Category Archives: Save a Prayer

Andy Taylor Back at it With Save a Prayer

There are blogs that I begin to compose in my head before I even sit down to write. I know how they’re going to go, I know what I want to communicate, and I assume they’ll be very quick – in and out in under thirty minutes. All will go well, and I’ll go about my day.

That’s how today was going to go. I knew I was going to write about the sudden re-emergence of Andy Taylor,  and I knew my feelings were rooted incredibly deep in a pond of cynicism and anger. As many point out, I’m an emotional sort of writer. After trusting Andy, even going as far to write several blogs touting the successes of Direct to Fan marketing to only have him (and his website) completely vanish without so much as a “Hey, we’ll talk again soon”, really stung. I clung to what I knew, which was Duran Duran, and I continue to embrace Dom as the band’s guitar player.

Then yesterday, someone asked if I’d heard Andy’s new version of Save a Prayer with Thomas Gandey – a name I didn’t know. I won’t lie, I immediately went all cynical in my head. After all, I’m no idiot. It wasn’t that long ago that the Paris attacks happened, I know the song has gained, at least temporarily, a new audience, and has probably seen a gain in online searches and traffic. Why not capitalize on that? And, if you’re going to do just that, why not take advantage of an upcoming Duran Duran world tour and the buzz off of a fairly-new released album at the same time? I floated those thoughts in my head as I finally decided to step out of the inner tube and dive right in, giving the song a listen (or twelve, as it currently stands).

My intention isn’t to review the song, after all in order to do that fairly, Amanda and I both would need to have input. But, I did listen. From the first downbeat I knew that I was going possibly drown in emotionality, something that I was not prepared to do so early on a Monday morning.

The music is designed to be a dance track, and I can hear that – but what I really like is that while it doesn’t lose the soul and/or charm of the original Save a Prayer, it is at the same time different. I like the way the song is deconstructed, and then seems to be built back together again with the addition of a bar or two of pronounced guitar. The vocals made me take pause, because for some reason – I still expected to hear Simon. That doesn’t typically happen when I hear covers and remixes, so I have to guess that the song keeps so much of the original spirit my brain expected Simon’s voice. The vocals, are soft and almost an afterthought as the music is the highlight. Lush and beautiful, it did not disappoint. Instead, I found myself wistful. I didn’t realize I’d missed Andy and his guitar until I heard it.

I’m glad Duran Duran has Dom for touring at the very least. I wish they included him more, particularly since they write (in the Paper Gods tour book under the bio section) “Manchester-born guitarist – Dom Brown – officially joined Duran Duran in 2006“. Fans still do not accept he belongs amongst John, Nick, Simon and Roger – and I place that blame squarely across the shoulders of the band and management – because they have the power to make that right. They simply choose not to, and as a result we all question his place and whether he’ll be along for the long ride. And yes, it matters. It is just tiring to always wonder whether he’ll continue to be around, or if the band will ditch him in favor of a bigger name. The ambiguous nature of his membership, at least to fans, makes it really difficult for anyone to accept his permanence.

On the other hand, fans cannot deny Andy’s history with the band. As a friend said today – Duran Duran is in his blood, and that is so true it hurts. I can’t help hear that spirit, his blood, in this song, and even in his own work of the past. I would imagine there are days when Andy would very much like to forget the whole thing, but he can’t. Nor can we. He lived it. Duran Duran lives in him. When I first heard this version of Save A Prayer, I couldn’t help but get misty-eyed as the guitar played, and there is very much a part of me that misses him. He is a part of the Duran Duran I fell in love with. At their best together, there was never any denying that chemistry, that fabulous tension between guitar, bass, and keyboards, and the beauty that could exist between them all, working as a bridge over a river, connecting two sides of the same town. On the other hand, when there have been so many storms that the river has taken out the bridge and sent it floating away in pieces, well – what can you do but rebuild?

I really don’t have answers here, and I don’t expect readers to understand or even agree with my assessment. I don’t know Andy’s mind or heart, and I don’t know why he decided to release this music now. It’s probably not something I need question, although anybody who knows me already recognizes I’m sitting here over thinking much of it. My mind speaks the realities I can’t ignore, my heart whispers that maybe he really did miss the music. Even in posting this and tagging it appropriately, I know that we are helping to drive traffic to hear the song – on Soundcloud – which is probably what he wants, even if only indirectly. Duran Duran fans still have sizable clout when it comes to these things, and I’m well aware of the power blogs such as these wield these days. I suppose if I really wanted to stick to my guns, I could have ignored the whole thing and never commented.  I can’t help but love what I heard. Am I a bad fan for supporting Andy again? Maybe. Maybe not. It probably depends on what side of the Andy-argument you’re on, and I can’t lie – I’m really not sure where I sit today. I always loved him and respected his opinions – up until the day he trashed his own website without nary a glance back at those of us who fully supported him. I don’t know what happened, I only know that in the end, people like me really didn’t matter.

