Grooving with John Taylor and Curt Smith

After a momentary freak-out this morning, I think my blood pressure has settled enough for me to sit down and think about a blog. Oh, of course I’m going to share my little story…I was getting my youngest ready for school this morning and ran upstairs to grab something. I heard her announce that she’d unlocked the front door, thinking we’d leave from there, and I corrected her, saying that mommy’s car was in the garage, and we’d leave from our laundry room door. (which leads to our garage). As I was getting what I needed, I faintly heard her talking, but I didn’t know what she’d said, and then I came downstairs and read an article or two in the paper before realizing that it was time to leave. I stood up, grabbed my keys and told her it was time, only to hear nothing. So then I called her again, and still nothing. I’m starting to wonder where she was hiding at this point, so I yelled her name this time, and then realized that she might have gone out the front door. I run out the front door, but I don’t see her anywhere. In my head I’m calculating how long it had been since I was upstairs and realize it’s been at least five, maybe even ten minutes. Long enough for her to wander down the block or be grabbed by the kidnapper I am SURE was waiting for her to come outside.  So I begin to silently panic. I yell her name again, and this time my son comes out of his bedroom (….and yes, during this scene I actually DO take a second to process that: wow, so THAT is how loud I need to yell to get his attention and get him out of his room. Yes, I multitask.) and he starts worrying about where she is. He’s very protective of his little sister, so he starts calling her too. Mind you, our house is not that big. Finally, after determining that she’s really not in this house, hiding under her bed and giggling, I walk out into the garage, and there she is…sitting in the car, completely buckled into her car seat, grinning with pride because she did it all herself, and is ready to go to school.

That’s when my heart started palpitating and I needed to sit down. My kids are really going to kill me one of these days. How is YOUR Wednesday going??

These days, it is pretty rare when I read an article that I think is really worthy of comment on my part, but yesterday afternoon I came across an article that I really want to share if you haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet. I also want to caution that this blog may in fact have some BOOK SPOILERS contained within simply because the article talks about the book, so this is a warning: if you haven’t read the book yet and you don’t want to know a single thing – you should stop reading this blog right now and go read your book!  Don’t send me mail about how I spoiled something for you, because this is my disclaimer. If you’re still reading, then you are at your own risk.  Aside from Duran Duran, one of the bands I love most is Tears for Fears. I haven’t seen them live nearly as much as I have seen Duran Duran, but I love The Hurting almost as much as I love Duran Duran’s first album, and I hold many of their songs near and dear to my heart.  So, I was very excited to read that Curt Smith had sat down down with John Taylor to talk with him about his autobiography. You can read the interview here. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I had great hopes to get past some of the more obvious things in the book – that is something that very, very few journalists are ever able to do, and I think most of that is due to a lack of familiarity or connection with the subject. Curt and John are at least friendly if not good friends, and that only helped the pace of their conversation. I was so thankful that Curt opens right up by saying that he was worried the piece would be some sort of “grandiose tome” about how big Duran Duran were – and I knew right away this article would be anything but.

They talk for a bit about middle-class. John wonders when America started obsessing over middle-class. I find this fascinating, only because I grew up here, and by all intents and purposes, I grew up lower-middle class. It was all I ever knew. We never called ourselves “blue-collar” (both of my parents had office jobs) or “working-class”, but if either of my parents stopped working – we definitely weren’t going to be eating. My mom and dad nearly lost their home back in the early nineties when my dad was laid-off (“made redundant” for those of you elsewhere in the world), and I’ll tell you what – I’d take being “middle-class” over those days of worrying about how long it was going to be before we were evicted from our own home ANY DAY. (Thankfully in our case, we were able to “short-sell” that home, but it was a horrible experience. I don’t think my dad ever fully-recovered from that loss, both financially and emotionally.) I know those fears, and I know them well. That said, John says something about how there is no pride in being middle-class, and I have to say given my own background, I can’t agree – although in this current day and age I can certainly see why he might say that, and let’s face it, we all have our own truth. In my family, there was pride in being able to maintain a mortgage, and middle-class in 1985 meant owing the bank for a small home. (The house I grew up in was just under 1200 square feet. Three small bedrooms, two very small bathrooms, a tiny kitchen, a “dining room” and a living room.) I had friends whose parents paid rent on an apartment that would have loved having my parents house – back then it was just about coming up with the down payment! My parents took great pride in paying off a bill – however small, and you know what else? We knew exactly who we were. We didn’t have to use the words “middle-class” to know we were in the middle. It was simply understood. I can’t say that about many of my more wealthier friends now. They are so busy shuttling their kids to their various activities and worrying about whom they need to impress next that I think many of them have forgotten where they came from. I think you find that anywhere, no matter what tax bracket you’re in, though. One thing I’ve gleaned from my own personal set of circumstances – it’s one thing to be proud of who you are, it’s another to be proud of what you have, especially when those “things” can disappear in a heartbeat.

