Category Archives: Planet Earth

35 years and counting…Happy Birthday Planet Earth!

To my complete surprise, we are celebrating another milestone birthday, and a fairly significant one at that today. On this date 35 years ago, the single for Planet Earth/Late Bar was released.

First of all, the math MUST be off because I’m only 25, right??? I just don’t get it….

Secondly, this just does not seem possible. In a lot of ways I’m almost humbled by the thought, because I really think Duran Duran is about the only “thing” in my life (with the exception of my own children) that I can say I’ve stuck with since nearly day one. I can’t quite say day one, because I didn’t grow up in the UK and didn’t hear about Duran Duran until 1981…but it’s pretty close. It’s been a crazy road, and I’m sure many of you out there are nodding your heads in agreement. This band has been around through the thick, the thin….from pubescence to, well…let’s just call it middle age.

The history is just there. Aside from my family, there isn’t any one thing that has been in my life longer than Duran Duran. Whether that paints me as loyal or significantly impaired probably depends on the day, but it is what it is. I often joke that I’ve loved Duran Duran longer than I have my husband (not a joke I tend to make while discussing plans for a lengthy summer DD road trip with him…), but it is true in some sense, and it all began with Planet Earth. As it should.

On Twitter, someone asked about the first date I saw Duran Duran live. My first concert was in 1989, I didn’t see them in 84 or 85 when they toured here. So my first experience seeing them was after Roger and Andy left the band. I saw them in March of 1989 at Universal Amphitheater (which has since been demolished), during their Big Thing tour. I was in nearly the back row of the theater, my favorite band member had left, and yes, it was a let-down in some sense because standing there that night (which does not feel all that long ago), it felt a little like a consolation prize for not seeing them in 84. Oddly, I clearly remember them playing Planet Earth that night, and for me, it just felt hollow. The bones were there, I suppose, but the feeling or spirit wasn’t right. I didn’t get to see the REAL band (in my head at the time, that’s how I saw it), so I was seeing what was left. I had no idea of course that they’d continue on from there and that I’d see them many more times over the course of their career. I just knew what was in that moment, and it didn’t feel quite right. I don’t know if I’d call that night a disappointment, but I think I knew I missed out. Time machine forward to the 78-03 tour, where I saw the band at the Pacific Amphitheater. This was when I saw the original five members for the very first time. They played Planet Earth again that night, and as my husband will gladly tell anyone who asks, I stood there completely dumbfounded for at least the first three songs and likely longer. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t move, couldn’t quite believe what my eyes and ears were experiencing – and I was nowhere near the front. I can’t imagine what I would have done had I been anywhere closer. For me, that night brought me full circle. There was something very, very, special for me about seeing the band I first fell in love with playing Planet Earth. I own the CD from that night, and I still get goosebumps when I play it. The memories flood my head, and I know that I won’t ever forget.  I still feel that way each time they play it. Yes, the line-up has changed, but this time, the spirit remains intact.

Of course, I still haven’t had the good luck to see them play Late Bar – the B side – to Planet Earth yet. I keep hoping they’ll throw it in one of their sets I’m seeing at some point so that I can die happy. It’s funny because Amanda’s favorite DD song is Planet Earth, and one of my very favorite is Late Bar (along with ITSISK and Secret Oktober).  Different sides of the same single. Pretty accurate, I’d say.

Planet Earth was the beginning of this crazy journey. The band says they don’t like to look back, which is fine. In a lot of ways I sort of think it really our job to look back from time to time, and I embrace that task. After all, I wouldn’t be writing this today if it hadn’t been for Planet Earth. I love having milestones such as these to mark not only the band’s career, but also my life. Each song represents a memory, and every once in a while, it’s good to be transported back for a short visit.

The best part, of course, is that the journey isn’t over. March is coming. Shows are still being announced, tours will begin, and new memories will be made. I am humbled by the very thought that in a small way, Daily Duranie helps to keep these experiences and memories fresh in people’s minds, we try to create new opportunities for fans to gather, and the fun just keeps on coming!

Happy 35th Birthday Planet Earth!

-R

 

 

Today in Duran History – Newer Wave 2.0

On today’s date in 1998, a new wave compilation album, entitled “Newer Wave 2.0” was released.  Included on this album was a cover of Planet Earth by the band Hate.

If you’re curious like me, here’s the cover of Planet Earth:

What do you think of it?  Considering the album it was included on – is it what you would have expected?

The CD cover:

Newer Wave 2.0 cover
Do you own this?

 

 

 

 

-R

Planet Earth by LUXXURY – Making Patterns Rhyme Tribute Album

This is what happens when my kids are out of school…I become unfocused and miss things.  Big things!  Planet Earth-sized things!

