Category Archives: songs

Songs for Intellectuals

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!

-A

On a different note, I want to wish all mother’s a Happy Mother’s Day!

Look where we are: what three DD songs sum up their career?

Every once in a while, DDHQ will ask a question that gets me thinking. Today became one of those days when they asked fans what three songs best represents Duran Duran’s sound.

First of all, I didn’t ever answer the question. My intentions were good, but life got in the way, and I didn’t even think about it again until late in the afternoon.

Second, where do I even begin?! Not only is there a large catalog of music to consider, but the styles are as varied as their hairstyles. If I take the question seriously, I suppose the best place to begin is, well…the beginning.  🙂

I think the first album must display the humble beginnings of this band. That music is what led them, creatively speaking, in a forward direction from the Rum Runner. That said, I think one song has to come from there. The question is, which one?

My heart says Friends of Mine, but that’s more of a favorite than it is anything else. Next would be Planet Earth, but is that MY beginning (as a fan) or the band’s, I am not sure. So then I think about Girls on Film. It isn’t my favorite off of the album, but it does display their ingenuity (camera clicks), and I think of the bass line along with the keyboards and guitar…and it does add up to quintessential Duran Duran from that period. So, I’ll go with Girls on Film.

The next song is tougher for me, because when I listen to Rio, Seven and the Ragged Tiger,  Notorious, Big Thing, or Liberty…every single album changes enormously. Not enough to where I’d say “that’s not Duran Duran”, but I think you all know what I mean. Personnel changes, style changes…but it is all still Duran Duran at heart. So where do I go from here?

I think I have to go for the obvious, which is a little painful…but it’s honest: Ordinary World. I would have EASILY preferred Rio, or even Hungry Like the Wolf on some days (!!), but then I’m ignoring a very important part of their history. I believe Ordinary World is the turning point, the apex when the band collectively decided to keep going and give it their all, whether as the Fab Five,  Fantastic Four, or Terrific Three….not that I don’t think they did it before then, I just mean, it all came together beautifully, in that moment.

So that leaves one. Goodness. I could have easily done this in five songs. Four songs seems tough, but three? ACK!  One song. Ok. So again, I’m struggling with the changes in sound. Sure, Astronaut brings us back to the Fab Five and Sunrise would have been an easy pick, except that it’s now 2017. We’ve had a few remarkably different albums since then. What song defines their sound best?  Do I pick something off of Paper Gods because it’s most recent? Do I pick from All You Need is Now because it’s a fan favorite? What about Red Carpet Massacre, where does that album fit?

I’m going to work through this the only way I know how – train of thought writing. (which ought to be interesting…) Astronaut was the album, or so I thought, because it brought the band full circle. When I think of the song Sunrise, it brings me right back to all the promise of the Fab Five returning. The trouble is, that didn’t last, and I don’t think it’s a fair representation of their sound.  Then there’s Red Carpet Massacre. Out of all the Duran albums, this sounds the least like anything else they’ve done. That doesn’t make it bad, just not quite what I think represents DD.  That brings me to All You Need is now and Paper Gods. On one hand, All You Need is Now is like the first part of DD’s career revisited. It is comfortable (for me), but there weren’t a ton of surprises, and I didn’t feel like it was innovative…but I loved it right away and still do. Paper Gods has been a different journey. While it’s forward-thinking, it’s still very much the Duran Duran I know and love. In a lot of ways the album feels and sounds very much like the story of DD’s career. When I listen to only a song or two, I feel like I’ve only heard a single conversation. It is the one DD album I own that I listen to from start to finish without skipping around, which is different. I think that’s why it is hard for me to pick a single song and say “Yep, that is the ONE song that tells it all.”  Instead, I find myself thinking about the bonus material. Planet Roaring tells the story of how I feel to be a fan, and if there is any one song that is 100% complete Duran Duran on that album (although it’s only a bonus), it is this one.  My problem with picking it is simply no one knows about it but fans.

Earlier today I perused the replies from other fans on the original post. The one thing I noticed, overwhelmingly, was that fans mainly chose hits, or in other words…songs that can be found on many a set list.

