South Africa Interview from 1982

Life sure has a way to swing from one extreme to the next, doesn’t it? Last week at this time, I was finishing up my second winter break of sorts as I had four snow days in a row. Those days were pretty chill. While I checked off some items on my to do list, it was done with minimal stress. Since returning to school/work, I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off with campaign work taking up just as much time as my teaching job. This means that by Thursday night, I’m beat. I was even supposed to go to a meeting last night but opted not to due to slick roads and exhaustion. The results for this blog means that I cannot be super creative or even probably decently articulate. I’m settling with a “good enough” attitude. I apologize in advance. I hope to be on my game more tomorrow.

Rather than attempt a topic that is super thought-provoking or funny that would not go so well in my current state, I figured it might be better to check out an interview. By interview, I mean a Duran Duran interview. Yes, it will be random because that will be fun. I’ll share the interview in a second and then share my thoughts about it. I’m sure those conclusions will be amazingly uninterestingly but what the heck. If I haven’t alienated you yet, maybe you will put up with just a little bit more.

Somehow, I managed to find an interview that I haven’t seen and I don’t think I have shared on here before. According to the video description, this is from South Africa in 1982. Fascinating.

Ignoring the very quiet audio, I’m not surprised that the first real question had to do with video. Simon’s statement about how they had to do something new to get attention and how they are going to be the first video band made me think. While I totally get why he said that as they were getting lots of attention because of their videos, I wonder how long it was until he wished that he had answered differently. I remember countless interviews where they talk about how much longer it takes to make a song vs. a video and that they wished that people focused on their music more. Sometimes, saying something that seems good at one time ends up coming back to bite you in the butt.

Interestingly enough, the next time Simon speaks he gives an answer that does not sound dated in that they are trying to broaden their audience. Heck, he could say the very same thing today. After all, I’m sure that there are a lot of women in the front these days with lots of guys further back.

The last part that caught my attention was the discussion about America’s musical tastes. Simon talked about how America just seems bored of the “rubbish” music that is out. (In 1982, I don’t know that I would disagree with him especially when it comes to mainstream, Top 40 radio.) The funny part is that Simon said something along the line of how once the U.S. hears the new music coming out of the UK, that it will catch on quickly. He really wasn’t wrong. I wonder how he knew that. How could he tell?

This was not my favorite video (mostly due to the poor volume) but I enjoyed it, nonetheless. I thought it was cool to see Roger looking about as relaxed in an interview from that time period that I have ever seen. It is fascinating about how many of these questions might be asked today and how they might respond exactly as they did then for some questions but not for others. What did the rest of you think?

-A

Makes My Hair Stand Up On End

Synchronize but don’t comprehend

Lately, I’ve been stealing topics from Twitter. Shout-out to @BoysMakeNoise for drumming up such great discussion topics through his album surveys. (He’s also the brilliant mind from yesterday’s blog, and I failed to credit his genius directly!) They get me thinking, and that leads to writing.

The fact is, I have little to discussion in terms of actual “fandom” practices these days (give me time, because shows will be happening and I’m sure there will be much to discuss). So I’ve been going back through albums, listening and rethinking. Today is an Astronaut day.

What got me started on this particular album was a survey that @BoysMakeNoise posted on Twitter. It was a simple question – “What do you listen to more often?” The choices were Astronaut and All You Need Is Now.

All You Need is Now won by a virtual landslide, in case you were wondering.

Another moment I commit

The question itself is interesting because of its wording. He didn’t ask which album is preferred, just which one is listened to more often. Upon first thought, one might scoff and say it’s the same answer, but I’d challenge you to think again. For example, if you posed Notorious against Red Carpet Massacre and asked me – LATELY – I’d have to say RCM. I’ve been listening to that a lot lately for a number of reasons, but I still prefer Notorious!

So back to Astronaut. It was the first, and only album, for the fab five post reunion, and that alone caused me to listen to it non-stop for a long time. I knew every subtle nuance, every change in dynamics, and each drum fill. (probably just like anyone else reading!) However, after the Astronaut tour, I admittedly got tired of it. I put the album away, only to listen to a few songs here or there.

I’ve pulled Astronaut out every once in a while, and each time I do – I notice that I don’t need to hear it from start to finish. I tend to choose a few songs, skip around, and then I don’t need to hear it all again for a while. I can still remember how I felt when I first heard the album: mixtures of pride and excitement leveled with a teeny bit of disappointment that some of the demos I’d originally heard weren’t included or that songs were changed.

