I Can’t Escape from the Feeling…

Normally, when I blog, I have a topic in mind and a point that I’m generally trying to make.  Tonight, I don’t.  I assume that a topic helps me focus and be a better writer.  Besides, I’m pretty sure that people come to read the blog not to read me rambling aimlessly about whatever but to check in on the Duran fan community and Duranland.  Today, I’m not feeling very focused.  Why is that?  On one hand, I could give a simple answer.  I’m exhausted.  I have worked 80 hours this week and have 12 hour days coming up this weekend.  I am surviving on coffee and not much else.  On the other hand, the answer isn’t that simple.  I think, though, that this lack of focus on a topic is a symptom of a larger problem. 

It is the end of October.  Two months ago, I was on tour.  Rhonda and I were driving around the southeast, rushing to get to our meetups before seeing some great shows!  Now, that feels like FOREVER ago.  Seriously.  It does.  Reality, or real life, or whatever you want to call it, has returned and returned in a big, fierce way.  This shouldn’t surprise me.  This has happened before after a tour but it hasn’t happened to this extent in a long time for me.  Yes, I’m working and campaigning full time.  This overload of activity does become hyper-intense in such a way that not much else gets through.  That said, I shouldn’t feel so far removed from Duranland.  I shouldn’t.  While there might not be shows coming up (that we know of), there is still activity.  This flurry of activity surrounds John Taylor, too.  I should be glued to social networking and re-reading his book for the 3rd or 4th time.  Instead, I feel like these events are passing me by quickly and that I’m only seeing bits and pieces out of the corner of my eye.  It feels so weird.  I don’t like it, but part of me doesn’t have a choice with my insane schedule.  The other part of me thinks that I should get it together to feel like a part of it.  I guess that is really the problem.  I feel like the release of JT’s book here in the States happened and that I’m not a part of it.  Of course, this gets even more illogical because I have decided to take a risk by going to the signing in Chicago.  I should feel a part of it.  I don’t. 

One of the reasons I decided to go to the signing was to try to get myself back into the Duran groove.  How did this happen?  How did I get so emotionally removed?  How???  It isn’t like I haven’t been doing the daily question and day in Duran history.  It isn’t like I haven’t been blogging.  It isn’t like I haven’t been talking about Duran at all.  Yet, I barely remember what I have talked about on the blog lately and why.  I see snippets of stories from fans who have been to signings but I haven’t been able to take the time to really take it all in and react to it.  I hate that.  I like feeling part of a fan community.  I like being happy for others.  I like hearing about what they experienced.  I like being excited about something.  I wish that I felt normal about Duran and Duranland.  I know this much.  It is nothing that the band did.  It isn’t even anything I did, intentionally.  I’m trying to fight this lack of energy for all things Duran.  I decided to go to the signing to fight.  I am trying to get a meetup planned for before the signing.  If you want to join, the link to the facebook event is here.  I’m hoping that this will really kick start my energy towards all things Duran.  Yet, other things are blocking this fight. 

Unfortunately, due to life, work, money and more, I have decided not to attend the convention in the UK.  While I have no doubt that being in Birmingham and being with a ton of Duranies would restart my fandom, I just couldn’t do it.  I can’t take off of work and really can’t afford the trip after touring this summer.  Besides, the next time I go to the UK, I want to be able to relax and enjoy it.  This would have been such a short trip that I couldn’t justify the cost (including not getting paid at work) and wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.  I know that this is the right decision, logically, but I’m sad that I will be missing so many friends there and people I was looking forward to meeting.  I’m sure that this doesn’t help my current state.

For now, all I can do is push through this fog until I am back where I should be with my fandom.  Tomorrow, my plan with the blog is to try and catch up on some of the JT media that I have been missing all week.  Then, Sunday, I finish discussing the documentary.  On Monday, which I am excited about, our book club starts with JT’s book!  Please, be prepared to discuss Chapters 1-6.  Until then, I’m going to try and get some sleep.  If I’m lucky, good Duran dreams might get me back on track!

-A

Mars Meets Venus

Life is funny.  For my family, October and stress are nearly synonymous – it happens every single year, and for the longest time, I would be shocked when October would arrive and it wouldn’t turn out as planned.  Then I just started expecting the long list of obligations, dates and business trips my husband would have planned, and yet the stress didn’t really get any easier to deal with, I just knew it was coming.  This year? It’s been off the charts – not in a good way, and the month is barely half-over.  I don’t think my husband has spent more than two nights here at home, and the term “nights” is used rather loosely.  He shows up here to sleep and then back to work, or back to the airport he goes….and dang it he’s not even a rockstar.  People have been talking excitedly about John’s signings, and for me, they’ve all been a blur.  Not that I haven’t paid attention, but I haven’t really paid attention. I haven’t been on Twitter much, not feeling Facebook these days, and mainly I’m just trying to stay offline and out of trouble as much as possible. I did, however, get the US version of John’s book yesterday along with the audio book!  Finding that amazon.com box on my front bench was the highlight of my week, and for the first time in I can’t even begin to guess how long, I couldn’t wait to get in my car to go and pick my oldest up from school.  I’m usually in my car, sitting on the 5 freeway in bumper to bumper traffic for about an hour and a half each afternoon, so I can some listening done on the way to pick her up.  There are seven CD’s in total for the book – eight hours of listening, so I will probably get a couple of weeks of listening to John Taylor read to me – not a bad deal!  I started listening yesterday, and I must say, there isn’t really much better than having John tell me a story.  I highly recommend it!

As stressful as my life is right now, I’m thankful that my husband and kids tolerate Duran Duran.  It gets played in my car, it’s talked about in the house…and while I take a great deal of teasing and ribbing from my two kids about the blog, whomever my favorite member might be, and the amount of time I spend going to their gigs, I think they’re all pretty amused by the whole thing.  Rather than being a source of contention, it is taken with good nature most of the time.  My husband will even email me links to articles he’s seen about the band (although typically I’ve already seen them – gotta love his effort though), and – he’s the reason I’m able to go and do much of the traveling I’ve been able to experience. That doesn’t mean our relationship is perfect or that he is understanding 100% of the time (or vice-versa!!)

Not all Duranies are quite so lucky, though.  Kitty Amsbry (Gimmeawristband.com) suggested we do a blog on this topic because there are so many of us who have families that, for whatever reason, don’t share our joy for all things Duran. Imagine that?!? There are many times when I read things about how some fans can’t even play the music in their homes because their husbands or significant others don’t share their enthusiasm for the band.  Still others can’t go on trips to see the band (even if it’s only a couple hours drive), or stay overnight – and not just because it is financially unfeasible.  How does this not become a point of real resentment?  How do those fans deal with those problems?  I know that many female fans have this issue, just watching the video of Duran Duran vs. the Husband from YouTube will drive that point home!

Is it really that easy for everyone?  Probably not.  What do you do??

