Tag Archives: Duran Duran

When the Title of Your Album is Crowned Upon Thy Heads – Paper Gods

Are they really Paper Gods?

So many times now, I’ll see fans refer to Duran Duran as the Paper Gods.  In theory, I know what they mean. I had their posters as my wallpaper too, and yeah, I definitely worshipped them. They were the Kings of Everything to me. I hadn’t met them, knew nothing of substance about them except their music, and yet, they were everything that mattered. Sound familiar?

Here we are now, some thirty-five or even forty years later, and they’ve been graced with the moniker from one of their own albums – The Paper Gods. Fans hear, “bow to the Paper Gods” and assume it must mean the band. I can certainly see how that happened. If you listen to the song, it isn’t hard to draw the conclusion that they must be referring to themselves in the lyrics. I’d argue that the entire album, from Paper Gods to The Universe Alone, is a reasonable snapshot of their full career, at least until present day.

Bow to the Paper Gods

in a world that is paper-thin.

The fools in town, are ruling now.

Bleeding from paper cuts

money from headshots

Fools leading

who needs it

On one hand, the point is that paper is thin. It’s fairly destructible by being crumpled, burned, torn, etc. At the end of it all – paper means extremely little. Nick describes it like an origami butterfly that is able to fly away at any point. Butterflies aren’t known for being strong. Their wings are fragile. It’s like fame in that sense. Besides, even the thickest origami butterfly can also fall from the sky by being shot down or burned at a moment’s notice (I’m feeling violent today I guess?) That hero status is delicate and fragile.

In another way, when you’re a God of Paper – what does that really mean? Are you part of a throwaway culture? Is it really a good thing to consider anything a Paper God?

Or, is the point really that by calling Duran Duran our Paper Gods, by embracing the very thing that the band has tried running from all these years, we’re laughing in the face of the critics?  It is an interesting thought. Is it derogatory to refer to them that way?

I don’t think the words I’m about to share are any different from what most fans feel. This band is far deeper than the words on any lyric sheet. They are geniuses when it comes to communicating subtle points through music and lyric (and even the occasional interview!) – their sardonic, sarcastic and dry senses of humor come through even when most people miss it. Simon intentionally writes things that most see as fairly obvious, when in fact it may mean anything but. It is creative, smart, and quite honestly has kept me intrigued for nearly forty years, along with many other people.

I don’t know for sure what Duran Duran really intended when they wrote Paper Gods, or when they titled the album or tour that way. In some ways, it is certainly shallow of fans to just shout-out “DD is the best band ever!” whenever DDHQ posts anything at all. However, those words are also demonstrative of how the music world goes ’round. Those fans are a significant part of what keeps the band going.  They simply cannot have a league of people who critically question every last detail and get very far.

This band is so much more than just the shallow pinups I taped up on my wall as a preteen. I, along with a legion of others, have spent the better part of the last four decades peeling back the layers. We continue recognizing that through all of the smoke and mirrors, they’re actual human beings. Extremely talented humans at that. I wouldn’t dare tell anyone that they’re not Paper Gods, but to me, that’s merely where they began.

-R

Keeping the Rhythm Going 28 Years and Counting: Liberty

Liberty was released on this date in 1990. My excellent math skills tell me that adds up to birthday #28 for this album. Back on the 25th anniversary, Simon posted some thoughts about Liberty on dd.com.  If you haven’t read it yet, you really should.

Liberty is one of those albums that feels like a guilty pleasure. I have been known to blast “Violence of Summer” on long drives, some of which may or may not have taken place at like 2am on the way home from gigs at the Key Club in Los Angeles. The word “overproduced” has been used in tandem with this album frequently over the years. At one point, I suppose I might have agreed. I tried to be one of those critical listeners that might be taken seriously. These days, however, I’m far more apt to say “So what??? I think it’s fun and I like it!”, than anything else. Life is far too short to worry about explaining why a song or two makes my heart sing.

The album is 28 years old. I think it might be fair to put the criticisms aside and just love the music. Frivolity and fun are not bad qualities. I happen to agree with Simon on “Serious”. It is by far one of the best Duran Duran songs ever recorded. It ranks right up with “Ordinary World”, and I applaud its simple beauty. “My Antarctica” is another stunning example of the band’s songwriting genius.  I don’t know what Simon meant by the lyrics, but when I think about them, they remind me of the saying “life happens when you’re making other plans”.  Simon seems to call out a relationship with someone who is set to have the public see his/her life one way when in fact it is completely another. I love the vagueness and how the words allow themselves to tell your own story. It is absolutely some of Duran Duran’s best work, and hits home with me far more than some of their major hits. It is a song I wish they’d play live.

There is plenty on the album to love. While Simon wasn’t fond of “All Along the Water”, I adore the song, even with its fair amount of cheek. Again – it’s FUN. It keeps me moving, and I’m certainly smiling. Is it lyrically captivating? Probably not as much as others, but not every song needs to punch me in the gut with emotion. I love it.

