DDHQ’s choice of the video for “Someone Else Not Me” for “Watch it Wednesday” sparks discussion of the Pop Trash era.
Admittedly, there were years from the mid-90’s until I saw the band for the Up Close & Personal tour in 2001, when I didn’t pay quite as much attention as I did in the 80’s. I was still interested, and believe me when I say my ears perked up at the mere mention of Duran Duran. Even so – my room was no longer wallpapered with posters and pinups. I grew up, and stopped needing those posters, I suppose.
I’ve spoken or traded posts and messages with a good many Duran Duran fans who proclaim the Pop Trash era to be their favorite – and if it wasn’t the music itself being mentioned, it was the live shows. Many of these fans are my personal friends within the DD community. I dare say that most of my friends in this community are die hard Duranies at heart.
Something I want to say
I only went to one Pop Trash era show—the one at the House of Blues for the Up Close & Personal tour in 2001. I will continue to scream “that single show changed my entire life” from the rooftops, but not for the same reasons that seem to come up with other fans. For me, that show re-opened up a door into my heart. I felt so much joy in being there in that room that I completely lost myself in the show. I didn’t even know the Pop Trash album that well at the time. The music between us, indeed.
Obviously, we can all make note of the hysteria present during the early 80s. Clearly that was missing by the late 90s. The era tends to ignite my curiosity not because of the fans who had left by that time, but by those who stayed connected.
Burst this bubble
So many of my friends who were truly engaged during Pop Trash speak so fondly of that time and those shows, over the years I’ve wondered what made it so. Sure, for many who loved the Pop Trash and Medazzaland albums, the answer is obvious. The music fuels the passion. For others, it was likely the proximity to the band itself. I have friends who tell me that back then, the band really seemed to embrace the fans. Rather than treating them like asylum escapees with a registered potential for violence quotient – they acted like they were old friends.
Were the fans just friendlier at the time? The late 90s -2000s were early days of the internet. Social media hadn’t yet hooked us with its talons. The reunion was a blip on the horizon, but no fan even suspected the possibility just yet.
Were die-hard fans during this period there more for the music than the nostalgia?
To type the words seems so judgmental. I don’t mean it quite that way, but to be fair – don’t you wonder what the ratio between die-hard and “I-heard-a-single-from-Pop-Trash-on-the-radio” potential fans were in any given audience on the Up Close & Personal tour might have been? Let’s just be blunt: there IS a certain percentage of the greater fan base that continues to show up because they’re still in love with the pinup images of John, Simon, Nick and Roger. That doesn’t mean every fan from the 80s lives in nostalgia, it simply means some still might.
Hardest thing is to let go
I can’t say whether I’ve tested my theories enough to call them law, but I have definitely noticed a certain “Where were YOU in the 90s?” attitude that has permeated over the years. If you suggest that you stuck around during that time, you’re alright. If, like me, you mention a sabbatical, however brief – one can sense the eyes upon you narrowing as they scrutinize from head to toe. Judgments are made based on how one answers the simple questions of what live shows you’ve seen, or whether or not you remained a “true” fan during the lean 1990s.
On the other hand, and most likely one attached to the body of someone who haughtily says they’re not at all nostalgic to 1980’s Duran Duran – there is the fact that during these same Up Close & Personal shows, the band played a FAR more varied set list, filled with songs from—oh yes, you guessed it—their first few albums and B-sides. Not nostalgic, you say? Please, tell me more about that. Fandom is fueled by nostalgia.
I don’t necessarily think I’ve discovered the answers to the questions on my mind, but on second thought, I’m really not sure there are black and white answers to be found. Fandom is complex. This isn’t math. There aren’t firm answers, even though people like me really might prefer that. A lot of the ground we walk on is slippery. I would know, I’ve fallen a lot. And repeatedly. Then, I’m a bit of a klutz trapped in a china shop. Save the china!!
It’s Wednesday, everybody – we’re nearly on the downward slide to Friday! Today, I wanted to expand a little more on the topic from yesterday. It was nice to receive some feedback, so let’s dive in a little bit deeper!
In for an evening
One subject that came up a few times in comments was the idea of a personal connection between a fan and the band. Rest assured, I am not suggesting that just by merely being in the audience and seeing Simon (and/or Nick, Roger or John for that matter), that you’ve somehow engaged in a relationship. I’m also not asserting that someone can’t be a real fan without that experience. I know of many fans who have never seen the band live – they’re as big of fans as anyone else, if not bigger.
There does seem to be some confusion with what I may have meant by the band seeing me at the rail. I meant that in strictly literal sense. Rather than being back in 7th row and saying, “Oh, I think he looked my way!”, not really knowing if he saw me, the person next to me, or someone four rows in front, when you’re in front row and they look down (especially if you’re elbows on the stage), there’s not much doubt about who they’re looking at. I really meant they SEE YOU. On the contrary, I don’t think that being at a gig and having a band member look your way, wink at you, or even grasp your hand at the end of the set is the same thing as developing an personal connection – just in case my words came across wrong.
Maybe my bar is set high on what that developing a connection to another person might entail, but I think in order to really connect with someone, there has to be more than a quick glance at a show.
So, the anxiety I felt with being in the front row, wasn’t due to the potential for suddenly becoming besties with Simon. (please read the sarcasm – he didn’t know me from anyone else that night) It was that genuinely, in the past, I felt like just another anonymous head in the crowd, and I was pretty comfortable in that role. That night at the front though, I felt incredibly close in proximity. I was right in front of them. The idea that they could actually see me, my reactions, incredible dance moves (again, read the sarcasm), etc, freaked me out.
I remain uncertain if meeting the band or having any sort of face-to-face time with them acts as an enhancement to fandom. Perhaps that’s a personal decision. The whole notion is very interesting because it draws different reactions from nearly every fan I’ve ever spoken to. Some crave it. Others have had that time, and value it to the point where they refuse to discuss it. I’ve talked to fans who couldn’t care less about ever meeting them, saying the music is all that matters. There are a few others I know who seem rather blasé . They’ve been backstage many times, but how dare . In my mind, some people need the band to remain on a pedestal, and maybe those folks are people who don’t really ever want or need to meet the band. Maybe other fans like the idea of meeting them and seeing them as real people. Still others just want their ten seconds of infamy. There’s no right answer, but I will say that in my experience – there can be of a lot of judgment depending upon how you feel on this subject. I felt it even yesterday after I’d posted.
If it blows up in my face
This is also the one sticking point that I wish, as fans, we’d just get over. Yes – sometimes, some members of the band do recognize people. I don’t believe that the recognition is some sort of barometer for fandom, either. The only person who should be concerned with what kind of fan you are, is YOU. Sharing anecdotes from the field, so to speak, shouldn’t be viewed as a warning shot fired over the bow. Yet far too often – it is seen as exactly that. Jealousy seeps and spreads thickly throughout this fandom. So much so at times, it is a threat to its real function.