I don’t think that’s an accident. In fact, I would imagine that when the band sits down to think about what they’re going to play on tour, they consider songs that appropriately culminate their career. After all, they are picking a handful of songs that walk (or dance) an audience through their entire career.  It’s kind of like Duran 101 when you go to a show! Duran Duran wants to pick songs that an audience knows.  That’s why choices like Secret Oktober, Fallen Angel or even Virus don’t get played. No one knows them, and as much as it pains me to say, I get it. I don’t love it, but I get it.

So what to do about that third song? The rebel in me says to just go for it and pick Planet Roaring because in my heart, it’s the one song that should be on the main album that isn’t. My head tells me that I should be more methodical. I hate that, so tonight I’m going with my head for two out of the three choices, and my heart for the third. (Two out of three isn’t bad!)

Girls on Film

Ordinary World

Planet Roaring

I’m curious though, what did you pick? My choices aren’t necessarily the best or even the right ones – they’re just what I picked tonight (I’m writing this on Monday night!), and I cannot guarantee I’d pick them again tomorrow.  I’m sure that not one of you would pick the same as me, so it’s your turn…what would you choose!

-R

Ultimate Box Set: Album Tracks Part 2

Right now, this little blog is in the process of trying to develop an “ultimate Duran Duran box set”.  Obviously, the song choices will not be coming from Rhonda and myself alone but will be from the fans who participate.  A couple of weeks ago, we started with 7 singles.  Then, we have moved on to album tracks.  I figured it would be too hard to just pick 7 songs from all of the album tracks that are out there.  Thus, last week, I decided to break down the choices by albums.  Fans who participated voted for 7 album tracks from the first three albums.  I’ll report on those results tomorrow.  Now, we move on to the next three albums:  Notorious, Big Thing and Liberty.

If you would like to take part in this fun, simply click on the 7 songs that you think should be considered to be part of the ultimate box set.  After this week, we will do two more like this with the remaining albums.  Once all four parts are completed, there will be 28 album tracks to choose from.  I hope that this will be easier for people than all the tracks, all at once.  Enough explanation from me.  It is time to vote!!

Which 7 songs should be considered for the Duran Duran ultimate box set?

-A

 

Ultimate Box Set: Album Tracks Part 1

Last weekend, I began a process in which fans would create the “Ultimate Duran Duran Box Set”.  Again, this idea came from my friend, Nat, who thought it would be fun to make fans pick 7 singles, 7 album tracks, 7 b-sides or demos, 7 live tracks, and 7 side and solo project songs to create the best box set possible.  I dug the idea and asked fans to pick the 7 singles through a little poll.  Many people participated and I’ll share those results tomorrow as well as give a little analysis.

This week, then, we should be moving on to the album tracks.  I began creating the poll and realized just how many album tracks there are!  I always knew that Duran had a large catalog but I didn’t quite understand the length of the catalog until I started listing all of them.  Eek.  On top of that, imagine taking all of those album tracks and trying to pick just 7 of them to include.  How next to impossible would that be?!  I know that a lot of fans would struggle to pick just 7.  Their frustration might be so high that they would refuse to participate.  I can’t have that!  Thus, I decided to break down the albums into more manageable chunks.

Today, I ask fans to pick 7 album tracks from the first three albums:  Self-titled debut, Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  Next week, I’ll ask about Notorious, Big Thing and Liberty.  Two weeks from now, we will focus on The Wedding Album, Thank You, Medazzaland and Pop Trash.  Finally, I’ll ask about Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre, All You Need Is Now and Paper Gods.  From there, I’ll take the results from all of those and ask people to pick the final 7.  I recognize that this may not be as accurate as if I listed all of the tracks but I think I’ll have more participate this way.  I hope.

On that note, let’s vote on the 7 album tracks from the Self-Titled Debut, Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger that should be included/considered for the Ultimate Box Set.  This poll will be open until next Saturday (March 4)  Happy voting!

-A

 

I Want Your Attention: Duran Songs for Friend

Last weekend, I spent about 30 hours in a  car with three of my colleagues and friends as we traveled to and from Washington D.C. for the Women’s March.  During the drive, two of us provided the music, the soundtrack for the trip.  While I had compiled playlists of social justice songs and songs about women and women’s power, I also played some of my favorite songs.  During a long stretch of horrible fog, my friend turned to me and said, “I like many of the Duran Duran songs I have heard but I just don’t know them that well.”  She went on to say that she likes Hungry Like the Wolf and Come Undone.  Ignoring those specific songs, my brain started reeling.  Which songs should I play for her, I wondered.

