Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is That Good Enough For You?

Turns on the animal

Sometimes I wake up, go through my morning and cannot figure out what to write about for this blog. I’ve written about this very thing before, but the ending is different this time so stick with me!

So today, like pretty much every day, I went through the motions of taking a shower, getting ready, then coming out and feeding the pets. First the cats, then I walk outside (it was 39 degrees F this morning, which was wonderfully brisk!) and take care of the chickens. Then I come back in, get coffee going, make sure the youngest is up, downstairs and eating breakfast. We leave the house at 7:40 and that’s when I turn on Feedback.

Sees the possibility

I know I’ve talked a lot about Feedback lately. Truthfully it’s because I finally have a vehicle that has satellite radio. I’ve listened on and off to Lori’s show(s) since she first announced being on Feedback, but nowadays – I can listen regularly. So, I try to listen every day. I might not get an entire show in, but I hear at least half. Sometimes I laugh, other times I’m yelling at Nik (oh yes), and still other times, I’m inspired. Today was that day.

This morning, they had Sarfraz Manzoor on, who is the author of Greetings from ‘Bury Park. His story was the inspiration for the recent movie Blinded by the Light. Ultimately, the movie is about being a fan of Bruce Springsteen.

He’s got the answer

One of the topics they discussed was how it felt to have Springsteen give backing to the movie. They talked about how Bruce showed up to the premier and then the afterparty…and Sarfraz said something so poignant, I’ll never forget it.

“Imagine you create something that’s really personal to you, and then he… the person it is partly about, graces your premiere and says ‘I give my approval to it.’ You know what I mean? It’s not the same as me going to a concert or seeing him on Broadway. It’s him coming to our party. And then he played!”

He goes on to explain that even crazier, after the “whole photography thing”, Sarfraz expected Bruce would go home. So he asks him, and Bruce answers, “I’m going to watch the movie with you.” And so Springsteen sat two rows in front of Manzoor and throughout the movie there is a silhouette of him, meanwhile the movie is going on and it’s about his (Manzoor’s) dad and all of these things…and he can see Bruce watching the film.

Stuff directly out of my wildest, craziest dreams…right there.

Doesn’t go away

Now, Lori and Manzoor (Nik too, although he was quiet and Lori took the lead here) go on to talk about the discomfort with how some characters in the movie love the Pet Shop Boys and think Bruce is over, and yet Springsteen was having to sit there and watch that in the film….but to me, that’s not really that important. (sorry Bruce, no offense)

No, I’m stuck back thinking about how it might have really felt to have that approval.

Here’s the thing – I’ve already admitted here that I seek approval, so this is totally in my wheelhouse, but can you imagine?

Several years ago now, I can remember chatting with someone online. At the time, Amanda and I were really hoping to have some sort of tangible acknowledgement from the band. Something beyond a follow on Twitter or a link on their site. Bear with me here, because this is tough to admit and write, but it’s true. At the time, I desperately wanted that approval. I wanted that validation, or so I thought. No matter what I said, how I responded, I don’t think I made my point clearly. This person’s response, and rightfully so, was that I needed to be OK with what I was writing completely on my own. I didn’t need the band to approve it. In hindsight, that person was right.

Don’t want illusion

It has taken me a long, long, time to come to terms with that. Did I think it would change my life or be an experience so profound that it might spark something in me? I don’t know for sure. I think it was definitely about validation though, at least for me. Approval and validation weren’t coming from any other places at the time for me, least of all from myself. So, I’d hoped to find that here. Perhaps that is saying far too much about myself, but I know that I’m a work in progress. If sharing some of my biggest flaws help someone else – so be it.

Since I’m in that introspective space, I’ll go one farther and say that part of my initial motivation for trying to write a manuscript and get a book deal was the band. It was as though I needed to get through all of that surface crap to really dive deep and find my own motivation. In a lot of ways, I wonder if that very thing isn’t part of what kept us from getting our projects published. I don’t suppose I’ll ever be sure, but I do know that I’ve changed along the way. The project Amanda and I are working on now is very different. Still about fandom, still about music, but Duran Duran isn’t my motivation. They, or at least the experience I’ve had as a fan over the years, is my inspiration, but it isn’t what is motivating me to write. No, that’s coming 100% from me.

Power glory ride

So when I say that I can’t really imagine what it must have been like for Sarfraz to have his hero show up and support his work, I mean it. I can’t. The emotion in his voice as he told the story was palatable. I mean, what fan wouldn’t want an ending like that? Is that enough to drive me, though? I don’t think it was enough for Sarfraz Manzoor, either. The approval from Bruce was just an amazing side benefit that was so big, he likely could not have dreamt it.

No, it’s not. While having the band’s approval and support would be otherworldly and of course, very welcome – that’s not why I keep writing. For me, this is personal.

Recently, I explained it to my husband. Some people do decathlons. It is a goal, and they train every single day to get there. Some people never even cross the finish line, but they are determined to keep trying and don’t give up. Other people start bands, or write screenplays. What about athletes who train for the Olympics? Many people never even get there, but they keep trying for as long as they can. For me, writing a non-fiction book that gets a publishing deal is my thing. That is my dream and I don’t want to give up. Writing this blog every day is part of that dream, too. It is almost like my brainstorm board, or my chalkboard. It keeps me thinking, dreaming, and working.

Now, I’ll share with you that no, my husband still doesn’t get it. He won’t ever get it because he is pragmatic, and doesn’t operate based on emotion. He’s very black and white. Writing makes zero dollars unless you are published and the book does well. Not just one tough thing, but two impossibly high hurdles in my way, I guess. As he pointed out to me, writing is actually costing money right now since we pay for hosting, research materials (research books are not cheap!), and all that good stuff. It’s menial, but it adds up. You can’t be a writer as a career if you never get anything published, or so he says. I could have continued arguing with him about that, but I decided to just let it go.

