Tag Archives: David Bowie

Giorgio Moroder in the Studio!

I’m officially excited.

Granted, I was late in listening, but I took some time to check out Dean Delray’s podcast “Let There Be Talk” this morning.

While I would LOVE to make a general commentary about the podcast in general, I’m going to save that for a later, yet-to-be-determined date. Instead, let’s talk about the final two minutes of the podcast. More specifically, there was news that Giorgio Moroder is coming into the studio to work with Duran Duran for a portion of the next album.

I can’t even begin to explain how thrilled I was to hear this bullet point regarding the new album! Just hearing John speak his name in reference to being in the studio with him nearly blew my mind. I thought for sure this was going to be “just one of those things” that doesn’t end up happening.

So, who is Giorgio Moroder? Known as one of the founders of disco, Moroder is not only a producer, but a songwriter, performer and DJ. While he’s perhaps best known for his work in the disco and electronic dance music genre, it would be a mistake to pigeonhole his career in that way. He has worked with everyone from Donna Summer to Daft Punk, scored films such as Scarface, and written specific tracks like “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun. His career is comprehensive. As I said earlier on Twitter, with all of the seriousness in the world, “Mark Ronson cut his teeth on Moroder’s albums.”

Let’s look at a few songs over the course of his career, just to get a taste!

Disco

First up is Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”. If you can’t hear what is to later become new wave music in the first 30 seconds, you should stop the video, go back, and listen again. You’ll hear Nick Rhodes whispering to you.

Okay, maybe not really Nick Rhodes, but the influence is right there…makes my hair stand up on end, and I don’t mean like an astronaut, either.

The 80s

Next is “Call Me” by Blondie. Released in 1980, it was the main song from “American Gigolo”, co-written by Blondie and Giorgio Moroder.

Moroder’s influence touches even the great David Bowie, as evidenced by “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”, 1981. This is just the audio track, but worth the listen for sure.

My daughter would have my head if I didn’t include “Flashdance”. Giorgio is credited as the music writer for the iconic song, lyrics and performance by Irene Cara.

Did you know he wrote “Danger Zone”? I didn’t!

My youngest (a huge Freddie Mercury/Queen fan) would be thrilled to know I’m using one of her favorites in today’s blog because it was co-written by Giorgio Moroder in 1984. While the song is probably on the other side of “different”…it’s also the reason I like it.

The 90s

Moroder has worked with everyone, including Elton John, producing “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” on the 1993 Duets album. Still true to the original written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, it’s amped up for 1993, courtesy of Moroder and Ru Paul, who sings with Elton. The video is cute, too.

And beyond

I know I’ve shown you a lot from earlier in his career, so how about a few more recent offerings? In 2013, he collaborated with Daft Punk, performing a spoken-word monologue “Giorgio by Moroder”, for their album Random Access Memories. I ADORE this piece. The music is perfect, and to hear Giorgio speak of his own history – it’s superb.

In 2015, Giorgio released his own album, Deja Vu, collaborating (such a buzzword of the 2000’s, don’t you think?) with a variety of artists such as Sia, Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Charli XCX and others. Here’s the title track with Sia. I chose this one because he’s in the video. Maybe you’ll recognize him.

That is quite a bit of video watching and listening for one day! Maybe not “just a few”, but well worth the time. As you’re listening, the signature “Moroder” sound is there throughout, but each song stands up on its own. Giorgio has evolved over the years without losing the qualities that make his music unique. Duran Duran has done the same, evolving, without reinventing the wheel. It’s exciting to know that these two juggernauts—Duran Duran and Giorgio Moroder—will finally share studio space. I can’t wait to hear the results!

-R

Thank You, You’re Welcome (Part Two)

Having “covered” who would do some amazing Duran Duran songs in Part 1, I’m ready to take a deep breath and assess Thank You. Was it the worst album of all-time as some snarky critics have said? Of course not. Something called nu-metal locked down the top spots years ago. However, it was a misguided album born from good intentions. Let’s try to figure out what went wrong.  

David Bowie’s Pin Ups seems to be the logical impetus for this project given the song choices. Bowie’s decision to cover The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd, and The Who was unexpected and Bowie knew that. Coming off Aladdin Sane, Bowie was at the peak of his creative powers and Pin Ups remains one of the most challenging and rewarding covers albums of all-time. It isn’t a stretch to think a band which emerged from the New Romantic scene born, at least partially, from Bowie’s artistic vision would try to emulate the project. 

Duran Duran were riding high after “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone”, so they had some creative and commercial freedom when they undertook Thank You. History has shown that the band often does their least interesting work in such situations. From Seven & the Ragged Tiger (saved commercially by a remix of “The Reflex” that wasn’t on the album) to Paper Gods, the band’s follow-up to a truly special album has been uneven at best. Thank You falls into that category but imagine what could have been if they took a slightly different path. 

Thank You Redux

1. Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel – White Lines

Such a fun cover that it has to stay. The band’s roots in NYC club culture via Birmingham justify this crossover into hip-hop. They could have taken this somewhere special, though, if they had paid respect to Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern” at the same time since that is where Melle Mel “borrowed” the song from.

