Category Archives: personal stories

Guest Blog: There is Something I Should Know

By Michelle Coldwell-Simons

There are some songs by Duran that I am sure I still haven’t heard. I am absolutely terrible at Duran song titles, especially album tracks. When people abbreviate Duran song titles on twitter for example, I have to really really think hard to decipher some of them! I can’t remember Duran member’s birthdays and I don’t know the names and ages of the Duran member’s kids. I couldn’t tell you the Duran albums in order of release except for the first three that I remember buying on vinyl –  Duran Duran, Rio and Seven and The Ragged Tiger. (Then I bought Arena, then I bought…..oh I don’t know.  I would have to look it up on Duran’s wiki page or something!)

I have no idea what Duran’s tours have been called either. I always just call them by the album they were promoting at the time. I do know that my first Duran gigs were on the Strange Behaviour tour – but I have always called it the Notorious Tour. I have seen Duran play at least one gig on every tour they have done in the UK since 1987 but I couldn’t tell you the NAME of the tours.  I would be totally flummoxed if you asked me to even hazard a guess.

I have loved Duran since I was 12 years old; that is 29 years people – and I am still not an expert. In fact I am so far from it it’s laughable!  I am not sure you should be an expert on a band just because you like them. I like the fact I don’t know everything there is to know about them. I like to be surprised when someone tells me something that I haven’t heard before about Duran. Recently I have been learning new facts about myself as well whilst doing some research for a Duran Duran quiz that I am compiling for the Fan Convention in Birmingham this November. There is a lyric section in the quiz and because of this I have had to look up lyrics for accuracy. This is how I learned that for quite some time I have been singing quite a few Duran, well, WRONG!  Examples of which are as follows:
Lonely In Your Nightmare. I used to sing ‘Heat beneath your window’ instead of ‘Heat beneath your Winter.’ I am originally from the East End of London and when spoken with an East End accent the word Window is pronounced WINDA! Bless my little cockney pre-teen self!

There are lots of lyrics from the song Hungry Like The Wolf I get wrong too. I sing ‘Seen in the subway earth is afire’ apparently it’s ‘STEAM in the subway’. I also sing ‘Stuck in the forest too close to hide’ It is apparently ‘STALKED in the forest’! And another ‘High Blood drumming on your skin it’s so tight’ I’ve always sung ‘MYblood drumming’……wow I really get that song wrong when I sing along to it!

Sometimes it is just one word I get wrong and I have only learnt this NOW because I am researching for this quiz. In Hold Back The Rain I have always sung ‘No time to worry cause we’re on the ROAD again’. Its ROAM not Road!

I am sure most of you reading this will experience some lyrics mistakes. I suppose we all hear what we want to hear. Although I will continue to sing the songs with my version of the lyrics that I have always sung, I must remember to use the right lyrics when doing the quiz in November.

I will leave you with one more of my Duran Lyric mishaps. In Last Chance On The Stairway the lyric is ‘I just get a picture of sun in your eyes, the waves in your hair’.  I always sang ‘I just get a picture of sun with your eyes away from your head’. I know Simons lyrics are bizarre but that is plain macabre!

Michelle was born in 1971 in the East End of London but thinks she is still about 18. Her formative years were spent travelling around London and the home counties meeting Duran Duran at various studio’s and other places of interest. There she met lots of new people quite a few of which she is still friends with today. Michelle writes about her teenage years and beyond with Duran in her Duran Diaries which will amuse and astound Duran fans but bore the butt off anyone else. When she grows up she likes to think that she will write a book one day as well as be a famous portrait photographer. She has been with her husband Gary for 21 years (poor poor man) and has two daughters aged 15 and 11, four cats, four fish and lives by the sea in Brighton, UK.

