Category Archives: Uncategorized

Built on Hope

Now I can see the big idea

Just when you think you’ve seen enough popularity contests for a while, another pops up!

Last week, while ruminating on the nomination list for the RRHOF, there was a poll for the greatest album of 1982. This very serious, scientifically accurate poll by @RickMayer_Vinyl, pitted 1000 albums from that year against one another, bracket style. Each bracket was whittled down to the final four, which consisted of Rio, Signals (Rush), Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden), and Never Surrender (Triumph).

At first, Rio was losing, and badly at that. But we Duranies got out the vote, and eventually came out on top at 44% to Rush’s Signals at 36%. To those who are unaware, Rush has a fantastically strong fan community, not unlike our own. They are connected, they have get togethers all over the country, and they do fan conventions that in turn, inspire me to do more. To beat such very dedicated fans was not a small feat, and really – in this situation, that’s what it is about. Whether you’re a Rush fan or not, I think it is prudent to acknowledge that polls like that aren’t really about the quality of the music, but the strength of numbers in voting. Signals is a fantastic album, and I wouldn’t have been too upset had it won. These polls amount to a popularity contest, but then – many things do.

The feeling that I’m moving on

However, participating in things like that, while fun from time to time, also reminds me of where this fan community, as well as the band, sits in the world of music. There was certainly some good natured shade thrown between fans. Most of it, as I said, was good natured ribbing. No harm, no foul. However, there’s always someone who feels it necessary to take it a bit farther. It is a shame that in 2019, that we need to still be reminded that a good portion of the world – the “rock” portion of the music-listening world, mind you – believes that only girls ever listened to Duran Duran. Unfortunately, this thinking still prevails amongst a certain segment, and does little more than remind me how much of an uphill battle we have when even fellow music fans cannot give credit where it is due without a backhanded comment This doesn’t come down to critics and music journalists gathered in a room, determined to snub bands like Duran Duran. I wish it did.

You walk the line

This morning, yet another popularity contest of sorts reared it’s head on Twitter, although this one had already been decided. Rolling Stone published a list of the 100 best singers of all time, and the results are between tweeted. If you haven’t seen it yet, you most likely will see it being retweeted at some point. There is a full article about it here at Rolling Stone, too. It is worth reading if you can manage the time because it goes into full detail about each person and their ranking on the list. Otherwise, here’s the full list:

I don’t know why they bleeped out Joe Cocker’s last name, but whatever. In some ways, it plays to the childish sort of dumbassery that goes into creating a list like this to begin with. Content is content, I suppose.

I waited long enough

My problem isn’t so much with the list, although any list that contains Bono and not Simon Le Bon is just stupid, although I wonder why this needed to be done to begin with. Do we really need to rank singers?? Isn’t it all just opinion anyway? While I am fairly certain that someone out there has devised some sort of scientific method to break down what is most pleasing about voices combined with how influential each voice has been over time – my argument is simply that none of it matters, unless you happen to agree that Axl Rose (64) deserves to be on this list, while Chris Cornell (or Simon Le Bon for that matter), does not.

I’ve had so many people respond directly and indirectly to me that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just doesn’t matter. I’d say the same about the Oscars, the Grammy’s, even the Tony’s. None of it matters, yet for some reason, a lot of people pay attention – even if it’s just in passing. For example, I know more than a few people who make a point to go out and see the movies nominated for Oscars each year. Nick and Katy dedicate a full Katy Kafe to talking about the nominees! Yet, I couldn’t care less. I rarely watch the show in full, and I almost never see all of the nominees each year. I don’t have time, and I don’t make it a priority. Yet I sit and watch the Hall of Fame induction every year as soon as it airs, and I know I’m not the only one. If I were, there would be no show each year.

Happy to watch it fade

It doesn’t matter that Duran Duran hasn’t been nominated, and it doesn’t matter that Simon hasn’t been included on this list. After all, Rolling Stone magazine was started by none other than Jann Wenner, who in fact was the head of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame until this past August! I still think Simon is far and away a better singer than Axl Rose, Bruce Springsteen (36), or Bono (32). Sadly, I wasn’t consulted, so Patty Labelle is at 95, and Stevie Nicks is at 98, while Kurt Cobain is at 45.