Won’t give up

This was my own light bulb moment, mainly because I answered my own “Why do you keep writing?” question. It’s not about the money (ha ha ha), or the fame (still laughing). It’s about reaching the finish line and doing it on my own steam. I just want to see it happen. For myself.

In a lot of ways, to circle this back towards Duran Duran, if I may – I think this is why Amanda and I have never tried all that hard to meet the band. I mean, yeah – both of us have gone to album signings and that was lovely and all – but I mean really meet them. Let’s face it, we’ve been doing this – the blog – for long enough now that if we really wanted to shove the issue, we could find a way. Many others of you have, and it is because it was worth it to you to do so. I get it.

I think about how even at the last show at Agua Caliente, I ran into people who went outside to see them pack up and leave. Where was I at the time? Oh, I was at the bar. Dancing to Duran Duran. What’s worse, I didn’t even feel a twinge of anything about not being there. I was doing what I wanted.

For me, the reasons for operating the website, posting the blogs and writing about fandom have far more to do with my innermost thoughts than they do about seeking approval from Duran Duran. That’s “the place” in my heart that motivates me and keeps me going day to day. The band, and this fandom, serves as my inspiration.

-R

Paper Gods 2.0

As the curtain (finally) comes down on the Paper Gods era, we turn our attention to what lies ahead. While I saw more Duran Duran shows then ever before during the Paper Gods tour, it was more a matter of geography than passion for the new material. Their booking agent seems to have a thing for Las Vegas! While I’m not terribly sad about Paper Gods being shelved for a bit on the set lists, I did eventually realize that the album is stronger than I give it credit for.  

Duran Duran, while incredibly successful in terms of hit singles, are an album band by nature. The balance of pop and art that infuses their best albums creates a journey for the listener that demands proper sequencing. The first three albums were masterclasses in how to sequence an album with a lot of hooks early and then slowly working in the moody, darker aspects of the band’s character. By the time you reached “The Chauffeur” or “The Seventh Stranger”, you had been changed by the songs that brought you there. Paper Gods never found that flow.

Maybe it is the changing ways in which people consume music. Listening to an album might be a lost art as far as a major label is concerned. Warner Brothers might have had Spotify and i-Tunes in mind when assembling Paper Gods. Or maybe it was the band? Regardless, the way Paper Gods unfolds when heard as an album has never felt right to me. Through the magic of computers, I have tried to remedy that, at least digitally. Not much can be done with the slab of wax on my turntable.

Here is one fan’s re-imagining of the album. Let’s call it Paper Gods 2.0.

1. Planet Roaring

2. Change the Skyline

3. Pressure Off

4. Valentine Stones

5. Sunset Garage

6. What Are the Chances?

7. Northern Lights

8. Danceophobia

9. Cinderella RIde

10. You Kill Me With Silence

11. On Evil Beach

12. Paper Gods

I originally loved “Paper Gods” as an opener, and enjoyed it live, but the album never builds upon the themes put forth by it. As a statement of purpose, I’m all onboard especially if it’s a commentary on today’s vapid pop music. But then the album veered into that world with the screeching “Last Night In the City” which I’ve omitted from my 2.0 version. There are some brilliant remixes of it but the album version haunts me. 

So, let’s open Paper Gods with “Planet Roaring”, one of the better Duran Duran anthems of the century. Seriously, how did this get relegated to a bonus track? Lyrically, it works as a welcome to the fans who have been with them since “Planet Earth”. The first five songs demand we move our feet especially the Motown-meets-Spice Girls sweetness of “Sunset Garage”. As a vinyl listener, I imagine “What Are The Chances?” ending side one, much like “My Antartica” does on Liberty

I sense that “Danceophobia” has a lot of detractors but it is senseless fun. “Face For Today” could slide in the spot and the momentum would not be lost. After “Cinderella Ride”, the album gets a little more artsy but the more dedicated fans live for these tracks. As a closer, “Paper Gods” can be seen as a sly commentary on the mainstream critics who love to label the band as “paper thin” and all about the “head shots”. Four decades into their career, the band have proven to be more than just paper gods and, with a little tinkering around on the sequencing, Paper Gods ultimately proves another successful chapter in their evolution. 

The Sun Always Shines On TV

Living a boy’s adventure tale

Any Mark Ronson fans out there? Well, YouTube hears your pleas, and they have answered with news of a Mark Ronson documentary, to be aired (for free!) on YouTube on October 12. Mark (ha!) your calendars and set aside a couple of hours for viewing! Extra special for DD fans, Simon Le Bon was interviewed for the documentary along with a plethora of other celebrities and music artists, such as Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, and Miley Cyrus. Other friends and family are also featured including Boy George, Charlotte Ronson, Josh Home, Lykke Li, and even Sean Lennon, among many others.

Perhaps worthy of note to some, I see that this film was made as a Livewire/Eagle Rock Films production, which is the same production company that did A Diamond in the Mind. Here’s the trailer below!

Now, I wouldn’t be me…or Daily Duranie for that matter…if I didn’t note that despite my watching the trailer twice, I didn’t see or hear Simon. (forgive me if I’m wrong!) He might have been in there and I missed it, but I don’t think so. There were a lot of different voices in the audio overlay, but you’d think I’d be able to pick Simon out, right?? I also didn’t see footage of Mark with the band, which on one hand didn’t surprise me, but on the other – I couldn’t help but be the tiniest bit sad. Yeah, I’m picky and want it all. Am I not a Duran Duran fan?? <insert wink here!>

There was, however, one quick flash of Mark with the platinum blonde hair he sported during the production of All You Need is Now, so I’m obviously hoping for a bit more during the film. I guess we’ll see, because I’ve got it on my calendar for viewing this weekend! Regardless, I think it will be very insightful, inspiring, and worthy of a watch or two!

I Dream Myself Alive

I have one piece of non-Duran news to share. A-ha is coming to the US for just two shows in 2020, on September 25 and 26! Both shows happen to be at the Wiltern theatre in Los Angeles, and they will be playing their album, Hunting High And Low in its entirety. The shows go on sale Friday at 10am.