Determination

One thing I have always admired about Duran Duran is their determination.  They have always demonstrated a focus on being successful no matter what they are focused on, whether it is an overall career goal or a specific project.  One of my favorite stories of all time in Duran Duran history is the game plan that they had back when they started.  This game plan included the venues they hoped to play and when.  I believe it was Hammersmith in ’82, Wembly in ’83 and Madison Square Garden in ’84.  I believe that they met this goal.  Now, of course, they didn’t stop there.  They seem to be willing to put in the hours to make a quality product.  Sometimes, this time and effort frustrates us fans as we can and often do wait for years for an album to come out!  Somehow, this length of time is acceptable to me when the album comes out and is fabulous.  It is not as tolerable when the album isn’t what I hoped to be.  Nonetheless, the point here is that I admire their ability to be focused and determined.
One thing is certain.  Duran Duran wouldn’t have gotten where they are today if they weren’t determined.  I keep thinking about how Simon joined the band in the spring of 1980 and their first album was released in 1981!  Think about how much work they had to do in such a short window of time!  They also had to do this with minimal money.  Yes, they were lucky in finding their managers at the time, the Berrow brothers.  Yes, they were fortunate to have been signed to a major record label.  Nonetheless, they still didn’t have a ton of time or money to make what is for many of us a fantastic album!  Clearly, this task required determination and intensity!  It also needed teamwork.  They all had to be focused on the goal.  I’m sure that they didn’t always agree but they stayed on course.  To me, this is impressive, particularly when noting their young age, at the time.  Strangely enough, Duran’s early days have been particularly motivating to me right now.  
Today marks the last day before the Get Out the Vote effort here in Wisconsin.  For those of you who are not involved in campaign politics, Get Out the Vote (GOTV) is the last 4 days of any campaign.  These days are filled with tons of volunteers reaching out to the voters through phone calls and going door-to-door.  As a team leader, I have been involved with organizing and getting ready for these essential days on the campaign trail.  I will also be leading the effort at a temporary field office.  If you are still reading, you are probably wondering what the heck the point of me telling you this or how it relates to Duran Duran.  It has to do with little time and money combined with sheer determination.  On my side of the election, we have only had a candidate for governor since May 8th.  This is an extremely short amount of time with which to make the case that this person would be the better choice.  On top of it, GOTV is a relatively short amount of time to get voters out to the polls.  Like the short amount of time and like Duran, our side has very little money with which to accomplish this task.  Many people already have donated resources like clipboards and many have made treats for us to have during the effort.  All of these people are coming together to work together to accomplish something.  Like the band, we definitely don’t agree on everything but we do agree on the goal.  Lastly, the intensity level for an activity like this is VERY high.  I feel like I have been living and breathing campaign.  I bet the band felt the exact same way about that first album.  
The campaign I’m involved with has many parallels to the early days of Duran.  Both have a short time to get the job done.  Both have few resources and both are intensely focused on the goal.  I hope that on Tuesday, I will feel like this determination results in victory.  I want to feel a little like what Duran probably felt like when they got that first album out or when they made those venue goals.  I want Tuesday night to be like Duran Duran’s first night at Madison Square Garden as both are moments of triumph despite the odds against success.
-A

Guest Blog: Get Snuggly!

By Michelle Coldwell-Simons

How often do you listen to music? Every day? Just on the radio in the car? Plugged in to your generic music machine to go for a run? Me? I listen to music every day.
I always have. I do all those things above. (Except for running. I don’t run. Ever!) I listen to the radio in the morning to wake me up. I listen to the radio in the car to drop the kids at school. I listen to my iPod in the car, blaring out loudly when no-one else is with me, singing along like a mad woman. I listen to music late at night after a few glasses of wine; trying to be a super cool DJ for my very tired husband who is falling asleep and all he wants to do is go to bed……

I listen to all kinds of music too, not just one genre. When I was younger my dad was hugely into reggae and ska. My mum loves the Supremes and Abba. My brother blasted out Pink Floyd. My husband loves old school rap, Jay-Z, Kanye etc. My eldest daughter loves Lana Del Ray and my youngest loves all kinds of music and she seems to know all the words to every song she hears, even if she has only heard it once.  Music is a massive part of my life.
One thing about music that I don’t like is people making assumptions because of my obvious love of Duran.  People know I love Duran and therefore think that Duran are ALL I listen to. Or that because I love Duran the only music I listen to is music from the 80’s. I do listen to Duran. I do listen to music from the 80s. But I also love to listen to new music. For example this week my husband bought the new Maverick Sabre album for me, I think it is superb. I am lucky enough to have won tickets to Radio One’s Big Weekend that is happening in June which features acts like Jay-Z, Kasabian, Ed Sheeran, Example, Jack White and The Ting Tings. I can’t wait!!