Before I started picking out Duran tunes, I looked to her music collection.  She had lots of Madonna, for example, especially 80s Madonna.  The Cure took up space in her collection.  Besides that, she had a lot of 90s music on there from the Verve Pipe to Oasis, which makes sense since she is about 10 years younger than me.  I took these songs to mean that she likes pop but the fact that she had a lot of the Cure makes me think that she would be open to some darker, more obscure Duran.  Here is what I came up with to play for her divided into pop and dark.

Pop:

Since she clearly knows some classics, I thought I would skip more of the obvious ones like Rio.

Hold Back the Rain:

New Moon on Monday:

I Don’t Want Your Love:

Sunrise:

All You Need Is Now:

What do you think of those choices?  I wanted feel good songs but also wanted to showcase the fact that all Duran, even those feel good songs, have substance behind them.

Darker Duran:

Before the Rain:

Out of my Mind:

Friends of Mine:

Secret Oktober:

The Chauffeur:

What did I miss?  What else should I include?

-A

Duran Song Title Themes

Are you someone who pays attention to our questions of the day?  If you are, you know that generally they are poll questions.  They are quick, easy opinion questions.  The goal is just to keep people thinking of Duran each and every day.  Plus, I find it fun to think about which songs or videos I like better and figure that others might, too.

Last weekend, we finished ranking the albums and I blogged about the results yesterday.  Then, I started asking about what might seem to be random songs.  Perhaps, some of you have figured out the connection between the songs I have asked about.  First, I asked about Astronaut or Big Bang Generation.  Then, Faster Than Light went up against Last Day on Earth.  I put these songs into the space, astronomy related Duran songs.  The complete list of those is as follows:

  • Astronaut
  • Big Bang Generation
  • Faster Than Light
  • Last Day on Earth
  • Mars Meets Venus
  • Midnight Sun
  • New Moon on Monday
  • Northern Lights
  • Planet Earth
  • Planet Roaring
  • The Sun Doesn’t Shine Forever
  • Sunrise
  • Too Close to the Sun
  • The Universe Alone

I grouped other Duran songs together in themes as well.  The other topics I found included violence, nature, weather, animals, places, religion, science and the calendar/time.  Could I have come up with more?  I’m certain that I could have.  Heck, many songs could be placed in multiple categories.  I am also concerned that I am forgetting songs.  Here is where I need your help.  I need you to send me titles of songs I missed.  First, let me share the lists I have so far.

Violence:

  • A View to a Kill
  • Of Crime and Passion
  • Red Carpet Massacre
  • Sin of the City
  • You Kill Me with Silence

Nature:

  • All Along the Water
  • Burning the Ground
  • Land
  • Night Boat
  • Skin Divers
  • The Valley
  • To the Shore

Weather:

  • Before the Rain
  • Hold Back the Rain
  • Salt in the Rainbow
  • Sound of Thunder

Animals:

  • Butterfly Girl
  • Hungry Like the Wolf
  • The Man Who Stole a Leopard
  • Palomino
  • Tiger Tiger
  • Union of the Snake

Places:

  • The Edge of America
  • Lake Shore Driving
  • Mediterranea
  • My Antarctica
  • Rio
  • Tel Aviv

Religion

  • Faith in This Colour
  • God
  • Like an Angel
  • New Religion
  • Paper Gods
  • Save a Prayer

Science

  • American Science
  • Blame the Machines
  • Breath After Breath
  • Lady Xanax
  • Networker Nation
  • Playing with Uraninum
  • Vertigo
  • Virus

Calendar/Time

  • Early Summer Nerves
  • Finest Hour
  • Secret Oktober
  • Taste the Summer
  • Valentine Stones
  • Violence of Summer
  • Winter Marches On

My questions now are simple.  What categories or themes did I leave out?  What did I miss?  Then, which songs did I miss or should I include that I didn’t?  I decided to stick with the titles of songs but should I include lyrics as well?  What do you think would be most fun?