This week, another single off the soon-to-be-released (July 2014) Making Patterns Rhyme album, curated by none other than Manimal Records, was released for our listening pleasure.    The album is being done for charity, benefitting Amnesty International. LUXXURY takes Planet Earth on a groovy ride, giving it a twist and throwing it back to dance into orbit.  Have you heard it?

I really like the groove on this one – they took the very best parts of Planet Earth and turned it up, ready for dancing.  On the other hand, I’m not sure how I feel about the vocals, done by Actually & Blake Robin. They aren’t bad, they’re just very different and done in a very “dream-like” atmospheric sort of way, which seems to be an ongoing theme with this vocals throughout the album. (See, even I have my moments where I need to remind myself that different is OK!) I think this one is going to take a bit to grow on me…but the music gives me enough to nod my head, and I still appreciate that they took enough liberties to make the song their own. What say you?

-R

PS – I know I missed Wednesday covers this week.  I’ll make up for it next week!!!

Happy 31st Birthday Planet Earth!!

Thirty one years.  Honestly.  How does that kind of time pass by?!?  I must admit, I’m amused by our uncanny timing with our review this week.  I certainly didn’t plan to review Planet Earth for the week of its 31st birthday. (but I’ll bet Amanda knew…she’s good that way!)  For me, this was the song that started it all.  Thirty one years ago today, I was ten years old.  I remember that I’d just discovered KROQ here in Los Angeles, and I remember that I first heard Planet Earth on that station.  I am almost sure it was Rodney on the Roq that played them when I heard the song – I seem to recall his droll voice saying that they were brand new but that he was sure we’d be hearing a lot of them soon.  I seem to think he even said something about how we couldn’t even get the single here yet; but wait, it was coming soon.  I was completely hooked by the end of the first verse.  I absolutely adored that bass line, and the synthesizer?  I don’t even know if I really understood what that was back then – I mean, I was only ten years old – but I knew I liked it!   It wasn’t until many months later that I finally saw the video, embedded above for your viewing pleasure.  Roger Taylor’s bare neck and upper chest?  Yes and thank you!!!   He became the “end all” for me as far as men go, thanks to this video.  My husband thanks you too, Roger.

This video is a good example of how simple things really work.  Nothing super flashy, although I think it was probably one of the first videos to include some of the special effects it had – the print running across the bottom of the video, Simon pretending to jump off the “platform” they were playing.  The point is that at the time, all we really needed was to see the band playing and we were hooked.  Sure, the fancy exotic videos had their place, and don’t get me wrong, we loved them and still do; but I was just as happy to sit and watch Planet Earth over and over as I was to watch Hungry Like the Wolf or Rio.  It was about watching the band.  Somehow though, I think that message got lost in the shuffle back to the bands somehow.  Videos became more about how to out do the last one than about showcasing the bands effort.  I suppose that’s the nature of the beast, but eventually it kills off everything in it’s path, which is sad.

Planet Earth was a studio video with some fabulous costuming – however “not cool” my oldest thinks it is today – I LOVED it back then.  I remember rushing out to buy my very own ruffled white shirt, sashes…and while I was never allowed to dye my hair burgundy, I’d dream about the day when I could!  At ten, my world was very small, very sheltered, and the idea of being in love with a band from another country seemed very unusual and new to me.  I remember being shocked to hear them speak because they sounded so different from me.  (Like I said, very sheltered life.  I don’t think I’d ever met anyone that wasn’t from the US at that point!)  I know the makeup shocked everyone, including my dad.  My dad was your typical American male.  He grew up in the 50’s and played football in high school.  My dad wouldn’t even wear lip balm out of the house, much less make up, so seeing his teenage daughter plastering her walls with posters of guys in full make up, blush and all – was probably pretty frightening.  While the boys at school would make fun of their clothes and eyeliner – I secretly felt that the boys were just jealous they couldn’t look as good in makeup. (and they could not! Who pulls off makeup better than Nick Rhodes?!  No one!)  I loved it all, the clothes, the makeup, their accents…

I remember reading about the Rum Runner when I was younger.  I really couldn’t ever get a good picture of it in my head, primarily because at that age (I was probably still in my teens when I’d first heard of the club), I had no frame of reference for such a thing.  We didn’t have “all age” clubs when I was young, – at least none that *I* knew of, and again, my parents would have NEVER allowed such a thing anyway, so I couldn’t imagine such a place.  It wasn’t until I was in college and went to Fashions on the Redondo Beach pier that I had any kind of an idea of what the Rum Runner might have been like.  So, when I happened upon this version of Planet Earth, I got a much better idea of what their world was like before they ever hit the US.  I don’t think I saw this video until I was in my 30’s, and I have to say – I would have LOVED growing up in the UK.  I don’t know that I would have fit into this club scene with my feathered hair and Vans tennis shoes, but I sure would have tried, and my dad would have wanted to throttle me.