Suffice to say, it is all a popularity contest. The list doesn’t need to exist at all, but somehow – it does. Is that the real problem though? I’m not sure. There are some very widely and tightly held beliefs about what sorts of bands and people are most worthy – and THAT, my friends, is the problem. It isn’t about whether or not the list matters. Too many people pay attention, and too many eyes see the list and allow it in as an influence for that argument to hold water. Until we are able to speak plainly and truthfully about what this constant snub means in context, it will continue – whether you think it matters or not.

-R

What Is Rock and Roll?

Happy Thursday! Today, I have a deceptively simple, single question for you to ponder.

R&B+C&W=R&R (I never loved algebra that much)

What is rock & roll? What does that term mean to you? Yes, the topic has a little to do with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, purely because it was that topic that sparked some thinking about it, additionally – I have heard so many people say that rock & roll is dead.

Let me give you a little to chew on and mull over. During the 1950’s, and certainly by 1955 when DJ Alan Freed claimed to have invented the term, “rock and roll”, the oversimplified “recipe” for the music was R&B+C&W=R&R (rhythm and blues plus country and western equals rock and roll).

This recipe overlooks so much, though. A myriad of styles influence both R&B and C&W. It is crazy to boil it down to two styles and a bunch of letters. I never loved algebra in school anyway. It is an awful lot to think about though, so I implore you to think it through. Does rock and roll come down to just the music? What about the social and cultural forces? I am one of those people who just doesn’t buy into an algebraic equation being the answer to my greatest historical interest….okay, obsession.

Rock around the clock

Let’s try to tear this apart a bit more, starting with the earliest “rock and roll” music. While many people believe that “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley was what started the phenomenon, there’s absolutely zero consensus with that assertion. Did you know that there are actually 50 milestone songs from the period of time prior to 1956 that have elements of rock and roll (that aforementioned equation) in them? There’s no way to determine just which one was the spark that set off the explosion.

I’m not entirely convinced that the general public could listen to the radio in 2019 and actually hear those roots. Maybe some people with some songs, but for the most part? Probably not. Is that the problem, or the point?

Testing, bending and breaking

As Jason said yesterday, rock and roll’s roots are steeped in Southern blues. That rhythm and blues music was indeed Black American music – and white people loved it. The early innovators of the rock music you and I love, were all Black and/or African American. White people did not corner the market on rock and roll. Ever. Did you know that of the first artists that could have been considered rock and roll musicians prior to 1955, there is only one white artist to note? That would be Bill Haley. The music began to bend a racial boundary in a way that nothing else did prior. I think that’s worth noting. (I’m looking at you, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination committee.)

During the 1950’s, the American youth had leisure time. A true “Youth Culture” evolved. The after school hours were spent socializing. Parents and the powers that be were worried about all of that spare time being spent on nefarious activities. People moved to the suburbs of cities, and “Main Street” America became a very prominent image. During this same period, Eisenhower was president, known for his very conservative, “squeaky clean” views. Soda shops, clean-cut boys and girls, letterman sweaters…all of those images are straight from 1950’s America, paired against the rebellious “rock and roll” image. Black leather jackets, smoking, motorcycles, fast cars, and oiled hair just to note a few of the stereotypical . The fear of kids listening to rock and roll, turning delinquent, and ruining their lives became a massive topic at home. As if listening to music was the complete opposite to work, rather than just a complementary aspect of it.

With a rebel yell

The kids still listened to rock and roll, of course. They rebelled. Do any of us really do as we’re told?? All any parent ever needs to do is say that something is trash, and kids will ruin their minds if they watch or listen, and that certain “something” will become the most sought after fad in America. That is precisely what happened as 1950 turned to 1960. The true rebels, these artists willing to put their work out there, were crucial to youth culture because they influenced kids, turning them onto blues, and politics and poetry. They served as a link for those who were culturally adventurous. Rock and roll was something far more than just background music to other activities during the 1960s. It inspired. It broke boundaries. It unified.

Gender roles, politics, social boundaries, race, sexism, AIDS, sexual practices, drugs, social and political activism….I could go on and on. The proof is in the history, and music is the magical link. Music continues to keep doing all of that. We talk, we argue, we unite, we make change, regardless of whether there’s a guitarists or ten keyboardists in the band we’re listening to. Think on that.

What is rock and roll

In wrapping this up, I don’t know that I agree about rock and roll being dead. They’ve been saying that since the days disco, and yet in hindsight it’s pretty obvious that the spirit survived the 1970s without too much of a problem. How can rock and roll be dead when it has inspired virtually every single piece of music that has been created since 1955? Yes, the sound of rock and roll has evolved since Halley’s “Rock Around the Clock” and Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” or even Chuck Berry’s “The Twist”. Thank goodness. That’s called progress and should be applauded. There is no litmus, or purity test needed. Is the spirit dead, or can we just not see it right now?