I’m addicted to the state you’re in

For a long time, I didn’t differentiate my excitement for being involved in the fan community, the joy of the band being back together, or even the elation of traveling to be with friends and go to shows, from the album itself. Those feelings were all entwined, tangled together, indecipherable from one another. Time has done it’s job, and I feel a bit less biased these days than I might have at the time it was released in 2004.

When I listen to Astronaut now, the album shows some age now. There are a few standout songs for me, like the title track, Sunrise, Chains, and even Still Breathing, but I find that a lot of the rest of the album is easy to leave behind. Unlike albums such as Paper Gods, or Rio, or even Seven and the Ragged Tiger, the songs don’t necessarily flow from one to the next. The theme of the album…if there is indeed one (I’d argue there is not), isn’t carried. There’s very little cohesion. Now, that’s not necessarily a fault of the band as much as it might have been the recording style of the day – I’m just glad that they’ve gone back to recording an album as though it is one complete story from the first song to the last.

Where it’s gonna end up, anybody knows

Oddly, these points don’t make Astronaut less endearing to me. I still love it because of what time it represents during the band’s history. I think there is much to love there – who would have thought in 1997 or 1998 that a brand new album from the original five members was just around the corner?? Instead, I find a great deal of satisfaction from being able to sit back and thoroughly examine Astronaut’s chapter in Duran Duran’s history.

I also think this discussion provides a great springboard into the topic of listening to complete albums versus playlists. Is there still merit to recording a full-album? I have to wonder how the band feels, as well as how fans feel about it in 2019…but that will have to wait for another day.

-R

I know what it is coming over ya

Get in the system

Alright friends, it is time to get real. True confession time! My confession for today is that I never fell in love with “Danceophobia”.

I’m waiting for all of you to get over your shock. It’s okay. Take your time. I can be patient.

As difficult as that might be to come to terms with, it is true. Danceophobia is not on my “most played” list, even after I heard that Dom had writing credit on the song. For several months after the first listen, I only had to hear the first opening chord and I’d hit “skip”. I just couldn’t force myself to cringe my way through it, so I didn’t. Eventually, I started listening to the complete album to get the full experience, rather than skipping around.

Trying to get to you

As the muted sound for Danceophobia would begin, discomfort would settle into the pit of my belly. I’d have to fight the urge to turn up the volume because the sound was muted (I’d already made that mistake several times prior, nearly having my eardrums explode before remembering Duran’s cute little “trick” with first muting and then bringing the volume back to normal). Then I’d force myself to plow my way through it, trying to find something likable about the song.

The more I listened to it, the more I realized that the music itself wasn’t the issue. The lyrics are cheeseball and pretty cringy, but I’ve heard worse and still bobbed my head in time to the beat without a problem. Truthfully, I didn’t mind the music at all. It’s catchy, in it’s own sticky-sweet, popcorn ball sort of way. So what was my problem?

Look around

I can remember when that fateful picture of Nick and Simon with Lindsay and her sister first graced the internet. I was appalled. Why on earth would Duran Duran pick Lindsay, of all people on the planet, to do the voiceover for “The Doctor”? It was so gross. I saw it as a fairly blatant, desperate attempt to stay in the news. (I’m sorry!!) People certainly talked about the picture – Lindsay herself posted it on Instagram, and for whatever reason – people still follow her like she’s some sort of god. For a few weeks, that picture seemed to be everywhere. I still screw up my face and make squinty eyes whenever I think about it. I just couldn’t understand why this band needed Lindsay of all people. Wasn’t there anyone else with a throaty voice who could pull off the part?!?

I doubled down on my dislike when Lindsay appeared with the band at the O2 in London, and wasn’t quite able to remember all the words…and again in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, when once again she was a little stumped. I just didn’t get the hype.

You don’t dance

I think that in the back of my mind, I knew there had to be a good reason why Duran Duran wanted Lindsay on that album, and I definitely wasn’t buying Simon’s story that they were friends and that she texted him asking to be on the album. It all seemed just a bit too contrived for me to believe. Maybe the band wanted to attract more male fans by having her appear. (Really though??) Was Lindsay really attracting THAT many more first time listeners? In my mind – she was a fairly washed-up American actress (I use that word lightly). Sure, she had followers. However, were they following because they really adored her? Or, were they following because they were voyeurs, wanting to witness the next time Lindsay fell down? I felt, and still feel, it’s the latter.

At some point, I gave up asking myself questions and just went with it. I couldn’t figure out their line of thinking, but I didn’t think I’d ever really get it. Until yesterday.

Sometimes, one has to take a step back away from a painting to really see the big picture. And other times, we need somebody else to point out the obvious. I needed both.

