If I Could Talk to the Animals (Reprise)

Several months back, this blog in it’s original form ran on Andy Taylor’s now-defunct website.  I decided to pull it out of the moth balls, dust it off a bit and run it here. With the era of All You Need is Now coming to a close and a brand new time of writing and recording on the horizon, it seems like a good time to inspire. Hopefully it will delight and entertain, as well as provoke many of you to write in with your own ideas.

If I Could Talk to the Animals….
One of my favorite daydreams revolves around the day I sit down with members from a particular band (I think we all know to which one I am referring) and have a real discussion about what it’s like to be a fan. Sometimes, I really think they’ve forgotten what it’s like. That overwhelming feeling of love, devotion, respect and even disappointment seems to get lost in the shuffle somewhere once you become a rock star. But if I really could sit down with an idol, what would I say? WelI, I made a list with help from some Friends of Mine (pun is completely intended). You can and should certainly add your own.  You never know who is reading.  Let’s just pretend for a second that all that romanticism I talked about yesterday is completely real and substantiated.  Welcome to our Utopia!  A little slice of paradise where all is well, our fantasies live on, and it is all sunshine, roses, and Duran Duran.
SANITY. There are plenty of perfectly sane fans here, sprinkled like fairy dust amongst the crazy.  We’re worth the find and the time it takes to look. Some are quite creative, some are quiet, and still others of us just can’t seem to keep our thoughts to ourselves, so we blog…often!
GROUPIES.  Fans do not equal groupies. Do not be afraid to flirt with us at a show or even hold our glance – to my knowledge, only a very select few of us can paralyze you with our super powers. (Yes, I’m joking!) Most of recognize that this is all in good fun, and while I can’t speak for the few that would use any opportunity to achieve that “ultimate autograph,” the rest of us are really pretty good with things ending at the show, going home to lead perfectly normal lives after a semi-wild weekend with friends. Sure, should the opportunity arise that we “somehow” end up at the same bar after the show – we’ll smile. We’ll laugh. We might even stare across the bar at you lovingly, knowing that there isn’t a single chance you’ll ever notice us out of the crowd, but we’ve seen you onstage or even on the walls of our bedrooms for so long (Ok, so what if I *do* still have posters as wallpaper in my walk-in closet?!?) that we can’t quite believe we’re in the same room. It happens. It doesn’t equate to crazy, and for the most part, it doesn’t equate to groupie either. The deep connection that we feel comes from your music and words. And that connection and love DOES equal devotion.  For some of us, the devotion lasts a lifetime. (Longer than some of our real life marriages!)  Just ask my husband how many times I might have mentioned that I’ve loved your band longer than I’ve even known him….
MERCHANDISE.  It has to be said: we are not still ten years old. Shirts are fine, but they’ve got to fit.  We appreciate the vote of confidence, but the fact is, not many of us are still in kid sizes here. Along those same lines, it’s time to think a little bit more “out of the box” with regard to merchandise, and if you’re really interested, you can go here (link to http://www.dailyduranie.com/2011/12/merchandise.html) for some rather outstanding merchandise ideas. If you offer them, we will buy them. 
TIME. It’s astounding to consider the sheer amount of time that a fan will spend on her favorite band. Something I know from personal experience. It’s not just sitting around listening to albums. It’s being online, going to those message boards, Facebook and Twitter, buying concert tickets… and then once you go to those concerts, it’s getting there 12+ hours ahead of time to secure your place at or near the front of the line during rain, sleet, snow, wind or ridiculous heat just to be sure you’re as close to the stage as possible. I’m astounded when friends tell me that a band member has asked them how they get front row at every show.  To begin with, I feel like *I* need to ask how they ended up with front row at every show, but once I hear they stood in the GA line for a mere 18 hours, my hat is off to them. I flew across the country and got up at 6am to be in line by 7 in order to secure a front row spot. And here’s the real newsflash: We would do it over and over again if given the opportunity.  
CONNECTIONS.  Twitter and Facebook aren’t the eastern and western flanks of the yellow brick road leading to the big green bank of Oz.  It’s not called monetarynetworking, it’s called social networking. New platforms like Chirpify – a program intended for bands and artists to sell digital content by tweeting fans, feel so incredibly disingenuous I could cry. Use the social networks to reach out, to honestly engage in two-way dialogue and connect with fans both new and old.  THEN sell us on the music. Be real. Be genuine. Trust the process and it will work. Won’t it, John?
LISTEN. I’m going to be blunt here. (That’s probably not surprising anyone.) There are some really atrocious things about being a fan, and not the least is going thirty years without ever feeling as though you’re really all in the same league, much less the same team. We’ve all seen bands out there that have fan communities where things have gone horribly, horribly awry without nary a notice or comment from the band in question. Tour dates are dripped like a coffee maker, websites go down without being fixed or maintained, and those constantly-touted “VIP experiences” feel more like cattle calls and shakedowns more than “once in a lifetime” moments. Does the band know about them? Do they even care? This is bad enough for a band just starting out – but the longer the band has been around, the more it makes the fans wonder if it’s all really always been transactional: we pay, they play. Taking the time to listen to fans is worth the effort. Yes, I wholeheartedly acknowledge that a lot of us can only say “I LOVE YOU!!!!” and you’ve already heard that thousands of times, but there are many of us out there that can bridge the gap and might even help. Did I mention that some of us blog a lot? Listening and/or reading is an important first step. 