Curt also points out a theme that I’d noticed within the book as well – an sense of extended family, and it would seem that John himself may have not recognized that within his writing.  John talks about how the band has become this way of people connecting with other people.  Of course Amanda and I both agree with that concept wholeheartedly – it’s what we talk about time and time again here on the blog. What I think Curt was trying to show John was that in his writing throughout the book there’s a sense of John wanting to be a part of a greater whole. The loneliness he feels, those demons, it would seem that all of that is merely a symptom of wanting to feel included and part of a family. I totally get that. Sure, I have a family. A really LOUD family. (and by the way I know what John is saying when he mentions that he doesn’t want to generalize about all kids – but the fact is – mine are loud, one of which is still pretty young, and sometimes I am sure that I could get away from all of them, husband included, and be just fine for several weeks at a time. I’m sure most moms, if not most parents, feel that way. So there, I said it. :D) I also know that there are many, many times when I feel the most “at home” when I’m not even AT HOME, but I’m with my people. My fellow Duranies. I’m the most “myself” in those rare moments, too. John is unequivocally correct when he says that the band has become a sort of conduit for fans to connect with one another though. I thank my lucky stars every single day of that simple fact. For me personally it isn’t enough to just sit and absorb the music. I need more than that, my life needs more than that, and this band has acted, for me, as the purpose I needed in order to find the connection, the friends, I craved. Otherwise, yeah I’m pretty much a hermit here at home in the sense that I don’t go running to meet friends for lunch or get involved in a ton of different clubs and things. No time, no need.

Curt comments that he found the beginning and end of the book as the most interesting. The middle section of course, is for the fans – because it is the story of Duran Duran from John’s point of view. Maybe I’m just different, or maybe I really am as weird and uncool as my older children say (the youngest still has a great deal of “mommy-worship” for me and you can bet I’m holding onto that for as long as possible!), but I have to admit that I got far, far more out of the beginning and end to his book than I did the middle. Maybe it’s because the middle portion was what I’ve already lived through. No, I didn’t know every single story. I definitely didn’t realize a lot of the subtle behind-the-scenes things. I just know that when I read the book, I wanted to learn about John Taylor – and I believe that we do get a glimpse of who he really is as a person from the beginning and the end of the book. I’ll be curious to read what others think as we go through our book discussions here on the blog. Speaking of which, Amanda will be directing our discussion of John’s book here on the blog. We will begin this next Monday, and her discussion will be quite a bit different from what we did with Andy’s book, so take note. She tells me that for next Monday, we should read through Chapter Six, and the general theme is John’s childhood and family background. We hope you’ll take the time to read and comment on the discussion, we love reading the different opinions out there.

One last point I’ll touch on, and then I’ll leave you to your own reading and surmising was a profound sense of guilt I had while John described how he felt being “the cute one” and coming away from that now. After having read that, I immediately went to the place in my head where I keep track how many times I’ve blogged about various things. It is true, I did always see John as the cute one. So much so that I knew he was completely out of my league. I steered as far from him as possible, knowing he would be the one my friends would fight over, and I wanted no part. The other girls, the millions out there, could have the handsome one, and I would be a fan of the guy in the background. I had no way of knowing what John was really like as person, quite possibly because he self-medicated to the point where it was impossible back then, but also because during that time period I was too immature to see past the pretty face. Maybe if we all had been older, we would have seen what was undoubtedly there behind that wicked grin and arched eyebrow. I really don’t know. I just know I felt awful as I read and allowed myself to absorb the words.

-R

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