In my own case, there was a time when my husband was less-than-supportive. It made the entire issue – my fandom – so much less FUN and a lot more WORK.  I was determined not to let him “win” though, and I desperately wanted my own space.  I really am not sure what finally began to turn the tide, although I think just time helped.  He was never against Duran Duran though, and I have to say that in some of these cases I have to wonder if the problem really is Duran Duran, or if that is just a symptom of a much larger problem.

No matter, fandom is supposed to be an escape, and when the methods of that escape are being controlled by someone else, it is bound to create resentment.  How to handle such a thing?  I really don’t know – but if you have any ideas or thoughts – post away.

-R

Grooving with John Taylor and Curt Smith

After a momentary freak-out this morning, I think my blood pressure has settled enough for me to sit down and think about a blog. Oh, of course I’m going to share my little story…I was getting my youngest ready for school this morning and ran upstairs to grab something. I heard her announce that she’d unlocked the front door, thinking we’d leave from there, and I corrected her, saying that mommy’s car was in the garage, and we’d leave from our laundry room door. (which leads to our garage). As I was getting what I needed, I faintly heard her talking, but I didn’t know what she’d said, and then I came downstairs and read an article or two in the paper before realizing that it was time to leave. I stood up, grabbed my keys and told her it was time, only to hear nothing. So then I called her again, and still nothing. I’m starting to wonder where she was hiding at this point, so I yelled her name this time, and then realized that she might have gone out the front door. I run out the front door, but I don’t see her anywhere. In my head I’m calculating how long it had been since I was upstairs and realize it’s been at least five, maybe even ten minutes. Long enough for her to wander down the block or be grabbed by the kidnapper I am SURE was waiting for her to come outside.  So I begin to silently panic. I yell her name again, and this time my son comes out of his bedroom (….and yes, during this scene I actually DO take a second to process that: wow, so THAT is how loud I need to yell to get his attention and get him out of his room. Yes, I multitask.) and he starts worrying about where she is. He’s very protective of his little sister, so he starts calling her too. Mind you, our house is not that big. Finally, after determining that she’s really not in this house, hiding under her bed and giggling, I walk out into the garage, and there she is…sitting in the car, completely buckled into her car seat, grinning with pride because she did it all herself, and is ready to go to school.

That’s when my heart started palpitating and I needed to sit down. My kids are really going to kill me one of these days. How is YOUR Wednesday going??

These days, it is pretty rare when I read an article that I think is really worthy of comment on my part, but yesterday afternoon I came across an article that I really want to share if you haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet. I also want to caution that this blog may in fact have some BOOK SPOILERS contained within simply because the article talks about the book, so this is a warning: if you haven’t read the book yet and you don’t want to know a single thing – you should stop reading this blog right now and go read your book!  Don’t send me mail about how I spoiled something for you, because this is my disclaimer. If you’re still reading, then you are at your own risk.  Aside from Duran Duran, one of the bands I love most is Tears for Fears. I haven’t seen them live nearly as much as I have seen Duran Duran, but I love The Hurting almost as much as I love Duran Duran’s first album, and I hold many of their songs near and dear to my heart.  So, I was very excited to read that Curt Smith had sat down down with John Taylor to talk with him about his autobiography. You can read the interview here. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I had great hopes to get past some of the more obvious things in the book – that is something that very, very few journalists are ever able to do, and I think most of that is due to a lack of familiarity or connection with the subject. Curt and John are at least friendly if not good friends, and that only helped the pace of their conversation. I was so thankful that Curt opens right up by saying that he was worried the piece would be some sort of “grandiose tome” about how big Duran Duran were – and I knew right away this article would be anything but.

They talk for a bit about middle-class. John wonders when America started obsessing over middle-class. I find this fascinating, only because I grew up here, and by all intents and purposes, I grew up lower-middle class. It was all I ever knew. We never called ourselves “blue-collar” (both of my parents had office jobs) or “working-class”, but if either of my parents stopped working – we definitely weren’t going to be eating. My mom and dad nearly lost their home back in the early nineties when my dad was laid-off (“made redundant” for those of you elsewhere in the world), and I’ll tell you what – I’d take being “middle-class” over those days of worrying about how long it was going to be before we were evicted from our own home ANY DAY. (Thankfully in our case, we were able to “short-sell” that home, but it was a horrible experience. I don’t think my dad ever fully-recovered from that loss, both financially and emotionally.) I know those fears, and I know them well. That said, John says something about how there is no pride in being middle-class, and I have to say given my own background, I can’t agree – although in this current day and age I can certainly see why he might say that, and let’s face it, we all have our own truth. In my family, there was pride in being able to maintain a mortgage, and middle-class in 1985 meant owing the bank for a small home. (The house I grew up in was just under 1200 square feet. Three small bedrooms, two very small bathrooms, a tiny kitchen, a “dining room” and a living room.) I had friends whose parents paid rent on an apartment that would have loved having my parents house – back then it was just about coming up with the down payment! My parents took great pride in paying off a bill – however small, and you know what else? We knew exactly who we were. We didn’t have to use the words “middle-class” to know we were in the middle. It was simply understood. I can’t say that about many of my more wealthier friends now. They are so busy shuttling their kids to their various activities and worrying about whom they need to impress next that I think many of them have forgotten where they came from. I think you find that anywhere, no matter what tax bracket you’re in, though. One thing I’ve gleaned from my own personal set of circumstances – it’s one thing to be proud of who you are, it’s another to be proud of what you have, especially when those “things” can disappear in a heartbeat.

Curt also points out a theme that I’d noticed within the book as well – an sense of extended family, and it would seem that John himself may have not recognized that within his writing.  John talks about how the band has become this way of people connecting with other people.  Of course Amanda and I both agree with that concept wholeheartedly – it’s what we talk about time and time again here on the blog. What I think Curt was trying to show John was that in his writing throughout the book there’s a sense of John wanting to be a part of a greater whole. The loneliness he feels, those demons, it would seem that all of that is merely a symptom of wanting to feel included and part of a family. I totally get that. Sure, I have a family. A really LOUD family. (and by the way I know what John is saying when he mentions that he doesn’t want to generalize about all kids – but the fact is – mine are loud, one of which is still pretty young, and sometimes I am sure that I could get away from all of them, husband included, and be just fine for several weeks at a time. I’m sure most moms, if not most parents, feel that way. So there, I said it. :D) I also know that there are many, many times when I feel the most “at home” when I’m not even AT HOME, but I’m with my people. My fellow Duranies. I’m the most “myself” in those rare moments, too. John is unequivocally correct when he says that the band has become a sort of conduit for fans to connect with one another though. I thank my lucky stars every single day of that simple fact. For me personally it isn’t enough to just sit and absorb the music. I need more than that, my life needs more than that, and this band has acted, for me, as the purpose I needed in order to find the connection, the friends, I craved. Otherwise, yeah I’m pretty much a hermit here at home in the sense that I don’t go running to meet friends for lunch or get involved in a ton of different clubs and things. No time, no need.

