I was in the car this morning, and the demo version of “Nice” shuffled its way to the top of my iTunes. I know I’ve had the song for a while, but I can’t remember how I ended up with it. It has been at least a couple of years since I sat and listened.
As it played, I thought about how far the song had come from the time it was recorded as a demo to the final version included on Astronaut. Aside from the chorus, which was much of the same, if not exactly the same as we heard on the album, the rest of the song definitely had some further evolving and retooling before any of us ever marched up to the counter of our local music store (I seem to recall there still being a few back then!) and purchased our copy of Astronaut in October of 2004.
When I hear demos like these, it reaffirms what I already know about myself: I am a music geek. I might not know many of the more obscure bands out there – admittedly finding bands like that takes more time than I’ve really got these days to listen to music (something I wish I could change). I am also not very good at being aware of every type of drum Roger has used or every single synthesizer Nick has used over the years, I’m just not quite that exacting with details. However, I love being able to listen and discover the evolutionary paths the songs have taken on the journey to a finished album. I like hearing the way a bass line has changed, or how the final mix brings out certain tracks and leaves others to be more of a “suggestion” rather than full-blown. Perhaps, as it is in the case for “Nice”, the lyrics have taken a completely different turn. I like hearing that discovery, and in plenty of ways, it gives a little extra insight and minutia into the recording process, which is really cool.
I can’t say I am like that about many of my favorite bands. For instance, I have always had a fondness for Tears for Fears, but I don’t seek out their old demos – although I do have an album from back when they were called The Graduate, which was a cool find for me. I also have a few demos that The Killers have released on various remasterings or what-have-you, and while those are interesting, none of them hold the same sort of significance.
I remember when the remastered editions of the first album and Rio came out – I was more excited by the prospect of finally hearing a version of Tel Aviv, complete with vocals, than anything else. I listened to that song first, and wondered what made them change it. I remember listening to the original and Kershenbaum mixes over and over again, absorbing every last change and marveling over how something seemingly so subtle could make all the difference in the US market. It’s those types of stories that I enjoy most. I suppose part of that comes from studying pop culture, and seeing that yes, even with (or especially with) Duran Duran, who felt to me like they were so ahead of the time in 1982, the culture here in the US not only had to catch up, but in some ways Duran Duran even had to slightly alter themselves to be picked up by radio. Had any one thing changed in the way they were embraced here in America, perhaps that would have made the difference as to my own fandom – and that both fascinates and thrills me.
I’ve really enjoyed the few things the band has shared with us over the years – the demos, the stories, etc. Now that the catalog has been reunited under Warner, I hope that as the years go on we can expect to see more shared from the archives!