I don’t know why we fans judge one another so harshly, except to create a sense of false competition. Even if Amanda or I were to meet every band member and become personal friends with that person – there’s nothing to “win” here. Yet many fans would indeed view that proximity and those types of personal connections, as a win. How close can you get to the band? Who can you count as a personal friend? Those imaginary hurdles or boundaries count for so much that at various moments over the years of blogging, Amanda and I both have needed to censor things that have occurred, purely to save ourselves from the onslaught.
See you on the other side
The subject of interpersonal relationships between the band and fans is almost always a slippery slope into what I like to call “The Valley of Death”. There’s no safe trail. Either one is crazy for suggesting the possibility, or they’re hated for being side stage with the band. Truly, one is taking chances by even suggesting the band recognizes people from time to time.
I’ll end with one thoughtful comment I received yesterday. “They can mean a lot to me, without me meaning a lot to them.”
Perhaps that’s the safest way, which in turn might serve as a very good explanation for why there are so few fans that become friends of the band to begin with.
I love summer break. Extra time is giving me the chance to catch up on some movies I missed. For example, a couple of weeks ago I watched Crazy Rich Asians. I had read the series (I like escapism when I’m reading for fun, obviously) and was very curious as to how the movies would turn out. It was cute and I enjoyed it. This past weekend, I was able to catch A Star is Born.
Now, I know the rest of America has already seen the movie. Like many, I sat entranced watching Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sing “Shallow” at the Oscars. The song didn’t thrill me, but their chemistry was undeniable. (I think that might be called “acting”. Apparently they’re both good at it!) I was channel surfing this weekend, I decided to give the movie a try.
Looking for a token
One teeny little scene keeps replaying itself in my head. For those who may not know, Bradley Cooper plays a rock star in the movie by the name of Jackson Maine. Gaga plays a singer named Ally who is nearly giving up on her dreams of being on stage. They meet by chance at a drag club. Jackson is entranced by her. At one point, they’re sitting down on a curb in a parking lot, talking. (as one does with a rock star, you know?) She mentions to him that people seem to treat him as though being a rock star or a celebrity means he’s not a real person. Maine deflects and changes the subject almost immediately.
The scene reminded me of a conversations I’ve had. Both with other fans, as well as with people who have worked with the band. The way people react to, or treat the band, is a real thing that we’ve written about here before. I suppose to some extent, some of the circus-like atmosphere that ensues is part of the deal when you’re a celebrity. Admittedly, this is the area I most enjoy studying when it comes to fandom, and seeing the topic barely being scratched at on screen immediately piqued my interest.
There are at least two issues here: putting a celebrity on a pedestal, and, possibly as a secondary response – not seeing that star as a real person. What it is about the relationship of fan to rock star that creates this dynamic?
Something to prove
For my part, I know I’ve done some of this. When I was a kid, I couldn’t imagine any member of Duran Duran as a real person. To me, they were enigmatic “beings”…purely existing on a stage, on my TV, on the radio, and of course, in my daydreams. It never occurred to me that one day I might actually occupy breathing space any closer than say, me in nosebleed seats while they were on stage. My brain couldn’t get past the idea that they were rock stars – pure fantasy.
As an adult, particularly back during the time of the reunion shows and even the Astronaut tour, I still didn’t quite equate them with being “real”. I mean, of course I knew they were real people – but those thoughts didn’t run through my head as I pranced down hotel corridors with friends gleefully yelling “Le Bon”! (Oh yes. Yes we did. Those of you with me here know who you are.) I didn’t think about how they might react to seeing signs and posters at shows that said “Roger, can I twirl your stick?!?” (I wince ever so slightly while typing that). Cognitively, yes I knew Roger might see it, and possibly even react…but my feeling at the time was “He doesn’t know me, he’ll never recognize me after this, so who cares?!?”
I actually do care, funny how that changes….
More than a flame
But when did that really all change? I suppose that if I had to nail it down to a moment, there were two. The first was when I went to the UK with Amanda in 2011, and the second was when I was in the front row in Biloxi, 2012.
Going to the UK permanently changed me, and as result, my fandom too. There is something about walking the same streets as the band once did, seeing entire tours canceled, and then actually seeing Simon standing directly in front of me, explaining what had happened to his voice. (without anybody else screaming, or begging for pictures, or autographs in the process) I’ll never, ever forget it.
I really think it was that day when I realized that yes, these are real people. They have problems like anyone else. They LIVE like anyone else. That day, Simon was just a normal man – standing in front of us wearing a flannel shirt and denim jeans. He mentioned that a few of us had come a long way to see them, which was true. I can remember being surprised he even noticed, given the situation at hand. Despite not actually seeing them perform, I don’t regret the trip. The best way to describe my feelings is that I saw Simon as a person for the first time. I continue to have trouble rationalizing that the man who seems to recognize me, and has waved to me on more than one occasion, is in fact the same person who is in all the videos. Yet, he really is the same guy, and my life has taken an incredibly odd turn.
Even if I wait a lifetime
Later, even after we’d returned to the UK in December of that same year – something else happened to change my thinking. Amanda and I had thrown caution to the wind and traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi in 2012. We were determined to do the one thing we hadn’t experienced yet, and that was front row. We waited in that GA line, and yes, we did get those front row spots. Standing there waiting at the rail was surreal, but I felt something else stir deep in my belly. Apprehension? Concern? Nerves? Probably all of the above. The only way I can really describe this, and even then many of you may not relate to my feelings that night – was that I knew with certainty that the band would see me, and in turn, I would see them. No trickery needed. It was happening.
I could no longer pretend that they were just these figures up on a stage. For whatever weird reason, being at the rail broke some sort of bizarre boundary for me. I went from thinking of Duran Duran as these fantasy-figures to seeing them as real people… who could in turn see me, too.
It took me months after that trip to come to grips with being so close to the stage. Think about when you’ve seen the band yourselves. It is easy to trick yourself into believing they looked right at you while you were singing the words to “Ordinary World” or when you were smiling along with Nick during “Pressure Off”, regardless of how far back you are. If they look in your general direction, it is obviously meant for you – am I right?? It is another thing entirely when you are directly in front of them – no one else in front of you – and you KNOW they’re looking at you. They see you. As a real person.
Ease the lost cause
I think those moments when a band member and I saw one another as actual people, are what changed the way I viewed them. Not only were they totally knocked off of the stories-high pedestal they’d been living on since 1981 or so, but I saw them as people like me. No better, no worse. I tend to respond to them in that way on social media. It makes no difference whether or not they truly read anything or not. I “converse” with them the same way I might any one else I’ve known for over half my life. Weird? Maybe.
My curiosity about other fans and their reactions remain, though. When I mention here about what fans do to be near them or have their time – I’m not doing so in judgment. I have been with people who have no issue – they run down hallways, jump over furniture, cut in line, interrupt private meals or conversations just to have their moment. In fairness, these are all things that the band expects, and they have reacted by putting up their own personal boundaries as to what they will or will not do for fans at any given time, and rightly so. On the other hand, I know of people who are more likely to give them wide berth, even if there are no other fans around. Maybe it is due to circumstance, or because these fans can see more value in allowing the band to decide for themselves whether or not to engage.
