That’s really the question, isn’t it? Amanda and I have been writing this book about fans…about the fandom…and the question that pops up over and over again is “Why do we stay?” Why have we been fans for over 30 years now? What is it about Duran Duran that keeps us coming back?? I wish I knew. I’d bottle it, sell it to new upcoming bands and make millions! While I think the answer to why we each became fans is probably very generic and simple (it’s the memory we each have that makes it so unique), I’m certain that our answers for staying are as varied as our personalities.
To begin with, my memories of childhood are very good. I am extremely lucky in that I came from two wonderful parents. Yes, they were strict, but when I think of my dad or even of my mom, I have mainly good memories. They were married up until the day my dad passed away, and they truly loved one another. My home life wasn’t broken, I was safe, well-fed, clothed, and even happy. Duran Duran play a fair part in those memories. It’s impossible for me to think back on my bright green (yes green. Summertime Green, to be precise!) room with yellow furniture and the strangest shade of orange-brown carpet I’ve ever seen (and I wonder why I was always an insomniac….) without thinking of my beautifully self-wallpapered Duran Duran walls. When I think of the time I spent in my room (probably cleaning because my mom INSISTED that our house be vacuumed and dusted every single weekend regardless of what else we all had going on), I remember my trusty record player – the one I begged and begged for until my parents finally caved in and gave me the old one from our family room – and how I would play records until either my sister started complaining about my choice in music (Duran Duran of course) or my dad finally came in and shut it off. I can remember riding in my parents car just about anywhere and hearing Duran Duran come on the radio. I would always squeal in delight, and my sister (she is 5 years younger) would simultaneously groan and begin complaining in an attempt to convince my mom to change the station. This would then grow into an argument – meaning I wouldn’t even HEAR the song – until my dad would get mad, snap the radio off and tell us both that if he heard one more word out of either of us, he’d pull the car over “and come back there.” Nothing good happened when that occurred. Yet I’m still smiling at the memory. So I suppose that yes, a good portion of why I still love the band has everything to do with the memories I associate with Duran Duran while I was young. They’ve really been the background music in my life (our lives) for a long time now, haven’t they?
As anyone who has been reading the blog knows – I’m now married with three children of my own. I was married fairly young – let’s see here – I was 24 when we got married in April of 1995. Looking back, I had absolutely no business getting married at that age. I hadn’t even had the chance to experience life on my own yet. In fact, I moved from my parents home right in with my new husband. (actually, we moved in together 3 months before our wedding but his parents still don’t know that to this day! shhhh!! Ha ha!) I’d been out on my “own” during college; which really doesn’t count because I lived in the dorms and then in my sorority house for a school year. Not really the same as paying for an apartment or buying a house. I’d never traveled on my own, I’d never really been responsible for my own budgeting, and I’d certainly never bought anything big on my own. I did have a car – but my parents had bought it and I was just making the payments, but the fact is – I don’t think I’ve ever really been on my own. Then a year into our marriage I decided that I was ready to start a family. (a gross overestimate of my abilities at the time…) Before long I was knee deep in diapers, bottles, laundry and motherhood. During this time, I can almost say that Duran Duran was nowhere in my thought process. In fact, none of my own hobbies or interests were in my thoughts! I grew increasingly tired of “just being a mom”. I hate saying that, but you know – I couldn’t stand the thought of just doing play dates and discussing the merits of Tide vs. Gain (different laundry detergents – for my friends outside of the US.), or talking about what preschool my kids were going to attend. I tried making it fun by getting involved with local MOMS Club, but I was the mom who insisted on setting up Mom’s Night Out at the local clubs. The other moms didn’t really “get” me, and quite frankly – I didn’t get them either. I didn’t see the point behind embracing PTA with a vigor and never doing anything without a child in tow. I needed more. I needed ME. I grabbed onto the internet with a death grip, found all of the music I’d been missing over the years, and my husband made the slight miscalculation of taking me to a Duran Duran concert – my first one since 1993. My interest was indeed piqued. Then the reunion happened, and I nonchalantly suggested to my husband that we attend the 78-03 shows in our area. (actually the truth is that I fell over a chair and have scars on my legs to this very day from trying to run from our then computer room out to the garage to scream at my husband that the band was playing a show as the “Fab 5” for the first time since the 80’s – and the show was in Costa Mesa near our house!) Sadly for him, he agreed. Our lives have never been the same since.
My Duran Duran life is full. My husband might even say it’s overflowing, but I’ve really never been happier. There are some things I wish I could change – for instance the fact that the people I most want to see live a good 2000 miles from me, and in a few more cases they are overseas. (and I’m not just referring to the band!) Overall though, Duran Duran has become my escape from the pressures of being Mom. I’m the most “me” when I’m writing the blog, talking to friends or going to shows. I am rarely without a smile on my face during those moments, and for me, they’re special. Sure, the last year has been a trial at times. Going to the UK in May only to be completely blown out of the water really sucked. I think the band would agree. Knowing that my touring during the fall has to be curtailed so that I can fly out to the UK again in December really bites too, but that’s OK. I suspect that if I could really do it all – both financially and time-wise, none of it would mean as much. This time is precious for me and I’m enjoying it as much as possible.
I’m not sure if I’ve really answered the question of why I’m still a fan though. I mean, sure – it’s about the music, because if I hated what the band was doing, I don’t think I’d still follow them. I do need to give them their due when it comes to that, but it’s not entirely about the band, and in my case, I’m not sure if the music means nearly as much as the rest of it at this point. If the band stopped playing tomorrow, I would still have so many great memories with friends to look back on. I would sorely miss Duran Duran, there is absolutely no question there, but I’d still have all of those fantastic memories and friendships. The music they bring is only half of the equation. That said, I don’t want to sound judgmental. Everyone comes to being a fan for their own reasons, and as I’ve found during the writing of our book, we all continue to be fans for VERY different reasons, and the beauty is that none of it is wrong. It’s far too easy in our fandom to look down at one another for not being the same as ourselves. Not all of us has the ability, time, or need to experience our fandom in the same way. We really and truly cannot quantify those things to equate to how committed we are to being fans. It sounds so silly to say or put into print because we all should know that and it shouldn’t matter, yet for some reason that subject always seems to come up. The reality is that each of us have our own story for becoming a fan and staying a fan, and I hope that many of you will share! -R