Never did I think I would ever go to the UK and actually see them play in their homeland, not at 35, definitely not at 25, and absolutely not when I was 10.  I don’t think the thought ever really crossed my mind…but that’s another thought for another blog.

Happy Birthday Planet Earth, and congratulations to all of us for a wonderful 31 years!!

-R

Planet Earth – The Daily Duranie Review

Today we’ll continue with our series of reviews with Planet Earth!

Rhonda:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  I’m not going to even try to pretend otherwise – I love this song.  For me, Planet Earth was the beginning.  It’s where my obsession began, and I can honestly say I was hooked by the end of the first verse.  Hell, Simon didn’t even have to sing a single word and I think I was already a fan for life.  There is something infinitely special about this tune, and it’s not just the infectious synths, or John’s amazing bass line (I don’t even think anyone ever played bass the way he did on this song back then…and they still don’t).   I love the way the song opens with these very low, very dreamy atmospheric chords, almost as though you’re outside in the fog, and slowly that curtain of fog begins to fade and the world comes into focus on a very early, very dewy morning.  When I think back to how songs should be recorded – this song is what comes to mind first, last, and always.  There’s a certain naivety that plays out perfectly here.  No one is heard more or less than anyone else, and as a result there’s this beautiful call and response that goes on between everyone in the band.  Nick’s keys start it, John answers back with his bass, Andy enters the conversation with some fantastically simple guitar riffs, and of course Roger holds it all together.  It’s called playing together.  I just don’t think the band can recreate something like this, because the naive moments are gone, and you know – I don’t even think they’re meant to do it again, and that’s OK.  When you listen to each instrument track individually, you realize just how simple each really is, and the song is a perfect, shining example that sometimes perfection really IS balanced and simple. I love that the song almost conveys an ease to it all – I think that out of almost all Duran Duran songs, it’s Planet Earth that sounds the easiest.  They weren’t trying for a hit single here – they were simply recording for the love of playing.

Vocals:  I miss Simon’s voice like this, and yet there is no way to ever be able to expect the man to sound in his mid-50’s the way he did in his 20’s.  There’s a certain darkness or depth to his voice in this song that can’t be matched.  I think that’s why I fawn so much over the first album – because for Simon, it was way before he had to start singing live to arenas full of people, and way before I think he ever truly strained his voice to begin with.  Those days are gone, and yes – he sounds so much better in late 2011 and 2012 than he did even ten years earlier, or even early 2011.  For me, this is the best of the best.  I wish they wrote more songs in this key, or at least within this range for him.

Lyrics: It is very difficult to review this song without sounding as though I’m gushing.  Obviously I’m a fan (the blog name probably should have clued you in by now), and I’m telling you – Simon doesn’t write like this any longer.  I don’t know if I ever really listened to the words, to be honest.  I was singing along with the bop bop bop way before I ever paid attention to what was being said, and even now – I’m not sure what the song is getting at, but isn’t that the best part of Duran Duran?  “Some new romantic looking for the TV sound, you’ll see I’m right some other time”  What in the hell does THAT mean?  I never really knew – but it didn’t matter!  “Is there anybody out there trying to get through?  My eyes so cloudy I can’t see you.”  In a lot of ways I kind of think this song is about taking a second to pay attention to what in the hell is going on around you – a good message even for today.  Then I realize that there’s absolutely no way I could possibly know what Simon was talking about – he speaks a completely different language than *I* do, most assuredly, and go back to singing “Bop bop bop, bop bop bop bop bop” like a good little Duran fan (Duranie) should.

Production:  Any Duran fan worth their poster collection knows that this is real production.  Back in “the day”, it was an art form.  Production was meant to adjust levels so that the very best of the song came through.  It wasn’t meant to completely change someone who should NOT be recording into something completely different.  Production wasn’t about smoke and mirrors.  I will continue to say what I’ve said since the day we started the blog – it’s time for real talent again.  Thank goodness I’ve got Duran Duran to help fill my iPod, and I’m not even remotely embarrassed by that.  

Overall:  As one of my most loved Duran Duran songs, I’m not too proud to admit that bias plays every part of this review for me.  It was the very first Duran Duran song I ever heard, and that was over thirty years ago now.  This song isn’t nearly as dated as I might have imagined it would sound.  I think back to some of the music my parents listened to – my namesake song “Help Me Rhonda” being one of them, and there’s such a difference.  Songs go the distance now more than ever, and I’m happy to hear that Planet Earth sounds just as good at 30 as it did “at birth” back in 1981.  This was the moment when Duran Duran as we know it began, back before they realized the excess that the industry was about to hand them, before egos, before fan frenzies, before the USA.  Pure, unadulterated joy.

Rating:  5 cocktails!

