Is it personal?

Good morning world! It has been a very long weekend for me and I feel as though I’m just coming out of the hangover haze. This is what happens after a weekend of celebrating the birthday of my youngest with family, friends and 25 (yes, TWENTY FIVE) four and five year olds. My youngest shares her special day with none other than my blogging partner Amanda.  I remember calling Amanda from the doctor’s office the day I went in for a normal appointment only to be told that day would be “The Big One”. Happy Birthday Amanda – guess who is going to be sharing their birthday forever more?? Even funnier? They share the same favorite Duran Duran song – Planet Earth. Coincidence??

I was mostly out of reach for the weekend, so I took some time this morning to read the blogs Amanda had written. One particular comment made me stop and think. So much so that it’s turned into my topic for the day.

For me, art of any type is incredibly personal. It reaches me on a soulful level – that is, if it really and truly speaks to my heart. Naturally, not every piece of art achieves that, and conversely what might touch my soul may very well not touch someone else’s. That feeling of connection holds true whether we’re talking about music, visual arts, dance, theater or even writing. That doesn’t mean to say that I can’t admire a drawing that my four year old does with crayon (typically I can’t see much beyond the possible stick figure and perhaps a sun with a smiley face in the background – and that’s on a good day!), nor does it mean that I can’t enjoy listening to a song like Bedroom Toys (For me that song is humorous and cheeky). It’s about the depth of where it all reaches my soul.

The argument of course is that not all music does that – and that doesn’t make the music which does NOT do that any less pertinent. I’m not sure I would agree, but that’s also the point in which I’m trying to make here. It’s personal. The way someone might feel when they hear Rio or using a non-Duran reference here: Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears is almost certainly not the way I might feel when I hear them.

Here’s a short story to elaborate: nearly four years ago now, my father was in a hospital ICU.  He was hooked up to a ventilator because his lungs had decidedly stopped working due to a disease called Pulmonary Fibrosis. On the day that my mother, sister and I finally agreed to shut off the machines and allow nature to take it’s course – my son was home sick with the stomach flu, AND I had a not-quite two week old newborn to handle. The only thing I could bring myself to do that day was the laundry (I don’t know why) and watch Greatest by Duran Duran. It was about 1:30pm that day when my mom called to tell me that they’d shut the machines down, and as I hung up the phone – knowing that it could be hours or even days before I’d get the final phone call – I sat down with my baby in my arms and watched Rio over and over again. I don’t even love that video or the song that much! I just couldn’t really do anything else and it was the only thing that took my mind off of what could possibly be happening in that hospital room. Thankfully, it was only about an hour and a half later that my mom called, telling me that my father had passed on peacefully, and I went back to folding laundry – bath towels, actually – as if nothing had happened.

Later on that same month, I stood up in front of close family and friends to deliver my father’s eulogy. Truth be told, I’d been preparing for that moment since we’d gotten his diagnosis three and a half years prior. My father, who was never devoid his sense of humor – insisted that I play the song Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears. It was the one song by the one band I liked that he would allow to be played in his beloved motor home as we would go on vacations when I was a teenager. He felt so strongly about this that he would openly and humorously threaten to haunt me if I didn’t play the song for him at his funeral. When I heard that song long after I’d grown up but before his diagnosis, I’d picture us lumbering down the road in that motor home, and there was a sense of comfort that came along with the song. Now, my dad wanted me to play the song to send him off in a completely different way. Tears for Fears is probably one of my most beloved bands after Duran Duran. Sadly, after that day of playing that song at his service, that song no longer holds the same memory, but rather is a painful reminder of all that I’ve lost, and trust me – my dad is a big loss. We were incredibly close. Those feelings are intensely personal.

Yes, art and specifically music are intensely personal. After years of wondering why it is that all of us act so crazily at times by the least little bit of news we might receive regarding the band, for instance news of who they might be working with to produce an album, or a specific musical direction they might be taking on a particular song right down to the setlist choices for a tour, I think I finally understand why. When you feel that deep-seated connection with something, there is a certain amount of feeling as though you own it. I don’t mean that in the literal sense, although I think sometimes we get confused by the definition of “own, it’s just that it’s so personal you can’t really draw a line between yourself and the creator(s) of such things. That’s how I feel about Duran Duran at times. They’ve been the soundtrack of my entire life. My highest moments, and the lowest of lows. Hell, they’ve been in the background even when it was the last thing I wanted to hear. (Hence that moment of coming back to consciousness after I’d flatlined when I had my youngest only to hear Hungry Like the Wolf in the background) It’s hard to think of my own history without feeling intertwined with theirs.  There are times when words fail me, and other times when I think I’ve gotten it as right as rain. Last week I wrote a blog for andytaylor.tv which you should read here. If you don’t feel like I’ve gotten it all – everything you would say to the band (or any band) if you could – I encourage you to add your own.

I suppose that is why, when a band or even when an artist change their direction, it enlists a response from their audience. There have been many, many times in history when a painter changed their artistic direction and it’s drawn anger and criticism well-beyond what I would have considered to be expected. Picasso is one example. People during that time preferred the days before his cubist style, and when he incorporated that style into his paintings of female figures – basically mutilating and destroying their form, crowds become enraged.  It was not only due to how he was painting, but rather because of the artistic journey he’d taken from what the public felt was his norm. The same could be said for Duran Duran over the years. The response that many fans had to Red Carpet Massacre was one of anger and even sadness. Many fans felt that this was a slap in the face to long time fans. Still others felt that the band had sold out in order to create a hit. Whether those things are in fact true or not is not the point. Fans felt enough of a connection over their previous style(s) of music that it went beyond just being “a song” or “an album”. To those people, it was a part of their lives. It’s like being a long term bus rider on a specific route, and then getting to that same bus stop one day just in time to see the bus shut it’s doors and pull away, leaving you behind. On one hand, I agree that when we start going around taking more ownership of something than we should it seems pretty silly. I also agree that artists should be allowed to expand their horizons and explore as many directions and avenues as they wish. On the other, to try and lessen the impact that art makes on people by saying “it’s just music” is almost demeaning the artist.  As with just about anything, there’s a fine line and while not all music touches each of us on a deep level – I think of the band Weezer and how their music is just fun, tongue-in-cheek music for me, yet for their hard core fans it’s much different. Recently their own fan community took up a donation in order to get the band to simply quit making music because the fans felt so strongly about the musical direction the band had recently taken – ALL art reaches someone deeply. Isn’t that why we participate?

