Most Duranies seem to recognize a space theme within Duran Duran. Songs like “Planet Earth”, albums like “Astronaut”, and the alien manning synthesizers back on the risers, all support the idea. But did you know that Duran Duran even helped NASA once?
During the summer of 2001, the Space Shuttle Atlantis was due to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after a 12-day mission to the International Space Station. At the time, they were still assembling the space station, and so there were many of these missions taking place. In fact, there were 3 spacewalks on this particular mission.
The shuttle was due back on July 24, but Mission Control was concerned about the landing due to poor weather. Yet, they really needed to get the shuttle back on the ground. So, who and what did they turn to in their time of need??
Duran Duran and “Hold Back the Rain”, of course! They played this song for the shuttle crew, motivating them for a safe landing in bad weather. The shuttle made it back on the ground without a hitch, and this mission became another part of history, so they say.
Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a NASA clip of it being played for the astronauts on YouTube, but I do have the 2017 performance from the Fox Theater in Oakland. I was in the audience that night, and nearly lost my mind. It was a thrill to have it included in their set that night.
Good morning, everyone! (It’s still morning in California!)
This is going to be a crazy week, and I feel compelled to share. I don’t know what anyone else did over the weekend, but I rebuilt part of our back patio cover, alongside my husband and son. This morning, every part of my body is loudly reminding me that I am no longer a teenager. I’m very thankful that at the last-minute, my husband decided to hire a painting company instead of going with the original plan to do it all ourselves (a task beginning this morning, as I type). Today it’s only the outside being washed and painted, but tomorrow they’ll be prepping inside for similar treatment. Not a single wall is to be spared, and we’re going with the popular millennial color choice of “minimalist grey” to clean and update the inside of the house. We’ve hired a realtor, and within the next couple of weeks the house will be on the market. Writing the blog continues to be my source of refuge, particularly during the insanity of this moving process!
I love some of the questions that DDHQ has posed to the community over social media lately. While some of them allow me to answer within a second or two, others challenge me to really think. Today’s question nearly has me stumped.
“Of all the FIRST and LAST songs on Duran Duran albums, which opener and closer do you think make for the most powerful combined listening experience?”
Initially, all I could think about was that I hadn’t yet had my standard cup of coffee and that this question was far too deep for a Monday morning. Or at least my Monday morning. I also was envious, because it is a great question, and I wish I’d thought of it myself so that we could have used it for Daily Duranie!
It is generally easier for me to consider the most recent album – in this case Paper Gods – because I’ve been listening to it for the past few years. So my knee jerk reaction was to say “Paper Gods” and “Universe Alone. The thing is, if I were in charge, I’d put “Before The Rain” as the opener and “Universe Alone” as the closer. Not that I don’t like “Paper Gods”, but I personally feel that “Before The Rain” is a stronger song (For me. Perhaps not so for you, but for me.), and would have been an outstanding opener for any album. Granted, “Before the Rain” and “Universe Alone” are on two completely different albums, and “Before the Rain” wasn’t even an opener!
The best news in this case, is of course, that I’m not in charge.
So I’m back at square one. I have to go back and actually look at all of the albums now, which is both pathetic (shouldn’t I know this offhand by now?) and also diligent. (if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right!)
Right off the bat, there are album openers/closers that I discarded. I’m not going to say which ones, but for me, there are albums that just don’t seem to have strong openers or strong closers…or maybe an album has a strong opener but not a strong closer, or vice versa. I’ll be honest, I found this to be the case more often than not at the beginning of their career as opposed to more recently. Whether this is because I have a serious lack in good judgment (!!!) or because the band has gotten better about the song order of their albums is hard to say. (both??)
For me, the answer to this question does not have a lot to do with whether or not I “like” an album. After all, I love the albums of the 1980s, but song order never entered into that. (For me) One of my strongest contenders would be the opener “The Valley” and the closer “Last Man Standing” because I always felt that both of those songs were strong, and even conveyed where the band stood in that moment, and yet Red Carpet Massacre is not one of my more beloved Duran Duran albums.
