By Krissie Richardson
The other day, I was driving home from work, listening to a mix CD I’d made of my most favorite songs by Robert Palmer. I’ve been a serious fan of his since the first Power Station album, and his death left a little hole in my musical soul. The first song on the disc is “True Love” from the “Rhythm and Blues” album, and I found myself driving down I-75, singing along at the top of my lungs with tears rolling down my face. It wasn’t grief over Robert’s passing, but rather that the song, in my musical opinion, is perfect. Not “good”, not one loaded with memories and emotional attachment, but one that is so perfectly written and executed it moves me to tears. There’s not a single note I would change, nothing in the arrangement or mix that irks me, not a single goofy lyric. It’s just simply so perfect it moves me to tears with its beauty.
I had a good laugh at myself, realizing what I must look like to other drivers. Thinking about it, I realized there are a handful of other songs in this perfect category, and they have the exact same effect on me. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash is the most perfect of perfect – it’s the song that, to me, is the end-all be-all of music. “Rendez-Vous IV” by Jean-Michel Jarre, “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, and “The Golden Age” by Beck all fall into the realm of perfect, too. I can’t listen to them with strangers for fear of being committed into the nearest padded room.
As I went over my list, I realized that was no Duran Duran included on it. That fact hit me like a punch to the diaphragm. I’ve been a Duran Duran fan since I was 10 years old – three quarters of my life, for those doing the math. For a long time, my fandom was my life – I worked not to keep a roof over my head, but rather to travel the world following Duran and/or John’s various solo projects. I have multiple DD tattoos, half the stamps in my passport are there only because of Duran shows, I’ve helped to run fanzines and fan conventions. I identify myself as an American first, a Duranie second, and everything else doesn’t much matter.
How could it be that Duran Duran music doesn’t move me as much as other music? What in the world could have happened to me that the band I’ve built a fair portion of my life around just doesn’t move me like other artists can and do?
My hypothesis is that there are two reasons for this. First, I think that just because a band is your favorite doesn’t mean they make the music that reaches you the most, and sometimes artists that aren’t your favorite manage to grab a hold of your soul with a song or two. Take Beck as an example from my life. I like some of Beck’s work, but his “Sea Change” album is by far my favorite of his catalog. It’s a complete departure from the rest of his work, and his hard-core fans view it like we look at “Thank You”. The first time I heard it, the very first song put me straight into tears with how perfect it is. The rest of the album is hit and miss, but “The Golden Age” moves me to this day. Beck probably wouldn’t appear on my top 10 favorite artists list, probably not even the top 20, but in that one song he created a moment where we understand each other implicitly.
Perhaps that discontinuity is why the music can be so powerful. It’s completely unexpected.
The second reason is more interesting, and harder to understand. I’ve come to believe that fandoms grow and change, almost like separate personalities. My love of Duran Duran has changed from youthful lust to musical obsession to an all-consuming passion to a comfortable hobby. I’ve evolved in my fandom, or rather my fandom has evolved around me. I’m such a different person than I was in 1995, when I got heavily involved in “the scene”. I’m different from who I was when I got out in 1999. I don’t even reside in the same universe as the person I was at the reunion and during the planning and execution of the Friends of Mine convention. It’s only logical that my passions would be different as well – in some ways it surprises me more that any of my interests remain the same as they were “before”.
I’ve come to think that Duran Duran may not be my favorite band anymore. My Duran Duran fandom is my favorite (and I have many, across many interests), though. I don’t think it’s contradictory to say it like that, either. I do lots of different things that involve fandom, like sporting events and sci-fi cons as well as Duran Duran shows and fan gatherings. The Duran events are still my favorite, but not because of the band. Instead, it’s because of the friendships I’ve made because of Duran Duran. Rhonda, Amanda, and many other people make my life better because of the friends they are to me, and we would have never met one another if not for Duran Duran. I wouldn’t have heard of Robert Palmer, a man who was able to reach me so deeply with his music my life would be less without it, if it weren’t for Duran Duran.
So even though there isn’t a Duran Duran song yet that reaches me as deeply as a select few songs by other artists, my fandom is an entirely different animal than it was at any other point in my life, and is probably more important to me now. The friendships and experiences I’ve had as a Duranie are themselves perfect, and are vastly more meaningful that what album I choose to put into the player first.