Curt comments that he found the beginning and end of the book as the most interesting. The middle section of course, is for the fans – because it is the story of Duran Duran from John’s point of view. Maybe I’m just different, or maybe I really am as weird and uncool as my older children say (the youngest still has a great deal of “mommy-worship” for me and you can bet I’m holding onto that for as long as possible!), but I have to admit that I got far, far more out of the beginning and end to his book than I did the middle. Maybe it’s because the middle portion was what I’ve already lived through. No, I didn’t know every single story. I definitely didn’t realize a lot of the subtle behind-the-scenes things. I just know that when I read the book, I wanted to learn about John Taylor – and I believe that we do get a glimpse of who he really is as a person from the beginning and the end of the book. I’ll be curious to read what others think as we go through our book discussions here on the blog. Speaking of which, Amanda will be directing our discussion of John’s book here on the blog. We will begin this next Monday, and her discussion will be quite a bit different from what we did with Andy’s book, so take note. She tells me that for next Monday, we should read through Chapter Six, and the general theme is John’s childhood and family background. We hope you’ll take the time to read and comment on the discussion, we love reading the different opinions out there.

One last point I’ll touch on, and then I’ll leave you to your own reading and surmising was a profound sense of guilt I had while John described how he felt being “the cute one” and coming away from that now. After having read that, I immediately went to the place in my head where I keep track how many times I’ve blogged about various things. It is true, I did always see John as the cute one. So much so that I knew he was completely out of my league. I steered as far from him as possible, knowing he would be the one my friends would fight over, and I wanted no part. The other girls, the millions out there, could have the handsome one, and I would be a fan of the guy in the background. I had no way of knowing what John was really like as person, quite possibly because he self-medicated to the point where it was impossible back then, but also because during that time period I was too immature to see past the pretty face. Maybe if we all had been older, we would have seen what was undoubtedly there behind that wicked grin and arched eyebrow. I really don’t know. I just know I felt awful as I read and allowed myself to absorb the words.

-R

Navigating the “VIP” Section

First of all, a very happy In the Pleasure Groove release day to all of our US friends out there.  I think Amanda has been counting down to this day for months! (but now she’s really got a countdown going for a trip to Chicago…)

All this talk of signings and lineups to get into signings and so forth has me thinking about just how hard it is to navigate this fan community on a social level. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, stick with me because I think you’ll get my point in a minute or two.

When I first decided to get involved on a message board, I seemed to like everyone I “met”, and even better – I trusted whatever they said to be true. I guess I was pretty naive because it never occurred to me that people might lie, whether about their background, life circumstances, or how they came to know the band, or even if they’d met them. I think that’s pretty insightful about who I really am as a person – because I just expect people to tell me the truth. Why lie? I must remind myself that the truth just is not the same for everyone. Not everyone intentionally deceives.

The trouble is, of course, that in a community like this, everyone wants something. I really dislike talking about the band as though it’s a limited commodity. I don’t go around picturing them as orange futures or pork bellies, and yet many times, that is exactly how the community as a whole seems to react to their mere presence, as though they are pieces of meat and we are the lion pride. It has the potential to breed anger, greed and deception, and over the course of the years that I have been most involved, I’ve seen plenty.

If that greed weren’t enough, there is the sheer diversity of our group. I am pretty sure that there are fans from nearly every walk of life represented here. All races, creeds, careers, ages, and places on the planet. During my blogging, I’m fairly certain I’ve managed to offend someone out there, even without purposefully meaning to do so. It’s a very narrow ledge that must be navigated with care, and I truly do care. I’m also well aware that for every stance I take on a subject, there is with certainty, someone with the opposing view. This doesn’t just go for blogging – it is found in every segment of fandom (and life). Navigating between the lines, hoping not to offend, desperately trying not to stir up the pot-of-crazy that we all know exists, and hoping to somehow meet and befriend other people who have a similar interest in the fandom can be exhausting! I’ve yet to find the “secret recipe” that makes it all work, but I start by just trying to be honest and friendly with everyone. That doesn’t mean that I am friends with everyone, that everyone likes me in-turn, or that I even trust everyone – but I try to give the benefit of the doubt, at least until I’ve been wronged without a doubt.

In the research I’m continuing to do on fandom – much is made of this concept that fandom is an escape from normal “reality”. Due to the fact it is an escape, it is attractive to many, and part of that attraction is that at least from the outside looking in, it is paradise. An oasis in a desert.  I might argue that many times, it is really only a mirage. Many, if not all of us from time to time, pretend to be something they simply are not. The troubles of the world wash away with the time we spend on Twitter, Facebook or in the company of one another and we escape with relish. Let’s face it, when we’re away from home or online – we can be anything we want to be. It only becomes a problem when you spend enough time with one another where the layers get scratched and worn away enough so that reality bares through.  Everyone seems perfectly normal until you get to know them well, don’t they??

Now, I know that during my tenure as a Duran fan, I’ve read countless stories offered by others about meeting someone in person only to find out that one has been completely duped – either by their real-life persona, or by the person lying about what and whom they knew, or at worst – by thievery. Let’s be honest, it is really difficult to know what and whom to trust, and yet for many of us, we really and truly do believe the best in people. For me personally, it is shocking to find that someone wanted to “use” me because they thought I could get them something or somewhere (Don’t I wish?), and I’ve got to admit, sometimes it makes me think twice about really getting involved in the community beyond going to a show or two, and I am pretty sure I’m not alone.

So many of us talk about the “crazies” amongst us. Sure, they’re out there and sometimes they are even within plain sight – we just don’t recognize the signs. I see a complaint on nearly a daily basis…always from different people…saying that someone is misrepresenting themselves online. People make judgments about who should or shouldn’t be followed by the band, their management, people who surround them, and so forth without having the foggiest idea of why. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve gotten to the point where the cynical side of me thinks that maybe everyone (including me) is guilty of that from time to time. I certainly don’t look the way I do in pictures at shows (Are you kidding me?!? I have about 2 and a half minutes to get ready in the morning before I’m “discovered” as being awake, which means I must be ready to serve my public, err…children. I’m lucky to have time to put on mascara and eyeliner and even that is a simple luxury.), and my kids tell me I’m not nearly as cool as I sound online. Well, humph, I didn’t even know I sounded cool online!!! My point is simply that none of us really know the full-story of one another unless we care enough to find out, and sometimes, even when we do, we might very well be disappointed in the end.

Between the drama, the deception, the honesty and sometimes even the truth, it is really no wonder that many fans choose to stick to themselves and not get involved. Sometimes yes, it’s easier. On the other hand, if I had done that from the very beginning, I wouldn’t have met Amanda and many of you that I count as true friends. You know exactly whom you are.

-R

Book Discussion – Wild Boy (Chapters 15 through Epilogue)

We are concluding our discussion of Andy’s book today, so if you have anything to say about Andy, his history in Duran Duran and this book – let your comments fly!