This is worthy news because I know that there must be many DD fans who, like me, fell in love with A-ha at the very first moment they heard “Take on Me”, or saw the iconic video (which remains one of my most favorite). As I understand it, next year will be their 40th anniversary as well, and they’re celebrating by playing their breakthrough album live and even coming to the states to do it! It is one of my very favorite albums of the 80s, and I’ve never seen A-ha live.

It’s funny because today on Feedback, the music talk show that fellow Duran Duran fan Lori Majewski co-hosts alongside Nik Carter on SiriusXM channel 106, the subject of albums you’d most want to hear played live came up. Hunting High and Low is on that list for me, along with several others, of course!

Train of Thought

As a quick aside – Feedback is a great show. If you haven’t heard it, I strongly recommend it! I can appreciate the different points of view, and Lori does a great job of keeping Nik’s ego in check (as she well should!). It is tough being a female in that world, which is a subject that is near and dear to what Amanda and I have been researching and working on for the past few months. It is alarming to hear that even in 2019, women seem to be far and few in between when it comes to discussions on music. I would swear that the only people that listen or call in seem to be male. Yes, I actually do think that’s a bad thing, for a multitude of reasons (another blog, another day). I listen every day, but I’m on the west coast. Calling in doesn’t work for me, as I hear the show about three hours after the fact. That said, I’m an avid tweeter, even though I’m tweeting after they’ve already gone off the air and I’m listening to a replay! Hoping some of my Duranie friends remember to let them know they’re listening.

Back to A-ha…

Love is Reason

The news of their 2020 tour is also worthy of mention because of the timing. What I mean is that these shows go on sale this Friday – October 11th. They’ll likely sell out completely given that they’re the only US dates and the Wiltern isn’t a huge venue. Yet, the shows are nearly an entire year away. I can remember when we used to buy shows that were just weeks away, and then it grew to be where we’d have to pony up for tickets three months out. Even then, I never minded. Lately, I’ve seen pre-sales announced closer to six months out from show dates, and now? This is nearly 12 months away. An entire year.

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I think it is bonkers to plan that far in advance. Essentially we’re giving our money to someone else who can essentially earn interest for nearly twelve months before we even see the concert. While there may not be much I can do to stop this ball from continuing to roll downhill, I can say that it makes me think twice before buying tickets. In the case of my very frugal and pragmatic husband, it stops him dead in his tracks, including this time. There’s no good sense of giving someone your money to sit on for that length of time, and in his head – if that’s what it takes to go to shows, then he guesses it’s time to stop giving money to big acts like this and just go to see local bands who haven’t quite made it yet.

Here I stand

Will I die if I don’t see A-ha before they end their career (could have sworn they announced their retirement once….)? No, probably not. I’d love to see them, but I’ve made peace with knowing that much of what I want isn’t what I necessarily need. A-ha is in the “wish” column, rather than the “must” column, right next to Duran Duran. All of that said, these bands, promoters and/or venues could make it a little easier if they didn’t demand our money so far out in advance. Twelve months seems ridiculous, don’t you think? Maybe I’m just old.

Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!

-R

Do the Dance

Good morning, Duran-fans! Welcome to a new (work) week. Mine started off on a nice note as I found out yesterday at about 4:45pm that my youngest had the day off from school today. I stayed up late watching Breaking Bad over again (we re-watched some of the series to prepare for El Camino, the Breaking Bad movie that’s coming out on Netflix in just four days, not that I’m counting down at all), and then woke up blissfully later than normal.

Hear it when you listen

Is anyone ready for some new music? Dying for just about anything you can get your hands on that might have a little Duran-something in there? Well, check out the new album by Jon Regen called Higher Ground. There are a number of contributions from recognizable musicians on the album, including one Nick Rhodes playing on a song named “Who Cares if Anybody Else Knows”. I don’t think you’ll miss Nick’s contribution! While it might not be quite Duran Duran, it’s something new besides!

Free to say

Now for blog news. In the interest of being sure to offer opportunities for fans to use their voices in a safe environment – I wanted to announce that we are ALWAYS willing and ready to publish guest blog posts from fans and readers. Maybe you’d like to offer up your own POV of a recent show, or you want to analyze your favorite Duran Duran song and/or video. Perhaps you want to celebrate your favorite band member, or even show off your own tribute band or DD-themed artwork. Maybe you want to share your own “How I became a fan” story, or share your experience of meeting a band member. The world – or at least this website – is your oyster. Your ideas and opinions do not need to be similar to ours, either. All it takes is an email (dailyduranie@gmail.com), and we can sort the rest out.

Additionally, I wanted to send a shout-out to Jason Lent, who will be contributing blog posts on a more regular basis. You will likely be seeing his posts on Wednesdays. I look forward to reading more about the Duran-world from his point-of-view! Thanks for the extra help, Jason – and don’t forget, rum and cokes are on me next time!

I’m hoping that those of you who struggled with links from Facebook and even Twitter at times are finding that they’re working again. We set up the security certificate, and that should have solved the problems so many were having. Thanks for your patience.

You can take it or leave it

Lastly, Amanda and I are going to be returning to Friday song reviews. We left off at the very end of Big Thing, and so we are going to start by finishing that album and moving on from there. Be on the lookout for those to start appearing!

Have a wonderful week!

-R

And I think It’s About to Break

One of the aspects of Duran Duran’s music that I love is how, periodically, you connect with a song in a different way. This happened to me this week while on the way to work. On my usual drive, I had my music on shuffle, never knowing exactly what would pop up. This past Monday’s drive, I found myself lost in thought when the song, Union of the Snake began. Now, usually, when this song comes on, I have images of elevators in sandy desert areas and bellhops, thinking of the video. Once upon a time I felt like it was describing my fandom, when I felt like I was barely holding on to it. Looking back at those feelings and at that time, it is clear to me that my feelings had very little to do with fandom. I was recovering from working really hard for a losing campaign, one that felt more personal than most since the winner had attacked my profession. I needed my fandom to distract me, to give me joy and the band was on a break after the All You Need Is Now era. It wasn’t theirs or the fan community’s fault that the timing sucked.