2. I Wanna Take You Higher David Bowie – Fashion

As much as “Ashes to Ashes” makes sense, “Fashion” would be a more fitting Duran Duran song. John Taylor’s bass guitar would suit this track and Warren’s guitar playing fits the solo like a glove. You HAVE to have at least one Bowie song on the album, right?

3. Lou Reed – Perfect Day

A surprisingly well conceived cover of Lou Reed that pays homage without trying to change who they are as a band. It has a beautiful polished sound and LeBon’s vocal works. There is a hint of despair in his voice and the production keeps every instrument in their lane. There is restraint in the playing that would have served the band on the rest of the album. 

4. Watching the Detectives Roxy Music – Both Ends Burning

Another field day for John Taylor on bass and an appropriate nod to one of the biggest influences on Duran Duran in Roxy Music. All these years later, Duran are inducting Roxy Music into the rock-n-roll hall of fame because the connection is so strong. If you listen to “Planet Earth”, you can hear some influence from this song on Siren. A lesser known Roxy song works well here because the most popular stuff would be difficult for Duran Duran to re-invent in a unique way.

5. Lay Lady Lay New York Dolls – Lonely Planet Boy

I never hated this cover but the guitar tone was “Come Undone” all over again. Dylan influenced everyone so there is no need to point it out. I’m leaving T. Rex out of the discussion since the band (i.e. Nick) would have never allowed them to cover it in the wake of The Power Station. This New York Dolls song is begging to be turned into a synth-pop dance song like Duran pulled off with Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging”. 

6. 911 Is A Joke Blondie – Fade Away and Radiate

Yeah, it is cool to namecheck Public Enemy to earn hipster points but no, just no. The band owes a huge debt to Blondie for bringing dance music into punk and for giving the band a support slot when Duran Duran were trying to crack America. This moody track from Parallel Lines has enough texture to satisfy Nick and Warren in equal measure. And why not bring in Clem Burke on drums for this cover? 

7. Iggy Pop – Success

It works. Only Duran Duran could turn an Iggy Pop song into a Gary Glitter stomp. Given the band’s commercial highs and lows, it could almost be the theme song for their career. Turn it up!

8. Crystal Ship The Normal – Warm Leatherette

The band already showed how good this sounded during a tour and this is the most seminal track in the history of synth-pop. The Doors cover sounded like a cloud of pot smoke which isn’t the Duran Duran way. Bonus connection: Grace Jones covered this once.

9. Ball of Confusion Japan – Gentlemen Take Polaroids

Let’s see. Nick Rhodes “borrowed” his look from Japan’s David Sylvan. The Japan albums were a direct precursor to Duran Duran’s sound with funky bass lines and sweeping synths.  And, best of all, this cover would be a cheeky nod to “Girls On Film” which, for all I know, was a concept lifted from this Japan song. Too close to home? Perhaps, but Duran Duran earned their success and a little nod to Japan is warranted.

10. Thank You Sister Sledge – Lost In Music

Don’t touch Zeppelin. Every instrument in Zeppelin comes from the opposite place of Duran Duran. There has to be a shout-out to Nile Rodgers somewhere on Thank You Redux and I think “Lost In Music” would keep the band in a safe place for a disco cover. This could be played loud with a hint of the “White Lines” sound they had at this time. Turn it into a real rocker without losing the dance vibe. It would be dangerously fun live. 

11. Drive By

It doesn’t fit into a covers album and I need to save space so this album will fit on vinyl. 

12. I Wanna Take You Higher Again ESG – My Love For You

Maybe a little obscure at the time but ESG’s influence has come full circle in music. They have been sampled (mostly illegally) by hundreds of rap producers and their funky dance sound influenced everything from post-punk to house music. Rather than Public Enemy, Duran Duran can point to ESG as an influential band on their modern mix of funk, rock, and dance music without sounding so desperate. Duran Duran could have a lot of fun with this track especially if Nick added some melodic synths over the melody

Bowie and Time

Am I sitting in a tin can

It’s hard to imagine, but we’ve already been surviving on this planet without David Bowie for three years. Some say that’s when it all really went to hell….

I’m not so sure I’d go as far to make that claim. However, I know a good many of my friends – including those in that band I tend to talk about here and there – that might! I don’t know where those three years went so fast, but they did.

And here we are.

Find yourself in the moment

Also on this date, but in 2011, Time Magazine published a short Q&A with Simon and Nick, on the heels of the release of All You Need is Now. Here, by the grace of the internet, is the link!

Time Magazine Q&A with Simon and Nick

I read through it as there’s only a few questions. I just have to take a second to marvel at how much my own prospective has changed between 2011 and now. The very first question is in regard to the vision of AYNIN as the “imaginary follow-up to Rio“.
Simon explains that Mark Ronson comes from a fan perspective. Mark guided them to create something that truly was the follow up to their second album. Apparently the third album (SATRT) disappointed Mark as a kid.

