Tag Archives: Duran Duran

The Music is Still Between Us: Durandemonium 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this date in 2013, Duranies descended upon the fine city of Chicago for Durandemonium.

Held at a small, efficient-yet-boutiquey hotel (that no longer exists under the same name or brand) in downtown Chicago, fans from as far as Canada and the UK came together to celebrate Duran Duran over the course of a weekend. Activities ranged from a first night out at Howl at the Moon, where Duranies were invited onstage for their own rendition of none other than “Hungry Like the Wolf” (If the whole “writing about fandom” thing doesn’t work out – there’s absolutely no future in singing onstage for me), to an author panel and a private screening of Diamond in the Mind in a local Chicago theatre. The celebration culminated with a themed-banquet and after party at what has to be one of the best named alternative-music neighborhood clubs in the country – Late Bar.

It wasn’t just the activities that made the weekend special. It is the friendships that were created. Amanda and I love getting notes from people who went to the convention and still talk about how much fun it was. That’s how Amanda and I feel about the convention we attended in New Orleans in 2003. The activities were great, but the times we remember most were the talking and laughing in small groups. If I could bottle that part of what it takes to make a convention successful, I’d carry it with me forever.

Amanda and I have been approached countless times since that weekend about doing another. In the past we’ve even started the planning, only to be railroaded by one thing or another and forced to put the idea aside. Money is always an issue. Conventions are not cheap. Even our convention in Chicago required several thousands of dollars up front, and as one might imagine – blogging does not pay those kinds of bills. Time is another sticky problem. Planning a convention can take hundreds of man-hours, which are not always readily available. We’ve considered doing an event at a club one evening, and then suggesting a hotel to stay at to make a weekend out of it, so it’s more of a get together than actual convention, but because the two of us live a few states apart, the logistics are a problem. We’re in Duran downtime now though, so perhaps it is time to give it all more consideration.  Personally I think it would be a blast to pick a city, meet up at a hotel, and do a Duranie slumber party!  There’s still our dream of paying the band to come and perform a private gig, too (Who does not dream of that? Right after I win the lottery – I’m on it!)

I’ve had the chance to not only attend, but plan two enjoyable, cathartic events as a fan. Three if you count that one time I flew to Chicago on a whim for a weekend so that I could go to March MaDDness (a one night fan get together) with Amanda in the Foundation Room at the House of Blues. I’ve marveled over this fan community before, but going to a fan event like a convention changed my entire life. I want nothing more than to recreate the same safe space for other fans. So many of us are judged by the t-shirts we wear, music we play and concerts we attend. For me, it was a relief to finally be in a place where I could just be myself with others who understood. That’s what I mean by “safe space”. We’re never all going to agree on the minutia, and we’re not all going to be best friends, or even friendly in some cases. We’re all different. Our fan community is complex. We each have our own favorite memories, band members, songs, albums, or tours. When it all boils down, the music is still between us. The music is the common thread that connects us as fans. I feel like we should celebrate that as often as possible.

-R

 

 

 

Union of the Snake released in 1983

On this date in 1983, Union of the Snake was released. That makes this record 34 years old.

I actually had to do the math there because it doesn’t sound right.

Then I check the release date again, even though I know 1983 is correct.

Thirty-four years?

I remember brushing my teeth in my childhood bathroom during this same period of time My younger sister burst through the door, as she often did because we shared the hall bathroom and she loved to annoy me (still does, as I am sure that I’ll get a text from her at some point about this very post). She triumphantly announced that she had heard Union of the Snake by Duran Duran. She sang a line as I challenged her assertion, and then she watched my reaction in the mirror. I tried to hide my irritation, because I didn’t want her to know that she’d accurately pushed my buttons. I kept my head down, rinsed my toothbrush, and nonchalantly walked out of the bathroom.

Incredulous that she’d actually heard Union of the Snake, I raced into my bedroom and scanned the radio, hoping to hear it for myself. I don’t know how long it was before I finally heard the song. I was pretty sure she had been faking it when she said she’d already heard it, but she wasn’t all that far off with the melody or the words! She swears to this day she was just guessing as she teased me, and I still remember how annoyed I was by the idea that she might have heard something about Duran Duran before I had.