For years after that time (end of 2012 and 2013), Union of the Snake brought up my undefined frustrations, which meant that I struggled to listen to as those negative feelings overshadowed images of a passed out John Taylor in a truck. Then, Monday happened when the song began playing in my car, jarring me out of my thoughts. As the first notes played, I reached to switch songs when I started to listen to the lyrics again.

Telegram force and ready
I knew this was a big mistake
There’s a fine line drawing
My senses together
And I think it’s about to break
If I listen close I can hear them singers, ohVoices in your body coming through on the radio
The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderlineNightshades on a warning
Give me strength at least give me a light
Give me anything even sympathy
There’s a chance you could be right
If I listen close I can hear them singers, ohVoices in your body coming through on the radio
The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderlineThe union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderlineIf I listen close I can hear them singers, oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio
The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderlineThe union of the snake is on the climb
It’s gonna race, it’s gonna break, it’s gonna move up
Through the borderlineThe union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderlineThe union of the snake is on the climb
It’s gonna race, it’s gonna break, it’s gonna move up
To the borderline

There is a fine line drawing my senses together and I think it’s about to break

How many times have I heard that line? Thousands? Tens of thousands? On Monday, it described exactly how I was feeling. The weekend was rough, to say the least. I ended up grading for 8 hours over the weekend, which followed a 60 hour work week. The worst part of all that time is that I didn’t even get caught up. While my to do list had gotten smaller, a whole set of tests and essays awaited my feedback and evaluation. Then, if that was not enough, I am struggling with a particular class, which is usually the one I look forward to the most. As the weekend rolled into Sunday night, I found my agitation with it all growing. How could I sustain this? Why should I have to? How come I cannot figure out how to make this class work for everyone? Then, what about the other things I want to? Will I have time for my political activism? What about our new research project? Will my house always have dirty dishes in the sink and unfolded laundry in the dryer? You can see how my brain was working as all this began to translate to failure. The rest of my Sunday found me in tears followed by restless sleep.

Give me strength at least give me a light
Give me anything even sympathy
There’s a chance you could be right

Monday morning was tough. My emotions were still raw and I felt like I had not slept at all. I feel like I might break, in a way that I haven’t in a long time. That said, I did feel like I needed strength, light, and sympathy in order to make it through the day and beyond. I went into work, looking for help from some colleagues, which I never do. I tend to be the one that helps rather than the one needing assistance. While I cannot say that the day was easy, thinking about the lyrics helped me feel a little less alone. I feel a little more validated, that my emotions weren’t wrong. Interestingly enough, there was a sense that I was a little stronger than I was the night before. By Tuesday, I could confront some of what was causing me grief and frustration. Things aren’t perfect but I don’t feel like I’m going to break anymore and that I can and will do what I want and need to do both at work and beyond.

-A

Let it Shine

It’s all up to you

A friend of mine (heh heh) sent me a text last night saying that he was finally seeing A Diamond in the Mind for the first time last night.

After picking myself up off the floor from shock (His first time?!? What??), I sat and thought about that. I own that DVD, and I’ve seen it quite a few times – including once at a movie theater with a bunch of Duranies! (which was truly some of the most fun I’ve had outside of going to a live gig!)

The All You Need is Now tour is special for me. Although I traveled to see the band when they played the last few shows on the Red Carpet Massacre tour, I don’t think I quite “bonded” with the band over that album. To be fair, that whole time seems very vague and blurry in memory. I’d had a baby in 2008, and it was December when I flew into Philadelphia with Amanda to go and see the band at Foxwoods, Atlantic City and finally Montclair, New Jersey. I can remember bits and pieces from the shows, but not much else other than Amanda and I trying to outline what the heck we wanted to write about. We hadn’t even started this blog yet!

Find yourself

By the time the All You Need is Now tour started, Daily Duranie was in full swing, which for me – likely has a lot to do with how I feel about that tour. Not only did I live through the experiences, but then reflecting on them, and writing about it all has somehow cemented the memories into my brain. Amanda and I went to the UK for four shows in November/December of 2011, and then we also flew to see the band in Biloxi, Atlanta, Durham, and Portsmouth during the following summer. The driving was rough, but I don’t regret a single moment. My memories of seeing the band, touring the UK, then going to the Southeastern part of the US for my first time, are vivid.

I love Diamond in the Mind for a lot of reasons. The first is that the guitar player that *I* recognize and know best is prominent. Yes, I unapologetically adore Dom. Tell me all about Warren’s brilliance or Andy’s hard edge – I have seen Dom perform with Duran Duran at least 40 times now. I saw Andy four times, and Warren just three. To me, Dom *is* their guitar player, all semantics aside. He belongs on their stage, and in their videos, films, etc.

Lose control

While I will never say that Paper Gods wasn’t a great tour – it was polished, precise, and lived up to the same standard every single night – I will still argue that there is something special about All You Need is Now (Diamond in the Mind was filmed at the Manchester gig on this tour). As I said to my friend last night, I guess I must prefer the seemingly lack of choreography and polish. Paper Gods was a production, which was great. It had all the dancing, singing, theatrics and great performances you might expect. Aside from a few very minor differences that occurred over the course of the entire tour – nothing really changed from night to night. I knew right where John would walk, or when Erin would come downstage to dance. It was indeed a true production, very similar to what you’d see if you saw Chic (which, by no accident – was the band that co-headlined with Dura Duran for much of that time).