When I think about Liberty and this period of time, it makes sense to me when Simon says it felt like part of The Wedding Album. On my own Duran Duran timeline in my head – there’s not really much I remember about the time period for Liberty, only that it was released, and before I knew it the band was on to something else. Maybe they needed that album as a creative precursor to what came next, but I believe it is worthy of standing on its own and not be known as the “also appearing” album of the 1990’s. In fact, I’m going to give it a listen today!

-R

 

Classic Pop: Welcome and Conquering Planet Earth

Guess what came in the mail?!  That’s right.  My copy of the Classic Pop:  Duran Duran 40th Anniversary Edition magazine.  Right away, I can see that there is a LOT here as it is really over 100 pages.  Clearly, I won’t be able to read it all at once, not if I want to really take it in.  So, I will simply read one article at a time and discuss it then talk about the magazine as a whole.  After all, I can tell that the creators took time to worry about the details.  This can be easily seen because as soon as you open the magazine there are pictures of various album and single covers.  It reminds me, as a fan, about how much the band really has done.

Welcome:

I loved reading the welcome written by the editor.  Said to say that it is rare to read glowing words about Duran Duran outside of places like our blog or other fan creations.  Yet, this intro was all that and more.  Clearly, the editor views Duran as a band who has had adversity but has worked hard to be successful.  “They’ve marked out by a peerless flair for melodic songwriting as well as a remarkable resilience, digging in and clinging to their dreams when the naysayers foolishly try to write them off.”  Exactly.  Then, before the first article, the magazine acknowledges the graphic design and art used for the album and single covers.  I approve.

Conquering Planet Earth:

Initially, I assumed that this first big article would just be about the very early days but it goes all the way up through the 1980s.  Before I read the article, I did glance at the photos.  I assumed I had seen most of the Duran pictures before but I swear some of these images were new to me.  I love that!

The beginning part of the article focuses on the formation of the band and the Birmingham scene.  Nick is quoted in the article talking about how the Rum Runner was “more real” in comparison to the London scene due to the Berrow brothers bringing music from the States and with the look of the club with mirror tiles and neon.  That said, I’m not sure that they got the history totally right.  I think the list of people is accurate but I’m not sure things happened in the order that they are listed, specifically around the topic of lead singer.  For example, it sounds like Andy was in the band a long time before Simon and I don’t think that is true.

One aspect of the article that I found interesting was how the videos were described.  First, it implied that the reason to use video was because the band had five good looking guys.  While that is true. they also could send videos to places that were hard to get to like Australia, which the article leaves out.  That said, they  do state that the Girls on Film video might have objectified women but other videos objectified them like the Rio video.  Hmm…

Of course, the band’s success was featured as well.  The author commented that the band members’ private lives were quickly impacted by all of the fans and attention.  Now, artists would be able to post a picture or tweet to appease their fans but then they couldn’t, resulting in fans following the band everywhere, claims the author.  Interesting.  I don’t know if I agree with that idea.  Would a picture or a tweet really satisfy fans then?  I think a lot of fans would have just wanted more and more and more.  What do the rest of you think?  Would that have eased the frenzy?

Overall, I think the article did a nice job summarizing the 1980s.  I appreciate that it included some of the late 80s as too often that part of Duran’s history gets ignored or glossed over.  I also liked that the interpretation on issues like fame made me think.  Lastly, the little touches made it extra special.  For example, the article covered four tracks more deeply to show the range of Duran’s work.  I liked that and the fun little facts written in tiny writing on the side.  The magazine did not waste space!

Now, I cannot wait to have a chance to dive deep into the rest!

-A

Running Against the Tide

On this date in 2012, Rhonda and I saw Duran Duran play in Biloxi, Mississippi.  This was the first of our little mini-tour around the southeast to finish up the All You Need Is Now album cycle, at least for us.  That little tour meant that the next time we would see the band play at all would be almost three years later in April 2015.  It began a weird sort of desperation.  The cause was obvious.  The AYNIN album and tour marked the best time we had (I think) as fans up until that point.  We attended a bunch of shows, managed to see the band play in the UK and began holding meet ups before shows.  Truly, we didn’t want the party to end.

Despite all that, if you look back at my posts from that time, they were not all happiness and light.  I questioned if I needed some sort of break from fandom.  As much as I loved it all, I wondered if it was creating some weird sort of pressure.  I’m sure that part of it was also because not everyone loved what we were doing and saying.  Yet, instead of walking away, we dove in more by planning a convention.  Interestingly enough, six years later, I’m finding myself in a similar emotional space.  Looking back, I knew that I felt a lot of angst but I didn’t really know why.  I assumed it was fandom, but I don’t think it was.  The summer of 2012 included an upsetting political loss while preparing for another campaign.  It also meant changing teaching positions.  I think I felt like the ground below me was unsettled.  I reacted to that by first trying to finding something to blame, which I stupidly thought might have been fandom.  Then, instead of running away, I increased my commitment.

Now, I also feel like my foundation has been shaken.  Last school year was tough and there are changes there that make me less than excited for the upcoming year.  Politically, I have faced some big losses while trying to gear up to the next one.  On top of that, there is more stress surrounding my aging parents and feel like I have less support to assist with it all.  Again, my desire is to seek security like I did in 2012.  The only aspect of my life that I questioned then was fandom.  Even when I wondered if fandom was making me happy, I remember just wanting people to reassure me that fandom could and would continue to bring joy.  I wanted people to want me to continue writing this blog, planning events, etc.