Am I getting through to you

During a friendly discussion about Paper Gods, the topic of Danceophobia came up. I immediately admitted that it was my least favorite on the album. I explained my feelings about the song, and didn’t think much of it until someone offered up a reason I’d never considered for Lindsay’s appearance.

“Maybe she’s supposed to make you cringe. The idea of her being a doctor is incredibly ironic”


Wait, did you just use my favorite word?? IRONY.

The fact that she hasn’t really been relevant or “cool” in over a decade was never lost on me….but did the band know that? Maybe so. I thought about how she still has so many followers, and yet I was convinced the majority of people were simply just there waiting for the next “show”. Even the way the song begins so uncomfortably quiet – like you’ve got to sit up and take notice that it’s different – began to make more sense. It was as though the possibility existed that the band was trying to use Lindsay as a perfect example of a Paper God, and I missed the entire point.  

I am your doctor

To say I’m a little embarrassed wouldn’t be wrong. I don’t know why I didn’t think about this angle before now. I kind of feel like I should have listened more in school….

Duran Duran is a thinking band. Amanda and I have talked about that at length, and we’ve written about it on this blog many times over the years. The messages, and even the laughs and jokes are always hidden. If you think the video to Is There Something I Should Know is really about the military, for instance; or that Rio really IS just about a river in North America…or even that the video for Falling Down is ONLY about models in rehab, you’ve missed out on 90% of the message, and nearly 100% of the bands humor.

It is the same reason I chuckle when people tell me that Simon only writes about sex…”because that’s what he’s said in interviews for years.” (True, when he is avoiding questions about what his lyrics are about….)

You may be experiencing feelings of confusion

So, the next time you listen to “Danceophobia”, think about the irony of someone like Lindsay Lohan being brought in – someone who has had worldwide gossip paper notoriety and has millions of followers, to be “The Doctor”. Yet she hasn’t really been relevant beyond the crosshairs of the public eye for a long time, and I have to think the band knew that. While I don’t believe they purposely set out to make fun of Lindsay – I do think they may see her celebrity as a great example of what the word “Paper God” really is. When I think about the song in those terms, it makes so much more sense, and I can completely understand its placement on the album.

Paper is thin, is fragile, and can be destroyed easily. What is newsprint one day, becomes trash the next. I can think of several celebrities who have faced similar fates over the years, Britney and Lindsay among them. The irony of having someone with that sort of background (earned or otherwise) as “the doctor” makes far more sense.

We can beat this thing

I hang my head in shame only because I should have seen that coming. I was off my game and they got me good.

Bring it, boys.

-R


It Was Thirty Years Ago (not Today)…

Brothers and sisters let me hear it

Last Friday, I had my own Duraniversary. Thirty years prior, I attended my very first Duran Duran concert at the Universal Amphitheater (which has since been torn down to make way for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood). I don’t normally think about that particular date, but I was flipping my personalized calendar that Amanda makes for me each year from one month to the next and saw the date listed. Wow. Thirty years has flown by.

I can still remember our seats…in the second to last row of the amphitheater. No front row or VIP back then! My outfit that night was new, complete with shoes that ended up giving me blisters. (I don’t know why I remember that so well!) My boyfriend had kindly bought the tickets and I was so excited to see Duran Duran that night. I’d been a fan since junior high, and it wasn’t until about eight years later that I finally was able to go to see them in concert. I felt very lucky to be in that audience!

So glad you came along

When the band took the stage, I felt a mixed bag of emotions. I was thrilled to see them – I could feel the butterflies churning away in my belly, but I also felt just the tiniest bit sad. Roger and Andy weren’t there, and while I still liked the Big Thing album, it didn’t have the same feeling for me as Rio or Seven and the Ragged Tiger. I mean, those albums were the collective epitome of Duran Duran back in the early 80s. That is also the period of time that occupies most of my memories of Duran Duran fandom when I was an awkward preteen.

I wavered back and forth between elation and that feeling of “oh, I just wish I’d been able to see them at the Forum on the Sing Blue Silver tour!” I distinctly remember forcing those thoughts aside that night because I didn’t want to miss out on the show happening right in front of me. There was no point in looking back. I was in college by then, living at the dorm on campus. My childhood bedroom with the yellow bedspread and “Summertime Green” painted walls peeking between Duran Duran posters were just memories by then. My parents had moved just after I graduated, and my new room at home didn’t have so much as a single pinup on the wall. So much had changed, yet my love for the band was still there…it was just…different.