-R

6 thoughts on “Is it personal?”

  1. What a wonderful story about your dad…I am so sorry you lost such a wonderful man! I can see why that song will never be the same to you. You hit the nail on the head when you said that songs are NOT just songs to many people…they carry a deep meaning to many. DD's first 3 albums carried me through one of my toughest times in my early adolescent years…pretty much my whole life as I knew it changed in one day. I would put my headphones on, listen to their first 3 albums from start to finish and it helped me cope with what I was going through…I truly believe their music kept me sane. I fell away from Duran for many years but then after the passing of my mother, just before RCM came out I found myself coming back to their music for comfort and a way to cope once again. Duran is very much a fabric of my life and my “happy place” if you will. DD's music is not and never will be just music to me either.

  2. Thank you so much. I received a few comments via Twitter that led me to think that perhaps this was too personal for people to read comfortably. I just want our readers to know that when I share something, I put myself out there as much as possible. I'm not expecting anyone to be there to “pick me back up” again – I can do that on my own just fine, but it's about willing to be vulnerable enough for my own art. This isn't a case of over-sharing, it's a case of sharing just how personal this music really can be to people.

    My father was a wonderful guy who gave me both a fabulous sense of sarcastic humor that I share with all of you each day as well as a horrendously bad temper. 😀 He was my Superman in nearly every way, and I was lucky to have him as a dad. I have to say that if he were around today, I have no doubt he'd be very proud of me. There's definitely comfort in knowing that. -R

  3. Not too personal…I think it illustrates very well how music can mean so much more to people than many know and why we feel so passoniate about it…I can relate believe me.

  4. Amanda and Rhonda, thanks for sharing your stories. Yes, it IS very personal.
    Thank you for revealing your intentions. I couldnt understand why you wanted more than what was being said. Some had said, as I did, that it is very personal, both in the definition and expression of fandom. And, that given this diversity of personalities, consensus seemed baffling.
    I kept asking myself, why do they (you) keep pushing this matter? What is it you're really getting at? If I am responsible and in control of my behavior alone, how on earth can anyone expect me to be a part of changing something when there isn't agreement to begin with? This was the fan definition and consensus building, what we should expect as fans blogs.

    Then all I could think of was the serenity prayer….then that perhaps for some, it is unhealthy behavior being acted out in the duraniverse (and likely not limited to that folks), like a personality disorder, or perhaps obsession or addiction.

    When you showed your hand, it made sense. As a fan, I couldn't see why you were asking me these questions about other peoples behavior and to work towards consensus on something that people may not even agree that consensus is needed on. But then, the researcher cap came on and I saw it. The only reason I ever wanted to know why people behaved a certain way, or to describe a phenomenon as yet undescribed, or if you have a hunch of why something may be going on but want to see if that is the case (backed by theory and/or previous research), you DO RESEARCH !

    So I get it now. You essentially are doing you duranie dissertation!
    I'm serious. And when it's all done, you'll have your D.DD. – Doctorate in Duran Duran

    But seriously, this is a dissertation. If you need assistance on how to get what you are seeking as a professor of research in behavioral sciences, email me 🙂 oh what fun now that I know.

  5. Without being rude and condescending – I want to explain something here. Amanda and I are different people. We right our blogs individually. Amanda writes hers Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I write mine Monday through Thursday. We don't really talk to one another about what we're writing unless it's something special – and we don't always agree, meaning that Amanda may have completely different intentions for writing something than I would, and vice-versa.

    As for our project, it's not a dissertation – and we ARE doing research, both in the blog and outside of the blog. BOTH of us have advanced degrees in completely different subject matter, so this is not new to either of us. We know how to accomplish our goals, but we appreciate what you're saying here.

    When we post subjects for questions, they aren't always with regard to the book and in this case, I don't think Amanda was planning on using the material for the book – but I wouldn't know for sure, it was her blog. Her idea. Her reasoning.

    -R

  6. No, I don't take your comments as rude or condescending, and my intention was not to be anymore than a light bulb moment for me. And the kidding about a doctorate is Duran Duran. All in good fun and humor.

    But also know that I have deep respect for whatever it is you do, book, blog, twitter, I'm with ya, not against ya. Flat words lack intention behind them. Feelings aren't always conveyed properly by writer, me, and misunderstandings can occur.

    My talk about offering to help was just a way to validate the importance of this discussion and that dissertations do focus on matters such as this. So a compliment perhaps not received that way.

    This blog is a place where I learn so much from everyone and value this respectful place to consider tough topics, express frustrations, and share news and experiences. Joys and memories.

    I am new. And I do not feel slapped on the wrist for breaking some hidden rule.mtell me if I did. I can handle it. I know this blog is much much more than a book or research. It is a fan forum, and the best out there I've found in my short time seeking. Your love for the band and relationship that originated with that has led you here and how wonderful is that?

    Duran heals all for me. And today was hard. But thank goodness for the music that helps me get through the tough times. I am beginning to see that the references in so many dd songs could easily be about tears. At least for me today.

    Deb

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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