All You Need is Now, on the other hand was a live gig. Little things changed, the set list would get refreshed, and it just felt less rehearsed, more like a true live gig. Some people don’t like that. I just did. When things would happen that were new – I’d silently thank my lucky stars for being there that night to see it because it may not ever happen again. I felt like some of that was caught on video for Diamond in the Mind.

Then again, maybe it really is just me. I was in a good place for the All You Need is Now tour. I loved Duran Duran so much – the blog was new, the experiences were all new for me – I appreciated every second so much. Paper Gods was like that too, but differently. I worried more about stupid things. I think that for part of the tour, I didn’t appreciate the things I should have at the time. All of those things may have fogged my vision and memory a bit. I’m not sure.

Stay with the music

What I do know is that we’re a matter of months from the next album (after a very long winter, of course), and as always – we never know how it’s going to go. I find that during this particular part of my life – things sure change a lot from day to day. As I’ve been able to see the band more recently, I’ve made a promise to myself to enjoy my time, both in seeing the band, and with my friends. I take the time to put myself out there, to be genuine with people – and to say how I feel about them. It is sometimes difficult not to get caught up in the drama of the moment, but I think I’m starting to realize that our time is short. The little things really are very little, in retrospect.

I’m thankful to have DVD’s like Diamond in the Mind to watch every now and then. The memories are good, particularly during times when life is a little rougher than normal. While I wasn’t in the audience for the show that was filmed, I remember exactly how I felt the night I saw them in Brighton, surviving on pure adrenaline after spending the entire day/night prior on a planes from Los Angeles and then Chicago. I kept pinching myself throughout the show, not quite believing I was really there in the audience seeing Duran Duran in the UK. I still haven’t forgotten they played “Secret Oktober” that night, and how Amanda and I were nearly blown off the sidewalk by the crazy gale winds as we attempted to walk back to our hotel from the venue. I can remember laughing so hard we could barely flag down a cab – the poor guy probably thought we’d had a few too many, when in fact we were just overly exhausted. And lost.

Good times.

-R

Your mission: Find Duran Duran

More puzzling than why Jane Fonda installed floor-to-ceiling shag carpet in her spacecraft, is why it has taken me all these years to watch Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy (1968). As the second-highest-grossing film in the UK that year, it isn’t surprising that a few young men from Birmingham would come across it and choose to name their band after a character. From the science fiction storyline to, well, Jane Fonda, it is the sort of film that captures the imagination of young men. Much like Duran Duran’s own videos, the film is a product of its time but remains a, sometimes, revolutionary text. 

Equal parts Flash Gordon and Austin Powers, Barbarella finds herself trying to save the universe from the evil Durand Durand. There is a blind angel, the blonde adonis John Phillip Law, some evil dolls that try to eat Barbarella, an attack of parakeets, a bi-sexual princess and a lot of other ridiculousness along the way. As far as storylines go, it unfolds like the comic strip it originated from. The scenes look individually brilliant with a retro-futurist style the screams 1968 but it is far from gripping as a story.

While most will want to dismiss the film as soft-core sexist fluff, Barbarella has proven to be an iconic and influential character, most recently being reprised by Ariana Grande in her “Break Free” video and celebrated by Clutch with “In Walks Barbarella” . The kitsch and camp of the film overshadow how in-control of her sexuality Barbarella is throughout the film; ultimately undermining patriarchal attitudes and reflecting the sexual revolution of the late 1960s. Nobody exerts any power over Barbarella’s choices and she possesses the same sexual freedom of James Bond, moving from bed to bed without a second-thought. 

Nobody, not even Durand Durand with his excessive-pleasure machine, can tame Barbarella and her innocence ultimately is what saves her from the Matmos, some sort of evil energy substance. That innocence is not tied to chasteness, but to peace and love and the search for a utopia that we know we will never find. Barbarella’s charm lies in how it celebrates and ridicules such thinking simultaneously. It’s all a bit daft and the film embraces that fully. Fonda may have been cast by her husband for other reasons but she magnificently threads the needle as an actor throughout.

Which brings us to Duran Duran. From “Girls On Film” to “Electric Barbarella”, many of the same criticisms of Barbarella apply to their work but they can be dismissed for the same reasons. If patriarchy is rooted in power, it is hard to see how the band has exerted that power over women in their music and short-films. In the subversive “Girls On Film”, the video unfolds with vignettes that establish power ultimately resides with the women and the band are kept at a distance, unable to participate. When they are allowed into the fray with “Rio”, they all make fools of themselves chasing their idea of female beauty. 

The most troubling video is likely “Electric Barbarella” with the boys purchasing a sexbot for their flat. Why Nick, Simon, and Warren are sharing a flat is never addressed but I know record sales were declining at the time. Director Ellen von Unwerth brings her iconic photography to life in the video and, admittedly, her visuals threaten to overshadow the underlying message of the song. As much as the men wish to control their electric Barbarella, they are destined to fail in every regard. Myka Dunkel shrewdly exaggerates the ridiculousness of it all with her acting; something I missed the first few times I saw it upon release. Much like Barbarella, the video is a parody that mocks social conventions of the time without becoming too cynical. And it looks amazing doing so. 

Did Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy give Duran Duran more than a cool name for their band? Definitely. When you watch the film, notice how many times Fonda says “planet earth” for example and how many Duran Duran songs can fit into a science-fiction context. With the band’s recent NASA show, this is the perfect time to watch Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy and ponder the ultimate question: is there anybody out there? 

So if we sometimes fight

Doesn’t mean we’ve got problems

Things have been rough recently. I’m not writing this post in order to share my private life, as much as I’m writing to show that yeah, we all have problems. It isn’t easy.

Most of our readers know that I have been a stay-at-home mom for nearly twenty-three years, not counting the two school years I worked part time in the office of the learning center my kids attended. It boggles my mind to think about how long it’s been since I worked full-time. Even then, it wasn’t a “career”, really — I worked as a staffing coordinator at a temporary employment service. Honestly, I felt more like a warm-body that filled a seat more than anything else, which made the decision to stay home very easy. My boss at the time had zero respect for things like childcare or traditional working hours, and with my husband’s very long hours back then, there was no way I could keep working. My pay rate was a joke, and so it just made sense for me to quit. I didn’t think twice about it, and practically skipped out to the car when my doctor told me I’d have to stop working and go on bedrest for the final six weeks of my pregnancy.