-A

Definitively Duran Duran

Yesterday, as I was (supposed to be) working on paperwork, I noticed that Duran Duran threw a question out to the masses on social media. I like the idea of asking fans questions in order to stay engaged – we’ve done that on a regular basis now for the past few years (if not longer), and I really like seeing what kinds of discussions might be sparked, and sometimes – such as yesterday – the answers still surprise me!

The question yesterday was ” If you had to pick one track as THE definitive Duran Duran song, what would you choose?”

First of all, what does “definitive” mean?

Definitivemost reliable or complete, as of a text, author, criticism, study, or the like:

Definitive doesn’t necessarily mean your personal favorite song, although it could be one in the same.  Naturally, naming a definitive song tends to be purely based on opinion, even if widely accepted as “fact”.

Not so surprisingly,  fans have as many opinions of what songs meet the criteria of “definitive Duran Duran” as there might be actual Duran Duran songs recorded. Anything from “Planet Earth” to “Only in Dreams” was mentioned. At first, I tried to keep track – seeing if there was any sort of consensus to be had. Then I noticed there were 2600 responses on Facebook, not counting replies, and realized that my paperwork was actually more important (although not nearly as entertaining). So this morning I took another quick trip through the comments to see if I could pick out any major “themes” to share.

  • Many were frustrated that DDHQ only asked for “one” song. I chuckled when I saw the question first posted, full-well knowing what some of the comments would be. “One definitive song? Are you crazy?” Ah yes, they are actually asking you, dear Duran Duran fan, to make a choice. Choose wisely. (Do you ever get the feeling that Amanda and I take great joy in watching fans make a choice???? It is the little things that keep me going from day-to-day.)
  •  I saw several other people say that because Duran Duran redefines themselves with each album, there really isn’t just one song to define them. Fair answer?
  • Many…and I mean MANY…fans prefaced their answer by saying their choice was their favorite song. The one thing I know for sure is that each of the songs Duran has ever done has their own place secured in the collective history of this band. Does that make each of their songs definitive in their own right? Sure. But is that one particular favorite of yours, dear reader, equal to being the MOST definitive? Only you know for sure.
  • One of the most curious things I saw were several posts written by what appeared to be different Facebook profiles – that were worded exactly the same. Down to the same misspellings and chosen song. Odd.
  • Several people chose a song off Paper Gods as the most definitive. A few songs from the album were mentioned by many different people, so I guess my point is that if there was question about whether or not Paper Gods has hit home with fans, I would say the answer is definitively yes!
  • Another fan chides the fan base and DDHQ in one fell swoop by saying that we’re all missing the point. A definitive and/or quintessential” song cannot be chosen in hindsight, therefore the most current release would be the answer.  A thought worth pondering, for sure.

My own answer for the question became clear when I really thought over what the word “definitive” meant. In my opinion (yes, this is purely my own opinion here), I would think that the word “definitive”, in this case really means that the song defines the band. It is what most people – not necessarily fans  – but average, ordinary, every day people who have heard of Duran Duran, think of when they’re asked what song comes to mind. My own personal favorite song doesn’t necessarily define Duran Duran to anyone, and probably not even to me – at least not entirely. So it becomes pretty clear to me that what I might find to be definitive Duran Duran is not likely to be what the rest of the world would first mention.

In many ways, the answer for this question is likely more difficult for Duran Duran fans than it is the general public – and that’s because fans tend to concern themselves with a bit more of the minutia of Duran Duran than say, John Q. Public might. Many fans mentioned that the band couldn’t be defined by any one point in their career, insinuated that it was nearly a crime to ask such a question. I hardly think that if I asked my neighbor (assuming they in fact know who Duran Duran is) what song defines the band that they’d have difficulty answering in the same way that a hard-core fan might.

Thinking back at the band’s career, and remembering what gets mentioned most often when they’re being introduced at awards shows, or what songs are listed in articles or on television programs when the band is being announced. Invariably, Duran Duran seems to be equated with songs from the 80s, even though we all know they’ve done much more! The public knows Duran Duran as that band who did exotic videos for their songs, and the singles mentioned most often tend to be Hungry Like the Wolf and Rio, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that Hungry Like the Wolf was their breakthrough song here in the US. Do those songs define them? I’m sure many fans say no, with good and fair reason. However, for the public at large – those songs ARE Duran Duran. They are the songs people think of first, they are what will continue to be played on the radio long after I stop listening, and I really believe they are the songs that define Duran Duran to the rest of the world (or at least the part of the world that I occupy). To whittle down from those two songs to a single, firm answer – all I can say is that whenever Duran Duran is played on the radio here – nine times out of ten, it is Hungry Like the Wolf being played. Whenever they are introduced on a television program, or at an awards show, or hosts are talking about the band themselves, I notice that Hungry Like the Wolf is the song being mentioned. Does this make Hungry Like the Wolf the most definitive Duran Duran? Maybe so.

