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It Was Thirty-Nine Years Ago…

So, 39 years ago yesterday, this little gem was released.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I still can’t quite believe it. Thirty-nine years? Did we do the math wrong?? It just seems hard to imagine that I’ve been a fan of this band for that long. (heh – just imagine what it must be like to have been one of them, having LIVED it all!)

When I think back, I can remember buying their debut album. First off, my original album doesn’t look like that one. It’s more like this one below:

Back then, I really didn’t know much about the band, only that I loved “Is There Something I Should Know”, which yes – I realize wasn’t on the original debut album released in the UK. I can also tell you that I didn’t buy the debut album first. For me, Duran Duran’s first album here in America was Rio.

Oh, I can hear the screams of protest from around the globe now…

As my story goes, I bought Rio first (which yes, was also a reissue with the Kershenbaum remixes. No, I didn’t know anything about that at the time). In fact, Rio was the only album available in my record store by Duran Duran on that fateful day sometime in April of 1983. That is because Rio was released in America on April 2nd of 1983…and the US reissue of Duran Duran’s debut album didn’t show up in record stores until April 25 of 1983. The original version of their debut was nowhere to be found. So yes, for me, Rio was in my record collection first. At that point, I was just 12 years old – the same age as my youngest right now (that’s mind boggling when I stop and think about it) – and I didn’t know much about Duran Duran. Heck, at that point, I didn’t know that much about music, unless it was Bach, Beethoven, or Brahms! (or Mozart. Can’t forget him.)

I guess by this logic, it really hasn’t been 39 years since I first bought their album….but I’m just going to go with it…

The very first poster I bought of Duran Duran was an enlarged version of the picture found on their US debut album. It hung on the wall behind my bed, just about my bedroom window. I couldn’t get over how tan Simon was, or Nick’s cheekbones (and hair, of course). If I remember right, I bought that poster the day I went in with my friend Marsha to buy Rio. That album purchase was a big deal, because as I recall, it was the very first record album I ever went into a store to buy for myself.

I can remember Marsha – she was the true rock music scholar of the two of us back then – explaining to me that we’d made an egregious error in buying Rio before getting their debut album. She was always so OCD and exacting about that kind of thing – I just wanted to buy their music, not caring so much about what came first or what “edition” I had. Marsha though, she was very particular about her music collection. Before Duran Duran, she’d been an avid Beatles collector (in fact I wonder a lot about her Beatles album collection nowadays, because I know she had the “right” versions of their entire catalog. She’d spent hundreds of hours – and many dollars – searching and finding just the right pressings to add to her collection even back then!), and she was well-versed in reissues, pressings, label changes, and that sort of thing.

Me? I just wanted to listen to “Is There Something I Should Know” every minute of the day….yay. I was more than slightly disappointed it wasn’t on Rio, since it seemed like since it had only just come out on the radio – it should be on that album! (See what I mean? I didn’t have a single clue)

Anyway, Marsha calmly and patiently explained that we’d have to go back to Music+ and buy the US reissue of their debut. She was insistent that we try and find the original pressing though, because for some reason, that mattered to her. I was 12. I just wanted my damn song. On one of the following Saturdays, we convinced her mom to take us back to the record store, where we each bought our now well-loved copies of their US reissued debut, along with this t-shirt:

Now, this isn’t exactly my shirt – which I still have. Mine was a muscle-tee, which meant no sleeves (if you’re going to do the 80s, do ‘em all the way, I guess…). I don’t wear that shirt anymore because, well, I’ve grown since I was 12.

Those that know me in real life could probably read this blog and say, “Yep, that sounds a lot like Rhonda.” While it’s true that I’ve had to get better about knowing the differences between say, Japanese and American album pressings, or what in fact the Kershenbaum mixes really are and how they’re different, because I write The Daily Duranie – for the most part – I have never been that great about paying attention! Certainly not when I was 12. I wasn’t that sort of collector or fan. I’m still really not! I love what I love, I don’t care what version I have, and I don’t try to get every single edition of whatever is out.

As I listen to Duran Duran’s debut album, and just so everyone knows – it has always been, and will likely continue to remain my favorite, so I play it the most often, I can truly say that I never once thought about how long I might listen to it when I bought it that day at Music+. Never did it occur to me that I’d grab it off the shelf thirty-nine years later, still proclaiming it to still be my favorite. Never once did I think that I’d see the band live, travel to shows, or make lifelong friends as a result. Sometimes I contemplate what the 12-year old in me would think if she had known on that day she was making what has come to be one of the biggest directional choices in her life by picking up that album that day at Music+. Knowing her like I do, she would have rolled her eyes at just the thought of growing old, never mind the rest of it.

