To begin with, a “Durannie” is NOT a member of Duran Duran. A Duranie (or Durannie if you prefer), is a FAN. I appreciate the attempt to use the term, but the fact is – it’s damn confusing for those of us who have gotten used to hearing ourselves being called Duranies. The band is just, well…the band! We have cute names for them at times – like “bastards” when they’ve gone and done things that annoy us, or “the boys”…because well, it fits, but they are definitely not Duranies. Sorry but we’re not sharing the nickname.
I recognize that the 78-03 tour was billed as a reunion tour. I also know that the band tried not to identify themselves with the word “reunion”, because that’s exactly what John Taylor didn’t want to do. He felt that if the band was going to reunite, they were going to go for more than just the whole nostalgia thing. I also recognize that every critic out there desperately wants to categorize Duran Duran as JUST a nostalgia thing. Does this have anything to do with the fact that a lot of critics are male and that they’re still jealous of this band catching the eye of every female around? The band hasn’t gone anywhere…and they’re still not going away. It’s only a reunion tour if they left and returned…and to the best of *my* knowledge, they never stopped making music. Can we just get past this idea that they’re doing a come back and give them the acknowledgement that they deserve??
I can’t and won’t argue with Rob over the fact that Duran Duran are famous because girls like them. That’s pretty much fact right there, and you know – I can’t be mad about that. What I can point out though, is that MALES are still mad about that! We women know it, and you know what else? We laugh about it when you’re not around, and maybe even sometimes when you ARE around.
One of the most poignant lines in the chapter is something that Sheffield wrote well before the most recent Duran drama took place, and yet it couldn’t have been more timely. Let me quote:
“Simon still sings in the high-pitched yelp of the pop idol. That can be a dangerous thing for a rock singer. It’s an old showbiz truism that a low voice has a longer career than a high voice. Even in the old-time radio days, if you were a lightweight tenor, it meant your audience would be female and that meant you would have a short run.” (Sheffield page 257 – Kindle edition)
The reality is that I’m sure Rob wasn’t meaning the quality of Simon’s voice would downgrade to the point where he couldn’t sing; but rather that the females would eventually disappear from the audience. Funny how that hasn’t happened. I just found that as I read the chapter I thought about that particular section, and I suppose the gravity of what Simon, along with every fan out there has been through lately, just hit me.
Rob comments that the first time he met Duran Duran, they were called Shaun Cassidy. I know this, because I had Shaun up on my wall until the day I took him down and replaced him with a Duran Duran poster. Good times, good times.
The one thing that Rob Sheffield does tend to do in this chapter that chaps my hide to no end, is that he totally and completely underestimates the fans. At one point, he mentions that no matter how big a fan you might be, you probably haven’t flipped through Nick Rhodes’s book Interference, or listened to Simon and Luciano Pavarotti sing OW as a duet. Then he goes on to say that even a hard-core fan has to be stunned by their staying power. To that I say “You obviously do not know the fans.” Yes, you say that you’re a fan. You say that you’re a huge fan. I have no doubt (how dare I if I did!)…but I think you’re severely underestimating fandom. Especially Duran Duran’s fandom. You are talking about a core group of fans who have been around now for what – 30 some years? These people aren’t amateurs, and I’m certainly not talking about myself here. I look like a complete newbie compared to some of the fans I’ve run into over the years – and I’m not even thinking of the crazier ones! Not only would I bet that a fair number of fans have flipped through Interference, but I would imagine that quite a few OWN the book, and some might have even gotten it signed by now. I own an Mp3 of Simon and Pavarotti singing OW, and it’s probably one of my favorite versions of the song, believe it or not. I know I can’t be the only fan out there that has it – I’m typically one of the last to come to the table with things like that! But, the comment that stings the most is that last one. Not only am I not stunned by Duran Duran’s staying power, I’m not at all surprised that critics continue to downplay them. Why wouldn’t they – girls like them.
On that very subject of girls – let me “edumacate” you, Mr. Sheffield, about the Duran Duran fangirl. To begin with, we actually DO wonder if the band is finding artistic fulfillment, especially when they’re putting out albums like Red Carpet Massacre. Some of us actually care about how they must feel in real life. You see, we’re not 12 years old any longer, although once in a while we might actually forget that when we see them at shows. We do have our moments! I think we started seeing them as real people after the reunion with Andy was over and the buzz surrounding the original five being back together faded behind the backdrop. Some of us might have started before that – but I’m giving the fan community at large the benefit of the doubt and going with the lowest common denomenator. We do care. As for wondering about what goes on in Simon’s head….listen, some of us have spent the better part of our adolescence and then adulthood trying to understand some of the “really bad poetry” you describe in your book. I’d say we want to know what the hell he’s thinking…but some of us are afraid to ask, and still more of us know he’d say “Sex” and grin as though we’re still 12 and he knows a secret he can’t quite share, but he’d really like to show us! (you see, I think the band secretly still wants to believe we’re still 12 – because that way – they haven’t aged much either!) I know you think that girls don’t like Save A Prayer. While that might be true for ME…I’m very much in the minority on that one! Even then, it’s not that I don’t love the song, it’s that I’m sick of hearing it – and by the way – I detest Hungry Like the Wolf. Lamest song in the catalog, thanks. As for wanting Simon to ooze vanity and lechery – which I would agree that he’s particularly good at – I actually prefer him most when he’s just human and real. I have a huge amount of admiration for Simon that I never had before, and it’s because somewhere behind those leering grins and awesome karate-ish moves onstage, there’s a real human in there. Some of us have had the opportunity to see that recently, and it’s become the silver lining for me in the midst of a whole pile of disappointment. I might be in the minority on that one though, and that’s OK. The next time I see Simon, it is likely to be from the audience, and I’ll appreciate those lecherous looks, the somewhat “creative” dance moves, and especially each note he sings, just a little bit more than I did before.
Yes, we care. I loved your book, but the fans deserve a little more justice.