My friend David has a new episode of his podcast, The D Side, out now. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should. It’s available at the link or through iTunes, Spotify…and other places I’ve forgotten to mention.
The thing I love about David’s podcasts is that the topics he tends to choose encourages thinking. While Daily Duranie tends to examine social aspects of fandom much of the time, David focuses on music. Episode 6 continues that well-established pattern.
A lonely figure there
This new episode centers around important albums. David makes sure to note that an “important” album is not necessarily the same thing as a “favorite. We all have that one album (or a few) we love to bits, but typically there are several in our arsenal that maybe spoke to us in a different way, introduced us to a new type of music, or otherwise opened our eyes and ears.
While listening to his descriptions of his own favorite and important albums (No spoilers here – go listen!), I thought about my own potential choices.
Not long ago, someone told me that this site is obviously biased towards Duran Duran. I’m glad that’s coming through, given that the name of the blog is Daily Duranie. I would think my loyalties for this blog would be fairly clear with that sort of name. If you’re looking for unbiased commentary on music of all kinds – this isn’t the place to get it, nor was it designed with that purpose in mind.
Hanging dust clearing from the air
It seems to me, based on a few conversations I’ve had over the nearly nine years I’ve blogged, that there’s an assumption that Amanda and I must only listen to Duran Duran – as if that’s the only music we know. It’s appalling, really, especially given that my minor in college was music theory. I am left wondering if the same assumptions would be made if we were male, rather than female. (another topic for another blog!)
Simply put, just because we’ve chosen to write a blog and manage a website dedicated to our favorites doesn’t mean that we don’t also have many other bands, artists and musical genres we love. While we write about Duran Duran fandom, this does not mean we are unknowledgeable about music. The music is what brought us here to begin with. This concept should not be difficult to grasp. I suspect that those who say such things are people who aren’t regular readers. While I could write volumes (and someday will), today is not that day.
It occurred to me that my job isn’t to win over the naysayers. However, I will take the time to share some important albums (for me) that do not have Duran Duran’s name on them. In a future post, I’ll share some of my favorite non-Duran albums as well.
The Firebird Suite – Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky was a Russian composer, and at the age of 27, The Firebird was his first international success. The reason why this piece of music is so important for me is because it is the music I first conducted. I spent months learning both how to play the clarinet part, and then learning to read the entire band arrangement. Ultimately, it became the piece of music I auditioned with to be drum major of my high school band. (I was a very different sort of kid, we’ll just say that. Most kids choose marches, and I chose one of the most difficult pieces for a high school band to play on a field) I learned so much from just this one ballet. Yes, it’s actually a ballet, not a march. Anyway, it holds a very special place in my heart.
If you’re curious, here’s a video from the YouTube Symphony Orchestra (yes, that was a thing in 2009 and 2011) – it is their finale concert at the Sydney Opera House. The entire suite is much longer than this – most orchestras play just one movement. My marching band in high school obviously didn’t play this arrangement – there’s a audio of The Ohio State University playing the exact arrangement we did (but GALAXIES better than my marching band ever did!) on YouTube here. The YSO is performing Berceuse – the Infernal Dance, my favorite movement of the suite. This video is great because Michael Tilson Thomas is the conductor (one of my heroes), and the visuals taking place behind the orchestra add a fabulous element. Oh and yes, I wish I was in that clarinet section!
Blue to Brown – Blue to Brown
Another important album that is a little (well, a lot) closer to Duran Duran would be Blue to Brown. Yes, this is one of Dom’s projects – a blues album he recorded with his Dad When I bought this album, I knew it was probably going to be a struggle. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the blues. I can’t even really say I’m a fan at all. except that American rock and roll owes it’s backbone and emotion to the blues, so…. (I’m sorry Dom. I hang my head in shame) Anyway, I listened, and listened, and listened. I learned that the blues has so much more to it than just it’s twelve-bar progression. While I’m still not going to call myself a fan, I have a much bigger appreciation for the blues now.
It is a little tougher to find good quality video of Blue to Brown on Youtube, but I found “Going Down But Not Slow“.
Revolver – The Beatles
This was a tough choice for me…but when I think back to times when I really listened, and took the time to learn and absorb albums – Revolver was one of the first. My friend Marsha was a huge, and I mean enormous Beatles fan. She knew every single thing there was to know about that group. I can remember the day John Lennon was shot in 1980 – we were in sixth grade, which was middle school. News broke around campus at lunch time and if I remember right, Marsha heard from one of her teachers. She came out of class absolutely hysterical, and had me walk her to the office to call her mom and go home. I hadn’t yet discovered Duran Duran, and was fairly incredulous to the idea of leaving campus because a favorite singer had been killed.
The album itself is, in my mind, a masterpiece. I struggled choosing this one because it is also one of my favorite albums, but it has songs on it that just spoke so deeply to me at the tender age of what…ten(?), that I can’t let it go. From “Eleanor Rigby“, which is a song that I identify with to this very day, to “Yellow Submarine”, which is my least favorite, but still important stylistically. This album became that to which all others were judged by, including Duran Duran’s, so it is indeed an important album for me.
Your assignment is…
The “homework” that David had assigned near the end of his podcast was to choose an important album from Duran Duran, as well as an important non-Duran album, both being from adult years as opposed to albums that had maybe struck us as adolescents or children (as a couple of the ones I shared here did). I sent him my answers, that I’ll also post here:
- Red Carpet Massacre – Duran Duran: I chose this because as most know, it is definitely not a favorite of mine. However, it is incredibly important. The album was released during the most turbulent time of my life, while I was pregnant with my youngest (at the “tender” age of 37, I might add!), and my father was incredibly ill. It is impossible for me to recall the period around this album’s release and promotion cycle without thinking about everything I was going through. Additionally, this album taught me an incredibly important lessons about fandom, music and even the recording industry. It is still not a beloved album, but an important one to me all the same.
- Clear Static – Clear Static: This choice is simple, and inexplicably complicated all at once. I met this band in Chicago, 2005. They were opening for Duran Duran, and had all of the potential in the world. I became friendly with them, and even ran their MySpace page for a while, helping with their mail and their street team. I learned a lot from these wealthy and entitled group of kids from the northwestern edge of Los Angeles County. Not long after this album was released, the cracks in the group were evident. It takes far more to truly “make it” than simply opening for a well-established band. That is where the work begins, not ends. Unfortunately, that is where this band finished. I never listen to this album – nor do I plan to start now – but it did change my life and my thinking in many ways. I include it as an important, yet cautionary, reminder to myself.
At a later date, I’ll go back and offer my thoughts on my favorite albums, but for now, it’s your turn! What would you consider your favorite and important albums? Send a tweet to @GuyFansofDuran on Twitter!!