I’ve said before that the one true constant I’ve had in this fandom has been the band itself. Duran Duran has been a part of my life in one way or another since just after I’d turned ten years old. Whether I’d only heard one song by them on a new radio station I was trying out, or I’d listened to their lead singer introduce new music I’d never heard of before on a podcast – the band has been a constant. They’ve smiled at me from on stage, signed albums for me, waved to Amanda and I while passing by in a lobby, clinked glasses at a bar (okay, so most of that is from Simon, now that I think about it…), allowed us to write about them every day for nearly a decade now – telling our own story of being fans, and most importantly, their music has genuinely saved me from some pretty low times during my nearly fifty years on this planet.

No, I didn’t think much about listening to the band nearly forty years after buying that first record, but I’m sure glad I am.

-R

The Fandom Utopia

Last night, after exhausting the options available on regular TV (as in, there were none of interest), I decided to watch a couple of episodes of a show on Prime called Upload. About a month ago I watched a few episodes when all of the kids were here. (note to any parents out there – it’s not kid friendly and I think my youngest is still scarred from my clapping my hand over her eyes a few times that first evening!) The show is set in the not-so-distant future year of 2033, a time where cars operate autonomously and people can choose to “upload” themselves digitally after death.

Essentially, your personality and spirit are downloaded from your dying body and then uploaded to the mainframe of an enormous corporation that manages your “life” after your death. From there, based on the afterlife you or your loved ones have chosen to subscribe (oh yes, capitalism is still alive and well in 2033), you can continue a virtual “life”….one in which you can call and interact with your still-living loved ones. Can you imagine?

Upload intrigued me because I liked the premise. Personal faith aside, what happens after death? I don’t know. As I watched the first episode or two, it seemed like uploading oneself to a virtual afterlife would be the perfect answer. We live this sometimes very difficult life on this planet (and naturally, for some the life is always hard and punishing), and then after, we’re rewarded by living out our days in paradise. Is there any such thing as total paradise – or as we Duranies should probably call it – Arcadia? (Check the thesaurus for paradise, people.)

In the midst of this seemingly “utopian” world on Upload, there are a number of other social commentaries going on. The “haves” and “have nots” found on earth still exist in the virtual afterlife. Some people can afford a virtual life on a grand scale. They are uploaded to a gorgeous high end resort called Lakeview. The basics are included in the Lakeview package, however, even in the virtual after life, there are in-app purchases and upgrades! Others who need more of the budget-conscious afterlife settle for what is called “2 gig”, a place where the inhabitants have two gigs of data each month before freezing in place, and perhaps can’t afford clothing, or other things we’d consider necessities.

The reason I bring up the show, is that it got me thinking. When I first got involved in the fan community, I couldn’t believe how happy I was. I finally knew other people who were as obsessed with Duran Duran as I was! So many people knew more than I did – they knew of songs I’d never heard and videos I hadn’t seen. I spent months gleaning as much as I could from anyone and everyone I met! Then I went to my very first “fan” event – a convention! I hit the jackpot in a major way.

For me, that convention was three or four days of total immersion into what felt like a fantasy world. Three words: Real Life Arcadia. It was all-Duran Duran, all the time. There were no faces to clean, arguments to referee, or meals to prepare. I had the time to just. be. me. This utopia was one that while I couldn’t enjoy all of the time, it was worth the effort to revisit a few times a year.

So I did just that. Every so often, as the band toured and I was able, I’d plan trips with Amanda. We’d leave our real lives and enter Duran-mode, or my own personal utopia. I’d spend three or four days (or more), forgetting about the mom and wife part of me I’d left behind, and attempt to somehow blanket myself in the joy of fandom, hoping to absorb enough of it all to last until the next time.

The thing is, just like Upload – there’s really no such thing as utopia. The idea of a place where all is perfect with no trouble can be super alluring, particularly when real life doesn’t quite live up. This is why fantasies sell.

As time wore on and I went to more and more shows, the cracks in the facade began to show themselves. You all know and have experienced the basic elements: jealousy, obsession, competition, toxicity, fan entitlement…I could go on. Duran Duran fans aren’t any different than anyone else. When you get a group of people together, and as they start to get to know one another and forget about being on their best behavior, it all peels like an onion. None of us are perfect, least of all me. Even so, I wanted that perfect “place” to continue surviving. I needed it.

