Last month, I began a little blog series in which I took a look at the albums Duran Duran released during the month of October. After giving facts and statistics about those albums, I then shared about my relationship with those albums. I discussed Big Thing and Medazzaland. Today, I turn to the last of the October albums, Astronaut. I revealed the stats surrounding the album here and now I offer a little bit about myself and this album.
Astronaut represented the Fab Five’s reunion, the return of the five original members. It represented my return as well. In the early 2000s, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to Duran Duran at all. I spent my time working, as a young teacher often does. I remember sitting at my then dining room table on many Saturdays and Sundays creating curriculum. If that wasn’t enough, I attended graduate school then as well. I needed to add some teaching certificates in order to continue teaching students with special education needs. On top of that, I figured that a master’s degree wouldn’t hurt. Those two activities kept me plenty busy.
Despite (or maybe because) of my schedule, my social life lacked activity. The city I lived in was new to me and making friends isn’t something I do easily. Luckily, I had one lifeline, the internet. Around the time of the reunion, I joined a fandom, but it wasn’t Duran. It surrounded a little sci-fi teen drama called Roswell. Looking back, I smile at the focus of my fandom. It wasn’t super serious but there was something at the heart of the show that I related to. Perhaps, it was the focus on people who felt alienated despite appearing like everyone else. I have felt that way my entire life. The combination between having internet access and admiring a TV show led me to message boards. These message boards then provided the means with which to meet some people. These people are, for the most part, still friends of mine (no pun intended).
As the Roswell fandom died down, I discovered that one of my Roswell associates was a Duran fan as a kid just like me. That’s all it took. It felt like someone lit a match over gasoline. The fire caught instantly and grew quickly as we began sharing pictures, memories, and memorabilia with each other. This led to searching the internet for the current status of Duran Duran. Luckily, for me, grad school just ended and I found myself with more time and more money. I spent my time reading every piece of Duran news I could find and my money buying albums I didn’t have.
Of course, part of what fed this fire was the idea that the original five reunited. To say that I was excited would be an understatement. I distinctly remember the first time I heard the song, Sunrise. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as goosebumps appeared on my arms. It was beautiful and it was Duran. For me, as someone who had been working her butt off for years, I felt like this reunion was my reward. It felt like the world was adjusting itself back into proper alignment after being off kilter for decades. For me, the end of the Fab Five coincided with a hard move. After hearing Sunrise, I felt like the wrong of my move as a kid was made right.
Needless to say, I dove back into the fandom. Unlike my childhood fandom which centered around watching MTV and buying magazines, now it was all about being online and chatting with fellow Duranies. In early 2004, before the album came out, I joined and lurked at many Duran message boards, looking for a similar home to the one I had found with the Roswell fandom. Duran’s official website had one, but it didn’t work for me. I hated the chaos of how it looked and found it hard to follow. More than that, it felt unfriendly to people like me, people who had stepped away from the fandom. The official fan community appeared friendlier in terms of board format but also seemed to be tough to break into. Finally, I found myself at DuranDuranFans.com.
This tiny message board looked great! The group there was small but clearly liked each other. While I wasn’t certain that I could break in there, either, I thought I had a better shot with a smaller group. On top of that, the board had information regarding a little convention in New Orleans that was to take place in the fall. I needed something to break me out of my boring, yet somewhat unfulfilling all work and no play existence. Attending something like this, out of state, pushed me out of my comfort zone but also to a place of growth.
The convention took place a few weeks before the album dropped. Yet, many in attendance possessed a copy already. I took advantage by listening to the album there for the first time. I loved what I heard. Looking back and recognizing that this renewed fandom was so adolescent, so teenage crush like that I would have loved the album, no matter what. I loved that the band was back together, which meant that the music had to be great. Now, I still enjoy the album quite a bit but recognize some elements that could have been better. That said, it represents the beginning of the second and more significant chapter in my fandom story. It always will bring back positive memories.
In looking back on the three albums that Duran Duran has released in the month of October, I’m surprised at how well my fandom story lines up with Duran Duran’s history. Big Thing represented a period of transition for the band and the same was true in my own life. Likewise, Medazzaland represented a time in which the remaining members of the band were trying to hold on to their career. The same might be said for my fandom at the time. Lastly, Astronaut represented the return of the band from the 80s and my fandom followed right along side. It will be interesting to see if the same thing will be true when I examine the albums released in November in future blogs.