I’m curious to see what he does from here. I know that it’s only every few years we tend to hear from Andy in one way or another, and there’s no telling how long he’ll stick around, speaking through his music. I’m just interested in what he’ll have to say.

-R

We Carry On

I know it’s been a few days since it was announced, but I had to comment on the GOOD that came out of the campaign to get the Eagles of Death Metal’s version of Save a Prayer to number one in the UK. The results were tweeted out on Friday afternoon, and while the song missed the mark in the UK – it went straight to number one in several other areas of the world, which was wonderful to see.

Save a Prayer to Number one

I know that I tweeted out the link several times, wrote a blog or two about it, and just enjoyed the feeling of goodness that washed over me while doing it. Focusing on something else other than the evil and anxiety that seems to dominate the news these days was a welcome relief. Rather than continuing to feel pretty damn helpless over what might happen next, I guess I centered my thinking on living. On music. On Save a Prayer. Felt appropriate given the people who were in the Bataclan that night, just LIVING.

I suppose one could look at the charts and think it was a colossal failure, at least in the UK where the actual campaign to get Save a Prayer on the charts took place. The US looks pretty dismal too, sitting at #220. I don’t really see it that way, though. Two bands came together over a single cause.  Save a Prayer – a song that is imprinted the souls of most of us who grew up being fans of Duran Duran has now come to mean something far bigger. All due to a single person deciding to make the music matter more than the evil that dared to destroy it. One Facebook page, one Twitter account, inspired countless people to put down whatever it was they were doing at the time and buy a song. I can’t call that a failure, no matter what the numbers say.

Every once in a while I get a glimpse of what magic can happen when people are pushed to the brink and realize that the only real way out is to work together.  JM – the person behind Eagles of Death Metal for No.1 on Facebook, inspired an incredible amount of people this past week. That’s the real “win”, and in my mind there are no failures or shame in what was accomplished. Well done.

I will echo JM’s sentiments: to those who went out that night in Paris to have a good time and never came home. I will continue keep those people and their loved ones in my thoughts.

-R

Take EODM Save a Prayer to Number One!

In my 45 years on this planet, I’ve become quite the cynic.  Though, I don’t think I’ve ever been characterized as an optimist, to be fair,  It is also true to say I tend to think the worst of situations (and people) as a knee jerk reaction a lot of the time. Seems silly to apologize for something that is as integral to who I am as my love for music, so I’ll just admit it’s something I continue to work on (and I often fail).  However, even cynical-old-me takes notice of what happens every single time we find ourselves climbing out of the darkness of whatever tragedy has hit most recently.  I’m writing of those tiny glimmers of good or the shining moments that tend to remind us that not everyone is bad, the world isn’t a horrible place, and yes, there might just be some hope left.

This week, I’ve taken notice of quite a few of these posts on Twitter and Facebook:

Buy EODM's Save a Prayer and get it to number one on UK charts!
click the picture to buy Save a Prayer on iTunes

The funny thing is that I remember seeing a tweet from Dom a couple of weeks ago as Duran Duran was about to perform on TFI Friday Live. He tweeted they were about to perform with Eagles of Death Metal and Josh Homme (Who, at least at one point in time not that long ago, was one of Dom’s favorite guitarists). Dom went on to say that EODM had done a “great cover of Save a Prayer recently.” I kept that in the back of my mind as I went about my day and later watched the performance, which I enjoyed. I made a mental note to download their album (EODM) later when I had a chance. I didn’t think much more of it until last Friday of course, and we all know how irony works…

Once again, even through all of this pain and anxiety many of us are feeling, music works to bring people together. That feeling is pure, and it feels good to buy a song that somehow has just a little bit more meaning today than it might have two weeks ago. I also kind of feel as though the two bands: Eagles of Death Metal and Duran Duran, have a bit of a kinship now.