*********************************************************************************

Amanda:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  Like Rhonda, I won’t lie about my feelings towards this song.  It is my favorite.  It is my favorite Duran Duran song and my favorite song of all time.  The funny thing is that I can’t remember exactly when it became my favorite.  While I always loved it, I honestly think that hearing the song live was what pushed it to favorite status.  Why?  It absolutely had to do with the instrumentation on this song.  I loved how each member so clearly had a role and a significant role.  For example, Nick starts it off with that very recognizable atmospheric sound in the beginning that signals to everyone what song it is.  Then, the song is immediately filled with a response of sorts by the guitar.  Roger’s drums are in the spotlight when the song shifts and the song shifts more than one might expect.  They weren’t afraid to take some risks, musically, this way.  Speaking of, John even has a little solo moment of sorts during the song.  I can’t think of many other bass players that have those much!  While each member has a part and a very significant one, they also work together and blend together nicely.  It is a perfect combination!

Vocals:  To me, Simon’s voice in this song is exactly how I always remember him in the 1980s.  His vocals seemed to come so easily like he wasn’t trying much.  Of course, he wasn’t trying to hit notes out of his range and he wasn’t trying to hold many notes in some overly dramatic fashion.  The vocals were simple, in a way, but that is what made them work so well.  He wasn’t trying to do too much or be someone he wasn’t but sing the song, sound good and have fun. 

Lyrics:  Ah, the lyrics to this song are so fun and so very Duran Duran.  On one hand, the song could seem very serious and could be about some alien existence watching us, here.  After all, “this is planet earth.  you’re looking at planet earth.”  Perhaps, this observation is happening in preparation for contact, “Let me know if you’re coming down to land.”  Then again, maybe this is more about humanity thinking about all that life and the planet has to offer, including elements of weather and emotion, “watch the nightfall with the rain” or “my head is stuck on something precious”.  Plus, who doesn’t love the reference to new romantics?  It seems so cheeky of Simon to add that phrase in knowing that this was a topic of discussion in pop culture circles at the time.  Now, of course, it firmly establishing this song as one to represent the fashion, dance and music of a shortly lived movement.  Next to the serious and the cheeky lyrics is that chorus filled with “bop, bop, bop…”  This keeps the song fun.  To me, it is a perfect balance.

Production:  I wish that I could have been a fly on the wall during the making of this song.  Colin Thurston clearly knew how to bring out the best of each player.  On top of that, the mix seems perfect.  To me, the song is such that while it represents the early 80s well, it isn’t forced to live in that time period.  It sounded contemporary back in the day, but doesn’t sound dated now, which is quite an achievement!  It is a song that is great to listen to on an album and fabulous to hear live.  I don’t think that would be true if the production wasn’t right to begin with.  Every element of making the song seemed to work and still works from all of the instrumentation to the subtle sound elements to Simon’s vocals. 

Overall:  I can’t imagine my life without this song in it.  If I was stranded on an island somewhere, this would be the first song I would choose to take with me.  It is essential Duran Duran with the music, lyrics, and vocals.  Even the topic of space is one that will be repeated throughout Duran’s career and this is the song that started it.  On top of being a fabulous song, I have plenty of wonderful memories connected to this song as well from the video where the very young member of Duran are dressed in that new romantic fashion to every time I have seen it live complete with John Taylor asking/demanding the crowd to clap both in the beginning and during his moment in the spotlight and those JoSi moments during the chorus.  The song and the memories could keep me happy for a very long time as they would remind me of how good Duran Duran can be.

Rating:  5 cocktails!

Bop Ba-bop, ba-bop bop ba-bop….

I’m in my car quite a bit between taking the two younger kids to school, picking up my oldest and doing all of the chauffeuring, shuttling and errand running.  I’ve never been the mom who plays Kid Bop or Barney CD’s in the car – I’m the one who exposes her children to the finer things in life rather early, like from birth.  I am pretty sure there hasn’t been a time since I bought my car (or my long-since retired minivan) that I haven’t at least one DD cd in the player, and more likely – all 6 slots are taken up by various works of DD art.  As you can probably guess, my kids were educated early, Sabrina included.

When my first two were younger, Astronaut had just been released.  I remember the first day my son – he was probably about 4 at the time – started murmuring the words to Sunrise in the backseat.  At first I thought I was hearing things, then I realized he knew the words!  It got to the point where the entire van was singing a rousing rendition of the song, along with much of the Astronaut CD.  We were enthusiastic if not entirely on-tune!

As the years wore on, my son began to groan incessantly as he’d begin to hear the familiar chords of Duran Duran’s music in the car.  I don’t know when and where the change first began, but I realized with sadness that somehow, my choices in music were no longer acceptable to him, but with a flair that only moms have – I insisted that since it was MY car, MY music prevailed.  🙂  It wasn’t that long after that when my daughter started her eye rolling, but once again – my car, my music.   Rarely she’ll beg me to plug in her iPod, and typically I’ll relent, mainly so that I can get a sense of what she’s listening to these days.  (there is ALWAYS a method to my madness, you see.)   What is my oldest listening to these days?  Well, to my ears – complete and utter crap.  😀  (Spoken/written/typed like a true parent.  Ha ha!)