I remember hearing all about this over and over during the interviews/press junket for AYNIN. It was all about the “follow-up to Rio” back then. What I didn’t pick up on though, was how artfully the band would put that characterization in Mark’s corner. Rather than accept ownership and say that they wanted to make their own imaginary follow-up, they really hand that over to Mark. I’m not saying that wasn’t indeed the case, but in hindsight – I think the wording may have been very telling.

Like a diamond in the mind

In subsequent interviews since then, particularly during the release of Paper Gods, the band has always been careful to say that they already went “back” for AYNIN, and they wouldn’t want to do that again. I think they know that the album was a fan favorite, but I have often wondered if they felt that it was a bit TOO contrived in parts. I’m thinking of “The Man Who Stole a Leopard” or as I think of it – “The Chauffeur, with Different Lyrics”. I like the song, mind you, but it is VERY close, musically, to “The Chauffeur”. Then again, there are other songs on the album, like “Safe”, or even the title track, that definitely hold up on their own and don’t even need to be characterized as a follow-up to Rio.

I’m still tickled I was able to find the the Q&A online, because if nothing else, it gets me thinking about what they could possibly be cooking up for the next one. Obviously, it is incredibly early in the journey. I can’t imagine they’ve had too much time in the studio to do much – but I still enjoy the wide open feeling of possibilities ahead. It is a good way to begin my weekend, which starts NOW.

Until Monday for me…

-R


September 2018 Katy Kafe with Roger

Happy Monday!  As the week begins with a roar, there is a small matter I didn’t get to last week. It is the September 2018 Katy Kafe with Roger!

Roger loves the month of September. He appreciates the change in weather, the crispness of Autumn and the excitement with Back-To-School. Katy, on the other hand, isn’t a fan. Apparently Autumn only beckons Winter. (You see, I live in Southern California. “Autumn” isn’t even really a thing here until late November…and don’t get me started on “Winter”) She mentions the High Jewish holidays, and the return to school.  I get all of that. I love the idea of Autumn or Fall, however, all that really means for me are very windy and smoggy days ahead.  There are no boots, sweaters, or apple cider donuts here until the rest of you are complaining about blizzards and white-out conditions. We do have apple country, but it’s typically still 90 degrees and windy outside as you’re picking apples. Not exactly the same… I love the idea of back-to-school, but I’m not a fan of schedules and homework. Or homeschool planning…don’t tell my kids!!

This month, Katy collected questions from fans on Instagram and Twitter. I have to say that the questions this time are very creative and it was enjoyable to hear Roger explain his answers!  I can’t do the Kafe justice in this way, so do yourself a favor and join DDM to have access to the full Kafe. Otherwise, you’re just reading the highlights here!

How do you (Roger) keep your hands and wrists healthy from tendonitis?

Roger is lucky, because he doesn’t suffer from tendonitis the way many other drummers might. He does have trouble with his right knee (they can even go out and need replaced so he is very careful – but), but he is hoping to be able to keep playing for a few more years.

I was about to interject with “It had better be for a LOT more years, Roger” when Katy said it for me, citing Charlie Watts. Amen, Katy!!!

What artist(s) alive or deceased would be your dream collaboration?

Roger cites David Bowie for a deceased artist – that shouldn’t be a surprise to any Duranie at this point. The band saw Bowie as their hero in many aspects, and yet they never had a chance to work with him, unfortunately.

As an artist who is still living, Roger mentions London Grammar. Apparently Simon loves them as well, and Katy wrote it down for later…you never know!!

What habits do you have before, during and/or after a show?

Roger could think of only one true habit that he does before a show, and that is to warm up in a back room with John and Dom. I can remember when this started becoming a “thing” , and it’s nice to hear that they still try to set aside that time to warm-up even now. He continues by saying (tongue in cheek) that they don’t do any chanting or prayer circles just yet!

What Duran Duran songs do you recommend for a beginning drummer to play along with?

Roger has two: Planet Earth & Rio.

What were your favorite scenes for the BBC special that was recently aired?

Roger appreciated going back to see where he originally joined the band. He remembers his dad bringing his drum set in the back of the car, and then John bounding down the steps to help him get it out of the car and help him put it together. He said it was cathartic to go back to Birmingham.

Note from me: it was also cathartic for me to go and visit – if anyone EVER has the opportunity to go, they should. The entire experience made me see the band and their career so much differently. It added an entirely different dimension to my vision of who they are, and I will never forget it!) 

What did your parents think when they saw you on Top of the Pops?

They were over the moon. Roger explains that Top of the Pops was a show that everyone watched together. Families gathered just to watch the show together. If you made it onto TOTP, you’d “made” it. He mentions that he was nervous, even though the show was prerecorded and they lip-synched. It was just that big of a deal. I think that this show must have been similar to our American Bandstand here in the US.

What song would you like to play in KAABOO Cayman that you did not play on the Paper Gods tour?

He mentioned both My Own Way and Hold Back the Rain.

If you aren’t aware, Roger (along with John!) was included in a list of 175 Brummies that Inspire. Katy asked him how he felt about that.

Roger said it was “so cool” to have been chosen. He is very proud of where they came from, and very grateful. Not a bad accolade to mention, really!