Chapter Fifteen

This is the chapter we’ve all been waiting for – hearing how the band got back together after so many years.  It begins with Andy finally speaking with Simon again, which seemed to open the door for more communication between the other members.  It’s funny to me that while they really couldn’t speak as they broke up, they were able to speak about getting back together as a group.  What’s more, it seems clear, at least through Andy’s writing, that very little was actually said regarding their breakup in the 80’s.  Have these boys learned nothing?!?  (Obviously and sadly, no.)  Andy writes of their first real meeting, and how much of a transformation there was in John.  On one hand, Andy’s description seems parental – seeing how much a child or loved one had changed; on the other, Andy mentions that John couldn’t remember many of the things that happened during the time he was in the band.  I got the feeling that in writing this, Andy was surmising that for John – this was a chance at a complete “do-over”.

I have to say that I had always believed (erroneously…and prior to reading the book the first time) that Andy had wanted the reunion purely to tour and make money.  That was just always my own impression of matters, but Andy explains that he and Nick wanted more out of the reunion than just a flash-from-the-past tour, and of course anyone who has been paying attention throughout the book realizes that there are precious few things that Andy feels he and Nick truly agree upon, and this is indeed one. I was shocked, and truthfully disappointed, to read that John hadn’t really wanted to even enter the studio.  He just wanted the tour, according to Andy.  It was Andy in fact who convinced John that recording was necessary if for no other reason than to familiarize themselves with one another again, and I have to admit, that surprised me. It still surprises me, in fact.

Not at all shocking to anyone who has been a fan, the head-butting over who has ultimate control started immediately, but Andy describes it as being between John and Nick.  Again, that’s not something I would have imagined on my own – but then we’ve never really known a sober John in Duran Duran, up until this point.  As most know, the band did have monetary problems during the recording of Astronaut, and as unfair and completely selfish as this sounds – I’m glad they did.  Who really KNOWS how long we would have gone without seeing these five guys on stage together again?  So yes, while I pity that Simon wasn’t able to get money out of the ATM on that fateful day with Andy, secretly (well, that ship has now sailed, hasn’t it??) I am kind of thankful.  They were able to see just how “with them” the fans really stayed, and I think that gave them the confidence they needed to keep pushing onward, as well.

Chapter Sixteen

So the band begins/continues the sold-out US tour that many of us attended. As I continued on in this book, I realized that at some point, we would come to the time when my own history would intersect with that of the band.  Yes, I was a fan well-before this time, but the lions share of the shows I’ve attended and things I’ve done with regard to the band have taken place since 2003. Andy mentions several of the shows that I attended during the 78-03 tour, and I have to say that reading about those shows in print gives me the strangest sensation of deja-vu, it’s really kind of bizarre and energizing all at the same time.  I know the story of the band from here, but I don’t know Andy’s story.  It’s reading a completely different point of view of the same events, and I have to say that I love it.  It’s not just Duran’s story at this point – it’s mine (and likely yours) as well.

Andy talks about the decision to sign with Sony over Universal (UK).  I’m not really very-well versed on the business-end of the music industry.  I know very little – enough to get myself into a great deal of trouble and not much else, I suppose.  It never occurred to me that the band might prefer to sign with a UK label – but of course now in hindsight  I can ascertain the cultural differences that would make working with a US-based company and all of the US expectations for musical direction very difficult for a UK band, even a UK band that had been around for nearly 30 years that should have had their own branding by now – but naturally, a large corporation like Sony felt they could do even better.  Do you hear sarcasm there???

Strife between various band members continued.  Andy still thinks Nick is head of the Lyric Police – and according to Andy, Nick narrowly avoided actually saying he’d write the lyrics himself.  This, my fellow readers, is not the least bit surprising to me, and in some ways, I feel as though Andy might be a little too harsh on Nick here.  We know that Nick wrote lyrics on the Medazzaland album, and I am aware from other reading I’ve done that Simon had trouble writing for Pop Trash – his depression about where the band was headed made it difficult for him to write.  I’ve heard Nick comment about lyrics on a few of the Astronaut songs that never made the album as well (Salt in the Rainbow and Beautiful Colours comes to mind) – and he’s said that he believes Simon will eventually get those lyrics right. So, it’s not surprising that Nick felt that he could step into that role (and has done so since).  I guess I would like to believe that this wasn’t so much about control as it was about working as a team.  Of course, I believe in sunshine, rainbows and unicorns, too.  Once again, everyone’s truth is different.

Andy talks a little about the Duran partnership as well.  I remember seeing “Duran Duran New Partnership” on the bottom of albums and things during this time, and the words always made me smile.  The trouble was, I never gave much thought to how the money was divided.   I just wanted the band together again.  In this new partnership, Andy and Roger were given less of a percentage than the rest of the band, and while I would LOVE to comment on this, to be fair – it’s really none of my business. The only thing I feel comfortable in saying is that, in my opinion as a fan, it took ALL FIVE of them to make the Duran Duran that I went to see at shows in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

With all of the excitement the fans had during this period, Andy seemed to get more depressed.  His father was fighting cancer, and at one point, Andy admits to feeling as though he was nearing a nervous breakdown.  He speaks of feeling “twinges of agoraphobia” (page 288), and missing part of the US tour as a result of a type of panic attack – this was during the time of his “flu”, but there were other signs that all was not well.  The sales of Astronaut were not what Andy was hoping (it sold around a million copies worldwide); he talks about the lack of “good advice” from their recently appointed New York management, his discomfort with the overexposure of the band, and he even comments that “some band members thought we were U2 and attempted to emulate them.” (Page 288)  To be perfectly fair, being a fan is very much like being on the outside looking in.  I have no idea what went on behind closed doors, but what strikes me is that all this time – while fans were overjoyed at the idea of the band being back together, already cracks were formed in the foundation that kept the house of Duran stable.  I suppose the reality is that the cracks were never repaired from the first go-round.  Naturally Andy talks about the fact that his father’s cancer as well as the deaths of Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson didn’t help – I’m sure at the time he may not have even realized the toll all of this took, we humans are funny that way – but in hindsight it typically becomes clear.  He ends the chapter on such an incredibly down note, I just have difficulty in seeing how the band could not have possibly seen what was going on with him.  “I went back onstage with Duran Duran in Detroit.  I wore my dark sunglasses on stage as normal, and after the show I received an e-mail from a fan who had seen the tears rolling down my cheeks under the shades.  Duran Duran later played a gig at Boston University while I was back in England for the funeral, and Simon dedicated his rendition of “Ordinary World” on stage to “absent friends!” (Page 291)  It’s not that Simon dedicated the song, I believe Andy is even commenting on something a little different here.  He’s not incredulous (given the exclamation point) that Simon thought to dedicate the song to “absent friends” – it’s that Simon didn’t even mention Andy or his father. Sure, it’s very possible that Simon didn’t want to spread Andy’s grief or speak of personal news – I am certain – but I also believe that Andy felt that the band were close enough to share one another’s pain.  I think the depression that Andy was fighting helps paint this in the worst possible light in Andy’s mind and heart, and the pain resonates.