Quite noticeably, Duran Duran very quickly began promoting the efforts to get the Eagles of Death Metal cover of Save a Prayer to number one on their own social media. I know there were many that pointed out, almost immediately, that Duran Duran stood to gain the most out of this campaign. Yes, I’ll admit the thought crossed my mind as well. I pushed the thought aside and chose to wait and see how Duran Duran might respond. It is sometimes easy for the cynic in me to assume that it’s all about the money. On this one occasion, I wanted to believe there was more than just a few bucks (or quid as the case may be) on the line. I’m glad I waited.

Even as I’d cast aside the niggling little thoughts in my head about who really stood to profit from this venture – I felt that even IF Duran Duran profited in the end, there was still a lot to be said for this campaign to get Save a Prayer to number one. I don’t know how to express succinctly it in words except to write that at least for me, it was about more than just the song. More than just Duran Duran, and more than just the Eagles of Death Metal. I guess that for me, it was about people from all over taking what was truly a horrible nightmare that I can’t even begin to imagine, working through pain, sorrow, loss and who knows what else – and using that energy to do something good.

Can any of us really imagine what it must have been like to be the band (EODM) that night, up on the stage at the Bataclan? I’ve thought about that a lot. There they were, experiencing so much joy in one moment, and complete horror in the next. The band even lost their merchandise manager that night. No, it wasn’t one of the band members (thank goodness), but Nick Alexander was someone’s child, someone’s boyfriend, and the friend of many. I can’t even begin to know how those people must feel. So their fans took Save a Prayer to heart. It has become a sort of “you can wound us but you will not destroy us” type of anthem for them. They’ve vigorously campaigned on social media for people all over the world to buy it to show support.  I don’t know, maybe I’m really living in Fantasyland, but for me, the positive energy speaks volumes. This coming from me, the cynic, no less.

It wasn’t long of course before Simon himself addressed the niggling concerns of profits from downloads of Eagles of Death Metal’s Save a Prayer, saying that the band would donate their profits to charity. As of this writing, Duran Duran hasn’t determined what that charity will be, only that they are considering those that are “peaceful, effective, and unifying.” As a fan, I can’t really ask for more than that. Maybe others disagree, but I still believe the good that the cause itself is doing (unifying music lovers from both bands at this point and getting our minds on something good coming out of the sadness and shock from last week that seems to grow worse with each passing day) is far greater than whatever concerns might be had about who really stands to gain.

For the record, I did buy the cover, as well as the album. I don’t live in the UK, and obviously the sale doesn’t count for the UK charts as result, but that really isn’t the point for me. For one, I think the Eagles of Death Metal did a great job on the song. Secondly, Dom did a good job of pointing it out because I wouldn’t have known about the cover otherwise. (and quite frankly the man has great taste in music which is why I bought their album and might even go back for more.) Thirdly, I wanted to make some show of support, somehow.

I don’t know how to explain it, but I feel so far away from my friends right now. Here I am, in sunny Southern California with a population of “ridiculous”, and yet I feel really alone, particularly when it comes to my fandom. I guess buying the song, at least for me, made me feel just a tiny bit closer to people I love and care about. The rest of the states, the UK, South America – there are a lot of people I wish I could hug right now. Silly? Maybe. I guess there IS still a bit of sap and kindness left in my hard heart. Dammit!!  No matter, I want to encourage everyone to buy it. I believe the song is only $1.29 here in the states, it definitely doesn’t suck, and you know – let’s just make something good come out of this disgusting, appalling, tragedy. So it might not hit the charts here in the states, that’s really beyond the point for me personally. I don’t know about anyone else, but every single morning it feels like the news just gets worse and worse, and it’s time to let a little light come out of the darkness, you know?

I just wanted to say publicly how much I value Simon, and Duran Duran of course, choosing to address both the social media campaign and the concerns about who would really stand to gain. I love Duran Duran. I am incredibly proud to be a fan, and I didn’t really think I could possibly love them more than I did last week or last month. It turns out, I was wrong.

-R

Save a Prayer — The Daily Duranie Review

We are moving towards the end of the Rio album.  Like Hungry like the Wolf, Save a Prayer is a song that instantly creates a response in fans.  It is well-known by the general public and a song that most of us have been listening to for a long time.  The song is one that is often stated by many fans as their favorite.  It is also, really, the band’s first ballad.  Thus, this week, we will try to step back from our own emotions and instant reactions to really take a look at this song.

