Yesterday’s winner: Picture S
Whenever I try to describe a serious fan, I think about how serious fans seem to take any little event, memory, idea and more and relate to their idol(s) or to their fandom. I am no different. Just this past week, I took time to remember my little visit to Washington DC that took place a year ago at this time. Why did I go? Simple. I was invited to attend the Inauguration of President Obama. Not only that but I got to attend the official ball and got a tour of the White House, which led to my second meeting and picture of President Obama. (If you want to read the blog post with details of this, you can go here.) How come I got this tremendous experience? I volunteered as a team leader for the Obama campaign from summer 2008 to the very end in November 2012. I gave a lot of my time, my effort and my energy. A year later and I still feel the same. I feel so very validated by this. The experience taught me that I was capable of quite a lot and it also gave me something that I didn’t realize until recently that I needed. It gave me satisfaction in knowing that I was appreciated. It was a big thank you. I worked hard and I got something great for it. I never felt so appreciated as I did as part of that campaign. The staff I worked with directly always took the time to thank me and those volunteers working with me. Beyond that, the top campaign staff did, too, as did the President himself both in person and in many, many of his speeches, including his victory speeches. This idea of working hard, being appreciated and rewarded for it is something that I always believed even as a little kid. I knew that I worked hard in school and did well in my classes because of it. I can’t help but still believe that today as an adult even though that hasn’t always been my experience.
Recently, when thinking about my chosen career, teaching, I started to wonder when I became so frustrated at work. This, of course, is a complex answer and one that I’m sure I don’t have the complete answer for. Yet, in thinking about campaigning, I realize that part of it has to do with this core belief that working hard leads to being appreciated and rewarded. I don’t feel that it true at my paid job. It doesn’t matter how hard I work. I have worked very hard for a very long time at my job, but that doesn’t seem to matter to people. I am judged by test scores and by how well I control the behavior in my room–not by my effort at all. In fact, it doesn’t feel like I’m judged as an individual much. Instead, I am lumped into the large entity of “public education” or the large group known as “teachers”. These two large groups often create a lot of negative ideas and feelings for too many people and for too much of the public, at large, as well as for those who pass laws and budgets affecting education. In general, there is a lot of teacher blaming that takes place in a variety of places, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways from what I see. It is the exact opposite of what I felt on the campaign.
This is when Duran Duran entered my thoughts. How are they judged? Like my test scores and behavioral referrals, they are judged on hits, albums sold and tickets sold. Is this fair? Is this the best way to judge them? Of course, I would say no. I would even say that they shouldn’t worry about their commercial success. Quality music is what is important. I try to say something similar in my classroom. It doesn’t matter if I’m hitting some arbitrary number in the classroom as long as I am creating relationships with kids and helping them make progress, right? Yet, just like Duran, I can’t help how I’m judged. Now, I’m sure that people will point out how much they appreciate that I’m a teacher just like Duran hears how great they are from us, their fans. Is that enough, though? Is that enough to overcome those outside metrics by which judgement is made? Is it? I don’t know. I know that I struggle with this, especially when I have experienced appreciation and reward. Does Duran struggle like I do since, they, too, have experienced validation and public appreciation? I, obviously, can’t answer the question but I know that in thinking about this, in comparison to what I have experienced, it has made me more understanding of their desire for commercial success. I get it a little bit more now.
This is my turn to go ahead and review Shadows On Your Side as Rhonda did her review last week. This is one song off Seven and the Ragged Tiger that I liked as a kid but never really thought about much. It got hidden by the “hits”. So, now, that I’m taking a long look at it, what do I think about it?
Musicality/Instrumentation: This song starts like so many others on the album. It is pretty immediate and inescapable. There is no significant lead in, no time to get used to it. No, it is full sound all at once within the first few seconds. It is hard to discern individual instrumentation, except for the obvious keyboards and very occasional guitar when Simon seems to take a bit of a breath. When it is played, the guitar is very cool. At times, you can sense John’s bass but it is fleeting and subtle. Again, like so many others, it feels like there was an effort to ensure that every little second of the song was filled with layer upon layer of sound. The only time it does not completely feel that way is when the tempo slows down during the bridge and allows for some highlighting of guitars and keyboards. I have always liked whenever highlighting seemed to be featured.
Vocals: Classically wonderful vocals from Mr. LeBon here, I must say. The thing about the song is that it always, ALWAYS makes me want to sing out loud. Yes, that isn’t anything new when it comes to Duran or Simon, specifically. Yet, there is something about THIS song that always gets to me. Simon’s vocals feel like they are soaring just like the lyric. The passion is clearly felt, especially during the chorus. Then, I adore the low notes of the very end when he sings “shadows on your side” over and over again. There is something haunting and emotional about it.