MONEY. Let’s be honest. Often times, it’s not cheap to be a fan. It’s getting more expensive by the day to go to a single concert, let alone a “tour” of several shows. By and large, we all do what we can. Money shouldn’t be the reason someone can’t go to a show, buy a CD or enjoy the music, but we all know that’s reality. All too often it becomes a case of the haves and have-nots in fandom: those who have it go, and those who don’t miss out. It’s a rough road for the devoted that don’t have their pockets lined with cash. Try to remember that while we support you enough to make sure you retire with the best in life, the reality for most of the rest of us is far, far less. It’s great to have fans who are willing and able to pay for the “ultimate experience,” but please remember to include lower-priced options as well. At the end of the day, the loyalty gained from even small actions of generosity will ultimately increase your bottom line.
AUTHENTICITY. This counts for so much. It’s not just about mastering an instrument and being able to reproduce the recorded sound live. It’s about being real, and this doesn’t come only through the music. Fans know when we’re being “had.”  We can tell when it’s not really the rock star that we’re hearing from on Twitter or Facebook. We know when someone isn’t being genuine, and none of us like to be taken for a fool.  On a personal note, I think that there isn’t much more injuring to a fans heart than to realize that the band s/he has worked so hard to follow isn’t worth the ink on the newspaper lining the litter box. That’s the type of thing that can land someone in therapy for years. (Or maybe that was just me…) We also know what it’s like to support a band or artist that is worthy, and how that synergy works to create something larger than the sum of artist and fans combined.  That euphoria is what keeps all of us coming back for more.
IMPACT. Your music makes more of an impact than I can put into words. It’s not just about a night out with friends, although that’s certainly part of it. It’s about pulling us out of a deep-seated depression. It’s about having your father die and the only song that gets you through the day while you’re sitting and holding your newborn and trying to figure out what needs to be done first is Rio. Rio, for God’s sake. It’s having that same horrible anniversary crop up year after year and listening to whatever song doesn’t remind you that your father never met your youngest, songs like All You Need is Now, Secret Oktober, Mediterranea  and countless others. It’s remembering which songs convinced you as a twelve-year old to actually get up and go to school in the morning to face the kids who just couldn’t stand to see you happy; and it’s knowing that for every single important event that took place during your lifetime, there is a song from a certain band named Duran Duran that goes with it, just like a soundtrack. Your music has always made a real tangible difference, and fuck the critics that say it’s just bubble gum pop or that it’s just music and videos for little girls. I hope they step in it and get it stuck on their shoe for all eternity.
Of course, all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. As reality (and an announcement from my son that it’s time for homeschool to start) beckons me from my daydream wanderings, there is so much more I want to communicate. I forgot to tell them how thankful I am that they just keep going. I forgot to tell them that no matter how much they hate some of their videos – I adore them. I should have said how much it really does matter to me who is playing guitar – that they’d better be smart and keep that Dom Brown guy around – he’s golden. It is every bit as important as who is lead vocals for me; and individually I would support each and every last one of them and go to the ends of the earth to do so. That is love, that is devotion, and that is why I am a fan.
I also forgot to remind them to play Late Bar on the next tour. 
Damn.