For me, it comes down to three:
“[Reach Up for the] Sunrise” and “Still Breathing”
“Big Thing” and “Lakeshore Driving”
“The Valley” and “Last Man Standing”
Of these three, I struggle at first, thinking I must pick a favorite. In the midst of my short reverie, I realize that the question isn’t about my favorite, but what is the strongest opener and closer for an album. When I think about that, I think the choice is clear – “Sunrise” and “Still Breathing”. Aside from maybe “Rio”, I really can’t think of a Duran Duran song written that conveys more joy. It is a very strong opener, and in my mind, “Still Breathing” is a strong, introspective way to close an album. The song isn’t incredibly loud, but it is powerful in meaning, and even musically – I think the word I’m looking for is “stoic”. No, it’s not world-ending in the same way that “The Universe Alone” might be, but I have to love that the band chose to end an album meant to signify the reunification of the fab five with a song titled “Still Breathing”. As they were then, as they are now. And so are we.
On this date in 2005, Duran Duran appeared on A&E’s Breakfast with the Arts. They were deep in the publicity stage for Astronaut, and this was just one appearance of many on television programs throughout the world.
I had hoped to find a clip of the entire interview, but I was only able to find the last part, including a performance of “What Happens Tomorrow”, thanks to Lizard King.
I know that this would stir up all kinds of legal trouble – definitely more than I could ever handle – but it would be wonderful to have one central place to host every appearance, interview, video, etc. that the band has ever done (or that we could compile). Kind of like an archive, but for tv/video/media clips.
It’s a dream, but I think it would be wonderful to be able to access all of that.
On the 22nd of January, twenty-one years ago, I woke up at 6:30am and new something wasn’t quite right. I was having short little pains, but they were enough to wake me up out of a sound sleep. Smiling, I began to time them, and oddly – they were coming at fairly regular intervals. Ten days late and counting, I knew that I was finally, blessedly, in labor with my oldest.
After what I felt was many hours of waiting, I finally got the OK to go to the hospital at about 1pm. It was in the middle of a snow storm, but I barely remember the drive from our house to the hospital, except that my mom was with us and we really had no idea what we were about to be in for. I’ll save everyone the details except to say that what began that morning didn’t actually finish until 12:05am the following morning – which if you’re following along, meant the 23rd of January in 1997.
I always like to say that Heather Kathryn Rivera was born in the middle of a blizzard (this is true), she was ten days late (also true, and really eleven if we’re counting – which believe me, at that point, I was), and that to this very day, the child is still late. She runs by one clock: her own. She still prefers the cold weather to our ever-sunny days, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she ended up back in the Chicagoland area after college. (then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if we did as well!)
Today, she turns twenty-one.
I’m marveling about that, because it doesn’t seem possible. I still remember seeing the snow fall that day and night in the hospital, I still remember sitting up in bed the following day, looking at her wondering how on earth I was ever going to be able to handle caring for another human being. They say that to have a baby is to agree to allow a part of your heart to walk around outside of your body forever. That’s so true. It is simultaneously the apex of joy and some of the worst pain imaginable at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for all the peace in the world. (Most of the time, anyway!)
I remember not long after Heather and I came home from the hospital, I was watching Rosie in the afternoon while trying to feed Heather. Guess who were her guests? Simon, Nick and Warren. They were there promoting “Medazzaland”. I remember watching them while Heather was crying, and I was so upset because I could barely hear the interview. I was already learning who came first, of course, and before long I was crying right along with Heather. As much as I loved being a mom, and I really did, I missed being me. I didn’t know how to be both a mom and Rhonda, the human. Life circumstances at the time didn’t help, either. The real “adjustment” didn’t come until later, when I finally figured out that in order to enjoy being a mom, I had to enjoy being ME, too.
Guess when that happened? I can tell you the exact date. March 28, 2001. House of Blues, Anaheim CA. Duran Duran walked out on that stage, and something in me that had been dark for many, many years suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree.
I’ve written about it before, but finding myself again was really the key to being a good parent. After that concert, I started being ME. I found friends, I went to a convention, I brought my own personality to the table of parenting. My kids know exactly who I am. They’re not afraid to call me out for it sometimes, too.
My Heather is a beautiful human being. She is so much better of a person than I could ever hope to be myself. She’s got a sharp tongue, a wicked sense of humor, and a very kind heart. She’s tenacious in a way that I never learned, and she has more talent in her pinky finger than I do in my entire body. She’s danced her way through life so far, and now she’s twenty-one. She’s grown. I don’t even know how it happened, because at some point on the way home from the hospital, through the snowy streets and freezing temperatures, I blinked. Now she’s an adult. Where does the time go?