Chapter Seventeen

So we all know what happens in this chapter.  The end result repeats itself.  When this book first came out, I was greedily absorbing this chapter, trying to ascertain what one single event made the choice for Andy, or whether it was the band or Andy who truly was at fault.  One thing the years have done for me though, is made me see that the details truly do not matter.  All someone needs to do is read this book and understand that Andy simply was not happy.  It wouldn’t have made a single bit of difference if Andy had been granted that VISA, because I think the end was already completely inevitable.  That doesn’t mean I necessarily put blame on Andy OR the band – I just think the time had come.  “We played a lot of gigs and we made some good money that summer, but at times I felt as if we were just treading water after almost twenty-five years together. the old creative frictions within the band were still there, and it struck me that we’d never actually sat down together to lay to rest the problems and arguments that we’d had with each other for various reasons the first time around.” (Page 295)  I know I cannot be the only fan out there that wonders how it was that the band could do all of the interviews and promo that they did surrounding the reunion, and say over and over how they spent time while recording Astronaut literally hashing out everything – and yet have a band member say that they never sorted anything out.  I suppose it’s just a little sexist of me to say “How typically male of them!”  Honestly!!!

Sure, there’s Reportage – and every fan wants to hear the songs and know that body of work.  They are not alone – I’d love to hear it myself.  I’ve been told it’s “out there”, but to me that is some sort of mysterious statement that is somewhat akin to “I’ve heard the album, I’m in the know, and I’m friends with the right people.”  Well my friends – I am not.  I have never heard a single song, I am most CLEARLY not in the know, and I definitely am not friends with the right people.  Wait.  That sounded wrong somewhere… Anyway, this was to be the second album with Sony, and it was supposed to be an edgy-alternative record where they went back to their roots.  How many times did we hear that talking point while they were recording Reportage??  So much that I have it permanently memorized and I’m not even in the damn band.  But as we all know, things happen, and somehow, we end up with Red Carpet Massacre instead.  I know Amanda will want to talk about Andy’s assertions that John somehow wanted to act as producer on the record, and that Nick had lost patience with Simon who was having trouble writing and so forth.  My take is just that I think from a creative standpoint, they needed a referee of sorts during this period, and they are not the first band to benefit from such a thing. (they are called PRODUCERS, as it turns out!)  While I truly believe that John has the skill to produce, I would imagine it is a far different thing to produce a band like Duran Duran, if in fact that is what he was trying to do.  I don’t know, I wasn’t there.  John himself talks about the guys as four (five) hard-headed stubborn people, and so I can imagine that trying to herd them in the same creative direction can be difficult.  I wouldn’t want the job, that is for sure.

I don’t know what to say about Timbaland that I haven’t already said, except that for me personally – he was truly the final nail in what was the original five member Duran Duran’s coffin.  What wasn’t already dead, he killed off – and yes I mean that – even though I highly doubt he would even know that the band originally had five members or what instruments needed to appear on the album.  That wasn’t his worry or his plan, and I get that.  Harsh?  Absolutely, and I stand by my comments 150%.  However, I also believe you’ve got to go through a whole lot of bad to get to the good sometimes.

One of my favorite quotes in this entire book is what ends this chapter, and it holds completely true even four years after it’s original printing, “I guess that what she was trying to say was Simon and Nick were always very good at delivering roses and chocolate, but that I was the steak and the beer in Duran Duran.” (Page 312) If I could hug the person who said that to Andy – I would, because it is the perfect description of why I love(d) this band.

Epilogue

Thankfully, Andy finally answers the question he posed at the beginning of the book.  “Was it all worth it?”

“The answer is a resounding yes….Maybe if there had been fewer lows there wouldn’t have been so many highs, so you learn to take the rough with the smooth.  I can honestly say that even if I had to do it all over again I don’t think I would change a thing.” (Page 314)

I have to say that throughout the reading of this book, I have questioned whether or not Andy really WOULD do it all again.  I think that while he says he is completely back to normal – and I have no reason to question that – sometimes I wonder whether or not his depression at the time he went through some of the things he went through may have colored his perception a bit.  There are truly moments in the book that are well prior to his diagnosis in 2007 that I can see the depression already taking hold, even if the moments are fleeting.  I believe that his mother leaving him had a profound effect on the way Andy has continued to conduct his life – he never seems to ever say a proper good-bye.  Andy questions why the band never sat down to sort things out properly, and yet I wonder as an outsider why HE didn’t start the conversation himself.  Hindsight, right?

Overall, I agree with many of you who have taken to reminding me that there are many funny parts of this book. I smiled right along with you, rest assured.  I have always appreciated the way that Andy chooses not to sugar-coat things.  I myself have been accused of the same – it’s a difficult road to walk at times.  I also appreciate that this book is about Andy’s life in Duran Duran.  It’s not Andy coming to terms with himself nearly as much as it was probably cathartic for him to sort out how he felt about Duran Duran.  I know many, many fans out there felt that the book was far too negative and that Andy was far too harsh on the rest of the band.  I don’t suppose we’ll ever know for certain.  I can only offer a statement that my son is learning in his 8th grade literature class, and that is “The Truth is not the same for Everyone.”

I hope you enjoyed going back through the book with me, and that none of you minded that I chose not to make obvious parallels between this book and John’s book, which is due to be released tomorrow here in the states.  I hope that we can continue to discuss the books on their own merit and not try to contradict one over the other.  To do so cheapens the work product that both John and Andy rightfully earned, and that is simply not our goal. That said, Amanda will begin directing the discussion for that book next Monday!

-R

The Current Band

Today, I’m continuing the discussion about the documentary included on A Diamond in the Mind.  Last week, the focus was on Simon’s vocal loss.  On the documentary, this leads right into a discussion on the current band, including the seven people on stage (the four band members, Saxy Simon, Anna and Dom), and how the sound is.  This, of course, leads me to think about the current live band and Dom’s role within it. 

On the documentary, Roger stated how the band was really a “tight unit” and John mentioned how this particular lineup has been playing together for 6 years now.  For John, this produces conditioning and a lot of fun.  As I listened to this, I was shocked that this group has been playing together for 6 years already!  It seems like just yesterday when Dom was filling in for Andy when he had to be gone due to his father’s death or his own illness.  It also seems like yesterday when Duran’s live saxophone player was fan favorite of Andy Hamilton.  This, of course, makes me realize that how quickly times flies!!  Of course, it also makes me think about if this is the best lineup, especially when it comes to that essential role of guitar. 