For me, fandom has taken me on a crazy ride. I went from being it’s biggest cheerleader, to thinking I could explain and control it, to being overly critical of the reason I am here (the band), to kind of hating fandom itself, and now I’ve landed…here. I’m not exactly sure how I’d describe where I’m standing now. It’s odd. Overall, I’m most thankful for the music. I crave that special spark that comes with live music, and I dearly miss the band who creates it. These days, I’m a lot less willing to put myself out there and have discussions with other fans, outside of maybe Amanda, about Duran Duran. We all feel whatever we feel about things, and there’s no changing someone because they don’t like Dom, or they love a song I just don’t. You be you, and let me be me. Sometimes though, I take the time to write on Instagram or Twitter about something the band has done – whether that’s about Whoosh! (DD “radio” program that Simon does with Katy), or John’s Stone Love Bass Odyssey or something else. Whether they read them or not, I’ll never know for sure, and that’s okay. I don’t want to be sorry or regret not saying something I should have said or written, if that makes sense.

My most recent epiphany, is respecting the one constant I have had in fandom, the band themselves. Another post for another day.

What a weird trip it has been so far. Amanda and I had wanted to take our fandom and do something special with it. We created this blog, and when that didn’t feel like it was enough, we tried writing a manuscript, and when that wasn’t enough, we wanted to hold a fan convention. I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of common thread running through all of it for me that I’m not admitting, or letting myself see, at the moment. The smart people out there – those that study fandom – always say that fandom has a lot to do with the things you’re NOT getting in your real life. Maybe so. Perhaps it is that I wanted to be liked, respected and/or even admired by other fans? I’m not above admitting that, I guess. At this point you all know a lot of things about me anyway. Surprise!!! I’m a flawed human!

Amanda and I upped the fandom ante for ourselves as often as possible, until it just didn’t seem like there was anything else that could be done. It was as far as we could go on our own steam. We didn’t publish a book (wrote a few though), we did host a convention, we didn’t get backstage or interview the band. Fandom – that means any of you reading and even those who refuse to read – has/have a love/hate relationship with us. They liked us until they hated us, are the words I like to use. At that point, or juncture, Amanda and I had to find our own path. We’re still friends, we’re still Duran Duran fans, and we still write the blog, but it’s different. I think she’d agree with me on that. Even our friendship is different now. In some ways, it is even better. In others, I miss the way we’d put everything aside and encapsulate ourselves whenever we’d talk. Back then, we’d talk often, and sometimes, throughout each day!

For me – I think that when I got to that point – I didn’t know how to feel. I still don’t, really. I look at people who have actually done something tangible with their fandom and made it into careers, who are so incredibly loved and revered by other fans, and wonder why that didn’t work out for me – at least not in an obvious sort of way. Just where on earth do I belong or fit in??

I still don’t think I know. Maybe I won’t. Hence, this is not utopia. Or paradise. Or even Arcadia.

I try not to get down on myself about not knowing, or maybe accepting my path, in the same way I once did. I just sort of respect that for whatever reason, my path lies elsewhere. I’m clearly standing on it, even if I don’t quite get what the hell I’m doing here or why. I’m still here blogging – or attempting to – at any rate. I’m also doing other things for other people who count on me that have nothing to do with Duran Duran. I hear that’s called “life balance”. <insert chuckle here>

Utopia doesn’t exist, at least, not for long. Even if I could upload myself to some virtual life that included a career outside of the home, with more friends and maybe even more obvious signs of personal success – what would it look like? Could I be any happier?

If you notice, I used the word “could” rather than “would” in that sentence. Maybe that says more about than anything else I’ve written today.

-R

American Science – Ranking The Albums (Part 1)

Welcome to American Science – a scientific study of the Duran Duran discography. How scientific? Well, I came up with a formula based on five categories: Songs, Artwork, Videos, Fashion, and Nostalgia and analyzed each album. Songs were rated 1 (ewww) to 5 (yes!) and then averaged for the album. The score is 60% of the overall album score as Duran Duran is always more than just music. Each of the remaining categories was scored 1 to 5 and given 10% weight. The results surprised even me. This week, we start at the bottom of the list…..

Video Day!

In lieu of an uplifting topic today…I’m posting videos of songs and moments that make me happy. Enjoy!

