Duran History 2009: Songbook

On this date in 2009, Duran Duran taped a live performance and interview called Songbook in London.  Have you seen it?  Basically, the idea behind the show was a simple one.  The band would discuss the story behind many of their songs then they would perform them.  While there have been many, many, many TV shows or performances that I have appreciated over the years, there was something special about this one.  I’m not sure if it is because I learned something new about some Duran songs, because they played some amazing songs or both.  

The set list for this was as follows:

  1. Planet Earth
  2. Late Bar
  3. The Chauffeur
  4. The Valley
  5. Box Full O’Honey
  6. Do You Believe in Shame
  7. A View to a Kill
  8. Skin Trade
  9. Ordinary World
  10. (Reach Up for The) Sunrise
  11. Rio
  12. Thank You

Thankfully, this show can be found on YouTube.  Let’s watch part one and I’ll comment on some of the highlights.

Part 1:

Like many other documentaries, this one starts out with the band’s history.  While I feel like I know the start of the band so well that I could recite it in my sleep, I never get tired of hearing it.  There is something magical about understanding their influences and how dedicated they were to being a success.  As someone who has tried to organize people for a variety of purposes, I can totally understand how hard and how important it is to find committed people.

Then, to my shock and amazement, they discuss Late Bar!  I love how the Rum Runner and the Tritec bar influenced it.  Likewise, I appreciate how Nick said that when they first started out they didn’t analyze everything to death, which is the mood that produced Late Bar.  There is a big part of me that wish that they could replicate that mood again but I get it.  You cannot go back.  On a related note, this live performance of Late Bar is so, so, so good.  One of my favorites.

Unlike Late Bar, there was some discussion on the Chauffeur, which did not surprise me at all.  One thing Nick said that I really appreciated is that while they were self-taught, the fact that they were such fans taught them a lot.  Rhonda and I often worry about whether or not our education on fandom is good enough since we are self-taught both through our reading and our observations.  Hearing Nick makes me think that we really are.

Similarly, when the band talked about the making of the song, Rio, Nick mentioned about how magical songwriting is in that you never know what is going to get created.  I feel the exact same way about writing.  Sometimes, I reread something I have written and I just shake my head, wondering how certain words or phrases gotten added, gratefully, to the sentence or paragraph.  The creative process is an awesome one, for sure.

Part one finishes up with Skin Trade and the story about how Nick and John weren’t going to let go of the song even when Simon couldn’t develop any lyrics.  Luckily, the lyrics finally came to Simon!

Part 2:

This part opens with a discussion on how tough Seven and the Ragged Tiger was to record and how disappointed they were when the album debuted at number four as they were expecting number one right away.  Clearly, expectations matter.  This was followed up by the story behind A View to a Kill where the pressure continued since they had a week to write it and it was for a Bond movie.

Before the next song, Do You Believe in Shame, Simon shares the death of his friend.  While I definitely appreciated his willingness to be open and vulnerable, I found the discussion surrounding egos to be just as fascinating.  They claimed that the band ego was bigger than any individual so they aren’t too proud when someone finds something amazing to work with for a song.  I know I am grateful for that.  I shudder to think what might have been dropped if they didn’t trust each other and their work.

The logical follow-up was Ordinary World, of course.  Every time I hear the story behind this song, I end up appreciating it a little more. Clearly, it is an essential one to the band’s history.

Interestingly enough, they jump to Sunrise.  John describes it as an “anti-depressant.”  The interviewer bravely asked about Andy Taylor and Simon describes him as “a rock guitarist through and through.”  Fair enough.  Nick shifted gear by explaining that the live version ended up very different than the album one based on audience reaction.  For the record, let me just say here and I’m happy to provide feedback for any future music.

Finally, the show reaches an end with a discussion surrounding the Valley off of Red Carpet Massacre.  What I found hilarious about this story is how much Simon hated it and had a mental block about it.  He didn’t really get what it was about even though John connected with the lyrics right away.  Fascinating.  Sometimes, I guess, people cannot see the quality of one’s work oneself.

Yep, I still love this.  Now, I have to wonder.  If there was another Songbook to come out, which songs would I like to know more about?  Of course, I think about songs from the last two albums that were released after Songbook, but were there others they should have covered?  What do you all think?

-A

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