I guess I feel similar with Duran Duran, really. At some point after New Moon on Monday, I blinked. The past thirty years went by in a single blink. The last 17 in particular FLEW by, and I can mark the moments in Heather’s life by songs, concerts and road trips I’ve taken along the way. She still smiles widely at the memory of going with me to the Astronaut signing in Hollywood when she was just seven or eight. She remembers Simon quizzing her about her favorite song and how he asked about the book she was carrying (I think it was a Nancy Drew book). She also remembers how tan they all looked for not being from California (I laugh about that because she’s right) and how they all wore more makeup than I did. (also true!)
We still laugh about how she went with Amanda and I to see Duran Duran at the Pearl in Las Vegas in 2009. She was twelve, although a tall twelve-year-old at the time, and she STILL laughs heartily over her reaction when John walked up to the microphone during the show and called us Mother F*kers. Heather turned around and looked at me with her eyes as wide as saucers. I doubled over laughing. Yep, I’m that kind of mom!
Amanda and I always talked about employing her to drive us from gig to gig after she turned 16 so that way we didn’t have to drive ourselves any longer, but we’ve never done it. Today, she’s old enough to belly up to the bar right along with us.
Somehow, that doesn’t seem quite right. AT ALL.
Heather taught me how to be a mom. She patiently waited for me to figure out how to manage feeding and caring for an infant and yet still being able to take a shower and get out of pj’s by noon. She would smile and sit next to me when it came time for me to learn how to do it all again when her brother Gavin was born – so all of that x2. Then she taught me how not to be one of those “stage moms” and how to provide a stable environment for her when everything else in her life was chaos with dance and school. She forgave me for having yet another baby just as she was becoming a teenager, and even offered to help with her youngest sister. I will never ever forget going through that pregnancy because Heather was by my side nearly the entire time. She’s become a second mama in a lot of ways to the baby of the family – who isn’t a baby anymore (so she constantly reminds me).
Heather listened to me complain about life, growing older, losing a parent, learning how to be a better caregiver and spouse, and even how to be a better mom to her as she grew up and had her own ideas that may or may not have been completely opposite to her dad’s and mine. I daresay that parenting is toughest after the children have grown.
Through most of that, she also had to contend with this crazy blog, my writing, the road trips, conventions, and the ups and downs within. Duran Duran has been a near constant presence in her life even though she’s only met them from across a table (same, Heather, same here for the most part). I don’t think she can really hear Duran Duran without thinking of me immediately at this point, and I don’t know whether to apologize or applaud.
So today, as I watch the kids at recess and continue thinking about the journey I’ve taken over the last twenty-one years, I’m also thinking about how this is just the beginning for Heather. I love that kid and I couldn’t be prouder. Today is bittersweet for this mama, but I am looking forward to taking her out tonight for her first (legal) margarita. It has been quite a journey.
(BTW John and Nick… if you need a choreographer for a musical….I know somebody…..)
Happy Birthday, Heather-Feather. (You can thank me for not printing your REAL nickname at any time.) Be careful, but not too careful – Love Mom.
Every once in a while, Duran Duran puts out a question on social media that makes me think. This morning, as I was quickly scanning through Twitter, I saw a tweet from them asking about personal theme songs.
That tweet made me stop and think a little. My knee jerk reaction was to go with a favorite song, but those favorites aren’t necessarily theme songs—they’re just songs I like. For example, my very favorite DD song is still “Is there Something I Should Know”, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that song SPOKE for me in that way, exactly. I just fell in love with it from the first listen and it’s stuck with me. By the same token, I’ve had a few songs become sentimental favorites along the way because they came out at particular points in my life, and perfectly described how I was feeling or what I was going through in those moments. “Finest Hour”, and “Red Carpet Massacre” are two songs that come immediately to mind.
When “Finest Hour” came out on Astronaut, I immediately took the song to heart because it was describing exactly how I felt at the time in my private life. I was also rediscovering who I really was as a Duran fan, and to some extent, I was learning about myself as well. The song really kind of epitomized that moment for me.
“Red Carpet Massacre”, the title song from the album of the same name, was released in probably my darkest time. I’ve written about my feelings about the album and even what I was going through personally, but the more I listened to this song, the more I felt that it described the nature of this fan community at times. The album came out during a time when I was just really starting to see the cutthroat nature of fans, and so at the time, the song really did become a sort of theme!
In the years since, I’ve had moments where various songs have become my sort of personal theme. “Late Bar”, “Secret October”, and even “Rio” have all taken their turn as my theme of the moment or day. Right now though, I feel as though “Sunrise” describes it best for me. I’m looking for that new day to come. I have the sense that life is about to take a turn for my family, and I’m waiting to see how that’s going to play out. I’m trying to see it all as positive rather than dwell on the negative part, because hopefully that will be short-lived (Which is that my husband is currently sitting in my son’s room, which he’s converted into his temporary office space, looking for a new job).
