Song Meanings

This week, as part of the Would You Rather Game, I started to ask people about their preferences between two songs.  Right now, I’m picking songs that are on the same album and ones that seem similar.  I am not putting a ballad against a fast song, for example.  I might, at some point, but not yet.  I have enjoyed this game immensely.  I like learning about what other Duranies think.  It is cool to have something that people can talk about each day, I think.  In fact, one of the things that I think is super cool about Duran is how much there really is to talk about.  Even if the band ended tomorrow, our discussions can continue for years, even decades to come.  Part of the reason that there is so much to talk about is, of course, that it is a band.  It isn’t about one person, but many.  On top of that, their musical catalog is quite extensive now.  They have released many, many albums, including the songs that I’m asking people to choose between.  While I like to find out which song is more popular, what is more interesting to me is the reasons that people give.  The reasons vary but one that I have seen a number of times is the history behind the songs.  I, then, started to think about whether or not the song history impacts my opinions and I have to say that it does.

This part of the game started with two album tracks off the self-titled first album:  Sound of Thunder and Friends of Mine.  It seemed that most people preferred Friends of Mine.  Yet, when thinking about Duran Duran, Sound of Thunder has a more significant history.  I’m sure that I’m not telling anyone anything new but it was the very first song that the Fab 5 wrote together.  The legend has it that the band wrote the song as soon as Simon came and auditioned.  On top of that, I remember reading, maybe in an Ask Katy question, that Sound of Thunder captured the sound that they hoped to create.  After all, Duran Duran was designed to be a combination of punk and disco, right?  I have heard that John wanted to combine the sounds of Chic’s Good Times with the Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant.  Apparently, they thought that Sound of Thunder did that the best.  As for Friends of Mine, I do know that Georgie Davis is a real person who was sentenced to prison and recently got out, I might add.  Yet, that story doesn’t strike me as much as Duran’s first song or the perfect combination of influences does.  Thus, in terms of sentimental value, Sound of Thunder wins the competition, hands down.  What do you think, Duranies?  Would you still vote on Friends of Mine?  Obviously, that’s cool if you would.  You might just think that the song sounds better. 

Then, yesterday, I asked about Last Chance on the Stairway and Hold Back the Rain.  Many people talked about how Hold Back the Rain was played at a gig where it was actually raining.  Some mentioned about how NASA used it in the hopes of keeping a storm away in order for the space shuttle to land.  Yet, a few more mentioned about Simon wrote the song about John.  Here’s a clip from a documentary that explains the story:

 Like the story behind Sound of Thunder, as a Duranie, I can’t ignore it.  It tells so much about the band.  It shows how much Simon cares about John.  It shows how far John Taylor has come.  It shows what life must have been like for them at this time with the partying and the women.  This history, this feeling speaks to me.  Of course, many people have personal connections to Duran songs.  Memories, feelings become attached to songs.  I can’t help but to think of touring life whenever I hear this song.  Specifically, the lyrics:  “No time for worry cause we’re on the roam again”.  For me, then, the personal connection combined with the Duran history puts this song way at the top of my list of favorites.  Of course, I think it sounds good as well!  😉

Maybe, my desire to know the story behind the song is strange.  Perhaps, I’m the only one who cares about stuff like this.  After all, I do have a history degree so I do tend to think about what is historically important.  Obviously, in my opinion, both Sound of Thunder and Hold Back the Rain are important to the Duran story.  What do you think?  Do you think the story behind a song matters?  How much does it matter?  Does it change the way you view a song?  Does it change how much you like or don’t like a song?  Then, do you think these two songs are important in understanding Duran Duran?  


6 thoughts on “Song Meanings”

  1. (Listening to SOT, Live 1981 now for reference.)

    I think the history behind the songs gives them even more depth. As a kid studying poetry and metaphors in English class, even before I heard the story behind HBTR I had a feeling it wasn't about actual rain. And for me, as a kid that was huge. It turned the light on for me. (Another thing for which I can than Duran Duran.)

    Hearing the story just makes it more special. I love the line, “Okay go off and wander, I'm guilty just the same, sometimes you're needed badly, so please come back again.”

    There's something special about SOT as the first song and how it was a group effort. It was probably the moment they realized they had some incredible chemistry.

    I have to say, your blog and questions about songs, reviews, etc. have me listening to them with a different ear. I never really thought about what makes me like a song or not. It never occurred to me to analyze the structure, lyrics, etc.

    For me the song itself is first and foremost. If a song sucks I'm probably not going to care about the history. For me that's probably about 90% of the stuff they did after Arena and before Astronaut, save a few gems that sneaked through.

    I really like the DVD that went along with the AYNIN album with all the snippets about the different songs. It was really cool hearing them talk about them. (Hold on, Roger's GOF drum solo….. ……………………… ah….)

    Now I have to go Google Georgie… ~Hormone Crazed Betsi

  2. Knowing the history of a song isn't necessarily going to make people like it more though. I think more people might choose Friends of Mine for example, because it's a dark, ominous sounding song, sort of like Careless Memories is also dark and ominous–it may not have been a hit for them as a single but from what I can tell it's long been a favorite with fans. Maybe people just sort of like kind of atmosphere from the first album for whatever reason. Sound of Thunder has that but I don't think it's quite as successful in execution. I've always loved the song but Friends of Mine frankly has always kind of creeped me out, but in a “can't look away” way, I like that it creeps me out.

    Basically just because a song is important within a band doesn't necessarily it's going to connect with the most people outside the band, so for whatever reason, maybe Friends of Mine connects with more people. The stories behind the songs are important, and I've always loved hearing them(I was an English Major so I love analyzing meaning and it started long before I went to college LOL) but I also think it's important they be judged on their own merits.

    What I thought was interesting about Hold Back the Rain was how EARLY it was. I mean that was 1982 right? And Simon was already quite worried about John, so it shows just how quickly John started going off th rails. At the time of the Wild Boys interview above, John had never said anything to Simon about the song, I wonder if he's said anything to about since then?

  3. Sound of Thunder is the first Simon lyric I decided I understood. Plus it's the first one he wrote, so probably not as obscure as later lyrics. Plus I adore the song, so it always just pips FoM to the post. Still dreading the day you make us choose between Late Bar & Secret Oktober…

  4. I agree with Anonymous above on how early HBTR was written. When I first learned that JT had gone wild while touring, I assumed it started on the Sing Blue Silver tour when their popularity had gone through the stratosphere. Now, after hearing the news about Whitney Houston who was popular around the same time, it made gave me chills. Even the guys say they were lucky no one died. I'm so glad they got clean and have stayed that way. When I look into other cases of celebrities gone bad, it seems that most didn't have the kind of love Duran has had in their personal relationships, whether with a spouse or the friendships they formed with each other over the years. It makes such a huge difference.

    Didn't mean to chase that rabbit off the path, but it just seemed timely. ~Betsi

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