What is rock and roll?

-R

Why Don’t They Drop the Bomb

The annual list of nominees for the rock-n-roll hall of fame came out yesterday and I spent the better part of my day haunted by the idea of the Dave Matthews Band being inducted. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely owned their first two (three if we count Remember Two Things) CDs in college. One of my favorite concert moments ever was seeing Dave, Tim Reynolds, and Jack Johnson singing Jimmy Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks At Forty” as a light rain fell on the lawn at Waikiki Shell in Honolulu, HI. It was magical. Remembering that moment tonight reminded me to stop worrying and love the bomb.

The bomb? Are you high? 

(writer winks at cat)

Simon LeBon famously declared that Duran Duran would be the band to dance to when the bomb drops. And you know what, we will be dancing to “Planet Earth” if that ever happens regardless of whether they are recognized with a picture in a museum in Cleveland, OH. I’ve been to Cleveland. I’m not sure an offer to have coffee with John and hit an art gallery with Nick would lure me back (note: I’m lying, I’d walk there for that). Duran Duran does not need this validation and, in some ways, I hope they never get in. The Hall of Fame is a broken concept because a lot of people have forgotten what rock-n-roll is. 

Iron Maiden. Judas Priest. Motörhead. T. Rex. Kraftwerk. Five of the most influential rock bands of all-time are still awaiting the call. The first induction took place in 1986. In 1986, these bands were either still making important records or influencing everything we heard at the time. The theoretical branches of rock-n-roll stretch in many directions but these five artists are huge parts of the damn tree. 

The Hall of Fame lost the plot years ago and realized their only chance at staying relevant was to deny entry to important bands to sustain interest. Knowing the loyal followings of KISS and Rush, the Hall kept them at bay for years to build hysteria. Are they doing the same with Duran Duran? I doubt it. The institution laughably nominated the Dave Matthews Band in their first year of eligibility. They really are that out of touch with the spirit of rock-n-roll.

Rock-n-roll is a spirit that cannot be seen. It is an attitude, not a guitar. It is the voice of youth, of rebellion, of change. It is not a lifestyle that you can package and hang on a wall no matter how hard Hot Topic tries. The two most disappointing parts of this annual debate are how few women are being recognized by the Hall and how much resistance there is to black music, especially hip hop, by the audience. 

The roots of rock-n-roll are in the Mississippi delta. From the crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to the Riverside Hotel where Ike Turner and his band worked up the first rock-n-roll song (“Rocket 88”), the town of Clarksdale remains ground zero. Listen to the lyrics of Son House and Muddy Waters. They embody the spirit of rock-n-roll with songs about overcoming the institutions that hold you back from your dreams. You can hear the same spirit in the best hip hop artists who used the instruments they had available to them: two turntables and a microphone. 

As for the lack of female artists being recognized, the Hall continues to prove that the patriarchy will never concede their power. If the Dave Matthews Band is eligible, that means that Ani DiFranco, Cyndi Lauper, Liz Phair, Alanis Morrissette, Tori Amos, Tina Turner, Sheryl Crow, Bjork, Mary J. Blige, and Annie Lennox are also eligible. These voices are more important to rock-n-roll than a band that sang “Hike up your skirt a little more and show the world to me.”

Why aren’t I talking about Duran Duran more? That’s my point. I’m more disappointed by artists such as LL Cool J and Alanis Morrissette not being recognized. I could write 5,000 words on how Duran Duran was a subversive reaction to England under Thatcher and was more politically successful than the Sex Pistols (actually, I want to do that, soon). Or, how John Taylor’s bass lines are revered by other musicians and Nick Rhodes is a mainstream Brian Eno. But, it wouldn’t change the minds of those currently running the overpriced museum in Cleveland.  

Instead of knocking on the door of an institution that lost sight of why rock-n-roll is important to each new generation, we should be celebrating Duran Duran’s annual snub as a call-to-arms. With each new album and sold-out tour, Duran Duran are laughing at the Hall of Fame. It has reached a point that the Hall cannot admit they were wrong. Had the band stopped after The Wedding Album, the Hall would probably have inducted them when the band was hanging with Justin Timberlake; if only to seem relevant to the Timberlake demographic. But they didn’t and we should not think about being nominated ever again. Someday, the bomb really will drop and we still have Duran Duran booked as the house band. I’ll take that over a statue in Cleveland.