This is humorous to me only because of how much I enjoy the song. I’m still working arduously on not rolling my eyes as the opening chords are played when I’m at a show, and by the time John and Dom saunter over to center stage together, I’ve nearly forgotten how tired I am of hearing it. Alas…

The real irony here?

Hungry Like the Wolf is likely to be the song that out lives us all.

-R

 

Got Me Trapped

It’s time for another confessional, Daily Duranie-style!

Today was the last day of learning center for my kids before a much deserved winter break. Two weeks of not having to get up before it’s light outside, two glorious weeks of not dealing with traffic, having to listen to talk-radio (it’s all that my son will tolerate the first thing in the morning) or begging my youngest to please get up out of bed and get dressed, well after her alarm has gone off (and she’s shut it off only to go back to bed!).
As my two grabbed their backpacks and gifts for their teachers out of my car and made their way past the new guard gate to their classrooms,  I pulled out of the parking lot – I hit “shuffle” on my phone so that I could listen to music on the way home. I really do like having that little bit of time to just listen to my own music as I’m driving back home – while the drive to school takes about an hour most days, the drive home only takes about a half-hour, but it’s enough time to clear my head.  One of the songs that came up today was “All Along the Water” off of Liberty. I know many of our readers would have quickly hit “next”.  I didn’t.  In fact, and this is where the “confessional” comes in, I actually LIKE the song. A lot.

Yes, I know what the song is supposedly about. I can hear the lyrics and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to decipher them. I don’t really care.  In fact, I don’t really care in the same way that I don’t really care that any time he’s asked about his lyrics, he likes to fall back on the whole “it’s about SEX” thing as an answer.  The thing is, the song usually wakes me up, gets me moving, and I like that it’s especially cheeky, too. Who cares??

I know many fans don’t like Liberty, and count it among their least favorite albums. Personally, I like it, and I’m totally OK with being an outsider on that one. I love “Serious”. I like “Violence of Summer”, particularly when I’m belting it at the top of my lungs while driving home at 2am (long story). “All Along the Water” is one of my favorites on the album. It’s fun, and there are times, this morning included, when I need a little frivolity to start the day! No, maybe it’s not the most serious piece of music the band has ever written. I guess it’s probably not going to be one of their masterpieces in the same way I would venture to guess “Paper Gods” or “The Universe Alone” will become. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes, music is just supposed to be FUN. For me, that song fits the description! I’d love to see them do it live. Can you imagine?? (No, you probably can’t…but I sure can!)

For me, this holiday season has not been especially easy. I’ve had to start being a little more creative in finding some enjoyment. It has been the small moments – things I overlooked in past years I think, that have put a smile on my face and made me appreciate the season and life in general. Things like watching The Polar Express with my youngest (and keeping her up WAY past her bedtime to do it!), listening to her sing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, or listening to her sing her solo part in “What Does the Fox Say” over and over and over…and over…again (because of course she’d get a solo part in that song!), taking my son to see the college of his dreams and witnessing him practically beam over being there, playing “Uno” late at night with the two older kids,  seeing tweets from band members about shows they’ve done or are going to do next year, and yes…hearing songs like “All Along the Water” come up on shuffle.  It has been the little things that have kept me going lately.

Dear readers: name your guiltiest (DD song) pleasures! What song do you find yourself bopping your head to, even though you’re sure it would be met with scorn by the rest of the community?  I’ll be interested to read your responses!

-R

 

 

 

Picking Duran Duran Favorites!