But. I suppose I am playing right into the hands of those who assume when I write the next few sentences…….. If I want to get anything done, I put on Duran. I try my hardest to put on something else. I have a huge and varied CD collection and an iPod stocked with many of the aforementioned artists and genres. But it is Duran I put on to get things done. I am listening right now to the Duran first album. (But I hate the fact that the copy I bought on CD many years ago which is now downloaded onto my iTunes contains ISTISK and that was NEVER part of the first album – WHY PUT IT THERE???)

If I have to do some housework, it is Duran I put on. If I have to concentrate on something like writing emails (or trying to write a blog!) it is Duran I put on. If I want to cheer myself up on a rainy Monday ‘cause it’s been pouring on Sunday, it is Duran I put on. If I have had a particularly bad day at work I blast a bit of Duran in the car on my short journey home. If I can’t sleep at night I have created a playlist on my iPod of soothing mellow Duran/Arcadia tunes to help me off to sleep. (Land from Big Thing I find particularly restful).
I don’t even really listen to the tracks most of the time if I am honest. It is because I don’t have to TRY to listen to the music. I don’t have to learn the words. I just let it wash over me; knowing the majority of Simon’s frankly bizarre lyrics, enjoying the incredibly sexy heart beat bass lines John produces, being amused at the little funny tweaks and squeaks that Nick makes, Roger’s loud and powerful drum beats, Andy’s fantastic guitar riffs and Dom’s amazing talent on the latest album…. It’s like my little comfort blanket. It is security. It is an aide to concentration. It is reliable. It is just there in the background to cheer me, soothe me, boost my energy and put a smile on my face.  I know it, I have heard it thousands of times and I don’t have to try too hard to listen. I LOVE that. 
So if like me you love your music and because you are reading this you love your Duran, blast them out with pride when you are sweeping your floors, cheering yourself up in the car or when you are just dancing around your house with wild abandon – I know you all do it! Embrace that Duran comfort blanket, wrap it around you and swaddle yourself in the sublime snugly snuggliness that is Duran Duran.


Michelle was born in 1971 in the East End of London but thinks she is still about 18. Her formative years were spent travelling around London and the home counties meeting Duran Duran at various studio’s and other places of interest. There she met lots of new people quite a few of which she is still friends with today. Michelle writes about her teenage years and beyond with Duran in her Duran Diaries which will amuse and astound Duran fans but bore the butt off anyone else. When she grows up she likes to think that she will write a book one day as well as be a famous portrait photographer. She has been with her husband Gary for 21 years (poor poor man) and has two daughters aged 15 and 11, four cats, four fish and lives by the sea in Brighton, UK. 

Try To Explain It But…

Last night, I took time out of my insane schedule to listen to the latest Katy Kafe on DuranDuranMusic featuring one Mr. John Taylor.  A great deal of the “kafe” was spent talking about John’s upcoming autobiography.  He discussed how it was broken into three basic sections:  growing up in Birmingham, Duran hysteria, and living life.  I immediately sensed how reading this book will be so eye-opening for so many people.  In fact, it will be eye-opening to everyone except for, maybe, the members of Duran Duran.  Who else can really relate to what they experienced in the 1980s?  Obviously, the rest of the world might guess as to what it was like to be super duper famous, what it was like to be rock stars in one’s early 20s with tons of money and success.  Yet, we probably don’t have a clue.  I know that I don’t.  Will I have a better understanding of what John’s life was really like?  I hope so.  I definitely hope so but can anyone, no matter the talent of the writing, to be able to explain what it was like to live that life, a life so unique, so out of the norm?  I don’t know.

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.

-A

Karaoke and Superfans…do we really need a tutorial?

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.