2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

Alright. It is Tuesday, and I am fired up today, my friends. I have had two travel-mug sized cups of coffee, I’ve listened to the list of nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I am ready to comment. Get yourself a beverage and strap yourselves in, because it’s about to get rocky.

First of all, allow me to rip off the bandaid now. No, Duran Duran wasn’t nominated this year. Let’s all just take a collective, cleansing, breath. I need one, don’t you? While you’re deep breathing, here’s the list:

Pat Benatar

The Doobie Brothers

Motörhead

The Notorious B.I.G.

Soundgarden

T. Rex

Thin Lizzy

Whitney Houston

Depeche Mode

Judas Priest

Kraftwerk

MC5

Nine Inch Nails

Rufus feat. Chaka Khan

Todd Rundgren

Ready?

The fact is, not everyone can get nominated, and not everybody can get in. There are many noteworthy acts on this list, and about half are first time nominees. One of them – the Dave Matthews Band – is not only a first time nominee, but also a first time eligible.

On a purely personal note, I am thrilled that Depeche Mode was nominated, love seeing Kraftwerk on the ballot again, and I’m hoping that Pat Benatar gets in. I’ve already voted, and if you haven’t, DO IT. Just go to Google and type in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

It is very hard to look at this list and not notice the glaring omission. Yes, we ARE that biased. Of course we are. We all know Duran Duran should be on that list. I listened to Feedback this morning in hopes of getting a better understanding of why they’re not. It comes down to two glaring problems in neon lights for Duran Duran.

First of all, there is a nominating committee that gets together on a single day (in person, no call-ins!). This committee is made up of critics and musicians, and they each bring the name of a possible nominee that they feel is worth making the case to include on the ballot. This is also where it gets political. People posture for their chosen favorite, they consider genres, whether the bands/people they choose are enough to get fans interested, and that sort of thing. I’m not going to mince words here though – as long as there are critics deciding who is going to be included on the ballot, the bands who are truly the most “worthy” by the people who listen to them will never really be considered.

I think even our band knows this. Likely, this doesn’t make them nearly as angry and fired up as I am today. They’ve had 40 years to practice tempering themselves. I’ve had…well, nine. (I am a slow learner) While my UK friends will patiently remind me that this is only an “American” thing and that it probably doesn’t matter to Duran Duran – the fact is, the American music scene is the biggest in the world. This is the country that, historically speaking, bands have worked incredibly hard to break. Even The Cure says they’re excited to vote this year, according to Lori. However, none of that matters to me as much as what I’m about to say.

I am sick to death of the inherent sexist BS that pervades music, whether you’re an artist, or you’re a fan like me. Even as the nominees were discussed on Feedback today with Joel Peresman (CEO and president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation), and Alan Light (rock journalist, critic and host of Debatable on SiriusXM radio), the subject of Duran Duran came up. While they refused to comment one way or another if the band had even been mentioned during the behind-closed-door discussion of nominees, Alan Light commented that the band “really isn’t thought of” in the same way as the other bands on the lists. He inferred that the audience was somehow different, and they weren’t really seen as “rock”. Quite frankly – the overall discussion felt very dismissive at times, despite Lori Majewski’s valiant efforts to be heard.

I could…and did…write a lengthy essay on the obvious sexism, before I deleted it all and started over here. FM radio, pop from the 1960’s forward, even the Sgt. Pepper’s album by The Beatles….it all takes part. Suffice to say, we have work to do. Even Duran Duran sees it, that’s why they are so eager to share that they appeal to guys now, as if they never did before! I am one of those little girls who fell in love with Duran Duran. Chances are, if you’re female and reading – you are too. Collectively, we little girls are the band’s biggest supporters, and comprise the sharpest double-edged sword possible.

So that’s where we are, folks. Sure, the Rock Hall had some turn over this year. I won’t say I’m sorry that Jann Wenner has left his post, although he’s still on the Board, I believe. It just isn’t enough. I heard Lori continuing to ask if anything had changed on the Board this year or if the nominating group had changed – unfortunately the answer was no, not much. (one female added. Really? One??)

We have a long way to go before the discussion of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is about the music. Somebody should write a book.

-R

Happy 22, Medazzaland!

Medazzaland is 22, today. For some reason, that number doesn’t bother me nearly as much as hearing, for instance, that Astronaut is 15…or that I’m about to turn 49 in a few weeks. Let’s just not talk about any of that, though.