This time you won’t be wrong

In a lot of ways, it is hard for me to believe that happened thirty years ago. It feels like a long time ago, but thirty years? Then again, the reunion (I’m going to age everyone here…) was announced nearly 18 years ago now. Better not blink.

Here I am now, getting ready for another couple of shows, thirty years later. I have to admit, I never thought much about whether or not Duran Duran would still be around in 2019. That’s kind of the beauty of youth. It was so easy to live precisely in that moment. I didn’t think about what was going to happen next, or if I’d see the band again. I can say that I appreciate seeing the band more now than I probably did at 18, I just wish I had that same endless energy!!

-R

You Can Still Be My Icon

Good morning, world! I hope everyone is having a good start to their respective week. I’m finally able to breathe fairly well again after battling a lingering cold/flu thing, so things must be looking up!

My weekend was rainy and wet, although I did get out of the house on Saturday night to go see a concert. This was our first “date night” in months, and we went to Rava Winery to see a Beatles tribute band called Hard Days Night.

First of all, I’m from So Cal, and I’m used to lights, and plenty of them. Cars, buildings, street lights, traffic lights….light pollution!! One of the things that I’m having a tougher time getting used to here out in the country is that there are relatively few of those lights! It’s harder to see at night, and so while we were driving in what felt like the middle of nowhere, through rain, to get to this winery – I wondered if we’d A. get there in one piece and B. make it back home at the end of the night. (spoiler: we were fine!)

Now is the time to come out

When we got to the winery, it was sprinkling, but my fears about being the only people showing up to the gig were unfounded. There were plenty of people there. I noticed a few things about the crowd. To begin with, Walt and I were on the younger side compared to many. I don’t know if that surprised me that much, but it was worth noting. I went dressed pretty casually (as is the usual with me), but a LOT of people dressed up in their 60s-era finest attire: from go-go boots for the women, to bright floral shirts for the guys. The other thing I noticed was that everyone, and I mean everyone, seemed to know one another. I spent the hour or so before the concert just watching everyone greet one another.

Again, being from Orange County (and there is a point to this so stick with me here), I don’t know very many people here yet. When we go to most concerts down south, it is rare that I know anyone unless I run into a neighbor, which almost never happened even when I’d be at a local grocery store!

Come out of the shadows

As the band took the stage, I noticed a sizable dance floor and commented to my husband that we were not going to be out there for all to see. He agreed, as he was nursing a sore back anyway. I figured no one would use it. I was dead wrong.

Within minutes, the floor was packed, and this crowd of primarily 50-60 somethings were out on the floor, dancing and reveling the night away. Granted, a lot of the women were the ones either dragging their men out on to the floor, or they were dancing with groups of friends while the men snuck more glasses of wine back at the tables with their friends, but it was fun to watch! It reminded me of something so very familiar….

Invariably, when I see family or friends outside of my Duran Duran “family”, the questions I get range from: “Aren’t you getting a little old for concerts?” to “When are you too old to be a fan?” I have to tell you, no matter how well I prepare myself for the questions, I always feel uncomfortable by them. What is the right answer? What can I say that will stop the conversation in its tracks so we can talk about something else? Why do I always feel like I’m wrong for having fun?? No matter what I say each time, I end up feeling icky.

Out on the edge

Well, Saturday night reminded me that age shouldn’t be a factor at all. The table directly in front of us had a group of probably 10 couples, and they were easily in their mid to late 60s. They were locals, and judging from the very loud conversation amongst the men, they were ranch and small orchard/winery owners. I heard one of them comment that they were “checking out the competition” that night as they drank their bottle of Cabernet. I’ve never seen people party it up harder in the first hour they were at a show than this group! They downed bottles of wine faster than I drink vodka tonics. It was a sight to behold. The dancing and laughing reminded me very much of some of the Duran shows I’ve attended.

The way this concert was set up, the band took a short break after about a 45-minute set for a costume change. At that point, a lot of people made their way back out into the rain. I was a little surprised to see that about half of the table in front of us left at that point, citing that they had early mornings ahead of them. Even so, I’d say about 2/3 of the audience stayed behind, and finished out the evening. The dancing didn’t slow down, nor did the imbibing.

My face in the mirror

As the show ended, and we made our way out into the now-pounding rain (I need a better raincoat, apparently!), I thought about aging. I can see the years whenever I look into a mirror. It’s getting more difficult to ignore the lines on my face, or the way my body aches after a full day of weeding or raking. Age is just a number, though. It shouldn’t stop anyone from wanting to have a night out with friends, or enjoying good music, or even cheering on a fantastic band.

My age is definitely not going to stop me from having a great time in a few weeks!

-R

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!