-R

Countdowns

I hope this blog post will be fairly coherent.  Normally, I’m pretty confident that I will make sense but today finds me beyond tired, beyond fatigued, beyond exhausted.  If someone with more brain cells than what I have can find a stronger word, please let me know.  I will need to be using it frequently, VERY frequently in the next few weeks.  I worked a full week at my paid job and have worked an additional 35 hours at my not-paying campaign leader job.  While there is a part of me that kind of enjoys the level of intensity as we move towards an election day, there is another part of me that just wants to curl up and sleep until 2016.  So, how can I sustain, basically, 2 full time jobs and this for the next few weeks?  Obviously, part of the answer is dedication, focus, perseverance mixed with insanity.  The other thing I find myself doing at times like these, or when I have something to look forward to, is to make a countdown.  For example, I can tell you have I have 16 days left of the school year or18 days until the election for governor.  I should also be making a countdown for our tour in August. 

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.

-A

Save a Prayer, Leave a Light On…and let us get through the stress!

Stress is not fun.  I don’t think many people would disagree, although I’m sure there’s somebody out there who likes a little stress.  Under normal circumstances, even I can handle a little stress.  Sometimes, I can even handle a lot of it, until that stress has something to do with one of my children.  Then, for some odd reason – I can’t.  Right now, I’m having one of those moments with my son.  I don’t want to get into details (Although if this keeps up for any length of time you never know…), but he’ll be thirteen in July and he’s decided he has everything all figured out.  No need for school, no need to strive for decent grades, no need to follow the rules.  When I’m awake at 2:30 having panic attacks about what trouble my son will create or find next, I realize that I’ve already been through this sort of thing with my oldest at approximately the same age.  We all survived, and I’m at least semi-hopeful that we’ll survive this with my son as well. Ah, to be a teenager and know absolutely everything again….

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 (dailyduranie@gmail.com) and let us know what you’ve got in mind!

-R

Trust the Process

This time of the year is always so crazy for me.  The end of the school year is rapidly approaching and, as a teacher, that represents exhaustion mixed with a lot of bittersweet moments and thoughts.  As tired as I am, as anxious for summer vacation as I am, I find myself, like always, feeling a little sad.  My job as a special education teacher is a little different in that I get to know “my” students very well as I’m with them for literally hours at work.  I see them at their best and I see them, definitely, at their worst.  I can’t help but to become attached to all of them, to some extent, even the ones who drive me the most crazy!  Over the years, I have also become quite attached to many of the adults I work with.  After all, every staff member has to deal with the intensity of dealing with adolescents, many of which face quite extreme challenges that are commonly found in urban schools of poverty.  This level of emotional attachment and intensity has begun to weigh me down.  After dealing with some not-so-great changes the last couple of years, I have begun considering, really considering, looking elsewhere despite the long history at my school and despite some great relationships there.  Part of this job search has included jobs outside of teaching but, lately, it has consisted of looking for jobs within my district (I’m in the second largest district in the state with many schools within it).  Due to seniority, I have been considered for the 3 I applied for.  This week, I finished the second interview.  Now, I prepare myself for the third interview and wait to see if these other schools want me.  It is a nerve-wracking process, with combined with the usual end-of-the-year emotions, a seriously tough political campaign, and trying to make some serious personal changes has pushed me to the edge.  Yet, I have been getting through it the same way I have for most of my life when things get a little tough.  I have been getting through it by seeking out inspiration, by seeking out motivation.  I have found that in John Taylor’s solo career. 

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.

-A

Is it personal?

Good morning world! It has been a very long weekend for me and I feel as though I’m just coming out of the hangover haze. This is what happens after a weekend of celebrating the birthday of my youngest with family, friends and 25 (yes, TWENTY FIVE) four and five year olds. My youngest shares her special day with none other than my blogging partner Amanda.  I remember calling Amanda from the doctor’s office the day I went in for a normal appointment only to be told that day would be “The Big One”. Happy Birthday Amanda – guess who is going to be sharing their birthday forever more?? Even funnier? They share the same favorite Duran Duran song – Planet Earth. Coincidence??

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?

-R

My Turn for True Confessions

About a week ago, my blogging/writing partner produced a little blog about her true confessions as a Duranie.  It seemed that people enjoyed them and there were some requests for me to share mine.  Oh boy…I figure that I should be game and maybe others will share theirs as well!

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!!!! 

-A