I can think back to going to the local “mall”‘s record store after the album was released. How excited I was!!!! A new Duran Duran album! My 11 year old self could *squee* with the best of them at this point! I so looked forward to this album as it was going to be my oasis in a desert of lameness that I was currently calling home as my family had moved from the Chicago suburbs to this small town in Illinois. I was “desperate for something new.” You see this town felt so incredibly backwards to me. It did not have top 40 radio (where Duran and others were constantly played) and it did not have MTV. I felt so completely lost there for such a long time. I clung to Duran then. Their music reminded me of “home” and the best friend that I had left behind who was also a Duranie. I didn’t care that no one in this dumb town knew or cared who they were. They were my favorite band and that’s all that mattered to this opinionated pre-teen!
Despite my focus on Duran, I couldn’t help but notice that there were changes surrounding the band and their fans. I knew that Andy and Roger had left. I was able to shake that off without too much of a problem as Andy never seemed interesting to me then and I had no opinion about Roger. I was all about John then (I’m sure you couldn’t have figured that out!). Thus, if John was still in the band, it was fine. I suppose it was good to have Simon, too, since he had the voice. Nick didn’t matter to me one way or another. I was an optimist and was able to ignore all of those articles and interviews surrounding the return of Duran that openly wondered if Duran would still be able to cut it without Roger and Andy. Didn’t they see that Duran was stronger than that? Didn’t they know how much the band mattered to me and others? Of course, they would survive! They would not only survive but be better off! I know that is what the guys said many times in interviews during that time period. Yet, looking back, you can tell that they were trying to convince themselves as much as the rest of the world. I was, too. I ignored the little voice in the back of my mind that said that things were not as rosy as I wanted them to be.
I knew that there were changes and I was prepared to accept them. What I wasn’t prepared for was watching people and friends walk away. I saw them not believing what the band was saying about being better than before. I saw how confused they all were by Power Station and Arcadia. Heck, I remember distinctly having a conversation with my best friend at the time about how she was taking all her Duran posters down because they were no longer cool. I remember being shocked by this. I didn’t understand how she could so easily abandon them. I also remember feeling sad that I would no longer be able to share Duran with her. We wouldn’t have this interest between us. It also meant that I now seemed to stand on the side of the road that was marked, “uncool”. As much as this bothered me, I wouldn’t let go of my fandom. I couldn’t. They were helping me survive.
Obviously, a lot of time has gone by. Duran has seen a lot more changes, including the return of Roger and Andy. Andy has also left again. Was Duran better in 1986 than in 1984 or in 1982? I don’t think so, but they couldn’t be. They had suffered serious losses of not only band members but also of their managers. I remember hearing in an interview that they had lost their innocence then. I think that is true. They did. I could relate, though. I, too, had experienced losses. I had to leave my best friend and my hometown. I had left a culture I was familiar with and liked, one that was urban and diverse, to one that was rural and lacked diversity in all forms. I was also growing up at the time and there is always much hardships then. Did I really think that my life was better in 1986 than in 1984? No way. I did believe like Duran in that I was going to be better. I thought that, too. I just needed to survive the new town and I would be better, cooler.
Duran survived, too. They survived their losses and have been able to manage at least 25 more years in the music business. While I don’t know that Notorious is the best Duran album, it is still important. It marked the beginning of a new era for Duran, one in which they survived and showed that they were committed to keep going. Thus, Notorious should be celebrated for what it was. It told the world that they didn’t end and that they were going to keep going for a long time. It showed that they had weathered this really horrible storm. They might not be as perfect but they were still there and that is what mattered most. I discovered the same thing by the time I left that new town of mine. I wasn’t the same person but I did survive and that is always worth celebrating.