According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, an intellectual is: 1. of or relating to the intellect or its use rather than by emotion or experience or 2. given to study, reflection and speculation. The other day, John Taylor mentioned this term in the band’s oral history of the Rio album. In that oral history, he stated that The Chauffeur is that album’s song for intellectuals. He also mentioned about how a friend of his said that every album needs a song for those thinking people.
Anyone who knows me is not surprised to find out that this got me thinking. (How intellectual of me!) I cannot deny that I like to think, study, reflect, analyze or however you want to say it. My parents are to blame as I grew up in a household in which vacations meant museum visits, dinner discussions included current events and basic knowledge, and daily activities involved reading or looking up information. Therefore, this thinking, speculating thing is part of my DNA. Intellectual might be going a bit far but I do like to think.
So, what did I think John’s statement regarding The Chauffeur? What did I think about this idea that every album needs a song for intellectuals? First, if there is a song for intellectuals on Rio, I agree that it must be The Chauffeur. While I think the lyrics on many of the songs on that album are fascinating and make me think, the lyrics for The Chauffeur are definitely more poetic than the rest. Because of this, one might spend more time thinking about what Simon is trying to say and why. Those lyrics are definitely less straight forward than say Save a Prayer. Second, do I think that every album needs a song for intellectuals? Need is obviously the key word there. Would an album be less good, have less quality without a thinking person’s song? I’m not sure about that. Would Rio not be as good if say the song, “Like an Angel” was included instead of The Chauffeur? The quality might decline a little but that is based on the quality of the song as opposed to intellectual vs. not. That said, I do love, love, love the songs that make me think. It is one thing that I really do appreciate about Duran. While Duran is a lot of fun on the surface, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. They often make me think with almost every song, video, etc. they do.
If Duran really has followed this philosophy, can we pick out the intellectual song in each album? When did they start this? Are there some albums that might have more than one?
Does the first album have one? If so, I might have to say that Friends of Mine might be more intellectual than the rest. Yet, at the same time, it fits with the rest of the album. It doesn’t stand out in the way The Chauffeur does on Rio. Hmm…What about Seven and the Ragged Tiger? Is there one on there? A lot of the lyrics do make me think as they are not obvious about what they are about. If that is the criteria, then, maybe The Reflex? Union of the Snake? Again, I’m not sure those really fit the idea that they are for intellectuals. What about Notorious? Winter Marches On? Ugh. I think I suck at trying to figure this out!!!
Maybe, I’ll have better luck in the late 80s/90s albums? I think The Edge of America might fit in the criteria for intellectual song. What does the edge mean? Why is there is anger? The lyrics are not that poetic or obscure. Yet, the song makes me think. Nothing pops out for me for Liberty. The Wedding Album’s intellectual song could be Too Much Information as it might make people consider the role of media. Breath After Breath is very much a different type of song. Could that be it? Could they both be?? Medazzaland might have a bunch since the entire album feels very different. In fact, it might be easier to pick the songs that are more obvious than the opposite. I’m not sure about Pop Trash. Ugh.
Post reunion albums are not really any easier to determine the intellectual songs for. For Astronaut, I might pick Finest Hour. While the lyrics could be applied to many situations, it has a connection to Churchill and his speech during World War II. It makes my historian brain think then. Red Carpet Massacre is interesting. There are definitely non-intellectual songs on that album, including the ones produced by Timbaland. That said, there are songs, like Red Carpet Massacre, that seem to be about one thing but could be about something else. I bet All You Need Is Now has two: The Man Who Stole a Leopard and Before the Rain. For Paper Gods, is it the title track? Only in Dreams? Both?
Clearly, the answers are not obvious AT ALL. I made some guesses but I really have no idea if any of songs I considered are ones that the band would consider. Maybe, all of you have different ideas about which songs are the ones for intellectuals. Perhaps, what we should do is figure out actual criteria and then consider each album. What do all of you think?! Come on, intellectuals, let me hear from you!
On a different note, I want to wish all mother’s a Happy Mother’s Day!