That sort of thing still goes on to this day, although my sister isn’t the one trying to push my buttons most of the time. It’s my husband. He would love for nothing more than to learn of some juicy detail before  me and he never lets me forget for a single second that he was the one to come up with idea for Daily Duranie. He also dreams of the day I’ll let him guest blog…

Dreams are free,  as are memories. 🙂

-R

 

 

 

 

My thoughts on Medazzaland as it turns twenty

It is hard for me to imagine that Medazzaland has been a part of my life for twenty years. Coincidentally, twenty years ago last month, my husband and I moved back to California after living in Illinois for two and a half years.

We made the move not long after we were married in 1995, due to a job offer for my husband. When Walt’s company decided to sell his division, we moved back to California, now as a family of three.  We’d been back here and living out of boxes for a few weeks when Medazzaland was released, and I came out of my moving and motherhood fog just long enough to drive to Wherehouse Music to get a copy.  I remember unwrapping the CD and putting it in the car stereo. Walt wanted to scan through each song rather than hearing them play, which made the experience less-than-optimal for me, but I was so shocked after the first couple of songs, I didn’t know what to think.

I suppose I didn’t know what to expect going in. I knew it would be different, as they all are from one another, and I hadn’t been keeping up with the band in the same way I might now, so I was probably even more shocked. I probably was hoping for something that sounded closer to any one of the first three albums, which I admit severely undercuts the creativity of this band, but at the time, I didn’t think about any of that. I just knew what I expected to hear when I said “Duran Duran”.

I was looking for anything that made me feel like the old me. I was a new mom, dealing with a baby and postpartum depression, living with my in laws while we waited for our house to sell in Illinois so that we could buy one here. So just imagine someone trying to get a firm grip on some semblance or reminder of who they were – maybe hoping for a bit of Rio and instead – you’ve got Nick speaking the words to “Medazzaland”.

It was a bit of a shock, to say the least.

Sure, I took a deep breath when I heard “Big Bang Generation”. It’s still one of my favorites off of the album, and I won’t lie – those bright, stacked harmonies and melodious chords were exactly what I thought should be on the album. “Electric Barbarella” felt along the same lines. I started feeling better about the album, and then “Silva Halo” happened. The tempo alone made me uncomfortable. I didn’t declare it as genius, I’ll tell you that. I looked at Walt, he looked at me, and I was speechless. I felt completely left behind. I didn’t understand how the same band who wrote (yes) “Hungry Like the Wolf”, could write something like “Silva Halo” and believe it was good enough to put on an album. (How’s that for some Monday morning truth??)

That’s just the point though, isn’t it? This was not the same band. The band we have right now isn’t the same band who wrote Rio, either. It wasn’t as though they had Roger, Andy or even much of John in the studio writing and recording Medazzaland. This was a Duran Duran of (mainly) two original members, along with Warren – who may be a fabulously innovative guitar player in his own right, but he is also incredibly different from the original member. Of course they are going to create very different music, although I didn’t acknowledge that at the time. My problem was that I didn’t like a lot of it, which blew me away.

Yep, I could pretend that I was one of those enlightened fans who just “got” everything they did. I could say that I loved the way the band reinvented itself, and how they embraced innovation and experimental music. I’d certainly sound cooler if I did. But I didn’t. I listened to Medazzaland in its entirety exactly ONE time before I packed it away, never to get it out again until the reunion

No, that didn’t make me a good fan. Just the opposite, really, and I have to own that. I assumed that because I didn’t like that album on the first listen, that I had somehow grown out of being a Duran Duran fan. That was a hard, sad lesson for me. I saw my fandom, although I didn’t have a name for it at the time, as the one lifeline I really had back to a time before my life became a whirlwind of baby clothes, bottles and diapers. Once that was gone, I wasn’t really sure what I had left. I’d love to say I had other stuff going on for me at the time, but I really didn’t. I had a baby, a husband, and a life I really didn’t recognize. It was a very weird time. While it really had nothing to do with Duran Duran, in some ways now looking back, I can see that my initial reaction to that album had everything to do with me and what I was going through on my own. It’s kind of amazing to consider just how much life experiences shape our listening.