Yesterday, I wrote about 2011. Today, I’m going back even farther.
Does anyone remember “The Set” on VH1 in 2004? It was sponsored by Bailey’s (I don’t know why I have zero trouble remembering that little bit of trivia….), and it was filmed in California, just outside of Los Angeles. I remember that DDM gave away tickets to fans so that they could go and be in the audience to watch it being taped. I also remember being so jealous because nearly every Duranie I knew who lived here or was willing to travel here got tickets.
Many DDM members had signed up to enter the contest, even though they didn’t have a way to get to Los Angeles. Those that did win were given two tickets. So, if you were smart, you teamed up with a friend and both entered, basically doubling the chances to win. Well, so many people had won that either couldn’t get here or already had a ticket because a friend had won, that Jim – the person in charge of DDM at the time – had to go down a list of people to contact in order to find people who could go. He contacted a friend of mine who already had tickets, and she even gave him my name as someone who didn’t already win. Even then, I still must have been so far down the list that I was never contacted. I can remember the disappointment, particularly once I heard about all of the people who signed up to win even though they knew there was no way they could go. Alas, that’s the way it goes!
Even so, I was able to watch the broadcast, and out of their appearances in 2004 for Astronaut, it remains one of my favorites. I found a clip or two of it on YouTube to share. In some ways, it’s funny to watch it now, because so much has happened in the years since, but it’s a good reminder of where we’ve been, particularly when fans aren’t really sure of where we’re going next!
My desk calendar tells me that on this date in 2004, Duran Duran played on Good Morning America. It feels like a million years ago. Andy was still with the band and all seemed well on the outside, even if it may not have been on the inside. I had no inkling of the struggles it took to get the album recorded. I didn’t realize that drama from the past had somehow crept its way back into the studio and beyond, and I sure as heck didn’t know that over the course of the next year or so, Andy would stop performing with the band altogether. I was so naive, I had the audacity to believe that the original five would keep going. It never occurred to me that the relationships were so fragile. Then again, I didn’t really know much of what had gone on behind the scenes in the 80s, either. I basked in the glory of having the band back together again, and in some small way that is typically unlike me, I appreciate that I had no idea of what was to come.
Wide-eyed innocence was sort of my theme for the entire Astronaut period. I was new to traveling to see the band, I was new to the fan community (although I’d been a fan for many years), new to message boards, and the group of friends I’d stumbled upon as a result were all brand new to me. At the point of this GMA appearance, I had just recently gotten home from the Friends of Mine convention in New Orleans. I can remember sitting in front of my TV with Gavin on my lap, marveling over some of the women in the front because I’d met them at the convention. Prior to Astronaut, I had never known anyone who had even gone to something like that, much less gotten up so close! When I think back to those Astronaut days, I’m amazed at how naive I was to the entire fandom phenomena. Everything seemed bright, colorful, new, and lovely. I didn’t see much of the insipid bickering, or the jealousy between fans. I hadn’t gone to enough shows or mingled with enough hard-core fans to know that while all is fine and good when the band isn’t around, once they enter the room, the struggle to be seen and acknowledge is so great that we often push one another out-of-the-way just for that tiny bit of validation. In my head, fandom was a utopian paradise, and I wanted to take up residence, permanently.
There are shorter clips of this, but I chose the long one – nearly a full hour – because there are so many short snippets of the crowd. On this day, it is a breath of fresh air to look back at the memory of what it was like to simply be in love: reinvented, reimagined, reinvigorated, naive LOVE. I particular enjoy the vision of an audience sharing those same feelings. There is nothing that can ace this.
Yeah, I know the band isn’t nostalgic. Sometimes though, it feels good to look back. It reminds me how I got here, and why I stay.
Take a look. Breathe deeply. Squee if you must…I did 🙂
How many different versions of Astronaut do you own? I can’t even answer that myself – a lot of them are packed away, but I know I must have a few. I’ve got a couple of copies of the regular CD that I bought at midnight at Virgin Records in Hollywood. I also remember buying this special CD – it was a dual sided CD if I remember right (did those ever really catch on??)—and it had 7.1 surround sound. I can’t remember what was on the other side, though. Was it a DVD?? I really need to go find it and look. Anyway, I liked that CD because I could actually hear Andy’s guitar (which is another blog for another day), and because it was unlike anything I’d seen before.