In wrapping up the September 2018 Kafe, Katy mentions that she knows he doesn’t have any scoops or exciting things to tell her, because there are no surprise shows or studio time coming up. Roger clarifies that actually, there are plans to go back into the studio during the next few weeks. I have to think though that this may be for a specific “thing” as opposed to beginning work on an album, and that’s purely because of the way the topic was brought up. Nonetheless, any news is welcome, and when Roger peeks back into the Kafe in December, maybe there will be more to say then!

-R

April 2018 Katy Kafe with Roger

I have been so busy that I missed the news that a brand new Katy Kafe had been posted this week.  It makes sense since Roger’s birthday is coming up this week.  (Happy Early Birthday, Roger!)  As always, I’ll give it a listen (I suffer greatly for this gig.  Not.) and provide some of my thoughts about what I heard here.  As always, I will not be sharing word-for-word what was said.  Nope.  If you want to hear it all, head to DuranDuranMusic and log in with your membership.

Trip to Peru

Katy opened up the Kafe with a discussion about Roger’s recent trip to Peru to see his wife’s family who lives there.  Apparently, he enjoys traveling there in April because the weather is beautiful and people spend time on the beaches.  (I wouldn’t know anything about this as I just had two winter storms this past week.)  One thing I did learn was that Roger studied French in school but struggles with languages.  (This I can relate to.)  His son, Julian, is trying to learn the language, too, with the idea that he will be bilingual.  Very cool!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame:

As soon as Katy mentioned that the recent induction to this year’s crop of Rock ‘n’ Roll members, I took note as this is a topic that seems to come up every year in Duranland.  She then asked if this was a goal of the band.  Roger’s reaction is what I expected with the idea of if it happens, great, but if not, it won’t change anything.  I can understand that sentiment.  Plus, it is probably the best way to approach awards.  Katy thinks it will happen as more New Wave artists are getting in.  Interesting to note that Roger definitely thinks that Depeche Mode should be in.

Elliot’s project:

Roger’s son, Elliot, has a new project, working with Denis O’Regan who was the photographer on David Bowie’s ’83 or ’84 Tour.  Recently, Denis found a lot of backstage photos and Roger’s son is helping to put these photos together in a book.

Return to the Studio:

When will Duran be back in the studio?  Roger’s response, “Definitely this year.”  That said, there is no specific date planned yet.  Apparently, the band is enjoying the down time, which I cannot blame them.  Roger is starting to look forward to returning to the studio now that he has had a break.

Record Store Day:

Roger expressed some excitement about the release of Duran Duran Live at the Budokan, but seemed to be more thrilled with the live DVD that will be coming out about that show/venue.  This did not surprise me as the whole show was shown on Japanese TV.

Birthday Plans:

Roger plans on spending his birthday at home with his family.  Interestingly enough, Roger claims that people who have the Taurus astrological sign do not make a big deal of their birthdays.  I’m not sure about that as a fellow Taurus.

This Kafe was not necessarily filled with a ton of news or insight but it was still enjoyable.  Again, I wish Roger a happy early birthday!!!

-A

June 2017 Katy Kafe with John Taylor!

I marvel every single time I type the word “June.” I’m not sure if it’s just me, living in the land of denial that my son graduates from high school on Saturday, or if it is really that I’m shocked time goes by so fast. I would swear it was just March a few days ago.  Either way, it is June, and it is time for the June 2017 Katy Kafe!

By now, our readers know the drill – these are the highlights, not a full transcription. If you really want to hear the whole Kafe, get yourself a membership to DDM. Even on a “paying for college” budget – I manage to put together enough money for my renewal each year, so it can be done!

Each June, it is either Nick or John that joins Katy in the Kafe because, as we all know, they each have a birthday this month. This year, it is John’s turn and Katy wastes no time getting down to business. JT just returned from a trip to Arizona for a family wedding and is relaxing at home in LA.

Memories of the Glass Spider Tour with Bowie

After some discussion of various places they played on this tour, (You can check out the real dates here) John says the experience was priceless. Interestingly enough, Duran Duran and David Bowie never appeared onstage together. The closest was one time when the band was playing Bang A Gong, and David was watching off to the side of the stage.

Wrapping Up Paper Gods

At this moment, it would appear that the Singapore Gran Prix dates are the final ones for Paper Gods. The band wanted to go to South Korea, Japan and of course Australia, but the right opportunity has not presented itself. They are still really trying, but it sounds to me as though this is not going to happen. I know many fans are still holding out hopes for DD to join Chic in Australia, but from the way John spoke, it does not sound likely at this point. He mentioned possibly going out next year, but Nick is less inclined to go from touring, to studio and then back to touring again. As John explained, it’s difficult to be in the studio when you’re constantly tired from touring. I don’t know exactly what kept them from getting to Australia and the Far East this time around, but John says it’s very complicated, and given that I’ve never managed a tour (not many of us have), I’m going to take his word for it!

The upcoming west coast and Canada dates are hallmarked by one very special date in Hawaii – it is somewhere the band has never played, and they are very excited to get there. A night of paradise in paradise. I like the way that sounds! Wish I could be there, but I also wanted to stay married. Go figure.