Did I handle my feelings in the right way then?  No clue.  Should I have questioned other areas of my life?  Maybe.  Probably.  I often wonder if I stay too long, that I stay when I should not.  I think about the fact that six years ago I changed positions at work.  I should have done it years before that.  I’m not good at timing.  This leads me to wonder if changes need to be made now.  Should I continue to double down on my path in life with teaching, campaigning and doing fandom?  I don’t know that I have any answers, just more questions.

All that said, now that I have poured all of this out on this blog post (most of you are probably thinking that I have over shared or wished that I hadn’t opened my big, fat mouth at all), I do realize one thing.  Duran tours and other happenings have been mile markers in my journey of life.  That tour in 2012 was more than just 4 shows.  It made me recognize that things in my life weren’t as awesome as I wanted.  It made me question things.  I appreciate that even if my recognition did not lead to some amazing changes in my life.  It reminds me that Duran’s history has helped to form my history, even if I couldn’t see it when it was happening.  It makes me wonder what will Duran do next that will form the backdrop to my own life.

-A

Duran Duran live in February 2019. Can you wait?

Time is flying by, my friends. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon school supply shopping with my youngest. She is ten, going into fifth grade this year, and is in all of her preteen glory. I can’t believe she’s really approaching the same age I was when I first discovered Duran Duran. It hardly seems possible, although judging by the growth spurt she has had this past year, I shouldn’t be surprised. So we are staring down into the tunnel of a new school year, one that will include many changes, no less. I’m not ready. Summer was fairly non-existent. Twenty years of solid abuse takes time to undo, particularly when the main fixer-upper person lives elsewhere during the week. I’ve gone to two shows this summer, and I’ve been out with my husband alone three times. No vacations, no camping, just a lot of sweat, dirt, and achy muscles.

School starts in about two and a half more weeks. Our house goes on sale Tuesday. Why move during the summer when you can pull out your hair, move boxes and shuffle holidays, children and school around mid year??  My husband and I have a certain way about planning, as evidenced by the sheer genius spacing of our children – Heather is 21, Gavin is 19, and as I said – the youngest is 10.  (my sarcasm is alive and kicking) Mark my words, I will be moving over Thanksgiving weekend if not even mid-December when things are even nuttier. I can feel it coming, and I’ve already accepted my fate.

Meanwhile, there is this band I “kind” of like, and tend to blog about on an almost daily basis. They’ve been semi-awol for a while now while I’ve been in my own rabbit hole. I think they’re around, enjoying their own lives. Imagine that! Earlier in the week, DDHQ had tweeted a photo from #Duranlive, saying that there would be no live shows until February, but that they liked the picture.

This, my friends, was news I needed. I can’t lie, this entire year, I’ve had this little niggling, nagging, thought in the back of my mind.  Would the band end up doing shows this year? If they did, how would I get there? I’m awful, because there I was, husband just starting back to work, me up to my neck in boxes, and I worried about Duran Duran. I mean, not the kind of day-and-night worry. Just the kind that would appear in my head when I heard “Rio”, or “Paper Gods”, or thought about drummers and guitarists. It was a thing. Even the band themselves seemed unsure, saying that there was a chance they’d have a one-off show here or there before year-end.  Uncertainty drives me crazy.

February of 2019 though, is a lot less uncertain. This tidbit, or mile-marker on the journey, makes my heart begin to sing the joyful sounds of “Hungry Like the Wolf” (I can see you laughing at me, Nick. Knock it off.) As I “doo doo doo do, do doo do, do doo do, do doo do, doo doo” my way through packing the precious little that is actually left in this now-personality free house, I’ll be thinking of the fun that is waiting for me in 2019.

Funny how times change. During the Mojave Desert of nothingness between All You Need is Now and Paper Gods, I was desperate. Foraging for anything I could find. A small but tasty sliver of news would have satiated me. A tall, cool drink of Dom or Roger (oh yes, I did just type that.) would have quenched a bit of my thirst along the way. I was dying. I even begged Amanda to fly out to Los Angeles for what could have easily been one (yes, ONE) song performed by Duran Duran at the David Lynch gala at the Ace Theatre. Thankfully, it was a few songs. I nearly died that night in more ways than one, but even those memories kept me going.

This time though, I’m far more patient. I do still miss the band. Any time I see Dom tweet (which isn’t all that often), I grin like the Cheshire Cat. Do I have it that bad? Maybe. I love seeing the very occasional tweet from Simon, or even the photos that John sends to DDHQ to post. Once in a while we’ll get something from Roger or even Nick, and I’m smiling for days. However, I am thankful to have the time to get my life back together. There will time for crazy drives to LA or even San Francisco later. I’m looking forward to getting my own touring group back together for late nights, vodka, cups with no lids and lots of laughing. But I can wait a bit longer. 2019 is beginning to show up on the horizon.

-R