I don’t think I gave that album a fair shot until recently. I can’t pinpoint the year, exactly – but it was after I started writing this blog. I finally pulled out the original CD and played it again. It wasn’t nearly as strange-sounding as I remembered. I suppose I hear it with very different ears now. There’s still a fair amount of discomfort with songs like “Silva Halo”, “Buried in the Sand”, and even “Undergoing Treatment”. I hear a lot of sadness and pain in Simon’s singing. I also hear the ingenuity and experimentation loved by Nick and Warren. As Simon said, it was a difficult time for the band. It is clear, as I listen to the album again, that while the three may have been in the same physical space while recording – the disconnection is evident.  Nathan Stack surmised that Medazzaland “…is about humans trying to understand and connect with one another — sometimes tenuously succeeding, other times failing.” (www.duranduran.com Medazzaland October 2017)  His words read prophetic, if not for being twenty years post release.

In hindsight, I can say that it oddly represents a very difficult time in my life, too. I felt so disconnected to the world, you’d think that this album would have been my lifeline, and yet it just wasn’t. Simon says the album is like “Marmite”, you either love it or hate it. I just don’t think I was ready to hear the stories that this album was trying to share at the time.

I think that might be the silver lining. The music doesn’t cease to exist after a couple of decades. The songs are still there, ready to sing their tale and share their messages whenever we are ready to hear them with fresh ears.

On another note, I’ve really been back in California twenty years now…and more importantly…my daughter is about to turn 21 in a few months??

-R

Medazzaland’s 20th Anniversary

I apologize for the lack of blog yesterday.  Yesterday was pretty crazy as I had to drive my niece to the airport for her to fly home for her fall break.  What I expected to take five or six hours ended up being more like nine due to bad storms, slow driving and her delayed flight.  By the time I got home, I was beat and the last thing I wanted to do was to do a crappy blog post.

The plan for today was to discuss my top 10 joyful fandom moments, but that is when I assumed that I would be able to blog about Medazzaland yesterday.  No worries, I figured.  It just means that I have an additional week to create my list as do all of you.

Yesterday, Duran Duran and their fandom celebrated the 20th anniversary of Medazzaland, the band’s ninth studio album.  Initially, I was not sure how to focus this blog as I could focus on recent discussions surrounding the album or my relationship to the album.  Then, I figured I would do a little bit of everything!

Fan Community’s Relationship with Medazzaland:

This blog has done much for me (and Rhonda).  While it has provided me with the opportunity to write about Duran and being a Duran fan, it has helped me see the fan community in a different way as I can see patterns that I couldn’t before.  When this album comes up in any sort of conversation within the fan community, I see two very opposite reactions.  On one side of the fan community is the set of people is who don’t own the album and aren’t terribly excited by what they heard.  Those fans tend to prefer and focus on the early 80s and that original Duran sound.  Some might think the only real Duran is the one with Fab Five.  The level of experimentation and artistry doesn’t intrigue them.  On the other side are the fans who really love the album.  That camp tends to believe that serious music fans would love this album.

There is a subtle undercurrent that exists in both camps.  The anti-Medazzaland fans, it sometimes seems to me, feel that the real Duran is that early 80s sound.  On the other end, the lovers of Medazzaland seem to present the idea that those who don’t love the album aren’t serious music fans.  Both sides can bother me.  On one hand, the classic Duran fans should give it a try.  They might find out that there is a lot of great tracks on the album.  On the other hand, people can be serious music  and Duran fans and just not love everything about the album.

Official Press Release about the Album:

If you have not had the chance to go over to the band’s official website to read the review about the press release you should.  Go here now.  Not only is Nathan’s review of the album beautifully written but it provides lots of great reasons to give the album another try or another listen.

Of course, after Nathan’s review is an interview of sorts with the band discussing their thoughts about the album.  Again, I recommend reading that.  One line in that interview that has drawn the most attention is Simon’s statement that the song, “Who Do You Think You Are” was written about his relationship with Warren.  Some fans have criticized Simon, stating that if he felt so negatively about Warren he should not have continued to work with him for another 3 years.  I don’t necessarily think that is fair.  First of all, I have to work with people I don’t like.  It happens.  Second, maybe Simon thought that it was best for the band to continue to work together even if he wasn’t particularly happy with all members.  Overall, I am just not sure that we can judge based on this one sentence.  We really have no idea what was done or said behind the scenes.  I cannot judge.  That said, I will acknowledge that I’m not a big fan of Warren.  Maybe, I would feel differently if I was.