40th Anniversary Plans

I wish I could say that these “plans” are taking shape. All I gleaned from this Katy Kafe was that they have a whole lot of ideas. It very much reminds me of the Kafes as an album is beginning to be made and LOTS of ideas are thrown out, but we never really know what is going to stick (or was stuck) until we fans get the album in our hands. I suspect the same will hold true for the 40th anniversary.

They do plan to get back into the studio in London before the end of the year, and this does coincide with the 40th anniversary (those are John’s words, not my assumptions). Katy asked if they’d be working on new music or perhaps re-examining old music. John seemed to indicate some of each. “There’s lots of talk and plans. We have to just get to it” (meaning the unreleased material)  He specifically spoke about Reportage, which should thrill some people out there (myself included) For those who are unaware, Reportage is the album they recorded with Andy prior to his leaving – and ended up being shelved. (They released Red Carpet Massacre instead) John says they are “keen to get that (Reportage) out”

He reiterated that the 40th Anniversary celebration is going to roll out over the course of three years, and culminate in the summer of 2020. Get your credit cards and bank accounts ready, folks. This is what we’ve trained for.

Nick & John’s TSP

As I suspected, this has everything to do with the musical that they’ve been working on. Nothing thrills me more to use the word “musical” in a sentence with Nick and John. Yes, it’s true – I am a musical theatre mom, and I can hardly wait to see what they’ve got planned. If they need a choreographer, I know some people. One may or may not be my daughter. She’s good. (Yes, I just plugged my kid. No, I have zero shame.)  So, my suspicion is that those people who were in the studio with them might just be working on a demo soundtrack.

John would love for this to end up being part of the 40th anniversary celebration, and he says it just might be – but he doesn’t want to say more than that.  I could hardly stop myself from jumping out of my chair at those words. LOVE IT. He says he’s really getting into musical theatre – and planned to watch the Tony awards on Sunday night (which was the day this Kafe was taped).

About Those Pre-show Playlists

John explains that because he makes his living in music, it is crucial that he remain on the lookout for music that interests, excites and inspires him. His playlists are mixes of music he’s curious about along with music that he’s discovered that maybe he was unaware of before. He uses the example of Cream, which was a 60s/70s group with Eric Clapton. He’d never really listened to them before, heard them somewhere and has really been listening now because they were the precursor to so many other bands – they were pre-Led Zeppelin, for instance.

John says, tentatively, that there isn’t a whole lot of new live music he’s really into (for the summer), but that there’s a few festivals he wishes he could go to, but they don’t coincide with DD’s touring. I got the feeling that John didn’t want to go into what he doesn’t like, rather choosing to focus on the positives, so he didn’t really say much. Katy responded exactly as I would have (given the opportunity), as she said that she’s beginning to find the whole “new music discovery” thing to take effort these days, whereas she might not have said the same five years ago. She explained that every now and then she turns on a station like Z100 (I am assuming this is top 40) and she won’t like what she hears (Oh, I feel you Katy) and she’ll wonder if she’s just getting old. (Same here) She said that she’s looking forward to when her kids are older and can introduce her to some new music.

I have to say that yes, as a parent of older kids – it’s been really nice having them to point out new music. Saves me a little trouble, but by the same token I’ve learned that my kids have wildly different tastes from me. Not that this is a bad thing – I’ve learned to have an appreciation for anything from dubstep to EDM from Gavin (and now he’s into a lot of really hard rock and even metal – NOT hair bands but true metal from the 80s, which is amusing), and Heather tends to like a much wider variety, probably because she uses so many different types of music for dance. I agree with what John says about it taking work, but that if you’re willing to put the work in to finding it – there’s a lot of great music out there. My issue is time. I want more of it. 🙂

I am really kind of sick of 80s music, I mean – it’s great and all but there’s a lot more to the world, and yet to set out to discover something new takes time. I feel like I’ve spent quite a bit of time on older music – The Beatles and the first British Invasion, for instance, and now I’m looking for something different.  The “new” music of today does very little to excite me, but I feel like I’ve just got to keep looking.

Thankfully, The Killers are releasing a new single tomorrow and a new album in September, but this is a Duran Duran fan blog….

This wraps up the June 2017 Katy Kafe! John will be back in the UK for his birthday on June 20th, and back in the Kafe in Autumn. Let’s hope he’ll have more news about this 40th Anniversary by then!

-R

March 2017 Katy Kafe with Simon!

I am late. Ridiculously late. Not one, not five…but TEN days late…..for posting the highlights of the most recent Katy Kafe with Simon.

This is the kind of thing that happens when someone is working and misses a tweet or post from Katy, announcing that the most recent Kafe is up and ready for listening. Thanks to Debbie on Twitter!  When it appeared that I was going to ignore the Kafe completely, she sent a note asking about it. I saw the message yesterday while welcoming my students on to campus yesterday, and made a note to figure out what she was talking about!

I think this might have been the first time I truly missed a Kafe completely, and I’m sorry.  But, without further delay – here are my highlights.  You all know the disclaimer I’m about to write, but I will say it anyway:

These are my notes from the Katy Kafe, it is not a full-transcript of what was said. Often, I interject with my own opinion, and therefore, if you really want the full Kafe, you’ll need to purchase a membership to Duranduranmusic.com.  