Today’s poll question about people’s favorite song off of Duran Duran’s latest, Paper Gods, is getting quite a lot of attention.  I love how many people have voted and I love when people comment on one form of social networking or another about why their favorite song is their favorite.  It got me thinking.  (Always dangerous, I know!) What makes a favorite song, a favorite?  Then, I started to think about songs that I really bonded with as a kid vs. the songs I bonded with as an adult.  They have definitely changed.  Is it because my criteria for a favorite song has changed?  I think so!

When I was a kid, I remember getting certain songs in my head.  In fact, they were so in my head that I couldn’t get them out and I drove everyone around me crazy with them!  Let me give a couple of examples.  First, I remember having the chorus to Save a Prayer stuck in my head one afternoon when I was hanging out with my best friend, at the time.  It was summer and we were hanging out in my backyard.  I kept singing the chorus out loud over and over again. (Much like what my students do to me now!)  My childhood best friend was also a Duranie so you would think that she would appreciate this.  She did, too…for like the first two and a half hours.  Then, she had enough!  A similar situation happened when the Reflex came out.  Luckily, this time, both of us were completely addicted!  We were so addicted, in fact, that whenever and I mean whenever it was on MTV or the radio we would call each other up!!  We spent a lot of time on the phone in the spring of 1984!  Thus, as a kid, what made a favorite song was that it got stuck in my head!  It had to be catchy!  I didn’t think of the lyrics or dive deep into the instrumentation.  Now, though…

When I think of my favorite songs now, they tend to be ones in which the instrumentation really sticks out!  My favorite is Planet Earth, which has the fabulous call and answer between guitar and keyboard, not to mention that fabulous bass line!  I also love how the lyrics capture this spirit that Duran has with popular culture, science fiction, humanity.  Therefore, the lyrics tend to be super important to me as well now.  I might go so far as to say that, for the last couple of albums, what has really hooked me is the lyrics.  Let me give some examples.  All You Need Is Now, the song, took me a few listens to grasp the instrumentation with that jarring and unusual beginning.  What kept me listening, though, was the lyrics.  “Stay with the music.  Let it play a little longer” is a sentiment that most Duranies have felt or feel even now about the band.  Many of us loved that the song seemed to be about them and US and our history together.  Then, another one of my absolute favorite Duran songs of all time grabbed me, lyrically, from this album, too, which is Before the Rain.  In this case, I loved the feel of the song, musically, but didn’t have a connection to the lyrics until my beloved cat and grandma died ten days apart.  All of a sudden lines like, “On the bomb ticks that is my heartbeat.  In every life flash, in every car crash.  I hear the silence waiting to fall” took on new meaning as I watched two lives come to an end, leaving my broken heart beating and silence.

Lyrics have become so important to me that I do think they played a huge role in me really grasping and embracing Paper Gods.  I had been listening to the album for a week or so and had begun to really enjoy it but I wasn’t hooked yet.  All of a sudden, I was listening to it with earbuds on to really focus on the songs when I noticed the lyrics to Last Night in the City, a song that I had initially dismissed.  Lines like, “Hearts’ spinning all around on me (together).  Now they’re surrounding me.  This is how we get connected.  Running out the shadows into light!”  This is how I feel on tour!  Let me listen again!  More lines that feel like touring like, “I’m not gonna sleep tonight.  Till the morning fills the sky,” and “This is our time!”  Holy crap!  At that very minute, I got a text message from Rhonda who had realized the exact same thing!  For literally the next two hours, Rhonda and I went back through each song, listening to the lyrics, analyzing them, connecting to them.

Fast forward to a Sunday in October as I sat on a plane heading back home from tour and once again, I found myself listening to the album.  I had a piece of paper in front of me that held my flight info.  Throughout my flight, it became more than that.  It became a paper filled with more lyrics, more lines that now held new significance to me.  I still have that paper as it represents an even deeper connection to the album than I had before.  Each time I listen to Duran or really dive into the lyrics, I’m reminded of how SMART the lyrics really are.  They make me think.  They make me feel.  They also often feel like they are directly speaking to and/or about me.  Perhaps, this is why how I choose my favorite Duran songs have shifted.  Lyrics matter a lot more now.

What about the rest of you?  How do you choose your favorites?  Has the process changed?