I really thought my years of sharing the joy of Duran Duran had come to a swift end.  I’d failed in my mission to completely brainwash them into being Duran Duran fans, but the shame I felt in having done so drifted aimlessly into complete apathy towards their own musical choices, probably in much of the same way that my parents felt when I first became a Duran Duran fan. (although I will share here that I can distinctly remember my mom singing along with Hungry Like the Wolf in the car on more than one occasion!)  Little did I realize that along with the surprise of welcoming yet another little one into our household, I also had the opportunity to educate her in all things Duran Duran!

Truthfully I haven’t even thought about what the youngest must be hearing when she’s in my car – a lot of times the music will be on and I don’t even hear it myself – it’s just background noise to whatever else is going on in the car. (with three kids, I’ll leave it up to your own imaginations!)  Since the remastered albums have come out, I’ve been playing them in my car – right now I’ve got their first album along with the CD of demos that came with it in there, along with the Arcadia album and a couple of other DD cd’s from a variety of places in there.  They’ve been in there quite a while I suppose, but like I said – I don’t notice them a lot of the time.

Yesterday afternoon, I was on my way to pick my oldest up from the bus stop – and it’s a good 20 minute drive from my house (she goes to an arts school that’s pretty far from where we live).  All of the sudden my little one was yelling from the backseat – “More bop bop bop Mom!”  At first I didn’t realize what she was saying, and then all of the sudden it dawned on me – she wanted more Planet Earth!!  I put it on…she sang along with the “bop bop” section, and then she requested it again.  And again.  And again.  (gotta love toddler repetition)

Let the brainwashing begin.  🙂

-R

Back to Basics

Today is Tuesday, and for me – that means it’s a morning of priceless independence.  I leave the house at about 8:25, drop my son off at school (which is literally down the hill from my house…my son is nothing if not spoiled sometimes!), and then I continue on to drop my little one off at preschool for the morning.  It’s a precious 3 hours of time that I have to myself, and typically that means coming home, writing this blog and perhaps perusing the message boards a bit before leaving to go and get her from school.  It’s a short amount of time, but I’ll take it!  Anyway, this morning as I pulled out of my driveway I switched the CD changer to slot #1 – which infamously holds Duran Duran’s newly remastered first album.  Naturally Girls on Film began, and since I had two kids in the car with me, it drifted off into the background noise – which is what typically happens whenever I’m in the car.  After I dropped the youngest off, I did something I rarely have a chance to do anymore – I turned the volume up.  🙂  I skipped Girls on Film (Yes, I like the song, but as happens with any song after 30 years – I’m a little tired of it these days) and went straight to Planet Earth.

First of all, I have to say that it is rare that I have the chance to really LISTEN to any song on my car stereo, much less enjoy it.  I’m never alone, nor am I really in the car for long stretches without stopping 50 times for kid drop-offs, pick-ups and runs to the grocery store, so it could take me hours to get through one single song, I kid you not.  Regardless, turning up the sound and sitting quietly is something to savor, which I did.  I was almost shocked at the clarity.  Funny how much differently an MP3 file sounds from a CD…. it’s nice to hear the song in an uncompressed state for a change, never mind that I had the opportunity to fully appreciate the Mark Levinson stereo system that came with my car!