Little did I realize what I was going to be giving up. At first, I don’t think I noticed the differences. It didn’t bother me that we were down to one salary, nor did it bug me that I’d be the one cooking and cleaning. I did that even when I was working, although with one and then two kids, I started feeling less like an equal and more like the unpaid help. My schedule became completely dependent on his. What time was he coming home? When did he get paid next? Where was he going on his next business trip, and when?

Doesn’t have to be serious

Staying at home is incredibly isolating. Most of my college friends sunk their teeth into their careers, while I was folding a never-ending pile of laundry. My sister-in-laws both worked outside of the home even after they had children. In my family, they were both considered intelligent go-getters. Me? I’m wasn’t quite bright enough to have a real career. After all, I went to school for a “liberal arts” degree, not science or engineering, or even marketing! The horror!!! Then there are the snide, sideways comments from family members about how I use his money and “have all the fun” while he works so hard.

We’ve all had problems, right?? And then….

That’s about when I got back into Duran Duran, met new friends, and organized a convention. Truthfully, and I’ve said this before – I think it saved my life, and most certainly our marriage on some level. I had my own things to talk about, to plan for, and to do. At first, my husband didn’t mind so much. I think in a lot of ways it all amused him, at least up until I started traveling for shows. Then, I’ll admit it became a little more annoying to him, purely because it was inconvenient. Suddenly I was asking for him to take care of the house and kids once, maybe twice a year over a long weekend. He would grumble about it, but most of the time it didn’t cause trouble.

Then I started blogging, and Amanda and I started trying to write. We took longer trips – and although the blog doesn’t always take long to write, we have a goal of getting something published, and so far, we haven’t hit on just the right formula for a publisher. Much of this has to do with the fact that we’re writing non-fiction, which is even tougher to get published than fictional work. There are fewer publishers, and because the market is smaller, it is just tougher to find a home for work like that. There are some other nuances to it all, but basically – it’s a science, and we are working on finding the right formula!

Ain’t always black and white

My husband is at the point now where he’s asked me to stop. He’s tired of the traveling (in fact he imposed a “moratorium” on flying to Duran Duran shows, which is why I’ve only gone to shows that are within driving distance for the last few years), and he’s even more tired of the blog and the writing. On one hand, he says he wants me to be happy, but on the other, he says it’s time for me to quit.

In his head, he feels like we’ve tried getting something published a few times and it hasn’t worked. Therefore it must just be that our writing isn’t very good or that we’re just not meant to do it. He doesn’t understand that being an author means you’re turned down far more often than you are accepted…and when I’ve tried explaining that, I’ve gotten nowhere fast. That’s all part of being an author, and why would my husband, the one person who is supposed to support my dreams – want to take that from me? I don’t have the answers. And then of course, there’s the Duran Duran thing.

It’s a problem, as I’m sure many of you can imagine. He doesn’t understand it, despite being married to me for 24 years now. To be fair, he didn’t know how big of a fan I was when we met, or even after we were married. It wasn’t until 2003 that I really wanted to get involved in the fan community. For my part, I suppose I did expect that he would be OK with me having friends all over the country, or being willing to let me go for girls’ weekends or do road trips without him. We never really talked about that aspect—it just happened. I don’t think it occurred to him that having this extra stuff, or my own “thing”, gave me some fulfillment I was lacking. Then again, my husband is pretty black and white about things. To him, it’s not necessary, so it doesn’t matter.

That’s just the way it is

Relationships are about give and take. Fandom is something that you either understand and support, or you don’t. Finding that happy medium is always a struggle. Despite the flow of happiness that I strive to outwardly display through my blog posts, I think it’s good to admit that it doesn’t always come easily. It isn’t just YOU who has a hard time with your husband (or wife, or partner, or even your job!) understanding how you feel about the band or why you do the things you do. We all have that issue from time to time. I think that’s why when it does all work out on occasion, it’s worth celebrating.

-R

Decades: 1990-2020

By Jason Lent

As far as greatest hits compilations go, Duran Duran’s Decade is one moon on Monday from flawless. It also documents how incredibly deep the band’s imperial phase was. Compare the tracklisting with other 80s bands that traded in guitars and synth and there really is nobody who comes close. But thirty years have passed since it came out. Do the math, I’ll wait. Yeah, we are that old. 

Over the last three decades, the band has successfully, and sometimes unsuccessfully, evolved with the changing landscape of popular music. While the commercial peaks of the 80s might be obscured by clouds these days, I would argue that there is plenty of music over the last three decades that is worthy of a second compilation. Let’s call it Decades and make it a two-disc set with 14 songs per side. The original was pretty much chronological by album so I’ll go with that blueprint. 

Disc 1

Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)

Serious

My Antartica

Ordinary World

Too Much Information

Come Undone

Breath After Breath

White Lines

Perfect Day

Medazzaland

Electric Barbarella

Out Of My Mind

Someone Else Not Me

Playing With Uranium

Disc 2

(Reach Up For The) Sunrise

What Happens Tomorrow

Nice (Eric Prydz remix)

Falling Down 

Tempted

Boys Keep Swinging

Girl Panic! 

All You Need Is Now 

Leave A Light On

The Man Who Stole the Leopard

Blame The Machines (live from DITM)

Pressure Off

What Are the Chances?

Last Night In the City (KANT remix)

Since some of these songs were not singles, there is a lot more room for debate on what should make the compilation. I tried to keep in mind the original Decades and how this would sound as Discs 2 and 3 of a three-album set. I think Disc 1 leans a little heavily on the Wedding Album but it was their commercial high point and compilation albums are meant to extract more money from fans. My heart wants to swap out “Breath After Breath” or “Medazzaland” for “Thank You” since it was deemed worthy of a film soundtrack. However, “Medazzaland”, in particular, is an important slice of their evolution. 