Lyrics: These lyrics like so many on this album seem to focus, at least on some level, on fame and the effects of fame. Lines like, “shining crowd”, “the music is louder than all of their roar” indicates crowds, fans, fame. Yet, at the same time, there is distress about this fame with lines like “everybody to say that you’re having the time of your life when your life is on the slide”. The shadows imply darkness, being hidden, at some level. Obviously, at least how I’m interpreting it, the shadows are good, in some way. Perhaps, they are good in providing denial. Maybe, they are good in removing the spotlight. If this interpretation is accurate, the fame the band was dealing with wasn’t always a party. I have to say that I adore these lyrics. I love that I’m able to analyze them and, maybe, get an insight into their lives then. On a personal note, I have always felt like this song was something I could relate to. As someone who deals with her own darkness, at times, I understand how the darkness can feel like it is on my side. There is a comfort there. I get it.
Overall: There is much about this song that I really like. The lyrics are fabulous and Simon’s vocals are great. Musically, I like the guitar parts and feel like they add a very nice touch. Yet, I struggle with being overwhelmed with all of the musicality coming at me. As a kid, when I first got this album, I loved that. Now, as an adult, I wish for more subtle, less tense. I prefer the music to breathe a bit more. Is this a result of the writing? Possibly. I suspect it is due more to the production. All that said, I would SO love to hear this one live as it is one of the better tracks off Seven and the Ragged Tiger, in my opinion.
Cocktail Rating: 3.5 cocktails!
There are certain “hallmark” dates to my year, and it’s probably not a big surprise that while none of them are birthdates of band members – the birthdates of my children tend to remind me of where I was, where I’m going, and how in the heck I ever got to this point.
Seventeen years ago today, I woke up knowing that yes, the time had arrived, and my oldest was about to be born. I went through the entire day thinking her birthday would be the 22nd of January. Of course, little did I know she had her own ideas, and she wasn’t coming out unless forced, which happened just after midnight on the 23rd of January. Funny, she’s still notoriously late (and stubborn) to this very day…
I had no idea just how much my life would change that day. I don’t think you really can know until you’ve become a parent. There just isn’t any way to explain that for the next “several” years (I’m still waiting), your needs no longer matter, and you willingly put aside the things you want, need or desire in order to make sure that your children are cared for. I suppose that even if someone had really sat me down and explained the details to me, I don’t know if I’d ever believed them anyway.
I cannot remember a single piece of music from this time period. I highly doubt I even really listened to the radio, much less paid attention to what was charting and what wasn’t. Even before I was picking out baby cribs and layette pieces, I think I’d stopped thinking about what Simon and Nick were doing. I didn’t know when/how John quit the band. I didn’t really take much notice. That blows my mind now when I think about it. I mean, here I am, writing a daily blog about the band, and yet there was a period of time – a pretty lengthy one if I’m being completely honest – where I really didn’t keep up much at all. I didn’t own Thank You until recently (sometime after the year 2000 – time runs together now, you see!), and I can still remember the exact day that I bought Medazzaland back in late 1997. I put it in the car stereo, listened to the beginnings of each song, and then calmly removed it, putting it back into its packaging and thinking that for me, the period of being a Duran Duran fan had ended.
Famous last words.
Did anyone have a chance to listen to the most recent Katy Kafé with John? This month’s edition was slightly different in structure, in that Katy didn’t really talk with John about the band at all. Instead, John spoke at length about what he believes to be his version of a “perfect album” – David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. Truthfully, I loved this diversion from what we’ve gotten used to being “the norm”. I mean, how many times can you really ask the band for a scoop on the album – especially when none of them really want to give up any precious information just yet? No, it was time to find something new to chat about, and I appreciated that John was more than willing to share his insight.
It is important to note that everyone has their own standards for what makes a perfect album – and John is very quick to emphasize that his choice of Ziggy is simply what does it for him. I would imagine that for many of us, our choices would likely be very different. This is likely very much the same as “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and no one is really wrong. There can be no wrong answer about what you think is a perfect album, which makes the topic that much more interesting. I think the proper point here is that regardless of the album(s) chosen or why, the spirit and emotion is very similar.