As I listened, I marveled over just how perfect the first album really is.  Andy said rather recently somewhere that the first album is the best because it all happened before they all had egos. (I’m politely paraphrasing for him)  I can’t really argue that, given that I don’t know any of them personally, but I can definitely agree that it SOUNDS as though it were recorded without ego or judgement.   My personal opinion is that if I can hear each instrument without having to strain…and that none of it (collectively and or individually) make my ears bleed or give me a headache – it’s recorded well.  You’d think that would give the band, or any band for that matter, a wide range of fuck-up-ability (yes, it IS is a word…my blog…my dictionary.), but I can say that this first album is the ONE album where the band gets it totally right.   There is something stunning and beautiful in the way this album comes about.  Planet Earth, for example:  Nick provides this beautiful, exquisite atmosphere, and you can hear Andy playing call and answer with another layer of Nick’s synths, and John has this gorgeous bass groove (and nobody out there does it better) that just ties it all together, yet you can hear every single instrument with complete clarity.  Of course Simon’s lyrics are outstanding and Roger’s drums are as perfect as ever.  The one thing I thoroughly enjoy about this remastering is that you can totally hear Roger’s hi-hat.  I don’t know how to describe it, but you can hear the brass in those cymbals – it’s not just a crash, but it’s the metallic sound to it that makes it perfect.  You never get that in an MP3, or even on the album itself – it’s just not quite as clear.  If you can’t hear what I’m talking about on Planet Earth, try listening to Anyone Out There and you should really be able to hear what I mean.   John’s bass on Anyone Out There should truly be (and IS, in my mind) a testament to his sheer talent as a musician.  Yeah, the groove might be simple to some of you out there – but it’s not just the notes, it’s the accents he plays, and more specifically, it’s the emotion that comes through as he’s playing.  Anyone can play a freaking instrument.  ANYONE.  Not many can be a real musician.  The difference between being able to play a piano or a clarinet or a bass is that where the player plays the notes in front of him or the ones in his head – the musician adds the emotion.  There’s where the true talent comes in.  You can hear that in John’s playing, even at a live show.  When you listen to this album, not only do you get all of that emotion and the great bass grooves he’s known for – the recording is so smooth – there’s a “roundness” to the notes he’s playing.  They don’t have that electric flatness to them that seems to prevail when I listen to an MP3.  It just sounds round and whole, for lack of a better way to describe it. That, my friends, is PERFECT recording, from production through engineering and straight on through mixing.  I miss the days when they used to allow the instruments to speak for themselves.  I think it’s a case, and I’ve mentioned this before, where nowadays they can change anything and everything – there is so much available technology out there, that during recording no one knows how to hold back – they want to put every possible bell and whistle to use, to the point where the song ends up sounding like a wall of noise. (as opposed to a Wall of Sound )  Don’t get me started on auto-tune.  That’s an example of something that was a great idea, a fantastic invention and has been so abused by people that shouldn’t even be allowed in a recording studio that now it’s a joke.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to really listen to their first album like that – and I only got through Planet Earth and Anyone Out There.  I’m really looking forward to getting the CD of All You Need Is Now and listening to that intently for about 6 months on my car stereo, I’m hoping that it lives up to the spirit of their first couple albums.  I know that the MP3’s are pretty good, but I’m betting that the CD will sound even better.  Here’s hoping!

-R

Only came outside to watch the night fall with the snow….

I know I don’t have that line right.  It just seemed that since most of the country is under a god-awful lot of snow right now….it was appropriate if not completely corny.  🙂  I never said I was a poet, right?

So the groundhog didn’t see his shadow today, and he’s calling for an early spring.  Why on earth do we have groundhog day anyway?? I think it’s main purpose is to excite the little preschoolers and kindergarteners into thinking spring is coming soon only to be able to strangle their little spirits into submission by telling them that the groundhog saw his shadow – which makes NO sense – and so winter will march on for another 6 weeks.   Yeah, let’s beat that optimism down when they’re young so they’re good and cynical by the time they’re 9!

Oh, you all know what I’m going to write about.  It’s not even a surprise today, which makes me almost want to forget the whole thing, but the fact is, I would not be writing this blog were it not for the release of Planet Earth, thirty years ago today.

Thirty years is a long time.  I try to forget how old I am most days, since it’s only a number, but when days like this come along it seems as though it’s a requirement to to take a look back down the road we’ve traveled.  My road is damn long!!   On this date in 1981, I was in 6th grade (with a November birthday, I was quite a bit younger than most of my classmates).  I wonder if anyone else out there feels the way I do about this – Planet Earth feels like it’s only been out a short while in a lot of ways, but when I think back to my age at the time it was released, it’s only then that I realize that   1. I really am not still a teenager.   2.  The song really is timeless in it’s own way.    3.  Shouldn’t I be over all of this by now???     Then I laugh at myself, because you know – if you can’t laugh at yourself, you really can’t laugh at anyone else either.  

I believe that the first time I heard Planet Earth, it was on KROQ (Los Angeles).  Not long prior, I think the station was called K-West, and then all of the sudden one day, KROQ began.  I don’t remember most of the early DJ’s – but I do remember the days of Swedish Egle, Richard Blade, Rodney on the ROQ, and a host of others that aren’t coming to mind right this second.  I am not even sure who it was that played Planet Earth when I first heard it, but I do know that Rodney played it first (and I would love to say I heard it the first time he played it – but I have no idea.  I was 10 at the time.  I’m lucky I remember anything from back then!), and I know that Richard and Rodney both felt that Duran Duran was going to be huge.   Boy, were they ever spot on with that assessment!   I remember the DJ saying that the song was brand new, but that we’d be hearing it all over the place in time.  I’m not really certain if that ever came to fruition quite the way they imagined, but as we all know – there was more where Planet Earth came from, and that was only the beginning.