Simon on Coffee

Over the past couple of years, Simon has talked about coffee quite a bit in the Kafe. He is down to six cups a day (down from 12, which he claims “…is apparently not good for you.” I don’t even know how to respond to that, Simon…except that you never fail to make me laugh. If I drank six cups a day, my heart rate would be about 175 and I’d end up in the hospital. My “ticker” already likes to go faster than normal as it is!)  But now, he drinks Bullet Coffee.

This is not really a “new” thing, because I remember seeing this little concoction mentioned by many of my friends on Facebook two years ago or more.  Alas, we’ll play along… Simon describes that basically, you brew coffee as normal, then put it into a blender (or bullet blender, as the case may be!) along with some coconut oil (he calls it wax, which does nothing to sell me on it, but he’s right – that’s what it looks and feels like) and some butter (not just regular butter, either butter from grass-fed cows, or Irish butter – maybe they don’t call it that in England?? – or as Simon mentions, goat butter). You blend it, and apparently it tastes good, and puts your body into ketosis, or fat-burning mode. Simon says he likes to drink it before he trains.

I’d like to drink it before I go to the doctor for my monthly “how high is your pulse and blood pressure today, Rhonda?” check-ins. Except I would do it just to see the reaction from the nurse and my doctor. Yes, I’m that kind of patient. Moving on…

Simon on the David Bowie Tribute Performance

For those wondering how Simon’s performance of “Let’s Dance” (which was fantastic, BTW) came about, it turns out that Sterling originally contacted Nick to play.  Sterling plays drums in Bowie’s stage band, and the tribute involved other artists coming on stage to perform with the band. Nick mentioned it to Simon, who was interested in singing. The organizers decided to have Simon perform “Let’s Dance”, (not one of Simon’s favorite Bowie songs). This made sense to Simon though, because it was from the same time frame as Duran Duran’s height in popularity (The Reflex), and the song itself suited him very well.

Simon describes the song as not being easy to sing, due to the massive gaps in singing – the timing has to be just right to keep the song flowing. As we all know (and you can see below), he did a great job with it.

 

After the show, the performers went to hotel that I didn’t catch the name of (sorry, I was busy multitasking by making breakfast for my youngest!), and stayed up very, very, late. He follows up by saying that he is “really good at metabolizing booze”.

BEST. QUOTE. EVER.  Oh, Simon. 

Simon on Music (Italy)!

Originally, the offer to do this show came through an Italian promoter who had never worked with Duran Duran. (The funny thing about this little segue was that Simon originally used the term “agent”…and then said, “I’m not really good about business things like this – ‘job titles’ and that sort of thing!” )

Simon rarely does solo performances, preferring to spend his time working on Duran Duran things and “being exclusive”, but this time, he decided to do it.

“Broken Dream” is a song that Simon completely reimagined. He sings it lower than the original, because his natural register is much lower than what he often does in Duran Duran. He had thought about the musical arrangement, wanting to go with a modern-sounding orchestra and organ accompaniment. The finished product, which I linked below, isn’t exactly as he had originally imagined, but after listening to it, Simon felt it really worked.

As a personal note, I thought it was easily one of Simon’s best vocal performances I’ve ever heard. If you haven’t watched it, you should. 

 

Simon said that learning the words was the toughest part, because for him, a great performance means completely relaxing so that he completely opens up vocally.

Katy said that she really loved his performance, proclaiming it better than the original, and commented on his suit (Sir Tom Baker), and his hair.

Simon on the Upcoming Tour Dates

This short tour began with the band wanting to do dates in South America since it had been a long time. However, the band felt they needed to do something different from just showing up and playing “the same thing”.  He made the point that Lalapalooza gives them access to an entirely new audience.  This does make sense, although as a fan I have to wonder why going and playing shows for their South American Duranies doesn’t seem to be enough.  My guess is that in order to justify the trip, business-wise (and I don’t know to whom) – they need to prove they would be gaining audience numbers. I’m not sure, but I do know that South America is thrilled they’re making their way to see them!

Katy pressed Simon on the possibility of upcoming Australian dates, to which Simon said that dates are coming for both there and the Far East, but they are not yet confirmed.  He mentioned Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore before saying he really didn’t know. I guess we’ll all find out soon!

Simon on the band’s big 4-0

The Kafe ended on a positive note, as Katy asked about any plans the band may have for their 40th birthday next year. Simon commented that this, even with the few dates they’ve got coming up, is their bit of time off before beginning to celebrate.  He continued on saying that while he didn’t join the band until the 80s, they’re celebrating the beginnings of John and Nick getting the band together and that it’s bound to be a “busy, fun, year” filled with tours and “lots of stuff”!

(I hope everyone’s bank accounts and credit cards are ready. Mine, however, are not. EEK!)

So sorry it was so late!!

-R

 

Spirit rose a meter and stepped aside: Celebrating David Bowie

Just one year ago today, David Bowie left us.