But on this date back in 2004, Duran Duran released the limited edition double vinyl of Astronaut. I have a copy, and it is signed by all five members. I’m particularly proud of it because it’s the one thing I have signed by the original five members of Duran Duran, and for a long time – it was the only thing I had signed, period. I can remember periodically sitting and staring at that vinyl from time to time. It was one of those moments where afterwards, you wonder if it really did happen. I can tell you that back when I was just a kid listening to Rio, never did it occur to me that one day I’d actually meet them. That just seemed like something out of a fairy tale, and admittedly it felt a little that way when it happened.
Seems like a great day to take out that double vinyl album and spend a little time thinking back on 2004. For me, Astronaut helped to mark the beginning of the community aspect of fandom. I had just gone to my first convention, and everything felt bright and new. Astronaut was a new beginning for Duran Duran, and I’m happy to spend a little time thinking back on that time today.
April and May are tough months for my family. On one hand, I’m delighted to celebrate the birthdays of my youngest, my best friend, and my sister. On the other, I tend to get a little melancholy when I think about my dad. It is the curse of losing a parent, and while I don’t dwell on it quite as much as I once did, admittedly – I still think about it. My dad would not be pleased, and I can almost hear his stern admonishment to focus on LIVING. So I try.
This year, in fact just last week, my family got some fairly devastating news. My brother-in-law has been diagnosed with Leukemia. He is 51, and we are very close. He is the big brother I never had. His wife is my husband’s sister, and our children (aside from my youngest) are very close in age. We have gone on numerous vacations and trips together, and have even talked about moving somewhere together to retire. Aside from Amanda, his wife is my closest friend, just to give you some context of what they mean to me, personally.
Many within my BIL’s family share an unfortunate genetic defect that makes them susceptible to Leukemia. His mother passed away from the disease about 8 years ago, and it would appear that it is now my BIL’s turn to fight. We all knew that it would come to this eventually, but I never thought it would happen so soon.
Why am I writing all of this? Well, we all get strength from different places, I guess…and right now, I feel pretty helpless. He’s in the hospital and will be for at least a month. Overall, the news is not great. He has some complications that make it all trickier than necessary, and there really isn’t much that can be done except to wait, think positive thoughts, and hope. I’m terrible at most of that. So, I’m writing. I need strength.
Ridiculously, I thought that after my dad passed away that I probably wouldn’t have to endure that kind of pain again for a long, long time. I don’t know what I was thinking. My mom is still alive, and she’s healthy. I figured as long as she didn’t get sick, everything would be fine. I never gave it much thought that anyone else would become ill. Ignorance and denial equal bliss, I suppose, and I was absolutely, blissfully, unaware.
When I first met my husband, it took him a long time to take me to meet his parents. Let’s just say his family is, well, tight-knit. The standard for significant others is very, very high. (No, I did not meet the standard. Surprise!) While the welcome mat wasn’t there for me at first, my brother-in-law has always been my ally. He took me under his wing, taught me the ropes, and pointed out some very hard truths to me when I needed them. Let’s just say my learning curve with the family was probably no less rocky than my learning curve with this blog and social media. <wide grin here> It’s been a wild ride, and thankfully, my BIL knew what to say, how to reach out, and how to be a big brother.
My BIL is a Duran Duran fan, although he will admit that he prefers their earlier music (although he did love the first four or five songs on Astronaut). He and I haven’t had a music chat session in a while, but he is about the only person in my family that genuinely knows the back catalog. He has versions of songs that I don’t have, and I love talking to him about music in general. He has the best vinyl collection from the 80s of anybody I know, and he has such a zest for life – it’s contagious.
A lot of people go through their pain privately. I envy those people in some ways because they tend to seem like they’ve got it together. Not me. I’m pretty much a “blurt it all out and take a deep breath afterward” type of person. My husband and his family are exactly the opposite. Stalwart, quiet, proper, and restrained. I hate it. No one talks, ever. I desperately need to talk. I wasn’t raised to be quiet. I’m Sicilian! So I come here. I blurt it out, and while it doesn’t fix the problem, it makes me feel just the tiniest bit better.
Given my choices of whom to talk to and when, I choose this blog and the people who read it. I can’t even say I know the majority of people who read each day. I don’t. I just know that when I have bad news, good news, or I need help – I come here. That says something about our community. We’re a family. A crazy, sometimes really dysfunctional and large family. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!