-R

4 thoughts on “If I Could Talk to the Animals (Reprise)”

  1. Awesome post Rhonda! I thank you from the bottom of my little Duranie heart for what has been needing to be said for a looong time. I think sometimes fans and the band can take each other for granted. Always refreshing to be reminded of what makes US fans lifelong fans and in turn makes the band THEM. I especially liked the part about the t-shirts–yes for goodness sakes please make larger sizes! I no longer have my 15 year old body–so more “comfy” tees would be great–especially if I plan to be seen in public!

  2. Thanks Tonia! I have to say that I wrote this prior to going on the 3rd US leg of this tour, and while on that tour, I bought a t-shirt. I had to buy a mens size because the girls sizes STILL SUCK!!! They just aren't going to work unless you're built like an 11 year old girl, and I am not. It would be really nice to have a shirt that has shape, but yet fit someone with curves…but that's not really the fault of the band, it's the fault of the t-shirt manufacturer (not the printer, the manufacturer). That said, they had style, they had the tour dates on the back and they were made from very comfy cotton. Love it. 🙂 -R

  3. Rhonda, your paragraph on IMPACT pretty much says it all. I firmly believe that a true love of music is a gift that is deposited in one's soul and spirit and it's not something that you can just take or leave. There is NOTHING like that moment when you hear a song and it just resonates through your entire being. I remember feeling an almost electric feeling run through me the first time I heard a Duran Duran song (can't even blame the pre-teen hormones, since it was on radio and not a video on MTV, although in the interest of full disclosure, the first time I actually saw them I was pretty much a goner), and there have been many more artists since then that I've experienced that with, but that was the first time I was aware of the sheer power of music.

    1982 through 1986 was the time period when my entire world crumbled around me and pretty much SUCKED and the only thing that kept me from completely giving up on everyone and everything was music, Duran Duran in particular. Those moments when I could shut myself in my room and put on those records,(yes, actual records kids — you know, those big, round, black vinyl things), allowed me to go somewhere else and be someone else. I am eternally grateful to those five guys from Birmingham for creating the music that transported me away from the war zone that was my home during those years (Lonely in Your Nightmare still gives me chills to this day), and I will be a devoted fan until the day I die.

    I joke about finally getting to see them live this year for the first time and how I got to be 14 again for a day, but damn it, that felt GREAT!! I didn't have to be the grown up, I wasn't anyone's wife or mom, and I got relive those pockets of happiness and being care free that Duran gave me. It was like reclaiming some little piece of the joy was stolen from me back then. I think some of my friends and coworkers, and my entire family (except my little sister who went with me), thought I was being ridiculous and silly but they just didn't get it and I couldn't even begin to explain it to them.

    You two ladies, however, get it – and I can't thank you enough that you take the time to do this blog every day and give us an opportunity for discussion and sharing.

    Sheli

  4. Thank you so much Sheli for taking the time to write all of that. I'd like to think that Amanda and I do get it. We live it, just like all of you. When I say we're missing the band, believe it. We really are. I can't even imagine that it'll be two or three years before I see them live again or get new music from them. I hate that. 🙁 So depressing…. it's a good thing Dom has his blues CD out and John has a book coming out soon, that's all I can say.

    I know exactly what you mean about feeling like you're 14 again for a day when you go to see the band. It's nice not to have to worry about anyone but yourself, and I live for those moments. I love being mom, I really do – but sometimes it's really nice to be able to take my time getting ready and not have to worry about fixing everyone food, doing laundry, etc. etc. etc. I actually like being the age I am, but without the schedule and responsibilities, and then when the band gets up on stage?? I forget everything and just live in the moment. We need that!!

    We write this blog for everyone, ourselves as much as all of you – and I'm glad you enjoy it. Thanks!!

    -R

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

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