I remember the Astronaut era. Who doesn’t? Thinking back to 2005 (and even a bit prior), it was like a rebirth of my own fandom. I discovered the online Duraniverse for the first time, I engaged with other fans, found a best friend, and found a real home in the community. I know that in hindsight, many think back on Astronaut as though it wasn’t a best effort by the band. Some fans have said that the juicy, meaty stuff they like wasn’t quite there. I’m not entirely sure I want to agree, but that’s OK. For me, the album marked a new beginning.
One of my favorite songs off the album from the very beginning was a song that I first heard at the 78-03 show Duran Duran played in Costa Mesa, California on July 16, 2003 called “What Happens Tomorrow”. It was one of two songs (“[Reach up for the] Sunrise” being the other) they played in their set that would eventually end up on Astronaut. “Virus” was also played, but was not included on the US/UK version of the album.
One of the qualities I most enjoyed about the song was ultimately left on the cutting room floor. The middle section of the song – the “Silent Icy River” section was much slower than the rest of the song and served as a bit of a break. I liked it because it added some texture, but I can also see why the band decided to nix it. The slower section probably would have been much tougher to “sell” for radio, and at the time, I think the band wanted support from radio. Taking the mid section out made the song pure pop, which is likely what they wanted and needed at the time. I suppose that is the risk of introducing songs to audiences so early in the recording process. If the songs end up being changed, the original audience can be put off – which may or may not have been the case with What Happens Tomorrow.
When the song was released in the UK on this date in 2005, it was done without the slow midsection, and the “Silent Icy River” portion was made into its own song and included on the single as a “B” side.
Oddly enough, in my search to find “What Happens Tomorrow” on YouTube, I ran across video of Duran Duran playing on NBC for New Year’s Eve in 2004, which I think might be the last time Duran Duran played on NYE prior to just recently. I’d forgotten, and maybe some of you have too.
Without further adieu…