Roger discussed Dom at some length.  He pointed out that it was “tough” for Dom to come in and fill Andy’s shoes.  Yet, again, according to Roger, he came in “egoless” and just focused on his playing.  In Roger’s opinion, this focus rubbed off on the rest of the band.  Dom also spoke about great it has been for him, especially the last few months.  Obviously, I had quite a reaction to hearing this.  First, I thought about what I think about their live performance.  I have been seeing the band as often as I can since 2005.  While it is hard to objectively discuss the shows that I have been to since events surrounding the shows might affect my opinion, I have generally enjoyed every tour I have attended.  When I first saw Dom in the spring of 2005 when Andy was gone dealing with family issues, I didn’t notice him.  He didn’t take anything from the performances but I didn’t notice much to add to it either.  The summer of 2005 were the last shows I saw with Andy.  While I loved those shows, I noticed that there seemed to be a great divide between Andy and John.  There was no interaction and John and Andy seemed to stay just on their respective sides.  Then, 2006 saw the first shows after Andy, officially, left.  At this time, I did notice Dom and even welcomed him to the band (in my heart) after a fabulous performance in Chicago.  From then now, I have seen Dom step up and begin to own more and more of the show and become an equal participant on stage.  I, for one, love the DoJo (as I lovingly refer to it) or the interaction between Dom and John.  Clearly, the two love to play together and feed off of each other during shows. 

Another part of Roger’s statement about Dom is how he is “egoless”.  Now, obviously, I don’t know Dom, personally, so I cannot speak to the truth of this statement on a personal level.  As a player in Duran Duran, I think that the statement seems accurate.  As I stated earlier, the first times I saw Dom when he was just a fill in and I didn’t notice him.  I didn’t find myself saying that the guitar player was so awesome but I also didn’t say that the guitar player really sucked.  He faded into the background, then, and I appreciated that.  While I am glad that the sound was decent with him, I also found his performance respectful.  He didn’t try to step right into Andy’s shoes.  Instead, he understood the job and did just that, nothing more and nothing less.  Then, after Andy left, he started to inject himself more and more into the live performance.  This to me also felt right.  He couldn’t hide in the shadows forever.  I liked what he contributed then.  Now, of course, he has also been a writing partner for All You Need is Now.  Thus, to me, Dom has done what has been asked of him.  He held back when it was appropriate and stepped up as appropriate.  To me, it feels like he isn’t worried about himself as much as he worries about doing the job he was hired to do well.  I couldn’t ask for more, which is part of the reason I am definitely a fan and respect him.

When I watched the documentary and saw the discussion regarding the live show and Dom’s participation, I couldn’t help but to notice that the only people interviewed on this documentary were Simon, John, Nick, Roger and Dom.  Hmm…this, of course, kicks my overactive brain into gear.  How come they didn’t include Anna?  What about Saxy Simon?  Are their roles really that much smaller?  Could it be something else?  Could the band and their people be preparing the fans?  Could they be thinking about including Dom into the band as a permanent member?  Honestly, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who reads this blog, but I would support this.  We all know that Rhonda would support this.  Personally, Dom has paid his dues and proved himself to be a valuable contributor.  Now, of course, I know that there is a lot to this decision, including contracts, legal aspects, etc.  One factor has to be fan reaction and I, for one, is a fan who would welcome this. 

-A

Readings, Signings and John Taylor…Oh My!

Just when I think I couldn’t add anything else to my extremely busy plate of activities, schedules and thoughts, something else falls into my lap, which is what happened yesterday afternoon.  Now, Friday afternoons have become a big deal in my life.  They didn’t used to be that important as I typically would spend Friday going out for a drink with colleagues or friends or just come home to sleep and relax.  Now, Friday afternoons and evenings mean getting ready for the weekend and, in my case, a weekend of all day campaigning.  Therefore, after work yesterday, I ran some errands and began straightening my house and making a list of everything I needed to bring to the campaign office that I’m in charge of through election day.  Before I got into a groove, I received both an email and a text message regarding the fact that many John Taylor book signings and readings were announced on dd.com.  If you want to read the details, you can go here.  Here is the basic gist of locations, dates, and events:

October 16th-New York City book signing at 12:30 pm

October 16th-New York City book reading and signing at 7:30 pm

October 18th-Ridgewood, New Jersey signing at 6:00 pm

October 24th-Hollywood reading and signing at 7:00 pm

October 25th-San Francisco reading and signing at 6:30 pm

October 26th-Austin reading and signing at 6:30 pm

October 29th-Toronto reading and signing at 7:00 pm

October 30th-Chicago reading and signing at 5:30 pm

To say that I am surprised by all of these events is an understatement.  I honestly didn’t think there was any chance that more book events would take place for three simple reasons.  First, the first New York City event was announced a long time.  When there is a long break between event announcements, I just assume that is all that would be happening.  I suppose that I should know better after seeing the long break between the first announcement of  some summer shows last year like Durham and Chicago and the rest of the tour, but habits are hard to break.  Second, the only locations mentioned when John appeared in Second Life was New York City and LA.  Yes, perhaps, he mentioned that he hoped for other locations, but hopes are very different from reality.  Lastly, I assumed that I wouldn’t have any luck and that he wouldn’t come anywhere near me.  In general, though, I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised that he is going to as many places as he is.  I’m also glad that he isn’t just going to the coasts.  Now, of course, there are COUNTLESS more places that could be picked for a spot.  I know this.  Everyone knows this.  I’m sure that John Taylor and the publisher knows this. 

So, what does this mean for me, the insanely over-scheduled and lucky to get 5 hours of sleep person?  I’m not sure.  Obviously, I would LOVE to get to the one nearest me.  Who wouldn’t?  It does mean missing other things, other commitments.  Here’s where the real test of fandom comes in, right?  Do I skip other things and possible risk consequences?  If so, does that make me a bigger, better fan?  If I don’t keep my real life commitments, does that make me too obsessed of a fan?  Will I totally regret not going or will I feel guilty if I go?  I am totally over thinking.  I know this.  Another thing I know and have been living for awhile is how much I HATE being pulled into 3 or 4 different directions.  I would love to just be able to commit to one thing and one thing only, but I can’t give up any.  For example, I can’t give up my paying job (as much I would really like to, at times) because it is what pays the bills.  I won’t give up fandom because it brings me the most joy.  As far as campaigning goes, I only have 24 days to go.  I just wish that I could worry about one at a time.  I wouldn’t feel so very torn and guilty all the time.  So, readers, I ask you.  What do you think I should do?  Do I allow myself a day of John Taylor and screw the consequences?  Ignore my other responsibilities?

-A

Book Discussion – Wild Boy (Chapters 12-14)

Continuing with our discussion, we will focus on chapters twelve through fourteen of Wild Boy today.