Disc two is quite the banger (isn’t that what the kids say these days?). The Eric Prydz remix of “Nice” adds some fire to an already hot dance track while the KANT remix of “Last Night In the City” adds some coolness to an overly-anxious album version. Disc two is very heavy on All You Need Is Now material but the album deserves the attention. A live cut seems appropriate since “Blame the Machines” wasn’t a single and the band’s live show hasn’t received its proper due. Disc two fell into place easier than disc one for me.

Well, there you have Decades! For the casual listener, these discs would bring you up to speed on the evolution of Duran Duran after the original Decade. What would you change? And, what would Mark Ronson charge to create a Burning The Ground (Again) 12” of these songs mashed together? Isn’t that why we have Go Fund Me?

John Taylor on Let There Be Talk Podcast

I’m late, I’m late…I know… My tardy excuse today is that I was listening to the “Let There Be Talk” podcast with Dean Delray as he interviewed John Taylor. Yesterday, I scanned through it, picking up on bits and pieces, but today I forced myself to sit down and listen to the entire thing (at over an hour and a half – it’s a monster).

If you haven’t listened, or feel like you need a fairly comprehensive (but elementary) education on Duran Duran’s history, this may be the podcast for you. Likewise, if you are more of an auditory learner, give it a good listen. Make sure to have beverages and other sustenance available because it is hella-long. Here’s the link: Let There Be Talk featuring John Taylor.

Hard rock, The Viper Room, and plenty of gushing

Here’s the real deal: Dean Delray is very obviously someone who comes from more of a rock background, and by “rock”, I mean hard rock. Van Halen. Black Sabbath (whom he mentioned during the first MINUTE John was on the podcast), Guns ’n’ Roses… you get the idea. He has a voice that sounds like he smoked for 40 years and hung out at the Viper Room as a regular for at least 10, but who really knows.

He is what I would call a man’s man (more on that in a bit), and although he does a fair job of gushing (and yes, I do mean gushing) over Duran Duran and John Taylor (not that they don’t deserve it)…I would venture to guess the guy has spent next to no time ever really listening to their albums, or reading about their history. He knows the highlights, which to be fair is more than I can say about MANY of the people who have interviewed the band over the years. The problem is that Dean was going to attempt to chat with John for 90 minutes. Where does one go, conversationally, when you only know a smidgeon of what they’ve done??? That said…let’s just get on with the highlights before I get into more trouble.

I appreciated that the conversation opens with a discussion of the post-punk era. That lasted for approximately 15 precious seconds, when the conversation takes a strange turn. Delray brings up Black Sabbath – which caused my eyes to nearly roll back into my head. Is there really any other band that sums up the antithesis of what Duran Duran really IS at their core, than Black Sabbath? Obviously Delray was reaching for something to connect with John because Sabbath is also from the Midlands. I get it, but I don’t like where he was trying to go.

If you had to name one band that was DD’s polar opposite…

And hey, were John and Nick ever fans of Black Sabbath? I nearly spat coffee at my screen as John commented that no, he was never really into Sabbath, but he and Nick went to a show where they were playing, and knew to get out while they could. Again I ask, is there really any other band that is quite the polar opposite of Duran Duran? Probably not. I mean, Duran Duran is light, love, joy. Black Sabbath (and yes I actually *do* know their music well, thankyouverymuch) is more darkness, anger, and some control issues mixed in for good measure.

Rest assured, the train was brought back onto the right track as they continued to discuss where Duran Duran fit into this post-punk movement. John discussed how he switched from guitar to bass, and why he aspired to the sounds from black American bands like Chic. He talked about the funky power trio being at their core and how those rhythm sounds (as well as the bass) spoke to him. John also said that time really belonged to rhythm sections, as opposed to punk which belonged to guitar.

Delray then mentioned that in the 80s, Duran Duran were everywhere. DJ’s would play them, then follow with Van Halen and Prince. The common thread was that the 80s were a dance scene – bands wanted to be able to crossover and create songs that could be danced to, like “Jump” from Van Halen.

Dance, dance, dance

Funny, I just had this same conversation with my youngest as she prepares to go to her very first school dance on Friday. She’s only in 6th grade (she’s 11), and the dance is being billed as a dance/social with a carnival theme. Rather than just music and kids dancing – nowadays parents try to add in other activities. I talked about how at my middle school dances, girls (primarily, but not always) formed circles on the dance floor while we danced to the popular music of the day. She asked me what was popular then, and with profound joy (seriously, way too much joy, I think…) I pointed at our car stereo, which was tuned to SiriusXM 1stWave. “Anything they play on this channel is what Mom would dance to, including Duran Duran.” As we talked further, we agreed that kids don’t seem to have a lot of bands to dance to. It’s EDM, or like where we live – country. It’s not the same now. They have to play carnival games instead, I guess.

“What we lacked in know-how, we made up for in cajones.” – John, on “Let There Be Talk”

Simon, before…and after

They spend some time chatting about life before Simon. (Seems like that could be a fitting title for an autobiography) John gave a rudimentary timeline of the singers who held the mic before Simon came gliding in with his suave attitude, pink leopard pants, and book of lyrics. Sometimes, I wonder if the book of lyrics wasn’t more of a driving force behind Simon’s induction into Duran Duran than anyone wants to say….hmm…(thank goodness he’s still there though, am I right??) He mentionedTin-Tin Duffy and his band the Lilac Time, then talked a little more about Andy Wickett, and explained the course of events that brought him into Duran Duran. He said that Andy was a phenomenal singer, but that it just didn’t work out for him as a front man.