Hold Back the Rain from Oakland 2017. My heart nearly burst when they played this.
There aren’t many mashups that make me as happy as Sunrise with New Moon on Monday.

The very first song I heard on tour in the UK 2011. I had to keep pinching myself to make sure it was real.
This was the last show I saw in the UK for that tour. Amanda and I were right where John and Dom met and played together on stage…and yes, I nearly died. Several times. 😀


The last time I saw Duran Duran. Feels appropriate to end with this one. Hoping that someday, there will be more.

I miss this band.

-R

Happy Birthday Nick!

Dearest Nicholas,

The happiest of birthdays to you, Mr. Controller. I can’t say for certain that my friends and I were the first to bestow that moniker upon you, but I do know that we began using that name in 2003 on our message board and it seemed to spread from there. There is not much that pleases me more than hearing your own bandmates use it in reference to you. It is like the gift that keeps on giving, year after year.

I must admit, I have no idea of what you’re doing (or have done) to celebrate this momentous day, but whether it is sorting photographs, taking more photos (which of course will then need to be sorted at some point in the future), working on a musical…trying out new eyeliners…or watching films you’ve been hoping to make time to see but somehow have missed until now, I sincerely hope you have a lovely day.

As you might imagine, I…and thousands of others just like me…dearly miss seeing you on stage, peering down over the top of your keyboards with the occasional knowing smirk. I sincerely miss the joyful expression on your face as Amanda and I duck during the near-misses in the Spit Zone, or as my eyes automatically roll as the first drum beats of Hungry Like the Wolf hit my ears. Those moments, along with many others, make me laugh, and the memories continue to keep a smile on my face.

I can only hope to be in the audience again sometime soon. I will look your way and grin, whether or not you look or notice, but it will indeed be a wonderful “reunion” of sorts. Please stay safe, wash your hands, take care of yourself and Nefer, and have a wonderful birthday!

-R

When Summer Doesn’t Seem Like Summer

Today is the last day of school for my youngest. Summer is here. There’s no tasting summer today, that is for sure. It might be 99 degrees outside right now, but Oddly, I don’t feel that same sort of accomplishment that comes with another school year in the bag. I don’t even know that my daughter does. In fact this morning, we had quite the discussion over whether or not really was, in fact, the last day. She was convinced she went through Friday. It took me pulling up the school and district website calendar to prove my point, and even then, she’s semi-convinced I’m wrong.

Everything is so messed up, I can’t really blame her for not knowing whether she’s coming or going! Nothing feels right about this year. Who knew 2020 was going to be the colossal mess it’s proven to be thus far? Never in my wildest dreams did I see all of this coming, and while there’s a part of me that is most assuredly relieved that after today, I am not going to have to announce, “It’s time to get up!” or “If you don’t get out of that bed right now young lady, you are grounded from the computer for the rest of the week!” At least, I won’t have to do that for the next eight weeks or so, right?

Never in my life did I expect to come to a point where I couldn’t plan for more than a day, or even a week in advance, but here I am. We have no summer plans, obviously. I mean, who knows whether or not we’ll ever be out of this “shelter-in-place” thing that really doesn’t mean shelter-in-place as much as it means that we shouldn’t be out having a good time because there’s a pandemic lurking about that might only give us a dry throat, cough and fever…but it also might kill us faster than we can say “I am the virus, I lay a coil around your spine”. Sure, it might seem facetious for me to write that, but life feels like a game of Russian Roulette at the moment.

One also cannot forget that at the moment, I have a husband recuperating from a stroke. The more I type or say the words, the more my own brain insists I’ve taken leave of my senses. The blood clot was small, the effects were…not quite. He is better, don’t get me wrong. Progress has been steady. Each day I wake up to find that more and more of my husband is returning. I am lucky, but I am also terrified. It is a change that has affected me to my very core, and not something that I can really describe in words. I think of the memes I see posted on social media when a rare storm (the rest of you might call it “sprinkles” or “rain”) hits Southern California. The photo will be of a plastic chair blown over in a backyard and the caption reads “We Will Rebuild”. I feel that way, except the storm was real, and it’s obviously not just a plastic chair.

He’s back trying to work, which seems exceptionally quick. His speech is starting to return in that he is annunciating more clearly, but there are other things that are much slower. His personality has somewhat changed – that, I can’t put my finger on what it is, but it’s something I notice and no one else seems to mention. One week post-stroke now, and the doctor appointments tend to fill up the calendar, sometimes with little notice. It is a strange existence, particularly during a pandemic when you can’t really plan ahead. Everything feels last minute, and for those of us die-hard planners out there, it’s a different world.