They’ll say we’ll get over it

As I waxed nostalgic earlier to a friend, I can remember when Duran Duran appeared on the Rosie O’Donnell show in 1997. They were promoting Medazzaland, and I was folding laundry while my oldest was bouncing away in her little chair. I can remember hoping she’d stay quiet long enough for me to listen to the interview and see them perform!

I hadn’t bought Medazzaland yet. In fact, I don’t think I even knew they had an album coming out until I watched the show that day, which, when I think back on it – is pretty alarming. It also explains my headspace at the time. I was definitely in the full throes of postpartum depression. Motherhood was proving to be a far bigger challenge than just diapers, laundry and bottles.

Why do we still face the music?

Seeing Simon, Nick and Warren that day made me smile for what might have been the first time in months, but I also felt pretty wistful. Admittedly, they didn’t feel like the Duran Duran I’d known. It was kind of like running into people at your high school reunion. Everyone wears these name tags with their maiden names on them, along with senior pictures to remind everyone of what they once looked like – but you don’t really recognize them. You don’t KNOW them anymore. That’s kind of how I felt with Duran Duran back then. I mean, by the time Medazzaland was released in 1997, Rio had already been out for fifteen years. So yes, I guess I did struggle with that a little bit.

I’d never heard “Electric Barbarella” until that day on the show, and I can remember thinking that the tune was catchy, so I decided that I’d go get the CD when I had a chance. As different as they were, there were still hints of sounds I recognized. (No, it wasn’t all about Simon)

Not long after the Rosie appearance, I bought the CD. I can remember running into the music store and buying it while my husband and Heather happily waited in the car. It was a shock to hear Medazzaland for the first time, as my husband scanned through the songs – only hearing the first 30 seconds or so of each before moving on. I just didn’t know this band anymore, and I think that was a real shock to my system. I’m not writing this as a topic of argument, I’m just explaining how it felt to me at the time, in 1997. Things change.

Now and then you’ll get the strangest notion

There are a good many people out there who claim to love Medazzaland now, 22 years after it’s initial release, but I can remember talking to many of those same people online in the year 2002-2003 or so. There were not nearly as many well-wishers then. Music has a tendency to grow on your ears and your heart, I suppose. I’m still not sure that I love the album as much as I love others, but I recognize its importance in the overall catalog.

Medazzaland kind of allowed Nick, Simon and even Warren to spread their wings and experiment with their sound as a trio for the first time. John was gone. Andy and Roger had been gone for quite a while by then. This trio was the new Duran Duran (or Duranduran if you prefer), and they were making a-go of it. In a lot of ways, this was a brand-new band. I would imagine that it was on this album that Warren really grew more comfortable because he’d already had the success of Ordinary World and Come Undone, and John wasn’t around to side with Simon. So he and Nick grew closer, worked together far more extensively, and the music evolved as result.

Wild ambition can you really blame us

This is why they took the cover of Rio and “redesigned” it. It wasn’t just happenstance they chose that image to graffiti for the cover. They were making a statement that this was a new era. This was not the band who created Rio, this was new. They wanted to be known for who they were at that moment, not for the Fab Five, Rio, or Sing Blue Silver. There is no clearer proof than on the album closer, “Undergoing Treatment”. Read the lyrics. In fact, read them all. The story is right there, laid out in the words, and playing in the music. The problem, of course, is that you can try to outrun it….but you can’t hide from your past. It tends to follow.

Like it, love it, or something else entirely, Medazzaland was a tidal change for Duran Duran. Creatively, they pushed the envelope and broke out of boxes that critics and, yes, even fans, had insisted they stay in. Funny thing about time, too. It softens the hard edges, makes the black and white seem a bit less so. I listen to the album today, and much of it feels and sounds very much like the band I know. Call it wisdom, call it old age, even. Pop Trash, Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre, All You Need is Now and Paper Gods all came later, and on each album there are the remnants and evolutions of sounds from Medazzaland. That’s success in my book.

Can you give a little more?

The defiance the band found in Medazzaland is still present in their music today. It gives their sound this fiery edge that I’ll hear every once in a while, which I appreciate. The difference, at least one that I hear, is along with that defiance, there is also pride. Shouldn’t they be, though? After all, they’ve been in this business for forty years. They’ve undergone enough personnel changes to have created four or even five different bands. They’ve come full circle, and then some.

Happy anniversary, Medazzaland!

-R

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