Simon joined the group by listening to what became Sound of Thunder a couple of times, flipping though that now infamous book of lyrics, and settling upon words that fit the music. The uniqueness of Duran Duran maintains that basic approach to this day, but back then it was John, Nick, Roger and Andy who wrote the music. Simon wrote the lyrics. All five members were equal.

Doesn’t it suck to be a boyband?

Just the topic is enough to set me off. Dean Delray doesn’t realize the minefield he stepped into as he asks the next question.

“There was a time when of course you become the teen idols. You’re fucking everywhere…Teen BeatTiger BeatDream Magazine (is that even a thing?)….any kinds of those. But at the same time it was really helping you, it was cursing you maybe in a legitimate music world. People thinking they’re just a boy band, even back then because we have boy bands all the way to now. Uh…did you feel that way, like ‘fuck this is great but it sucks at the same time’?”

John kind of pauses, which I appreciated…and I’m going to assume that he needed to collect his thoughts before answering. I know I needed to collect my jaw as it hit the ground while I was listening. He then says “uhhhh….I don’t remember thinking it sucks.”

For me, that was all that was needed. However, for the people in the back, or for those who, like Delray, believe it was a double-edged sword…John continues to explain that he didn’t mind being the pinup and in fact points out that his fans had his poster pinned up in their room to Gela (this made me chuckle) whenever possible. Amusing. If I were his wife, I’d probably put up with that exactly one time before throttling him. (typed with a grin)

“Life is foreplay for when the lights go down.” – JT


Videos

Like most who interview Duran Duran, Dean Delray doesn’t really get the videos. He knows they’re works of art “They’re 35mm films, dude, not videos!”, but he also thinks they cost millions. “Planet Earth cost about $10,000 US”, John corrects.

John gives Dean the quick rundown on why Duran Duran relied on videos, explaining that Rio was charting in Australia, about as far away as one could get from the UK, and yet they couldn’t affordably travel there to play, so their managers suggested they make videos. He described going into the studio to make Planet Earth and meeting Russel Mulcahey, and then talking about how it wasn’t until the mid-80s that videos became a multi-million dollar business. It remained pretty clear that Delray just didn’t get it as he finished the conversation on videos by saying “That thing you did on the yacht was great!” He expanded by talking about how they looked rich, living the good life and trails off just as John says that they were really “just goofballs” on the video.

Exactly. Sure, it took place on a yacht, but the moral of that video is that you can put the goofballs in nice clothes, allow them to drink champagne, and let them sail on a yacht…but they’re still going to fall all over themselves in front of a girl and throw the guitarist overboard!

They speak briefly of Sing Blue Silver, and it is just about at this point when I begin to wonder if John knew he was going to be teaching Duran Duran 101 before doing the podcast. His reward for providing that knowledge is Delray’s reply “That thing is so great!”

Oh come on….you know you’re thinking the same thing I am. Did he really know what Sing Blue Silver was?

Power Station and an evolving Duran Duran

So here’s the thing, John gives a full narrative on how Power Station came to be. The two main highlights here are:

Had Robert Palmer agreed to tour with Power Station, John feels (in hindsight, mind you), that they would have continued on, but they wouldn’t have been as important as Duran Duran.

John has so much respect for Nile, it is truly inspiring. They talk about Nile and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Chic has been nominated eleven times. ELEVEN…and even then, only Nile has been honored with an award of excellence as a guitarist. John says he (Rodgers) wears that (the knowledge) very well, that if it were him, he’d be bitter.

As many probably recognize, it was during this period that Duran Duran really evolved from a five piece to a three piece band. Dean asks about the money and the fame. Rather than succumb to discussing what had been lost along the way, John turns it around.

“A run like that, sooner or later, has to end. The momentum of what you’ve done carries you. Objectivity of your work, it has it’s place.” He continues by saying, “Treat audiences and your band mates with respect, and you can have a career.”

Delray asked about Neurotic Outsiders, a project that – out of everything – he seemed the most familiar with. He cites the Viper Room and knows the people in the band. John explains that it was a good space for him to work through the burnout he’d had (for him, it was the second time he experienced burnout with Duran Duran), and to work on staying sober and being a decent parent. This was a way for him to still have fun, by playing a residency on Monday’s at the Viper Room.

New album and closing thoughts

They closed with a bit of news on the coming album – which I shared yesterday. I also took special note of a date that John mentioned while talking about Simon’s history with the band. As they chatted about the band’s beginnings, John commented that on July 1, 2020 – it will be the 40th anniversary for the current lineup. I know this has always been a sticking point for fans, many of whom claim that the band has somehow “missed” their own anniversary in 2018.

I’m the last person to tell Duran Duran what date should be celebrated, or how they should do so. My job is to applaud it. In the case of the date though, it would appear that they want to celebrate the time when Simon was in fact part of the band. This makes sense. After all, the Duran Duran we all tend to think of actually involves Simon! So, stop with the “they forgot to celebrate their anniversary” nonsense. They didn’t. Sure, they celebrated the inception of the band back when they did the 78-03 tour. That’s called “marketing”. It’s a thing, and it isn’t an affront to anyone. It also isn’t “confusing”….it was about selling tickets and hyping up their reunion as the original five. They came up with a slick way to make it all seem a lot less contrived than saying “Hey, we need to hit the road to see if anyone will even buy tickets to come see us.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

This band isn’t one for looking back – listen to any interview over the years, and they’ll tell you that themselves. We fans have made far more out of this 40th anniversary than anyone else likely intended, including the band and management. The sights are set incredibly high, and the expectations are out of this world. No matter what the band does at this point, it may not be enough to pacify. This is unfortunate. Listen to the podcast. The one thing John says that is key for Duranies in resetting their expectations, is that the band talked a lot about what to do (if anything) about the 40th anniversary. The one thing they agreed upon, was that the best way to celebrate their career next year was with new music.

Sounds great to me, John!

Wow, after that post, I need a break! Good thing today is my “Friday” for blogging! Happy Weekend, everyone!

-R