Chapter Twelve

R: Live Aid.  I don’t know how many fans had any kind of a notion that this performance would the the last for the original five band members until 2003, but that tidbit of knowledge in hindsight changes everything for me personally.  Live Aid was a epic event, certainly.  It is a memory that for those of us who were in or nearing our teens, really kind of sums up the 80’s.  I’ll bet for many, it very nearly carries on the same sort of ideals as other life-altering events.  It is a subject that is spoken of with regularity on message boards, Twitter and Facebook – and nearly every time it comes up, people remember where they were, what they were doing, and if they watched. Live Aid is synonymous with the band, and while sure – we remember how Simon sounded, when I think back – I just try to remember what the band looked like that day (I have very little memory of it without watching YouTube).  Did they engage with one another on stage?  Were there really signs of fracture?  This is indeed the event that Andy chooses to open the book with, and now we’ve come full circle.

There is a general theme with this section of the book, and that is Andy is trying to find a way out.  It would seem that Andy desperately wanted to leave Duran Duran, but in order to walk away properly – he needed to feel as though there were something waiting for him on the other side.  He speaks of Power Station in this regard.  “The Power Station was still going to be my bridge out of the madness, with or without Robert. One thing I was determined to do was to make a clean break from the Berrows, who I remained unhappy with over the large slice of our earnings that they were entitled to under the terms of our contract with them.” (Page 210) What is curious to me is that by his own writing, it seems that Andy doesn’t think the madness would follow him. I am not a rock star and I don’t know what it is like to be in a successful rock band, but I would imagine that many of the problems Andy continues to see would exist no matter where he was or whom he was playing with, and I think that becomes increasingly apparent as we head towards the end of this book.

A:  I, too, took notice about Andy’s desire to get out.  I thought his reasoning to want to get out from underneath the Berrows was interesting.  He mentioned how the managers had too big of a cut and, more than that, they were pushing too many shows, appearances, interviews, and videos.  I can’t, obviously, comment on whether or not this is true since I wasn’t there but I did want to point out how much managers matter when it comes to the day-to-day decisions regarding the band and their activities.  Also, interesting to me, was that John supposedly supported this idea but didn’t seek legal assistance to break the contract when Andy did.  We know that the rest of the band did eventually separate from the Berrows.  I’m curious as to what led to that.  

R:  One point on Live Aid that I find incredibly poignant and telling is that Andy talks about going to the show that day in the limo as though they were headed to a funeral – it was that quiet between the five of them, yet there was a party atmosphere taking place around them.  Andy brings up Simon’s voice again, which I suppose that yes – you can’t think about Live Aid without really thinking about Simon – it was one hell of a note to go out on, I guess, but it just adds to the negative mood at the end of the book.

Andy does speak about Drum.  I must admit, I have little memory of hearing about the incident on the news, although I remember reading the article in People magazine.  I can’t imagine what it must have been like to hear about such a thing as a band member.  Andy recalls being convinced it was just another sign that they couldn’t continue.  “In a funny sort of way the Drum incident was just another example of how the lifestyle threatened to destroy all of us.” (Page 217)  As much as I understand where Andy is coming from, I think it’s fair to say that it could have happened to anyone – you don’t need to be in a rock band to capsize a sail boat, and having money has nothing to do with it.  People die from risks or even from just trying to drive to work every day whether they are rich, poor, into excess or otherwise. I really believe this was a sign of Andy’s own well-being (lack thereof) as anything else.

I know that there were many, many legal issues revolving Andy leaving the band.  We’ve all heard about them over the years, and so I really don’t want to waste time and space going over them here.  However, I want to call attention to the final sentences in this chapter.  “Our dissolution wasn’t caused by people. It was caused by the circumstances that we found ourselves in.” (Page 220)  Without getting preachy here, I daresay that it was also caused by a complete lack of communication from day one…and THAT is what is so incredibly sad.  People who made their lives every bit of what it is today by communicating and connecting with perfect strangers through their music couldn’t find a way to communicate with one another.  It’s heartbreaking.

A:  This lack of communication is clear when Andy met with Simon, John and Nick in London before the recording of Notorious.  At that time, he admitted that he gave them the impression that he would be returning in order to avoid confrontation.  I certainly can understand wanting to avoid that but a band that was able to communicate wouldn’t have had this happen and I can’t imagine that it helped.

Chapter Thirteen

R: As this chapter opens, Andy is in Malibu with Tracey and little Andrew.  He has bought a home and settles into life as a solo artist.  He makes a statement that I fear is telling for not only the time in which he is referring, but for later on as well. “I’ve always believed that if you are good enough it comes to you, and you don’t need to run around like a headless chicken chasing hits, doing dodgy promo tours or any of that ‘where they are now’ stuff.” (Page 229) I guess my comment would simply be that while his album did fine – selling 300,000 copies, I’m not sure where his statement is coming from.  Did he feel that Duran was in fact “chasing hits” and if so – why?

A:  Besides, the discussion surrounding Andy’s new life in Malibu, including his friends like Steve Jones and Don Johnson, he also discussed a public fight with Simon.  According to this, Simon did an interview that criticized Andy for getting lawyers involved.  He also said that Simon stated that Andy was bored with being in Duran and wanted to be more of the center of attention.  Andy took responsibility here by admitting that he responded and shouldn’t.  I have vague memories of seeing articles like this in those frequently-purchased teen magazines.  What I realized by reading this is just how human all the members are.  They do say and do things that they might not be proud of.  They also have horrible moments like this, which we all do.  We have all had falling outs with other people and do and say things that are ugly.  I appreciated Andy’s admitting this.

Chapter Fourteen

R: Out of the entire book, this chapter is by far the saddest for me to read and absorb.  It’s quite daunting when you sit back and take stock in just how many people that Duran Duran worked with that are no longer with us.  Overwhelming, really…and yes, like everyone else I feel very, very lucky that each one of the original members are still here.  It’s very, very clear that Andy was very frightened that unless they changed their ways, one or more of the band members would die.  He mentions this several times throughout the book, enough to make me wary.  It’s funny how as fans we simply choose to ignore the obvious, to ignore the signs of aging, of poor health, or even of poor life choices.  We see what we want to see, and I am as guilty of that as the next fan.  I simply refuse to believe that any of them could possibly die.  I am aware that is a dangerous pattern of thought, but the alternative is something I just cannot reconcile at present.

The list is lengthy, and to his credit – Andy spends time talking about each person and what they may have meant to him personally.  He spends a great deal of time discussing Robert Palmer, and I suspect that for Andy, this may have been the greatest blow to date, and likely the one he was least expecting.  As I, and I’m sure many others amongst us have learned – this is typically the case.  You just never know.

On the back end of the chapter, Andy discusses his own idols.  He writes of those who paved the way for him, as well as those that connected the band together.  As he says, “we connected through our idols and influences.” (Page 251) He talks a bit about his own evolution as a guitar player, and I found it striking just how similar his own interests are to say…the band’s current guitar player.  They are very different as players if you can catch the subtleties, but there’s a reason why THIS fan loves both of them best.  I loved the sentence “We wrote with guitar and keyboards – and that was a fundamental part of our success.” (Page 253)  It was a fundamental reason why so many of us learned to love Duran Duran, and we must thank Andy Taylor for his contribution to that.  It was, and still IS…essential.

