the evening, I was standing in the hallway with elevators talking to Rhonda on the phone. Soon after I hung up, one Mr. Roger Taylor walked right up to me (I was alone) and said, “Have you seen any of my people?” Stopping myself from laughing, I responded like a dork and said, “Yeah, Simon went that way, ” and pointed to the left. Roger went to the right.
I was part of the sock giving Church of the Bass God group over on DDM that sent John like 40 pairs of socks for his birthday. I have a picture of him holding the ones I sent. They were James Bond socks!
I had the chance in Atlantic City in 2008 to go in with the VIP group and did not. It seemed like the cool thing to do was to not care about how close I was to the stage. I regret that and will never again let other people influence my fan behavior.
I’m sure that there are plenty more that I have forgotten! Nonetheless, if you haven’t already shared your confessions, now is the time!!!!