I’m nearly incredulous that it has already been a year in one moment, and in the next, I’m shocked that it hasn’t been longer…because it certainly feels that way.

I still read and hear pain when the band speaks of their loss in interviews I’ve seen and read. In one sense, I can imagine how they feel. I don’t know what that day will feel like, and I don’t want to know.  Nearly all of them have mentioned grappling with the mere notion that David Bowie is no longer with us.

I can remember going online that day, and seeing the heart wrenching tweets from friends and people I admire. The loss was palatable, and the space David left will never be filled.

We’ve had a year of Duran Duran touring and incorporating Space Oddity into their shows, celebrating David Bowie. My own daughter (my youngest) thinks that it’s a Duran Duran song because she saw them play it live at her first concert this summer. There is still a sense of melancholy, and great love and respect when they segue from Planet Earth to Space Oddity during the show, with David Bowie, “bigger than life” looking  on behind them. As strange as it might seem, I’ve enjoyed Duran doing the song – sharing their love and influence with the rest of us, letting us in to help in some small way, shoulder their loss. Our loss, really.

This past weekend, Simon took part in a very special show at Brixton Academy in London, on what would have been David’s 70th birthday.  “Celebrating David Bowie with Gary Oldman and Friends” was a show featuring David’s band, along with a myriad of special guests, including Simon, members of Spandau Ballet, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, and Mr. Hudson. For Simon’s part, he performed “Let’s Dance”.

I didn’t watch all the videos for the show, but you BET I watched Simon’s. If you want to catch any of them, check out NME’s wonderful article and collection of videos, including the entire setlist.  Rest assured, Simon sounded fantastic and strong. While I watched him perform, he seemed so proud to be up there, maybe even reverent. Even from here, I was proud to see him knock that song out of the park.  I thought about how music heals, and how much deep love and respect these musicians have for David Bowie.

People often say that these people never completely leave us, that the music stays with us forever, and it is their gift.  Sometimes that thought comforts and other times, it feels like a huge cliché. I’m not going to lie, the thought does very little to quell my own fear of loss. I learned early on in my life to make sure that the people I love most know how I feel – which is really hard to do when it is a band like Duran Duran. The complexity of the “fan” thing tends to get in the way as much as it brought me to them to begin with. However,  we all do love and treasure them, in very much the same way as they do Bowie. We can only hope they know.

During a year where many of us have lost idols and artists we love and respect, seeing Simon—and all of Duran Duran, really—pay respect to their own idol, has taught me a lot about grace, love and celebrating one’s idols.

-R

The Present Will Never Last

This morning, I am traveling to the Washington D.C. area with my friend to celebrate New Year’s.  Of course, this won’t be a common celebration but one filled with some live music by a certain band that we know and love.  Yes, this New Year’s celebration will include a couple Duran shows.

When these shows were announced, I didn’t hesitate to make plans to go.  I never have New Year’s plans and this holiday includes time away from work.  If that wasn’t enough, I also had airline miles.  It seemed like a no brainer.  Yet, as the days passed by and become weeks then months, I began to wonder if I made the right decision.  I could use the money for other things.  The mountain of grading would not get done on its own.  My feelings of despair hadn’t let up much since November.  Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling it much and put off real planning.  Yes, I had a plane ticket, a hotel room, but I hadn’t prepared the binder or figure out any real details.  I kept putting it off.

Then, on Christmas day, I heard about George Michael’s death.  Like so many others of my generation, I grew up listening to George Michael and Wham.  I sang his songs and watched his videos.  Hearing about his loss was like losing a part of my childhood.  Then, when you place his loss alongside the others who died during this year, the grief is almost overwhelming.  When I just think about the musicians lost this year, I am deeply saddened by those whom I will never have the opportunity to see live in concert or hear new music from again.  I was lucky in that I saw David Bowie live once.  I wish I could have said the same for Prince and George Michael.

Suddenly, I realized that I need to get it together.  I have the opportunity to go and see Duran Duran on New Year’s Eve.  I shouldn’t ignore any and all chances to see bands/artists I like.  I certainly should APPRECIATE every single chance I have to see Duran Duran.  If anything that 2016 has taught us, it is not to waste chances and moments to do what you love or to be where you are happiest.  After all, you never know when we won’t have the chance to do it again, for whatever the reason.

Now that I have rearranged my perspective, how can I not be excited and appreciative for this chance?  How can I not look forward to spending New Year’s not only with Duran Duran but also countless Duranies!  While I will miss my best friend being with me and I acknowledge that life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, I need to focus on what I do have.  I will have two Duran shows and I know that there is no place I would rather be.  Duranie friends will be all around me.  Life isn’t perfect but this trip will be pretty close.

So, as you are all reading this, I should be on my way.  Hopefully, my flight will be uneventful and then I will be able to enjoy a city that I have had the good fortune of spending some time over the last 6 years or so.  Then, I will be ready to party and put an end of a year that was filled with sorrow and disappointment.  With everlasting hope, I, along with thousands of Duran fans, will welcome 2017 doing what we love–singing, dancing, screaming and clapping for a band and music we love so much.

-A

My Last Post of 2016. What is to be gained?