-A

Paper Gods: The Bonus Tracks

Like most of our readers, I’ve been settling in with Paper Gods for a couple of weeks now. During that time, I went from not feeling really sure about the album, to finding tracks that I really like, to falling in love with particular songs; and of course, to being able to list favorites. I have also done as Simon asked, and listened to the album the entire way through…. many times now. I have to say, listening to it all in a single sitting is worth the time. Not that the album literally tells a story – I don’t think it’s exactly a concept album in that regard, but I think that it does have its own tale to tell. Paper Gods gives a snapshot of a particular period of time in the lives of the people who created it, and I also think there is much to say about how the album translates to the history of the band in general – but that’s a topic for another time! Today, we’re talking bonus tracks!

For me, my favorites can almost all be found in the bonus tracks – whether we’re talking about the Target version or the Fan Deluxe version (and between them both you have ALL of the available bonus material).  I have to admit that I squealed more than once when I first listened to a couple of the songs, and I’ve really given a lot of thought as to why these songs weren’t included in the regular album.  I love Paper Gods, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t quite hitting all of my buttons, so to speak. I couldn’t put my finger on what was needed, which hindered me from truly embracing the album until I finally just decided it didn’t matter. My ears liked what I was hearing, and I felt like maybe I was just trying to pick out what might be wrong instead of enjoying what was there.

Fast forward to the day I had all of the bonus tracks at hand and sat down in my car to listen to them. The things I felt were missing seemed to be present in these songs, and for me, they round out the album beautifully and tick off all of the boxes that I still felt needed ticking. What was once an album I liked but didn’t love suddenly became an album I completely embraced. And in fairness, I really have thought a lot about why these are just bonus tracks. The truth is, as much as I love them – and they are all great songs on their own – they might not necessarily blend in that well with the album. In my head, the album – the 12 tracks that were released in the standard version of Paper Gods – create a full statement. I suppose in a lot of ways, it’s up to each of us to decide what the full meaning of that statement might be. Perhaps these extra songs, for whatever reason, don’t really add to that statement. Maybe they don’t blend as well as the others… but even so, I can count at least one of them on my “all time favorite songs” list.

Planet Roaring: At first, the song reminds me very much of “Flight of the Bumblebee,” 2015 edition.  The intro grabs your attention, and then suddenly Simon’s voice comes in, and I love the way he sounds. This is a song that, as far as my ears can tell, is meant for fans.  I love the uplifting sound, the words as only a real fan could recognize as our journey with this band.  I would absolutely be bowled over if they played it live – and the die hards would be singing right along, loud and proud.

Valentine Stones: This is a title that I’ve heard floating around for months…and I’m sure I’m not the only fan that thought to myself, “Valentine? That sounds vaguely familiar!” I have no idea what a Valentine Stone is, but I like it. I won’t lie, to me – this is essential Duran Duran. It’s the type of sound I expect, there’s no fancy featured vocalists, and it’s exactly what I needed to hear.

Northern Lights: I have read quite a few comments from people asking what that “walking around” part at the beginning is really about. I must be crazy, because I love it.  It reminds me of hiking, and yeah, I really like it when I’m wearing ear buds and hear it. I’m not super crazy about the beginning synthesizer notes – they remind me of what an alien ship would sound like if it were landing, but the rest of the song more than makes up for it.  THIS song reminds me of what “modern” Duran Duran should sound like.  The softness of the music with just a tinge of…I’m really not sure how to characterize it…darkness maybe(??)…in the vocals…it’s what I would expect Duran circa 2015 to be.

On Evil Beach: This song sounds like it could have been included on the bands very first album, albeit with perhaps a bit more technology involved than what the band may have had at hand back then. The lyrics are fairly simple and short, but the sound is as brand-Duran as anything I’ve heard in the past 37 years….and I like it.

Cinderella Ride: Without giving anything away (ha!)…this is my favorite of the bunch. Any element that I could have possibly missed from Paper Gods, as well as ALL of the elements I love best from a Duran Duran song are represented, along with gorgeous lyrics. I adore the guitar part (is that really a surprise?) and the strength of the drums – THIS is what I have missed.  In a word? Balance…with one of the best choruses I’ve heard since Duran Duran 1981. Modern, without completely losing the soul of what this band was, and is.

The bonus tracks have really filled out this album for me, and I find them playing them endlessly on repeat, going from one to another thinking to myself, “Oh, I love this one!” I can’t imagine I’m alone.

-R