Rhonda:

Musicality:  One thing that I have always appreciated in Duran’s music – they were unafraid to try new things, and the synthesized sound of what sounds very much like an Ocarina (but apparently is not, from what I have been told today) is something fairly unusual in 80s music. Backing up that melody, you can still hear Nick’s synthesizers in the mix, with that same loop continuing throughout the song, being allowed to come up in volume, and bend sound when appropriate. When I listen, it’s easy to pick up John’s bass as well, providing solid structure and depth. It’s the ying to the melody’s yang.  Roger’s drums are there, being felt rather than heard most of the time – which I can appreciate in a song like this.  Lastly, there is Andy’s guitar, which does not play a starring role at all in this song. Yes, there is a bit of a “solo” so-to-speak, but it is not meant as a “hey there look at me” moment. It is merely a backup “voice”, so to speak – and while I am typically one to yell for the guitar to be turned up, in this song, I cannot argue that the guitar does not occupy the proper place, allowing the lead voice and harmonies to be fully absorbed, and the music digested as a whole.

Vocals: I will go out on a limb here and say that I think this is one of Simons best recordings ever. His voice is simply beautiful here. Sure, there are a ton of harmonies and I would love to know how many tracks of vocals were done here, but his voice, in my opinion, is the star of the song – and it should be.  What I’d like to note here is that on some of the band’s work, the harmonies almost feel over done. They don’t feel natural – they feel forced just to give the song that “Duran Duran” sound. On this song, I think they are completely natural, in fact – when I was young, I really believed it must be the entire band singing with him. (Ah, to be 12 again…)  The lushness of the harmonies works extremely well with the structure of the song, continue to deepen the line of music, and let’s face it – no one harmonizes like Simon.

Lyrics: I love this song. I know that’s hard to believe because in recent years I’ve been one telling the band to put it away.  I might have even voted it off the Duranie-island at one point. (I can’t remember now, and no I’m not going to go look it up.)  I felt that the song…and I still FEEL…that the song was losing its effectiveness at shows. This song is so powerful, and the message is so poignant, I just felt as though people sort of stopped listening. Does that make sense? I’d rather see them put it away and pull it out on occasion to surprise and have it be this amazingly gorgeous moment between the fans and the band than have it be a song where I stand there and say “Oh, this again?”…because NO Duran song should be that way.  There are just way too many songs for them to play for anything to ever end up that way. (/end rant) This song is about living in the moment (there are a LOT of Duran songs that have that basic message in the lyrics. Interesting. Someone should write a book about that someday….), it’s about enjoying the place you’re in.  I don’t hear a very religious sort of message in there – although I am aware that some fans do.  For me, this song really is about loving the place you’re in and not thinking about the past or the future. I can’t help but relate this to touring or those infamous roadtrips I take with Amanda to see this band. For those few days: I am simply me. I’m not mom, I’m not a homeschooling parent, I’m not someone’s wife (well, I am…in case my husband is reading this..LOL), my point is that I’m Rhonda.  I get to just worry about me. Enjoy being me.  And yes, I have to say that I adore the that one-night stand line because (for me) it’s not REALLY about some guy using a really lame pick up line to get some girl, probably a gorgeous model as the case might be, into bed. It’s about saying “Hey, we’ve only got this one moment here. This one evening. Let’s make it something amazing and enjoy it.” That’s how those few days when I’m “touring” are for me.

Production: There is so much that could have gone wrong with this one.  They could have turned up the guitar in the mix….they could have gotten rid or buried the ocarina…Nick’s synths could have been way too far down…and those gorgeous harmonies and echo that gives a sort of warm ethereal feeling. Overall though, it is the little things.  Colin just seemed to have a sense of how to create emotion and feeling during production.  I don’t want to detract from the band’s talent, but even with an amazing song if it’s not recorded properly it will sound incredibly flat.  Just think of a lot of the bands of the 80’s that used synthesizers.  While there is a place for that one-dimensional, flat electronic sound – Duran never had that, and in addition to the band we can certainly thank production for that. Thankfully, Colin had a clear vision for how to communicate emotion without overdoing.

Overall: I’d forgotten how gorgeous this song really is. That’s what I mean by playing a song to death though, and I really wish the band would just LISTEN. They’re killing off their own music when they play the same basic greatest hits setlist tour after tour after tour.  It is OK to let people leave the venue wanting to hear ________.  I know this because I’ve done it myself for years and years (pick any obscure song that they never really play), and yet I still keep coming back. Fascinating thought. Regardless, my point is that doing the review gave me the opportunity to refresh my ears and appreciate the music and the message once again. I can’t honestly think of anything about this song that I don’t like, yet it’s difficult to give it five cocktails.  Why?  I think it has everything to do with it being overplayed, and I have to forget that as I review…which is not easy.  Is the song really perfect?  I think it might be as close as it can get.