Leave a light on
I don’t know that there is truly a “right way”. The socially accepted behavior of fandom always seems to be up for debate, and perhaps that’s the core of the issue. What is remarkable though, is how differently each of us perceive the band, and the roles they occupy for ourselves. My fascination lies not only with how we see and/or perceive our idols, but the reasons behind our behavior. I need John, Simon, Nick and Roger to be real, and in turn see me not as a crazy fan. Someone else might need for them to be on a pedestal. They need them to occupy that space seen as “perfection”. I don’t know why that is, but I like theorizing possibilities!
How do you see Duran Duran? Are they meant to be the epitome of perfection? Do you find yourself forgetting that they’re human? Are you more of the type that wouldn’t approach? How do you feel about those front row spots? Join the conversation – tell me what you’re thinking!
This humorous Paris conversation atop the Eiffel Tower marked the end to the cinematic music video for the 1985 MTV anthem, “A View To A Kill”. The film theme marked a crossroads for Duran Duran, and for global pop culture itself. Why?
“A View To A Kill” became the FIRST single from the (decades old) James Bond motion picture series to reach # 1 in America.
“A View To A Kill” remains the ONLY Bond anthem to reach #1 in America.
LIVE AID became the concert event of the decade in the 1980s. In the “Woodstock” of its era, the one-day charity stadium mega concert spanning the Atlantic Ocean in both London (UK) and Philadelphia (America) simultaneously played host to a wealth of music legends: Queen, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger, U2, Madonna, George Michael, Adam Ant, Phil Collins, Sting… with reunions by Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. (Only one band, however, marked the zeitgeist of the moment with the NUMBER ONE single on the Billboard Hot 100 that week: “A View To A Kill” by LIVE AID’s ABC and MTV prime-time headliner: Duran Duran.)
“A View To A Kill” came to mark the summit of Duran Duran’s commercial blaze as well. As guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor soon departed, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bass guitarist John Taylor forged ahead as a trio with singer Simon Le Bon.
Styles change. Style doesn’t.
This promotional manifesto emerged from Capitol-EMI Records in the 1990s, serving as the catalyst for a return to form for Duran Duran. New Wave was out. Glam Metal was out. Hip-Hop was in. Grunge was in. Was there room for the unflagging vision of Duran Duran? Yes.
“Comeback” is a tricky word for Duran Duran and their fans… this omnipresent dance-rock band has seen the top, the bottom, and the middle of the mountain creatively and commercially for 40 years since their 1978 formation.
(FOR THE RECORD: Duran Duran have never broken up… there has never “not been” a Duran Duran in existence since they dominated radio, MTV, poster and magazine sales, and sold out sports arenas in the 1980s.)
Billboard interviewed the band in the studio with producer Chris Kimsey in 1990 for the making of LIBERTY. Remarkably self-aware, singer Simon Le Bon stated defiantly: “We’re aware of the struggle we’re involved in. We will not be killed off.”
2019: A Space Coast Odyssey
In this spirit, I could hardly wait to be part of the 2019 Cultural Summit presented by the BCA (Brevard Cultural Alliance) in Melbourne, Florida. As a devout fan of Duran Duran since 1983 (at age 10!), I had seen many interviews with this band – in writing, on MTV and VH1, and later online. I have been fortunate to personally see Duran Duran live nearly 30 times since 1989, and met each founding member.
Was there anything left to “learn”? I wondered to myself.
I did know that I was delighted to be invited to this rare event. In 2000, while watching Duran Duran “Storytellers” on VH-1, I marvelled at the intimate British audience allowed into that “inner circle”… I observed how keenly these fans listened to the band members as they shared anecdotes of their culture-shifting history.
Nineteen years LATER… I was surprised to receive an e-mail from the BCA asking me if I had a question I would like considered for inclusion in the Q&A with Simon Le Bon. (My inner voice’s response: “WHOA….ME?”)
IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW?
May 23rd, 2019. Award-winning Orlando/Melbourne journalist Greg Pallone (Spectrum News 13) was appointed to moderate the onstage exchange: “In Conversation With Simon Le Bon.”
“Hundreds of artists, creative professionals, business and political leaders from Brevard County and beyond” were welcomed by the arts and cultural nonprofit organization BCA in their event handbill. A full day conference of morning and evening workshops were scheduled for paying attendees in the business-related fields of arts, culture, and the music industry. Wendy Laister, CEO of Magus Entertainment (and long-time Duran Duran band manager), was one of many notable presenters who spoke during the day’s breakout sessions.
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM was reserved for the luncheon, prior to which hundreds of animated Duran Duran fans swelled the ample hallways of the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place. The Florida resort and the BCA Team were well-prepared for the “Sold Out” 420-seat capacity marquee event. Fans relished reliving key DD fan moments in the resort hallways. A table of BCA volunteers cheerfully logged in each guest, and handed the “Golden Ticket”-like wristband to each pre-paid attendee. And then the ballroom doors opened…
Is Anybody… HUNGRY?!
The choice of entree was yours upon reserving your tickets online. My food was delicious – better than the catered hotel fare typically experienced at such events. The lunch I was served:
Flank Steak (with feta cheese, garden herbs, and sun-dried tomatoes)
Garden Vegetables (steamed green beans, carrots, broccoli)
Mashed Potatoes (whipped in butter)
Coffee / Water / Tea
Key Lime Pie (w/fresh whipped cream)
My good friend Mike McCoy drove across the state from Tampa Bay for this event. We grew up together in the 1980s listening to Duran Duran’s hits when they were NEW songs – so our history as friends just added to the fun of the luncheon for each of us. Summoning the spirit of “Hungry Like The Wolf”, Mike says during our proper meal: “Wouldn’t it be AWESOME when Simon comes out, if we just ‘THREW’ the table over…??!”
(…as Mike gestures his arms upward, in a slow ‘throwing’ motion…)
Mike clearly knew we would obviously NEVER misbehave in such a way. But oh, the laugh. I’ll never forget that line. It was one of MANY great “Duran moments” from this day.
MY line at lunch: When the server places the china before me, I look upon my juicy flank steak and say aloud to our tablemates: “Is anybody… HUNGRY?!”
We all laughed. Among this crowd – we all know the lines, the cues, the nuances, the looks – and there is never a need to explain ourselves. We’re about to have lunch with ‘SIMON LE BON’. Just a PERFECT DAY…
While we dined, Neil Levine (BCA Executive Director) lead a powerpoint presentation revealing the findings of the “2019 Economic Contribution of Arts & Culture to the Space Coast. Levine made the case of how the creative community made the area a desirable locale for residents and for tourism alike. Then, Greg Pallone of Spectrum News 13 was introduced and welcomed to the stage. The audience excitement was palpable – and to the sound of forks and knives clanging chinaware, Greg enthusiastically profiled our conference’s special luncheon guest…
All You Need Is NOW…
Entering from stage right: The singer of Duran Duran – SIMON LE BON. The applause and cheers evoke a Duran Duran concert. Simon looks calm and relaxed… to describe his look in 3 words? “MIAMI VICE. HAVANA.”
White, long-sleeved button-down collar casual dress shirt. A few buttons undone, he looks ready to sail into Florida’s cool coastal breezes…
Off-white, low-top deck shoes. (No socks, that I could tell?)