My Relationship with the Album:

I am definitely not in the Duran camp that says the only real Duran is that of Simon, John, Nick, Andy and Roger.  I think the band has created a lot of amazing music after 1984.  There are a number of tracks on this album that I really like, including Out of my Mind and Big Bang Generation.  Additionally, there are other songs that I admire in terms of musical quality even if I don’t turn them on very often, including Midnight Sun and So Long Suicide.  Yet, as a whole, this album never captured my attention.  I don’t love it.  Now, in fairness, I think there are two big reasons for this.  First, this is the first album without John.  He left during this album and I’m a big John fan.  I miss his presence on the album.  Second, it has a lot to do with where I was in my life when the album came out.  In the fall of 1997, I was in the process of moving to Madison.  That doesn’t sound like a big deal but I moved about 8 hours away from my parents to a city where I knew no one and didn’t have a job.  It was pretty scary and lonely.

Simon said, “This was one of the most difficult albums for me, and the band wasn’t in a great place, nor was I,” in that interview.  I feel the exact same way when I look back to that time period.  In my opinion, it matters when an album comes into your life in terms of your ability to bond with it.  Perhaps, now, I should give it another try.  What about the rest of you?  What are your thoughts about Medazzaland?

-A

Cause Maybe We Have More Play Time Than Money

Last week, I introduced the idea of lyric day created by using shuffle to find a Duran related song then lyric to use as a blog starter.  Basically, the idea is that I would press shuffle on what music device is closest to pick out a Duran related song.  From there, I would search the lyrics to find a line that grabs me.  Then, I would write a blog based on what thoughts popped into my mind from that lyric.

This week, when I pressed shuffle the first Duran related song that came up was an Arcadia song, Election Day, to be specific.  My first thought was to blog about the line, “She’s moody and grey.  She’s mean and she’s restless.”  After all, I might resemble that remark but it also seemed too predictable.  Boring.  I don’t want that.  Thus, I chose the lyric, “Cause maybe we have more play time than money.”  This line is one that always catches my attention when I listen to it.  It reminds me of the differences between fandom as a kid and fandom as an adult.

When I first became a Duranie, I was very young (8!).  My fandom was simple then, in many ways.  It involves listening to the records over and over again.  Similarly, it included watching MTV as much as possible for any possible video viewing.  Many Friday nights were spent in my family’s “toy room” on the fold out couch watching Friday Night Videos with my best friend.  Fandom then meant simple consumption.  It was about listening, watching and buying.  What I was buying included the usual 1980s memorabilia.  I bought a lot of magazines.  I saved up money for thicker books like “The Book of Words” and “Sing Blue Silver”.  Christmas and birthday lists featured random Duran related items like the Into the Arena board game or Duran Duran pajamas.  My fan community was very super small.  Basically, it was me and my best friend.  We encouraged each other’s fandom by listening and watching together.  Likewise, we shared purchases with each other and tried to find the cooler items.  As kids, we had a lot more playtime than money and money is what we really wanted for our fandom.

Now, as an adult, my fandom is expressed way differently than my kid fandom.  I still like Duran merchandise, of course.  It is a good time and a good night if I’m able to spend it listening or watching Duran but that is rare.  No, my fandom now has to do with writing, like this blog, for example.  Traveling and going to shows is another significant part of how I express my fandom.  Like my childhood fandom, money is still involved.  Now, I have more money to buy those little Duran related items but there is not much of that around.  I often have some money saved up for shows but…there is a lot of time in which there are no shows to go to.  In many cases, that is just as well since I always have a long to do list.  So, now, that lyric feels like the opposite.  I have more money than playtime especially during the school year.

When shows happen, I try my best to squeeze in a show or two depending on when and where they are.  They are simply squeezed in to a super busy existence.  As a kid I focused on money and the cost of what I wanted in terms of my Duranieness.  Now, of course, money is important to get what I want but I also need the playtime and that does not always exist for me.

What about the rest of you?  Which is a bigger deal in terms of your fandom:  money or playtime?

-A