I don’t think it’s any different for Duran Duran. Can you imagine how it must feel to be on the cusp of finishing a record, just yards from the finish line, only to have the whole thing put on hold? What about having to cancel an entire summer worth of gigs, and oh wait, looks like Autumn gigs will have to go, too. It isn’t even as though we can plan for next year, because truthfully – we don’t know what next year is even going to look like. Mindboggling. Just as we’re settling into one sort of reality, another comes knocking on the door, threatening to destroy whatever spirit we’ve got left in us.

I know I’m supposed to be focusing my blogs on Duran Duran. I wish I could. For nearly ten years now, I’ve spent most mornings thoughtfully preparing posts that reflect whatever is going on in Duranland, written from the perspective of a fan. That perspective, whether mine, Amanda’s, Jason’s, or even another guest blogger, is what makes this blog unique. We all feel and experience the band differently. We’ve tried to create a safe place to express that, although at times – we fall short. At the moment, real life feels like it regularly outweighs the band, and I’m betting I’m not alone. Life in 2020 is utterly chaotic. A dumpster fire beyond all measure. Even Yellowstone National Park is having a freak out. (There’ve been hundreds of earthquakes there within the past 24-hours, and no – I doubt that’s coincidence. Mother Earth isn ’t having it anymore.)

I need a vacation. I’m off in search of a bass player giving a tutorial, and a chat with another rock star. Be kind to one another. Patience is a virtue. Wash your hands. Remember the acronym BE FAST. It can save your life!

-R

Save A Prayer & The Desperate Narrator

“Definitely a song written by a lonely guy desperate to hook up with … somebody … ANYBODY“

Simon LeBon on Twitter discussing “Lonely In Your Nightmare”

“sounds like da lonely guy is beginning to get desperate …”

Simon LeBon on Twitter discussing “Hungry Like the Wolf”

When it comes to Duran Duran lyrics, Simon LeBon rarely shows all his cards but last week’s listening party shed a little light into his creative process. I was already working on this article when the Tim’s Twitter Listening Party for Rio appeared in my Twitter feed Wednesday morning. I raced home from the record store (felt so good to be in one after two months) to tune in. It was a really fun hour with a lot of familiar names on Twitter but it didn’t change the somewhat uncomfortable relationship I have with “Save A Prayer”.

As a preface to this, I admit that I still love “Save A Prayer”. I still want to hear it during every Duran Duran show and it still tugs on my heartstrings when it comes on the radio. I think it is as good as a ballad as they have ever written. But I also think the lyrics are worthy of some serious contemplation. How romantic of a song is it really? Does the music’s ability to evoke a mood overshadow some uncomfortable truths? 

The framework with which I examine the song relies on Seymour Chapman’s model of narrative communication which places the constructs of Implied Author – Narrator – Narratee – Implied Reader between the Real Author (in this case LeBon) and the Real Reader (the listener). Here, the Implied Author is the persona of Simon LeBon, aspiring pop star, and the Implied Reader is the female Duranie screaming in the front-row of a sold-out show. 

Simon’s tweets about other songs on Rio (see above) seem to validate my own interpretation that the difference between Real Author, Implied Author and Narrator within the song are often the same person (LeBon). With little to no artifice, LeBon was writing lyrics that reflected how he felt as well as how he wanted to be seen by the reader. However, this creates a problem of narrative authority almost as soon as “Save a Prayer” begins:

You saw me standing by the wall,
Corner of a main street
And the lights are flashing on your window sill
All alone ain't much fun,
So you're looking for the thrill
And you know just what it takes and where to go

If we choose to read this verse with LeBon in the role of protagonist, the issue of authority remains unresolved. How can he know the intent of the women watching him from her window sill or ascertain that she knows how and where to find her thrill? In a way, he is declaring that she is “hungry like the wolf” and he has become the hunted – insisting that desire works in both directions. This reveals the mindset of the Implied Author – “a lonely guy desperate to hook-up” if we take LeBon at face value. 

What if the “me” standing by the wall isn’t LeBon the person but an advertisement for the band and the “you” being the collective youth of the era? A flashing billboard outside “your” window could be an offer to “escape” reality which certainly ties into the band’s underlying ethos of escapism as encapsulated in the videos for this album. In that case, the thrill “you’re” looking for lies in the band, not necessarily LeBon’s bed. While that might better explain the narrator possessing knowledge of another character’s mindset, I don’t think for a second that was LeBon’s intention when writing this song. 