Some of the things I love best about Planet Earth are the very things that date it back to the 80’s.  I love the reference to the New Romantics.  I adore Nick’s keyboards and the fact that they sound very similar to a Casio keyboard at times.  Nick’s hair was totally awesome (yes, the California 80’s wording is necessary here), and don’t even get me started on the first 10-20 seconds of the video. (if you don’t know what I’m talking about perhaps you should watch it today!) I remember trying to play the song over and over again so that I could learn the keyboard chording.  As much I as I know the band probably shudders to think of those ruffled shirts and pirate-themed pants they were wearing – I love them.  It was my childhood, and they were the fashion-gods.  I never really dressed like them – my father would have had plenty to say about that, and I wasn’t the type to push the envelope with him – but I admired them from afar.  I always wanted to take those kinds of fashion risks, but never had the nerve.  They had it all, complete with eyeliner and hair dye.   How could you not love any of that?

It’s curious how one song can bring someone right back to their adolescence or childhood memories.  Planet Earth really was the beginning of the road for me.  I don’t remember a whole lot about growing up before that – bits and pieces really – but that song really opened up the world for me.  I started paying attention to the music on the radio and what was going on around me.  I wouldn’t say that Planet Earth caused all of that – I’m sure a lot of it is just coincidence and impeccable timing, but it’s the song that I associate with the real beginning.

Here we all are, thirty years later.  The road has been arduous in parts, and at times – it feels as though it’s been very, very long.  I’ve learned through my experiences that it really is all about the journey, even though I continually catch myself trying to see down the road farther to know exactly where I’m going rather than just enjoying where I’m at.  It’s the impatience and my type A personality talking again.   A week ago, a friend of mine lost a family member – and I shared something with this friend that I’d learned only after my father passed away.  My dad died from a disease called Pulmonary Fibrosis – I’m pretty sure I’ve written about it here before at some point, but it’s a degenerative disease that turns healthy lung tissue into scar tissue that has no elasticity so the lungs become stiff and they can’t absorb oxygen.  Throughout his illness, my dad would try his best to give very short answers to how he was feeling, preferring not to focus on the bad stuff.  At the time, I thought he was just skirting the issue, trying not to worry us.  It wasn’t until after he’d passed away that I finally understood what he was trying his best to teach me in a final lesson – it’s not about the dying.  It’s about the living.  He didn’t talk about how he was feeling because in my dad’s heart, I think he knew the end was inevitable, and dying was dying.  There wasn’t any point in talking about it when he was busy trying to enjoy living.  I was VERY angry with him after he’d passed away for many reasons, but one of them was because I didn’t feel as though he’d prepared us.  None of us realized just how bad he was getting until it was too late, and I was so mad at him for that until one day it dawned on me that it wasn’t about how he was feeling at all, because he was dying and he knew that.  It was about the living.  It was about that part of the journey he was on right at that moment.   Of course he’d try to teach his pig-headed, very stubborn, very type A control freak oldest child that sort of lesson in the most stress-filled months of her life.

So we go from the days of Planet Earth, when it was all unchartered, brand new territory, to All You Need Is Now, which is a good reminder for all of us to stop worrying about what’s ahead and just enjoy where we’re at right now.

Happy Anniversary Planet Earth – you’re looking good for thirty!

-R

Melancholy and Optimism

The very first song I ever heard from Duran Duran was Planet Earth, believe it or not.  I don’t know the exact date, although I know it was in 1981 and I was in the 6th grade, which where I’m from meant it was my first year of intermediate school. I heard it on the radio, and I was listening to KROQ after school one day in my room.  I lived in Glendora, CA – and KROQ was *the* station to be listening to if you were “cool”.  I wasn’t cool, but I wanted to hear what the fuss was about.  I remember turning to the station, and hearing the opening sounds of Planet Earth.  It was completely different from the other music I’d been hearing all of my life up until that point – my parents were never avid music listeners that I was ever aware of, although my mom loved Elvis Presley and they’d play records on our stereo from time to time.  Up until then, my own music collection consisted of some Disney records, a few Alvin and the Chipmunks albums, and two K-TEL compilation records,  no – I’m not joking.  As soon as the music came on, I distinctly remember being both intrigued, but also shocked because I was expecting “nothing but noise”.  Why?  My parents told me that’s what most radio stations played.  😀   When Simon started singing, I thought it was fantastic!  I loved the beat and the bass rhythm and how it played off of the guitar – and of course the keyboards just added to the ambiance.  I was dying to know who this band was, and I remember that when the DJ (and sadly I don’t even remember who the DJ was at the time) said the name, I laughed because the name sounded so silly!  He said it was new, and that we’d be hearing more from them.   I didn’t really think much more of Duran Duran until my friend Marsha had me over to her house one night for a sleepover – I believe it was probably summer at this point, but I’m not positive.  I loved going to her house because there were no bedtimes, and she had a TV right up in her room that we could watch!  She told me that I was going to love this new video show, and that they played this band that we’d been talking about at school – Duran Duran of course.  It was on very late, so we stayed up, and sure enough they played Hungry Like the Wolf.  That pretty much sealed the deal, because not only could the band play, they were super cute too!!   It wasn’t long after that when Marsha and I bought our first DD t-shirts and albums (I can remember standing in Wherehouse records debating over whether to buy the first DD album or Rio – and yes, it was a choice because my parents were not going to buy me more than one album at a time.  As my dad used to say, “We’re not made of money, Rhonda Lynn.”  I bought the first album, and went back for Rio a couple weeks later.).  Then of course came the poster buying.  I would openly offer to go grocery shopping with my mom every single Sunday because I knew that while she was in the produce section, I could get away to go check out the new magazines, and I could almost always come away with at least one new magazine with Duran Duran pictures.  I would sit at home, read the entire magazine cover to cover (well, the Duran Duran parts anyway – and at that point, they were all OVER the magazine!), and then meticulously cut out each pinup for my wall.  My room was painted “Springtime green” (think about one shade off from neon green…and no, it was not my choice of color.), and over a remarkably short period of time – it got to the point where there wasn’t much green showing.  I had the band all over my walls.  I suppose that’s when I should have realized that the band wasn’t just a passing interest, but something that would stick with me well beyond my childhood.