A small gold, hoop earring in his left ear. (It’s BACK! LOL)
Fresh haircut: short on the sides, lightly spiky length on top. Sun-bleached brown. (Think: “Last Night In The City” video.)
…Greg notes that many WOMEN are here in today’s audience. As the crowd calls out to him, Simon relishes the moment – yet with good-nature, defers to his interviewer and bellows into his microphone: “Let’s hear it for GREG!!”
The light banter introductions segue into about 10 minutes of Greg asking Simon to share some of his music stories. Simon speaks of the early days starting out with Duran Duran in working class Birmingham, England. He speaks of how when the band toured in America early on, radio wouldn’t play their music – yet the risque music video for “Girls On Film” gained them airplay and underground credibility in American dance clubs. During this time in their young life (“Nick was only 19!”), they were very excited to play in New York City. Dancing in Studio 54, and meeting legendary artist Andy Warhol, were quite exciting bucket list moments for them.
After playing clubs around the world, the band finally got a mainstream break in America: MTV. Simon said that MTV brought the music of Duran Duran straight into people’s homes in America. He talked of the relationship they built with the fledgling music video network – especially “the VJ’s on MTV… when they actually PLAYED ‘music’!”
Greg asked Simon to highlight his childhood inspiration to make or perform music. Simon responded by singing: “She loves you / YEAH, yeah, yeah! / She loves you / YEAH, yeah, yeah!” as he namechecks “The Beatles… Stones… classical… T-Rex… David Bowie!”
As the crowd cheers and hangs on to every name cited, the interviewer cites the similar effect that Duran Duran had upon a generation of young people, particularly in the 1980s. Simon good naturedly interrupts, to a roar of laughing approval: “…***I’M*** stuck in the Eighties!!”
Simon talks about his relationship with his fans, stating how it is special “…to be a PART of their conscience – be a PART of their wallpaper.”
Shortly after, Greg announces that a few fans in attendance have been invited to submit questions for today’s event. As the host lifts a small stack of index cards, he announces that when your name is called, you will be invited to stand up and ask Simon your question… or Greg will read it for you, if preferred. Making eye contact with his fans in the eager audience, Simon grins widely: he knows it’s TIME to leave you…
…ANSWERED WITH A QUESTION MARK
Simon is asked how it feels to have recently become a grandfather. He notes that he recently turned 60 years old – and he loves family, and loves having a newborn child in his life again.
Simon talks about the effect of his fame upon his children. He namechecks the SING BLUE SILVER 1984 tour DVD (to enthusiastic audience cheers). “I recently showed it to my CHILDREN for the first time. They were VERY surprised……. (with a look of being awestruck, the audience laughs loudly with him).”
A fan says “You are a HEALER…” and tells Simon how his music has given hope to so many fans through the years, and asks how he feels about that. Simon thanks the fans, who have sent him so many letters detailing how his songs saved them. He says “Save A Prayer” may be the one that fans give him the most feedback on in helping them out of dark times…
A woman stands up and tells Simon that she was the person who introduced him to the modelling photos of (his now wife) YASMIN in the 80s, backstage at Madison Square Garden in New York. Simon is completely floored… “Do you have the pictures WITH you?” he asks. She says yes, and holds up the portfolio. Simon motions to her, to come join him onstage. Standing up, Simon and this young woman leaf purposefully through the book of glossy photos. Slowing down the present with his own eyes – Simon indulges his PAST, recalling how falling in love with the face of a girl forever changed his FUTURE.
Another fan asks if DD will be making any new music together again… Simon confirms that in the 40th year of the band, they have been. “We’re writing a new Duran Duran studio album in London with new dance producer Erol Alkan – and in L.A. with Mark Ronson. We’ll be celebrating (DD 40) all year… and for the NEXT 10 years…!”
“You know what your music has done for US…” the next fan is called upon to ask. “What has it done for YOU?” Simon answers: “It… has kept me OCCUPIED. It has given me the SCRIPT for my LIFE, really. Time FLIES, when you’re having FUN… It’s given me a reason to wake up in the morning, to wake up with these guys (his bandmates).”
Host Greg Pallone takes up the subject of sailing (close to the heart of Melbourne locals and many Floridians)… calling upon the fan who submitted that question. Simon waxes poetic, tying in his draw towards the ocean and being a member of a sailing crew, into his love of the give-and-take process of creating music in a band. “You learn to RELY on other people…”
Somebody asks Simon what music he enjoys today. He loses me personally with some names I am unfamiliar with. He mentions relishing the music of Fela Kuti, a frequent fallback for him. And Tame Impala is one of many new bands he thinks is great.
“We’ve heard from a lot of female fans today,” host Greg says, “now let’s hear from some of the MEN. Where’s Douglas Armstrong…” “RIGHT HERE! Hi!” I enthusiastically reply, standing up. I roll up my left sleeve, showing the skin of my upper arm, declaring, “I just want to represent – ‘MAN’ with a Duran Duran TATTOO!” Our spirited ballroom of Duran fans cheered my ‘ink reveal’ to the singer approvingly. What could feel better! Simon responds: “It’s quite a rare BREED, you know…!”
My question: “I just wanted to welcome you today to Melbourne, Florida. It is the birthplace of Jim Morrison. I know in 1995, The Doors’ ‘Crystal Ship’ was a song that Duran Duran covered. So I just want to ask: A lot of us know the ‘MUSIC’ – but part of what always captivated me about Duran Duran was a ‘POETIC’ aspect… it wasn’t just literal. It didn’t ‘TELL’ you where to go… it was open to interpretation. I get a lot of that listening to The Doors as well. So I just want you to go into that a little.”
“Yeah, I think it’s a very valid point,” Simon replied. “I think it’s something in works with a lot of lyrics – AND poetry as well. A lot of songs are not ‘specific’. And they leave a lot to the imagination. I think there’s a very good REASON for that. I know there is in my songwriting. And that is because I want to leave room for you, and you, and you, and YOU to insert your own experiences, and points-of-view, into the song – so you can make it your OWN. Because for whatever happens – the songs that come back, the way that people interpret them into their own way, are WAY more important than the ones that convey a ‘message’. Because it’s when you get that FEEDBACK from people… You say ‘I understand this song, I know what it’s all about’ – and its NOTHING that you intended. But it means SUCH a lot to THEM. And suddenly, it speaks to the audience about their OWN lives. And I think that’s a really wonderful thing.” (Crowd applauses… Simon breaks back in, to close.) “And I think – that’s a really IMPORTANT part – of what makes ‘poetry’, poetry.”
“In the Eighties, NOTHING was more important than music to people…” Today, Simon notes the most unifying passion across generational and cultural lines “seems to be sports.”
Host Greg asks aloud to know who is the “youngest” fan of Duran Duran in the audience (a mother speaks aloud for her daughter, named Rio(!) – aged 9! The mother of Rio asks: “Why did you name the song “Rio”? Simon replies, “I LOVE that name! I was just BLOWN AWAY by this beautiful country (America). I felt that ‘Rio’ could be about something much MORE than a girl. I wrote ‘Rio’ about your country. I wrote ‘Rio’ about the United States of America!!”