Don't say a prayer for me now,
Save it 'til the morning after
No, don't say a prayer for me now,
Save it 'til the morning after

The melancholic mood of this ballad and having it near the end of the record could symbolize a sense of awareness that wasn’t present on the earlier songs when, again using Simon’s words, the narrator was a “lonely guy desperate to hook-up”. Now that he has had a one-night stand, does he start to realize the emptiness of the experience despite his attempt to romanticize it and call it paradise? It certainly doesn’t stop him, hence the narrator imploring the reader to not say a prayer just yet. But maybe there is an arc of learning across Rio for LeBon as author and narrator.

Feel the breeze deep on the inside,
Look you down into your well
If you can, you'll see the world in all his fire
Take a chance
(Like all dreamers can't find another way)
You don't have to dream it all, just live a day

But then again. Maybe not. Hard to read this as anything more than the narrator trying to seduce someone. While the lyrics aren’t cringe-worthy like “Read My Lips” on Liberty, there is certainly little room for interpretation other than the obvious. LeBon remains the “lonely guy” trying to find comfort in her well. 

Pretty looking road,
Try to hold the rising floods that fill my skin
Don't ask me why I'll keep my promise,
Melt the ice
And you wanted to dance so I asked you to dance
But fear is in your soul
Some people call it a one night stand
But we can call it paradise

The music quickens as do the pulses in the third verse. The urgent desire from LeBon is matched by Roger Taylor’s more conventional drum pattern with the snare on the 2 and 4 replacing the rim shot of earlier verses. In the video, LeBon, clearly acting as the narrator, kisses the sleeping woman goodbye on the “I’ll keep my promise” line which seems to imply that he won’t as he leaves in search of another pretty looking road. 

My final thought on the intention of the narrator within “Save A Prayer” centers around the public vs. private voice and the possibility that the verses and chorus are different voices. The music supports this idea with a key change from D-minor in the verse to B-minor in the chorus. In the verses, we are shown the private voice of the Implied Author – the lead singer of a band on the road looking to keep loneliness at bay by having one-night stands. However, in the chorus, the Real Author takes over and speaks not to the individual women in the verses but to the Real Reader (us, the listener). He is asking us to not judge him for actions he knows he will soon regret. 

This layer of guilt could reflect the Real Author’s true emotional state that cannot be dismissed with a joke on Twitter about being a “lonely guy trying to hook-up”. The Implied Author/Narrator (Simon LeBon the rock star) would be expected to act as he does in the verses. Patriarchal society all but demands that of someone in his position. While fulfilling those expectations, a little voice in the back of the Real Author’s mind seems to be raising an alarm and he seeks our prayers in the chorus. Does this warrant our sympathy? That is up to each individual listener. For me, challenging the lyrics and dissecting the author’s mindset when writing the song only make me appreciate it more. No matter how one reads “Save A Prayer”, there is no happy ending with the couple forever in love but that is exactly the fantasy it manages to sell us despite the words that say otherwise. That, my friends, is the magic of popular music. 

Blackout Tuesday

I’m sure if you looked around social media of any kind today, you might see hashtags posted primarily from music business entities that read #theshowmustpause or #blackouttuesday. Over the weekend through yesterday, various record labels posted that they would observe “Black Out Tuesday”, noting that it is not a day off, but instead a day to reflect and find ways to move forward together, in solidarity. Bands such as Duran Duran have posted black square images as symbols that they too, are observing this day.

This isn’t politics. Police brutality has nothing to do with the labels conservative or liberal. Humanity means everyone, and we desperately need to hold our humanity dearly in this country. I worry that we’ve forgotten what that means. We have to find some way to come together, find whatever middle ground possible to start from, and have some tough but meaningful conversations. We can’t know what it is like to be in one another’s shoes, but we can listen.

Take care of one another. Be kind.

-R

MTV ’82: A Live Chat

I’ve been burning time during this pandemic by watching old MTV recordings and I’ve been surprised by how much I don’t remember and in awe of how wonderfully under-produced the channel was during the golden years from 1981 to 1984. This week, I invited along a musician and writer who was too young to experience it in real time to see her impression. What follows is a live chat we had as it played. The entire segment can be viewed below but I also added a few of the videos discussed at the end. Ladies and gentlemen, rock-n-roll.