It’s now 2010, and I am turning 40 years old on Sunday.  When I sit back and think about where I was back then versus where I am now, I have no idea how I got here.  The time feels like it’s flown by so incredibly fast.  I don’t think I EVER considered that I’d eventually grow up back when I was cutting those pictures out of magazines, and I certainly never thought about the fact that I would eventually have a husband, three children – and that I’d never play for the LA Philharmonic the way I thought I would.  It just didn’t occur to me to even think that far ahead, I guess.  I suppose that’s the joy of childhood, and I am very lucky I had the chance to really be that carefree.  There are times when I wonder what ever happened to the fearless 11 or 12 year old in me, but sometimes, I still get a glimpse of that girl.  Every time I go to a Duran Duran show, she comes to visit. (and I really like her!)  When I see the band do an interview on TV, I can feel her bursting out – squealing away in complete joy when Nick smiles or John raises an eyebrow – or if Roger twirls a stick on stage.   The other day one of my friends posted the video for New Moon on Monday on their facebook page.  It was one of the longer versions, and I had a free couple of minutes, so I watched it.  I giggled as I watched the band pass out those flyers to people on the street, I laughed when Simon made a face at the girl who was waving the flag down a narrow alley, and I also waited to see the part where we all now Simon was hit by a horse.  I could feel that young girl inside of me stir again, ready for whatever came next.  My moments with her are often fleeting – but it’s good to know that she’s still there.

Turning 40 tends to make me feel melancholy rather than powerful at the moment, mainly because I look back and think of what I’ve lost over the years.  I miss the freedom of youth, the joy of making decisions without having to check with 4 other people, my father (a terrible, terrible loss that I still have yet to make peace with), and the excitement of looking ahead to   adulthood.  That said, I’m trying very hard to feel optimistic about what comes next for me.   I am learning to look ahead rather than continually looking back – it’s a work in progress.  I am looking forward to seeing my oldest achieve all that she’s dreamed of and worked towards, I can’t wait to see my son graduate from high school and then go on to be an amazingly smart college student – if I can just keep him out of trouble in the meantime, and I really wonder what kind of person my little girl, my two year old, will become.  She’s super smart, and never fails to make me laugh….even today at 6am when she’s calling for me to “help her”…and yet what she really means is, “I am up for the day and we’re going to play!!”  My kids are my life, and truthfully, I think they help to keep me looking for my inner 12 year old.

The joy of writing this blog each day is that I spend a few moments writing about something I dearly love.  As a mom of a 13 year old daughter, an 11 year old son that is on the autistic spectrum and a 2 year old “surprise gift”…my life is extremely full.  I haven’t had a pedicure since before my youngest came along, and I’ve only just recently got back to where I’m going to get my hair cut and colored. (primarily because I’m definitely NOT at peace with my own gray hair yet)  This blog gives me time to enjoy my inner 12 year old, but also practice what I spent my years in college doing – writing about popular culture.  My goal is to not just write about the news – but also examine what makes our fan community tick.  As a result, this blog has forced me to combine my adult persona with the young fan within.  I might be turning 40, but I am still living.  I’ve been asked many times when I’ll stop going to shows, take down the posters I still have up in my tiny walk-in closet, and when I’ll “finally grow out of this”.  My answer?  I hope I go to my grave listening to this band, because without music, what is there?

With that, I am off to pack.  I’m going to Las Vegas this weekend with my husband and another couple who are our closest friends.  If I’m going to turn 40, I’m going to do it my way, in the City of Sin.  🙂

-R