Greg turns back to ask the crowd who is the “oldest” person in the audience… “ME!” Simon cheekily says into the mic. The crowd loves it, rewarding him with hearty laughter at his self-effacing British humor. A young woman arises and introduces her elderly mother (I couldn’t discern her age), who smiles and waves back while remaining comfortably seated at her table. Her daughter then asks Simon who his biggest influence was in pursuing the arts? Immediately he answers: “My MOTHER, Anne Le Bon.” He goes into some detailed recollection about all the ways she encouraged him in his creative life. He was pursuing academics in university, only to find himself at an impasse after joining a local Birmingham, England band… “SHE said I should go for the band. I MISS her, everyday.”
He then adds “My choirmaster…” as a mentor who figured heavily into his musical development. Simon wraps up his answer by encouraging us to watch the recent BBC documentary “There’s Something You Should Know”, adding that the career retrospective “…really showed great footage when we were young.”
Will Simon ever write a published BIOGRAPHY about his life and career? The question came from an inquiring mind, pointing out that John Taylor has written his bio about Duran, and Andy Taylor has as well… the singer’s response? “I don’t have any particular ambition to write a book.”
“Did you read John or Andy’s book?”
Simon just let that one ‘hang’ out there… and the one-word response grew funnier to the laughing crowd, as he deliberately resisted elaboration. “I LIVED with them!” he finally pleads. “Why should I READ it?” (Again, the crowd laughter has not abated, as Simon holds his mic waiting for the next comic line to arrive from the ether like the 5:30 train…)
“You SHOULD read Andy Taylor’s book. You SHOULD read John’s book. I… ‘HIIIIGHLY recommend’, that you read them. Have ‘I’ read them? ‘NO’.”
Once the audience’s amused laughs tapered, Greg deferred to the next audience pre-screened question. How does Simon feel, about a possible induction to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame one day? He shared how honored he was to be asked by the organization (along with John) to present Roxy Music with their induction to the Class Of 2019 this year. Simon elaborated by saying how astonishing it felt to be considered for that honor – and what it was like to be backstage and onstage with Bryan Ferry and his heroes who he admired as a young lad growing up. He then stated in earnest that if there were NO Roxy Music in the world – there would be no Duran Duran. But yielding slightly to the nature of the original question, Simon said of a Duran Duran induction to the Rock Hall: “We would be grateful. We would WELCOME it, with open arms.”
Greg directed another audience member to ask Simon about his favorite “football club” (I.E. American soccer). As I personally follow American NFL football and NBA basketball – I honestly didn’t pay much attention to this answer. (Sorry, soccer fans! LOL)
A GREAT question emerged from the audience, asking: “How would you like Duran Duran to be ‘remembered’?”
Simon looked thoughtful. He elaborated that it didn’t matter what he thought or preferred – he just wanted the band’s life work to continue to be soundtracks to people’s lives. “I would like my ‘MUSIC’ to be remembered. I would like people to JUST, STILL, PLAY – DURAN DURAN music.”
The last question asked of Simon was for… his autograph. (Hey, who doesn’t want that, right?!) Simon smiled, but explained why it truly wasn’t practical due to the scale of audience in attendance here today. There were music industry workshops still scheduled for the afternoon session of BCA Cultural Summit, and he did not want to impede upon their times. Yet, as Simon talked himself OUT of autographs for 420 giddy Duran fans – he cracked open the window for ONE lucky fan… “If I do ONE, I’ll have to do it for all… (sigh) I’ll do ONE. Where is ‘RIO’…….?”
The young girl of 9 was brought to the stage by her mother. Simon revealed his sweet, paternal instincts – lifting the joyous child into the air. It was near OLYMPIAN in pose… delivering on the promise of an icon who adorned school lockers, Trapper Keepers, bedroom walls, and even the daily TV or VCR rituals of the 1980s “MTV Generation.” The frontman of Duran Duran was a music video “god” to teenagers of a different era – yet today’s Simon Le Bon is a 60-year old grandfather. Simon lifting the living embodiment of his band’s legacy into the air onstage was the perfect ending for our private “Storytellers” Q&A luncheon today with this pleasant and engaged music legend. Our luncheon ended with a NEW iconic image for Simon Le Bon and Duran Duran fans.
“HER NAME IS ‘RIO’…….”
Douglas Armstrong is from The Palm Beaches, Florida. He has been an ardent Duran Duran fan since the days of MTV, Martha Quinn and Union of the Snake. He loves music, dreaming, and traveling with his wife and three children. You can reach him on Twitter: @TravelAgentA
IT IS FINALLY THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL FOR MY YOUNGEST!!
I really can’t remember feeling quite this relieved and/or exuberant about the last day of school. This has been a rough year. Not only did we move, which alone could have created enough havoc, we had to switch schools three times (not counting the time we had to switch regions within a school). This was fifth grade, and while I think we really did get everything covered, I would be lying if I didn’t concede that the year didn’t go as smoothly as years past. She was less-than-interested, and I was less-than-patient a lot of the time. She needed “mom”, and I had to be “teacher” far too many times. These, along with plenty of other reasons, are why we decided to let her decide where to go to school next year. It wasn’t a shock to me when she announced “I’m going to be going to regular middle school”, although it was certainly a surprise when she announced it loudly five minutes into an Open House presentation we attended at the beginning of May.
I’m thrilled to be finished, and had to be half-dragged to the fifth grade finish line. I’m also a little sad because I will miss teaching. Homeschooling gave me the opportunity to relearn subjects I was a little fuzzy on before. Geometry no longer freaks me out. I learned a lot more about world history, particularly the world wars. Biology was far more fun the second time, and I found that yes, I still have a deep dislike for both physics AND algebra II. Teaching really did give me the opportunity to learn, share, and enjoy my children in a way that I never thought possible. Despite what others may say about homeschooling or even charter schools, our experience with the several we were a part of was nothing short of wonderful. Regardless, it is the end of an era for my family, and I’m ready for something new.
Long days are coming up
Amanda and I had a conference call yesterday, as we prepare to get back at writing again. After taking off more than a year, both of us are in a place where we can think clearly enough to write. Well, at least I am. Amanda should get to that point in another couple of weeks (she’s still in the classroom and grading for another week or so!)We’re not really going to work on a new project, instead we are going to be working to finish something we’ve already started. I’m excited to do some reading, research, and writing this summer on a subject I’ve spent nearly 40 years learning about. I think that for Amanda and I, we are ready to put the past in the past, and try something new for marketing this next project. We will see how far we get with it over this summer. Despite working on something that we’ve already started, I feel like it’s a new era for writing, too.