April 12, 1982

And we’re live from April 12th, 1982!

Jason: George Harrison “All Those Years Ago”. Don’t remember this. The Beatles seemed so old to us kids.

Aurora (italics throughout): I didn’t realize he made a music video.

It’s actually just a photo montage with music more than a video.

The Beatles solo stuff didn’t really work except for Paul and George when “Mind Set On You” took off. Otherwise, they seemed lame to me as a kind (who didn’t know Beatles music).

 I think aside from Ringo they all did some interesting solo stuff. But, I’m not sure if it would be as redeeming if they weren’t Beatles first. It’s weird that this is his solo video and its all Beatles footage.

This would have lost me as, let’s see, a 9 year-old at the time. And just turned nine a few days before this aired!

Squeeze – Tempted

Now this was cool then and even cooler now!

This is a good song. I’ve never seen the video.

Squeeze were around before MTV but handled the transition well. They had a sense of humour and that helped. 

I like the wiggly dancers.

Very English. I didn’t realize I was ingesting so much English culture at the time but it makes a lot of sense now.

 Were early videos mostly just performance footage?

A lot were. This was less than a year into MTV so bands were just beginning to see the possibility. A lot of these were already around before 1982 but I had no idea. I just assumed everything MTV was showing was new music. Which is why timelines for Genesis, Heart, ZZ Top, etc. confuse me. They were huge in the 70s?!

Did you ever enter any of those? Sweepstakes?

Definitely. I forget which ones I mailed stuff off. And I definitely called radio stations a lot but never won anything.

Commercials were so much better.

YES!!!!! And Martha Quinn still seems like the cool older sister.

(MTV News segment featuring B-52’s on Guiding Light)

The B-52’s on a soap opera!!!!

 So weird. They’re so cool though.

Pleasantly subversive to see them on Guiding Light. And this is how we used to get tour dates!

 Crazy. I think I kind of remember that though.

Pat Benatar – Precious Time

Benatar was all about narrative drive videos. A pioneer.

I like that. It feels more genuinely like a music video rather that concert footage.

Oh where is she? 

Clearly, Mars! 

Are there two of her? 

This is pretty impressive for 1982. She was always ahead of the curve with videos.

The video is interesting. This song is kind of awful though. Eh chorus is better.

It is awful. I don’t remember this one at all.  

I like the video though.

Neil Girardo dressed as the Iron Sheik for a guitar solo? What is happening?!

What is with that guitar? I hate it, but I also kind of want it. It’s a great guitar solo.

Not going to lie, I’ve lost the plot of the video. Unhappy marriage?

I think it’s pretty clear, Jason. Pat is a martian and she is observing the suburbs from her planet. And there are two of her. 

Ahh yes. Sort of like Bowie in the Man Who Fell to Earth!

I’m just realizing those were giant – whats the word? For those timers that have sand? That’s what she was surrounded by on Mars.

Hourglasses! 

Yes!

ELO – Wild West Hero

ELO seemed old by the time I first saw them on MTV. Definitely enjoy them now but this was so dull compared to the New Wave videos.

The facial hair and smoke machines are awesome. Oh man – There’s weird wild west animation now?

It didn’t take much to get on MTV in 1982. They were so desperate for content from anyone other than Rod Stewart. Is that a cello? This is terrible.

 Yes. I like it. 

Prog rock does not work on MTV.

I disagree. Sick harmonies. Some light orchestration. Random cartoons. It’s the best one we’ve seen so far.

This is not the MTV I remember. I want men dressed as humanoids. I need some Gary Numan, stat.

I think there can be a place for all of that. It doesn’t have to be that singular in its genre. 

 It did when I was nine. Actually digging this variety. Weird how my brain only remembers the New Wave stuff.

Is this a commercial? Planes crashing. Bombed out buildings on fire? This was entertainment!

I couldn’t tell if it was a commercial or what it could be. Just random footage thats slightly disturbing? I guess these days anyway. 

ASIA – Only Time Will Tell

Oh a gymnast! 

This video WAS HUGE!!!!! The use of televisions felt so futuristic….

I haven’t heard this song before. It’s so good.

This is peak 1983 MTV. 

 THIS IS SO COOL. I love that the gymnast is doing front flips on their tv bodies. This would be really cool even now.

The fact that it’s a prog-rock supergroup is so in your wheelhouse! Anything King Crimson appeals to you. LOL! 