Rating:  I’ve got to give it five cocktails!

Amanda:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  As we all know, this song starts out with the beautiful keyboard sounds before the other instruments join in.  The drums do exactly what they should by moving the song from one part to the next leading the listener.  Of course, Nick is still very much present with his signature twist of the knob, called a bender, that creates that sound that we all know and love and can easily spot Nick using in a live performance.  Yet, the real beauty seems to come from Andy’s guitars.  His guitar here isn’t a hard rock, pay attention to me and only me sort of guitar.  No, it is more subtle, more beautiful.  Truly, early Duran is often referenced in the tug-of-war between Nick and Andy.  In songs like Planet Earth, they are doing more call and response.  Here, they seem to be working together and, as the song goes, they really were in the writing and recording of this one.  This isn’t to say that John isn’t there as he is but it takes a good listen to notice him as the beautiful melody and guitar is typically noticed more.  Of course, like every Duranie from the 1980s, I can’t help to think of the visual while listening to the music.  It does seem to sound like that exotic, tropical, beach filled Sri Lanka.  It sounds warm and beautiful.

Vocals:  While the music is very beautiful, the listener is still drawn to Simon once the vocals begin.  These are classic Simon vocals with him venturing into his lower range, at times, during the verses.  The first chorus is such that it is all Simon until the end when “more voices” join in, creating a much stronger emotion in the listener.  Then, second verse includes more backing vocals with the “doo doo”s and such.  The second chorus like the second verse has stacked vocals, making it a much fuller sound, much more dramatic.  The background vocals are noticeable throughout the rest of the song, but don’t take anything away from it.  They feel rather natural and works to create emotion, I think.  The end continues with the “doo doo doo” along with Simon singing “Save a prayer” over and over again.  As a child, I remember getting this part in my head and it wouldn’t let go.  It was probably a sign that I should run far away from this band.  Ha!

Lyrics:  The lyrics to this song always give me mixed feelings.  People have obviously thought of the lyrics as “beautiful” and in some sense, they are.  Yet, it is about a one night stand.  It isn’t some religious statement, which I have read more than a few times.  Now, of course, I get that the idea is about going after one’s dreams, living in the moment, not letting fear stop you.  That’s nice but there is a part of me that can’t get past the one night stand part.  Are we sure this isn’t just some guy trying to convince some woman to go to bed with him?  I know.  I know.  It is one line.  That shouldn’t taint the whole song and it really doesn’t.  I love many other lines from the song.  Lines about looking for a thrill and knowing where to go definitely reminds me of touring.  I know that if I go on tour, it will be a thrill, no matter what.  I also love the idea of not dreaming but living.  That is a solid message.  As I said, though, the lyrics result in mixed feelings for me.

Production:  When I think of production, I tend to think of the little things.  Who had the idea to include more stacked vocals in the second verse and chorus?  Who suggested the “doo doo” addition?  If it wasn’t the producer, was he the one to know how much to include?  How loud they should be in the mix?  This, of course, reminds me of the story about how Nick stayed back in the UK to be there for the finishing mix of the album while the rest of the band headed to Sri Lanka to do those videos.  Then, Nick came later wearing all leather and sweating from the non-air conditioned heat.  My point here is really how Colin seemed to know, to sense, when to add, and when to allow the song to flow without adding anything.  It would be so tempting to do too much, especially with a ballad like this.  Luckily, he didn’t do too much.

Overall:  This is a tough song to review.  Like every other Duranie on the planet, as soon as I hear the song I think of the video or think of it played live with everyone having their lighters or cell phones out.    Those images are permanently etched into my brain.  The video is beautiful.  The image of them standing in a line at the end of the video looking up at the giant statue is one of my most favorite shots ever of the band.  Yet, at the same time, I’m not a big ballad person.  There has to be something more, something different for me to really love it (think Before the Rain here people.)  On top of that, I shy away from any song that seems to have a ton of hype around it and this one does.  Some fans go absolutely crazy for it.  It is hard to separate all of that to really think about the song.  Musically, it is beautiful and I do love the backstory with Andy and Nick.  Some of the lyrics really grip me while others make me cringe.  The vocals create a lush, emotion filled impact despite whatever shortcomings in the lyrics.

Cocktail Rating:  4 cocktails!