We also talked a lot about this blog and reaching out to potential new readers. I don’t know about other people, but I subscribe to a couple of different YouTube channels, as well as several blogs. My general cycle is that at first, I read or watch everything faithfully as it comes out. That could last for months, if not years. Eventually though, I start noticing that I’m not reading as often. Maybe I’m saving up several days or weeks worth of material. If it’s YouTube, maybe I end up binge watching a few episodes…and then I start picking and choosing the things I want to read or watch most. Inevitably though, I fall behind or stop keeping up altogether, and unsubscribe. The same can happen with this blog, even though Duran Duran is an obsession for many fans. We’ve gotten out of the promotion and marketing habit, and it’s time to renew that process. You might begin to see ads for us on Facebook or maybe even engaging tweets from us this summer.
Staying out and playing
Likewise, we know we need to do meet-ups. That isn’t to say that other people can’t do them well, it is just that Amanda and I enjoy hosting! (even though I am still far more likely to sit and peruse the situation from the bar….) Be on the lookout for Facebook Event pages, because we will be hosting TWO meet-ups while in Vegas. One on Saturday, one on Sunday. Both will be at the sports bar in the Cosmopolitan starting at 5pm and going up until it is time to leave for the show! I happen to know that we’ll have wristbands to hand out, and we are hoping to meet as many people as possible that weekend. Don’t miss it if you’re going to be in Vegas for the shows!!
After the conversation with Amanda, I feel rejuvenated. We all need that kick the pants once in a while, and it was good to trade new ideas and get back into the drivers seat when it comes to writing and this site. Having new goals and tasks to accomplish makes me think less about the time I will lose with my baby, and more about the things I can do while she’s busy making friends and learning at school.
Speaking of her, I am off to go and pick her up from the last day of her learning center classes! Happy Summer!!!
I have a simple question. Maybe someone can answer…and then again maybe not. Maybe it will make people angry with me, and then again, maybe not. At this point, I think either way is fine.
Why is it all such a contest?
I’ll preface this with a story to put the question in context. The tale itself isn’t what is important, but I have to tell it in order for this post to make sense. I am sure that some will take immediate issue with me, but I own my actions anyway.
Yesterday, I blogged about the change in venue and promoter for Iceland. In doing so, I ran across comments made by not just one person, but several, suggesting the band must obviously be changing venues because they couldn’t sell tickets. I am not finding fault with those comments, so if you were involved in that discussion, I’m not referring to you. Regardless, those initial comments and replies led to other, far more negative comments about management, Katy, and so on. Not only did I see this sort of thing on Facebook (the band’s Facebook page), but also on Twitter. Those comments and replies are the ones I took issue with.
However, I escalated the situation by commenting about one of the people making these comments on my own Twitter account. This wasn’t the account one I run for Daily Duranie – but my own. I have a right to my own thoughts, and I have a right to say whatever I want to say, just as anyone else does. I also have to be willing to defend them. If owning a blog has taught me anything, it is that once you put yourself out there, you’d better be ready for the onslaught.
That said, I understand it wasn’t very kind of me to vaguely tweet about what I saw. There are many fans out there that criticize the band directly. I too, have done that upon occasion. I also am well-aware that I couldn’t do Katy’s job, much less Wendy’s as manager, or the myriad of other people and jobs that make up the team supporting this band. I am a Monday Morning Peanut Gallery Commentator at best, and while sometimes I admittedly forget my place – I try to remain respectful, and give those folks a lot of grace. I couldn’t do their jobs.
Even so, I did vague tweet, which was unkind. I wasn’t seeking validation by doing so, though. I made my comments, not really thinking about who might respond one way or another, and I stand by them. Validation is not something I look for on social media of all places, and anyone who really knows me recognizes that.
The contest issue, however, comes in at the tail end of the conflict above, when the person in question characterized his response to me as 0-1 to the UK.
This is just one example, but since it happened directly with me – I thought it was a good example to use regarding a topic I’d been thinking about for a while. Since when is it a contest of countries???
Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’ve have definitely noticed that US fans have taken some heat lately from every other country in the world. I get it, people are incensed that the band tours here repeatedly. I also get it that when Americans suggest places within our country to play, or what songs they play – it infuriates everyone else in the world. Fair enough. We should be glad they’re coming here, and damn it – if you live on the east coast, you should be thankful you only have to fly 3,500 miles to see the band, because everyone else has to fly at least 8,000 (and likely much more than that). No sarcasm intended, because truly, the situation is exactly that at the moment.
I get every single bit of that, at least as much as I possibly can as a citizen of the offending country. There are those around the world who would gladly stand and allow the band to play “Hungry Like the Wolf” over, and over again because they’d be thrilled to have them play anything. Fair enough. Others would be happy to pay $500 or more per show, because at least they’d be getting shows. I hear you when it’s been said that American’s are just spoiled and we don’t even deserve to see the band. I can’t argue with any of that. I’m sure many of you would like to haul some of us out into the middle of the street for a public flogging. Fine. I don’t like it (would you?), but I get it.
The thing is though – why is it a contest? It wasn’t the whole USA tweeting today. It was me. ONE person. The entire country doesn’t necessarily agree with me, nor should they. It was my feelings versus those of someone else. That’s it.
The contest of fandom boggles my mind. No one actually wins anything at the end of this. There’s no trophy for crossing the proverbial finish line! If it’s not about country, it’s about people in general. Who is the “best” fan? Who is the “worst”? Male fans vs. female fans, female versus female…. none of us win a damn thing at the end. We have our memories, the music, and hopefully, that’s enough.
I did learn something today about myself. I feel strongly enough about the current state of the fandom to speak out about it, even when it paints me in a bad light. Yeah, I reacted and spoke out when I could have just said nothing. Sure, I’m expecting major backlash from this post, too. I just feel like enough is enough. We’re all fans of this band. We don’t all agree or even like one another. I shouldn’t have vague tweeted, though. Next time, I won’t.
This isn’t a contest of countries, or anything else. It’s about the music. Anything else is just a bunch of noise.
This morning, I got up and drove my youngest to school – which is about 15 minutes from our house. Not bad. No traffic because we live in the middle of nowhere. Sort of.
All was fine at first, but as I was getting off the freeway I noticed my car suddenly shift gears at a weird time. Noting it, but not saying anything, I drove on, only to have it happen again after exiting the freeway. Still, I said nothing. I mean, why acknowledge the inevitable??
As I pulled into the school lot, I realized that the engine sounded a little weird, like it was revving the teeniest bit. I let Sabrina out, who broke the silence by saying “Good luck getting home, mom!” and then shut the door as if she was glad to be rid of the insanity. (I get that!)
Here’s one you don’t compromise
I started to pull around to exit the lot, and noticed it was still shifting weirdly. Pulled over and texted the husband (who of course is in Santa Barbara today – easily two hours away and in all-day meetings of the utmost importance, you know). He suggested I try to drive it home. “After all, what’s the worst that could happen? You get stuck. Oh well!”
Oh how I love that man. I really do. I reminded myself of that as I put the phone back down and started the car. I threw out a not-so-silent plea to my trusty car to “please, please just get me home”, and left the lot. At first, it was fine. Should I get on the highway (freeway if you’re from CA)? Sure. Why not?!? After all, what’s the worst that could happen???
I could miss the Duran Duran presales. Amanda was counting on me for our Sunday night tickets. Gotta get home. “Please, please just get me home, car!”