Sorrrrrry that musical proficiency is appealing to me.

I can’t make fun of this one. The song was so good and I remember really enjoying it. Hell, I even bought a Yes album when the Owner of a Lonely Heart video hit MTV.

 OH! I’ve never seen that video. 

It’s really creepy and well done. Might be more 1984? We shall see if it pops up.

Greg Kihn Band

Hmmm this song sounds familiar. Greg Kihn made MTV work for him. The Jeopardy video was so brilliant before Weird Al turned it into a joke.

I vaguely remember this song. It’s good. 

I bet we never see more than two rows of the crowd. Looks very staged!

Most of these videos that are mostly performance shots look totally staged. 

Even Livin’ On A PRayer was but I didn’t know that as a kid. I just assumed Bon Jovi was selling out arenas even though they weren’t huge until after that song.

Are they wearing matching outfits? Cute.

Horizontal stripes were very cool. Not a good look for the husky boys of the age (i.e. me).

Michael Stanley – He Can’t Leave You

Do not remember this one AT ALL.

 Oh intense sax solo.

He is a janitor. Hard-working blue collar man probably singing about a woman he cannot win.

She’s a nurse apparently. 

OH MY GOD. Soloing through the ER.

This is a great video! Stupid but charming. Exactly what MTV should be.

I agree that it’s charming, but again, I don’t think MTV should be one thing.

This would make a great Meatloaf song.

No it wouldn’t.

Huey Lewis & the News – Do You Believe In Love

So good!!! 

Who are they singing at? Is she sleeping? Dead? 

Dreaming! And they are the sirens sweetly singing to her? Maybe.

That seems more like a nightmare.

OK, this is a little creepy. Six guys in her bed while she sleeps…

And by the looks of it, she isn’t waking up.

You forget how many excellent songs Huey did. Great songwriting. Great band.

The song isn’t bad. The video is strange. The poor girl is just trying to sleep and get ready and an entire band is singing at her.

MTV News Break

FRIPPPPPPPP

Martha Quinn talking about Fripp?! This could get interesting. For you!

I am so excited.

Frippertronics. LOL!!!!

So he basically invented the loop pedal.

Actually, that is basically this so maybe! 

I want to watch more Fripp.

REO Speedwagon

These guys were all over MTV. Bigger than Journey at first in terms of MTV.

 I can’t stop thinking about his wacky jumpsuit. Nothing else exists to me right now.

And now these guys are central to the last season of Ozark. Who would have known?

Spoiler alert? I’m not there yet.

Apologies! Switching gears. I saw Cigarettes After Sex open for Garbage and they did an ehtereal cover of Keep On Loving You by REO Speedwagon. Amazing. 

I love that version. It’s a great cover.

This is generic arena rock done well. Like a good bottle of mustard.

Generic is a great way to describe it. It’s kind of borning. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t doing anything interesting or memorable either.

This is pure content. The band had the videos already so it got shown.

Heart – Even It Up

Ohhhh, Heart before they entered their hair metal sex kitten phase!!!

It’s surprisingly bluesy and cheesy.

Is Nancy dressed as a sailor or the Pillsbury dough girl?

Definitely dough girl. It’s the exact same outfit. Wait – Is the Pillsbury dough boy a sailor? 

Mind. Blown. Maybe he baked on the submarine? I like this song!

I don’t love it. 

You can see why the record label was so hell-bent on an image makeover for them. Their styles are all disjointed.

Good call on the record label’s end.

Sadly, then it went too far. By the late 80s, Ann gained some weight so they started hiding her behind props in the videos. It was obvious even to me as a kid. Shitty.

Super shitty. She’s an amazing musician. 

Ten minutes left in this hour of MTV….hope it ends strong!!!

Kim Wilde – Kids In America

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yesss!!!! 

Her brother is in video. He wrote it. Their dad is a huge star in the UK. This is one of the first truly amazing MTV videos for my generation.

Why is her band behind a cage?

I think they assumed American boys were dangerous?

 I think that might be a reach. But I wasn’t even born yet, so what do I know? Oh! Now shes behind bars. 

Geographically. I would challenge the East California line. Not sure anything trendy was happening in Barstow….

Ha I would say that is true even now.

Years later, I read that they used it because it sounded cool.

Graham Parker – Local Girls

This was on, alot. Not sure why…..but now I know not to bother with a local girl.

Is this advocating mail order brides? 

Must have worked. I married a Brit!

Top of the hour means we are done!