This is my last post of 2016. I don’t post again until Monday, January 2nd 2017, so have a wonderful New Years, everyone! I don’t know what Amanda has planned for her blogs this weekend, but I would imagine they’d have something to do with traveling and seeing some band from the UK a couple of times.

There’s a part of me that is jealous, but another part—the saner portion of me—that is a bit relieved I’m staying home. It’s not about the band, because I would love to see them and my friends again.  No, my relief is about the not having to pack, schedule out the time while I’m gone, get on a plane, and then come back before I have to be at work on Tuesday, that makes me a little relieved I’m not planning a trip across the country.

I’ve seen many say that 2016 has been a tough, cruel year. The loss has been pretty tough to take. While I don’t typically lose family members every year, invariably there is a celebrity figure or two.  They pass on, and we all stop for a moment to pay our respects, then life simply moves on.  This year, I daresay the loss seems to have felt more acute. Whether it’s the number of people who have left us, or the people themselves, 2016 has been a roller coaster.

I’ve seen so many people tweet that we need to wrap every member of Duran Duran in bubble wrap, as if that will somehow protect them from the dreaded 2016. I’ve said similar things myself, in jest, as if adding humor to the situation will make it all more palatable. The reality is that there’s nothing any of us can do to make this stop. I’m 46, and many of my idols, including the band, are hitting their mid to late 50’s now. Many others are even older. I remind myself that my own father died at 68. Death is a certainty, it’s a matter of when. And that thought is pretty damn depressing.

How many of us actually sat down at the age of thirteen that we’d have to someday see all of the celebrities and people we admire leave this earth? How many of us really thought about the day we’d read online that George Michael passed away? Or David Bowie? Or Prince?  I know I didn’t. I never gave mortality much thought. I lived in the moment, and didn’t think too far beyond what I might wear to school the following day.  Blissful ignorance of youth.  And then we grew up.

It is 2016. Many of you reading are also in your 40’s. This year alone, we’ve felt the loss of many legends and heroes. Death has this annoying way of forcing you think about life, and I think we all want to be able to blame some THING for why so many people are dying this year. So, we blame 2016. I highly doubt we’ll wake up in 2017 and the Grim Reaper will have decided to take his talents elsewhere, but it is how we make sense of things that really have no answer.

I suppose that I’ve come to the conclusion that this constant parade of RIP’s and tributes will not have an end until I leave this planet myself. I’m at middle age, my heroes are either my age or older, and none of us live forever. I can remember my grandmother sitting in her chair in my childhood home, watching the news in the afternoons during the summer when she’d babysit my sister and I.  Occasionally there would be news of a celebrity death, and invariably she’d take a sharp inhale of breath, shocked by the news.

She’d softly say something like, “Well, there’s another one gone. Soon there will be no one left.”  Then she’d look over at me and my sister, playing with Barbies on the floor and muse, “Getting old is terrible, Rhonda Lynn. You can’t move, and your friends die constantly.”

I can remember looking at her then looking over at my sister, who couldn’t have been much older than five or six. I’d give her a tiny smile and then roll my eyes. Why? Well, we were never going to get old!!

I don’t blame people for wishing 2016 away, mind you. There are a number of reasons for wanting this year to just end already. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that by this time most years, I’m ready to get on with it already. On the other hand, I’m also trying to be careful not to wish my life away. I have things to look forward to in 2017. A girls weekend in Rancho Mirage, seeing Duran Duran again, my son’s graduation from high school, more college acceptances for him (I hope!), and then seeing him walk onto his college campus for the first time.

Even with all of that, I’m trying very hard to put the art of enjoying each day as it comes into practice. I don’t like saying the words “I can’t wait” anymore (although I still say them out of habit) because as it turns out, I CAN wait. Anticipation isn’t a bad thing. It heightens and stretches out the enjoyment of what is to come.

If there’s anything to really be gained from the loss we’re all learning to accept these days, it is to learn that time isn’t to be wasted. There’s not an infinite amount somewhere. When your cup runneth out, you’re done. One of the first things I said when I heard about George Michael—after shouting “NOOOOOO” and grabbing my phone, of course—was that I never saw him live. He was one of my favorite artists, and I never bothered. I didn’t buy the ticket. Granted, I am sure I could cite reasons, and timing would be at the top of the list, but the fact is, I didn’t buy the ticket.

I lightly pounded my fist on the dining room table, startling my mom in the process, and proclaimed that no one could or should ever tell me again that I go see too many shows, or that I shouldn’t spend the money, because once these people are gone, they’re gone. I really don’t know if the sentiment was understood. My family was never into concerts the way I am, and they don’t really understand my obsession with Duran Duran anyway.

What it all boils down to is that in 2017, I’m buying the ticket. Before my husband has a fit—that’s a euphemism. I’m going to seize more of the moments. See more of the people I want to see, do more of the things I want to do. Fear plays a huge part in my life, and my goal for the year is to live just a little bit outside of that box. Instead of just dreaming, I’m going to try doing.

Happy New Year! Be safe and have a fantastic time if you’re headed to the shows in Cancun or DC!

-R