I heard your promise
It made it off the freeway. Yeah, it may have limped for the final quarter of a mile, but it got me off the freeway. Then for the 1 mile drive to my neighborhood. It started shifting strangely more and more often, and I feverishly started noticing that my engine was revving quite a bit. EEK. Do I pull over or just chance fate?
I kept going. I had presales to do in less than an hour.
Kind of mostly coasted down the hill to the entrance of my neighborhood. I didn’t need the gears to shift if I didn’t press on the gas, right?? Turned the corner onto my street (but still had to drive about 2/3 of a mile up the twisty-turns to get to my gate). Uphill… uphill was a problem. My car started not wanting to go into any gear, and revving wildly, then catching the gear and going. I figured if I could just keep this up, I’d get it to the top of my drive, and then coast down.
What was the worst that could happen? I had 45 minutes to presales, and there’s literally no shoulders to park on in my neighborhood.
Fight it out
I rounded the next to last corner before my gate. I saw it – waiting for me just to get the car up there. Just a little more gas to get me up the hill. Then nothing. No gear. No moving forward. Just backward. So I stop the car on our narrow two-lane road and realize I’m screwed. What do I do?
Well, one of my neighbors, whom I’ve never met, was out walking. She saw me and between the two of us, we got my car onto the expanse of “grass” between the neighbors driveway entrance and mine – the ONE spot in my entire neighborhood that actually has a bit of a shoulder area. (I use that term lightly because right now, it’s brush season and there’s no green anyway. It is brown.)
My car is safe. I’m safe. My car literally got me *almost* home. I ran up to my fence, got inside and walked down our driveway just in time for presales. I was frantic. Panicked. A little emotional, and pretty freaked out. I had no idea how I was going to pick up my youngest or what I’d do with my car, but I was at home in time for presales.
Not wild about it
At this point, I didn’t even want the damn tickets. My stomach was nauseous and I was busy calculating the cost of a new transmission in my head. (Spoiler: it is a lot.) I figured I’d just try for tickets and if nothing came up, that’s the way it is, and oh well.
When the clock struck ten and I was able to get onto Ticketmaster (I was buying for Sunday night in Vegas first), it was weird. Nothing came up as available, and I mean nothing. I was perplexed, a little annoyed, but oddly calm. I refreshed the best seats option a few times, and suddenly – seats started coming up.
Then I started looking at the final cost. $440ish total for a gold package ticket. That stung a bit, particularly when I consider that at least based on previous gigs this year, the band is going to do a 90-minute show and then an encore. I thought about it, checked ticketing prices for Mtn Winery, and decided that no, I wouldn’t do more than Vegas after all.
Lay your seedy judgments
I could have done ALL the shows. I had the ok from my husband – because we consult one another when we’re doing stuff like this – and the time worked for me. When it came down to it, I realized that for me, this is my breaking point. I am not going to continue paying nearly $450 a show to see Duran Duran – particularly for multiple shows each tour. That’s insanity.
I love this band. There’s no need for me to prove that to anybody. I do, however, need to retire at some point. College is expensive and I’m not finished paying for my kids education. Now, I’ve got some sort of a crazy car expense coming up. I had more than enough money in the bank to pay for tickets to all of the shows. That isn’t the point. It is that I think it is crazy for me to spend that much money.
Now, I’m sure some are saying, “You don’t have to go for gold!” You’re 100% correct. I don’t, and I didn’t, when I checked into other venues after buying the Vegas tickets. There’s just something very off-putting over paying what will amount to nearly $150 (ticket price + fees) to sit in the extreme back of a venue. I’m not spoiled about being in front, but I’m also not crazy enough to think I’d enjoy being in the very back. For many other bands yes, but not DD.
You pay the profits to justify your reasons
So there you go. I’ve seen so many people talk about the prices this morning. Far more than normal. Many have complained about the Ultimate Front Row package not including a meet and greet for $1000. Others complain about the fact that even front row at the Hollywood Bowl was “just” $600. My answer? The only reason the band and venue can charge this much is because people have no problem paying the price. Supply vs. demand. New transmissions, Duran Duran, and college. These are real problems. <grin>
I bought for the two Vegas shows out of the five dates I’d originally planned to buy. I feel good about my decision, and can’t wait to see friends in Vegas. What did you do?
There are days, and then there are DAYS. This is one of the latter. It might even be one of those weeks!
They can drag me to the gates of hell now
As I’ve exclaimed many times while in the privacy of my own home, “I am not a webmaster!!” When technical abilities were being passed out, I got in the wrong line. (The universe only knows what “special” skill I ended up with instead!) I’d been getting some sort of PHP warning on this site for months and ignored it. When I finally clicked on it to find out more information, our server host said we didn’t “need” the upgrade. Well, turns out – we did. The site never went down, but we also couldn’t update as necessary. I was growing nervous that one day, I’d be woken up at 4am by a concerned Amanda telling me that the site wouldn’t load.
So today was the day to figure out how to upgrade (and why). I’m still not exactly sure I understand, but the fix was a five-minute thing. From what I can tell – I didn’t break anything in the process. I even loaded a plug-in for compatibility testing on the backend, and even forced the site to break to see if I could fix it. (one click to correct it!) So that’s the kind of maintenance crap no one sees. It makes me feel a little better when I find out that I’m not nearly as incompetent as I think I might be with this stuff.
Then again, there’s still the issue of archiving. After nearly nine years of blogging (yes, nine) – we have a lot of posts. I am pretty sure the place needs a good spring/summer cleaning. (also a massive site overhaul in time for the next whatever-the-music-they-are-currently-working-on-is-going-to-be). As soon as my youngest is out of school and my mom, who is arriving tonight for a two-week visit, is back home – that’s the next project. I’ll have to take the site down to do it, but I’ll warn everyone first!
I’m not running away (yet, anyway)
Meanwhile, presales are tomorrow! I’m still trying to figure out the logistics. I have a reasonable idea of what shows I want to do (A & I are both going to Vegas, but after that – I’m on my own and I’m not entirely positive of what I’m doing), but whether I’m going to attempt to break my bank and buy gold or just do regular tickets to some – who really knows?! It’s going to be an adventure tomorrow morning. My poor mother has never seen a DD presale day. Chances are, after hearing me attempt to go through the process, she’ll want to wash my mouth out with soap!!
Honestly, right now I’m trying not to stress. I’m taking the attitude that whatever will be, will be. As long as I get in the venue(s), that’s enough. I have a couple of other, more pressing personal family things going on at the moment, and while I don’t want to miss the chance to hang with friends – I’m more worried about the other life stuff. I hate being “that” person to say that, but it’s true. Someday, I’ll write a book about all of it and then you’ll know what I mean. <big grin here> Nonetheless, I’ll see everyone in Vegas for sure, and possibly one or two of the others. For those shows though, I don’t think I’ll be trying for anything but just regular tickets. Probably. Unless I win the lottery by tomorrow morning.