A:  One of the people that Andy discusses is the late Colin Thurston who produced Duran’s first 2 albums.  Clearly, one thing that he really did for the band was ensure that they write all their own chords, lyrics and melodies.  As a fan, this is one thing that I truly admire!  It is something that they should be proud of!

On Monday, we will conclude the discussion from Andy’s book by taking a close look at chapters fifteen through the epilogue.  Study hard!

-A & R

Winter Marches On (Ok, so it’s barely Autumn….)

Is it just me or does summer feel like it was a long time ago…and next summer seems like a mirage out in the distance?

Stay with me here, I’m not talking about the weather, of course. Today in SoCal is pretty much the very first “rainy” day we’ve had in, well…many months.  I’m actually in long sleeves AND enclosed shoes!!! (I am an admitted flip-flop wearer. Style be damned. I’m casual and I like it!) Thank goodness for my grey Chuck Taylors.  I’m talking about the band, of course.

Today I read a great little interview on John Taylor in Guitar World magazine. Haven’t read it yet?  Let me do you the favor of passing it on right here. (Guitar World)  John explains why he wrote the book, why he chose to do it now, and what’s coming up next for the band…which has the rest of the Duraniverse, myself included, on the edge of our seats.  We know they’re headed back into the studio to work with Mark Ronson again in March of 2013, and that is great news. Mark seems to know how to give the band the confidence they need in order to own their own place, and that in turn is the recipe for the band creating their best work.  Synergy can be powerful once placed in the right hands.

March.

I’m not going to lie.  I’m a fan just like the rest of you.  I want to hear news from working on the album tomorrow because that’s what keeps me going.  I want our book done tomorrow, too. That just isn’t possible…on all counts…and we know that.  They finished the tour just what – six weeks ago or so? I suppose it does seem a bit like a slave driver to start cracking the whip just yet, so I will refrain. No really, I promise!

It’s really no better where I sit. My schedule is crazy, Amanda’s schedule is even worse. We’re talking about meeting somewhere and shutting ourselves in a hotel room until our book is done. (Ok, really just for a weekend – but I like the idea of not coming out until it’s done.  My husband though?  Not so much!)  So on that note, I can understand how this works.  I also completely understand the excitement of being a fan, missing the band, wanting new music, and continuing the journey – because that’s what this is really all about, isn’t it?

However, there was another sentence in that interview that continues to give me a small ray of hope.  A little something about touring in the summer…

I tweeted a little note to Duran Duran HQ this morning.  Let’s begin the chant, shall we?  Repeat after me: Summer. Shows.  I love those words, do the rest of you?  Let’s make them work for us.  Let’s keep that little ray of sunshine going through what might very well be a long winter.

-R

 

A Matter of Feeling

I was reading an article the other day about music fanatics and whether or not they still existed with all the technology and “ease” in being a fan today.  You can read the article here, on Hypebot.

It would seem that many in the music industry – or at least those with a blog, would agree.  Of course, they are making this judgment based on how accessible everything is today.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the statement that begins “Back in MY day, we waited all night for tickets to ____________, and sometimes STILL didn’t get them.  We just waited for the next tour and tried again or went through a broker.”  This of course, is true.  There really was a time when Ticketmaster was done pretty manually and yes, you had to either dial a phone (risky) or go to an outlet and camp outside, often times all night, in order to secure a place in line for ticket sales that began the next day. Then they got smart to that and started doing the wristbands, so it didn’t matter when you got there, the wristbands were handed out randomly, and whatever number you ended up with determined either your place in line OR you just stood around waiting for your number to come up – similar to a lottery.  Did that really make someone a hardcore fan?

Then of course the argument comes around that today, one single song can decide whether someone remains a fan or otherwise. Often times, songs are put online as teasers – that way a band can get a feel for what the public thinks before an entire album is released.  Muse did that just recently, and as one could have guessed – they have kind of gone in a different direction with this next album, using what many have characterized as dubstep guitar effects.  While many seem to like the new direction, many others who are self-described “hardcore” fans have denounced the album, and are have said this one song is ruining their admiration for the band.  Sound familiar, anyone???  I seem to recall the same thing happening to some band around here somewhere over the years.  While sure, some people do end up walking away – and that’s probably bound to happen no matter the circumstance – is it really ever that simple?  The blogger (Alex May of sidewinder.fm) drives his point home by saying, “While listeners have always had strong opinions about the music they like and dislike, the advent of social media and the platform it provides has revealed just how volatile fans can be. Oftentimes, they dispute and defend such opinions in a vile way, and grow divided based on what kinds of music they love and hate. This mindset, when paired with the instantaneous nature of the Internet, seems to have created a lot more fleeting fans that are less engaged and less willing to give new music a second chance. Fair enough, but didn’t people ever discuss music before the internet came along?  I can remember getting into full-on arguments with friends over the merits of many a rock band, including but certainly not limited to Duran Duran.  Maybe at the heart of the matter is the idea of actually having a discussion, where one is as willing to listen and learn as is ready to defile and disengage.  Again I have to wonder, is this truly what makes a fan hardcore?  

It is true, we don’t have to camp outside for tickets, there may no longer be those midnight releases where fans wait outside for hours, we can now buy music without ever leaving our homes, and comment with friends or adversaries online at will. I am not at all sure those characteristics determine what makes someone a music fanatic. That is a trait that comes from within the person, not from simple actions.  But then, I would also assert that a hardcore fan could easily be someone who has never attended a single concert or a signing – it’s about what is created in the heart when they listen to music that they truly connect with.  It’s not about how many shows one has gone to, how many pictures they have with the band, or even whether or not someone is crazy enough to write a blog on a daily basis. 

I wouldn’t argue with the author that an incredible mistake is being made when we assume that just because someone takes the nanosecond to click “like” on a Facebook page or hit “follow” on Twitter that they are a fan.  That is merely the initial step, and most bands out there completely miss the boat from that point.  They are completely unaware of what it takes to turn a “like” into a real “fan”. There is a tangible difference between a casual fan who attends shows and buys albums and “likes” a band on social media and the person who has been a fan through thick and thin – whether they’ve loved every record or not, whether or not they’ve even attended a single show.  

The task of explaining what really makes someone a music fanatic comes down to one thing in my mind: Passion.  I don’t think it matters much whether that passion drives someone to go to a hundred shows, buy thousands of copies of albums, or coerces one to travel overseas to shows, or to simply enjoy being an active “online” participant at home.  There’s a certain feeling I get when I listen to music I dearly love – I become profoundly and permanently connected. I don’t just listen, I live. 

I think that’s why I have difficulty in completely buying into the idea that the musical fanatic is a dying breed. While yes, I agree finding music is easier these days and the process of becoming or being a fan might be different than what took place in my generation, it is no less momentous when that lifeblood artery of bonding is created between the fan and artist.  I would argue that people spend their entire lives searching for such things, and when it is found, the passion is what keeps fans, all of us music fanatics – going.  

-R