It’s funny—I ran into Dom after the last shows in Vegas, and he asked me where I’d sat because I’m usually closer to the front. On one hand, I guess he’s right, and on the other – I think that was probably a sign that maybe, just maybe, I’ve been to one too many shows over the years! Joking aside, I get the feeling these guys have no idea how much it costs to sit near the front at their shows. Granted, I’m usually a bit closer than I was in February, but that’s Vegas (and Lady Luck, apparently!) for you. Our seats weren’t that great last time. We still had a fantastic time, though.
I’m not the only one feeling this way
Like many of you, my bank account is not without limits. I saw more than one fan comment about the expense of the tickets yesterday, and I just want to commiserate. They ARE expensive. Most tickets are these days, and at least in my case – it stops me from going to see a lot of bands. I have to really love them to be willing to spend money on tickets. On the other hand, I’ve discovered quite a few really good, but far less popular local bands over the past few years as a result. I still see a lot of live shows, but maybe not as many bands that other people recognize. I save my budget for a few very favorite, or I buy super cheap seats.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Duran Duran and I love going to the shows, but I’m not going to be paying $1000 a ticket just to say I was in the front row. More power to those of you who are able to continually do it without thinking of the cost. I’ve had my turn up there a few times – it was great while it lasted.
A bit of a warning from me: the next couple of weeks may or may not be spotty for me – blogging wise. I am going to do what I can when I can. If anyone out there (ha!) has something they’d like to guest blog about, send it to our gmail (dailyduranie at gmail dot com) – we will gladly post and give you plenty of credit for contributing!
The other day, my oldest sent some pictures to me. She was dressed in her cap and gown, and had a photographer friend take some pictures using her university campus as the backdrop. Naturally, I marveled at how it was even remotely possible that she will be graduating in just under two weeks. (actually now it is nine days away, but who’s counting?)
I did what any parent might do. I tweeted a couple, and put them on Instagram too. I’m proud of her. College isn’t easy. Working while attending doesn’t actually make it any less difficult, either. Heather majored in dance, focusing on teaching and choreography. She likes being in charge, and quite frankly – she’s my bossy one – so it makes sense to me that she’s settled into this role for her career beyond college. While many of her peers within the College of the Arts at Cal State Fullerton focused on being on stage as much as possible, Heather likes being the one designing what goes on up there. Her cap that she’ll wear at graduation says “Work hard in silence and let success be the noise”. That’s exactly my Heather, and so I chose that as one of the photos I tweeted.
Picking through the pieces
Not long after I did my proud mama thing, plenty of my friends responded with notes of congratulations, including a fair number that couldn’t quite get over the fact that she’s already graduating from college. I feel the same. After all, I can distinctly remember trading messages in a chat room with JTDuran, Tracye, Mags, Nasty, Tarcia, Robin and many others while trying to keep the peace between Gavin and Heather. Those two children were either sleeping, fighting, or banding together to create chaos. (Sometimes, I actually miss those times. I must be losing my mind!)
Anyway, when I began hearing from those old friends, I started thinking back. Is it really possible that it’s been 16 years since I first began trading messages with them? For more than one of them, I’ve known them online all that time—and yet we’ve never met in person. We watched one another’s babies be born, grow up, go off to college, and now, they’re starting to graduate. I’ve seen my friends get married, divorce, move and/or travel the world – whether in person, or through the magic of the internet. Some of these women are among my most trusted allies, and we’ve never been in the same room.
What do you have at all
So often I hear fellow Duran fans speak of the atrocities done to them by others (fans). I hear about the faux pas, missteps, and even the ridiculous sense of competition. Somehow though, even through that crazy minefield, I was lucky enough to find women that could get past it all. I don’t know if it’s really such a surprise to hear that many of them aren’t quite as attached the fan community as they once were, though. Sometimes, you just get tired of the nonsense. The real friendships though, they last.
My good fortune to stumble upon a message board filled with women who shared good humor along with discussion, and exchanged life experiences right alongside music continues to pay off. My children – once preschoolers, are now college students. One is about to graduate and move into the “after-college” stage. I’m lucky there are friends to share the heartaches and triumphs, graduations, future marriages and babies; and even the gray-hair, hormones, and mid-life challenges. Whether I see them yearly, on occasion, or have never even met them in person – they matter. Call me crazy, but fandom doesn’t seem so terribly cutthroat when I think of my Duran Duran circle of friends. In fact, I’m grateful.
Welcome to a brand new week, Duranies. As I sat here pondering what to write about today, (and let me just be honest: I was not prepared in the least for today, and if I had it my way, I’d have called the day off altogether!) I saw that DDHQ had asked social media what they felt was Duran Duran’s funkiest song.
I thought the answer was pretty simple. Of course it’s “Notorious”. After all, Simon pretty much proclaims it at every show when he asks if anyone is ready to dance, and if so what should they play…and then he’ll say something like “Whatever it is, it has to be FUNKY!”…and then they break into “Notorious”. I didn’t have to think hard about it, and started to type when I decided to take a quick scroll through the other answers being offered on Twitter.
Turns out, “Notorious” wasn’t even the most popular answer (at the time), and the answers ran the gamut from “Nite Runner” to “Skin Trade”. All of that had me thinking whether or not I still wanted to go with “Notorious” as my answer. Sure, it was the easiest for me to come up with, but is it really the funkiest? I think that might depend on your definition of funk.
I decided that if I was going to write about funk, I’d better have a decent, formal definition. I pulled the following up from Google:
Funk (noun): A style of popular dance music of US black origin, based on elements of blues and soul and having a strong rhythm that typically accentuates the first beat in the bar.
The definition is a little vague, but the idea is there. The music is danceable. It has a foot firmly in the jazz rule book, but the rhythm and blues current is undeniable and very forward in the music. (meaning it is what your ears notice first. You can’t really miss it.) Even more interesting than noticing just how many Duran songs fit into that box, is realizing that the one element found on every Duran Duran album in some way, shape, or form, is funk!
Even on their debut album, you can hear funk in the bass and in the drums. It is there, even when the other song elements aren’t in that same vein. That effect – the melding of electronic with funk, rhythm & blues and even disco – is likely what made their music so special to many of us, from day one.
It moves me into place
While many fans (including myself) have engaged in discussion over the ever-changing musical fabric with each album, the one element that remains the same is indeed that sense of funk. So often I find myself talking with folks about whether or not I can hear the guitar, or the bass, or even synthesizers, when in fact what I think we should really be discussing is whether or not we still hear that “Duran Duran Funk”.
If we hear it, is it weak or strong? Overpowering? Just the right amount? If it seems absent, how does that make us feel? Do we think something is missing? It is definitely worth a trip down the rabbit hole into the back catalog to see just how important funk is to the Duran Duran musical “brand” and to individual listeners, or fans.
If we can lay this down
Obviously, this concept isn’t new. It wasn’t as though I woke up today with the magic formula for a perfect Duran Duran song. Rather, the idea of just how many songs in their catalog have funk as their elemental backbone gave me something to consider over coffee this morning.
I don’t know if it is really the “funkiest” song in their catalog – but “American Science” has a slow, hypnotic, soul, with plenty of funk to it that I’ve always loved. While the tempo isn’t fast and it certainly isn’t “Notorious”, it has all the elements that make it a song worth many listens.
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!