John believes that a perfect album will take him on a ride. There is a real sense of a beginning, middle and end. I very much got the feeling that listening to music is an escape of sorts for John, and I can appreciate the idea of being taken on a music journey. He mentioned how making albums today is very different. Back in the earlier days of vinyl, prior to the invent of CD – albums were shorter. 10 songs. 45 minutes, maybe 20-25 minutes a side. Certainly one could sit through an entire side of music. Then when CDs came along, the album length grew. No longer could you count on being able to set aside just 45 minutes to enjoy a full album. Many were an hour or longer, and who can really set aside that much time without leaving the room, only to return and realize you never did listen to the entire album? And now, with mp3’s, many people don’t even buy full albums any longer, so the effect of having that full journey or story told in an album appears to be a lost art to many in the industry. (Obviously….I might add.)
From there, John goes into a slight description of each song. I won’t dare to replicate the beautiful tales he weaves – I feel strongly that this is a Kafé worthy the cost of DDM membership. I found myself, rather, thinking about what my own perfect album might be and why.
Katy asked John if he had more than one answer for his perfect album, and John seemed to indicate that yes, there was more than one in his collection. She replied that her husband, Brian, had more than a few in his – and John seemed surprised by that. As I mentioned above, I don’t think there are really any right or wrong answers here. Each of us has our own sentiments for what makes an album truly “perfect” to our ears and hearts. So I began thinking of my own collection and what I would consider “perfect”.
I am very much right with John when I say that the album has got to take me on a ride. I need to feel something when I’m listening. There are a great many songs and albums that I very much enjoy and are likely among my most favorite, but for one reason or another that music can fade into the background – it doesn’t quite take me places or make me think the way that others might. I like to listen to music intelligently, considering the words, the music, etc. Then there are other days when I just want the music in the background. I don’t necessarily want to “work for it”. But for me, the music that I count as perfect is the music that I need to sit with, digest and actively experience.
So I have a few albums that I would count as “perfect” in my book. They aren’t even albums that I listen to all that often – in fact some of these I haven’t sat with in a year or more, but when I do, I know that I’m getting quality.
Tears for Fears – The Hurting This is not an “easy listening” album. I think that to get the full effect, you had better be present – and I don’t just mean physically, I mean mentally. The ride with this one isn’t necessarily beautiful. It’s dark, it’s moody, it’s even violent in parts, but there is something about this album that really says all of the things that I think music should say. I almost never listen to just a song or two from this album, in fact – I think the only way to really listen is to do it from start to finish and savor the whole way.
Styx – Paradise Theater An unlikely choice for this Duran Duran fan, huh? I can’t help it. I love this album. It is Art Rock, it is American in all of it’s glory, it’s got the tale end of that 70s rock thing going for it, but it’s a story and I simply love the journey. I never listen to a single song off of it unless I put the album on the turntable – which is rare, to be honest, but whenever I listen to it, I honestly think to myself that this is how every single album should feel.
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band In all fairness, I could have picked a few other Beatles’ albums. They are the one band that I feel has made more than one perfect album (for me). I love this album to pieces – I’m singing or humming along happily with one, feeling moody with another, and that to this day I’m still trying to really understand what the lyrics mean. On the other hand, I think that Revolver (another album) is every bit as good as this one, and that maybe I think it fulfills the intellectual side of me just a teensy bit more….but then I think about the White Album, and realize that I might not really be able to choose properly here. I neglected to choose that one here simply because of it’s length. It’s tough to sit through the entire thing from start to finish. On any given day I might say one album over another and never really have my answer, but that’s why I love them all. The Beatles knew how to make an album, likely better than anyone else.
My list is not complete, mind you. These are merely the first few that came to mind…and given that we all know Duran Duran, I thought it might be time to expand from there. Give it a try, let me know what you come up with.
“…and we unravel towards the place where all loose ends go.”
I love that line in Before The Rain. That song, off of AYNIN, was one of the few songs that I didn’t immediately love. It was a song that grew very strongly on me over time, andI know it’s one of the songs that I will probably always hold dear from that album. That particular line though, stuck with me from the very first listen. There’s just something about the whole “loose ends” sentiment, for some reason it strikes a chord.
I want to thank everyone for their kind words and encouragement towards our new site. I do like the way it’s evolving, and I think that as Amanda and I grow more used to the inner workings here, we’ll become more comfortable. What feels like a trial right now to us, because we’ve needed to change some of our processes in order to utilize all that WordPress has to offer, will become second nature once again. I welcome that.
Personally, I feel like this is the beginning of a new era for Daily Duranie. It’s the logical “next step”, so to speak. The timing is especially good because we had the old website set up (for the most part, although we did go through significant layout changes there once or twice.) during AYNIN, and now that a new album will be making it’s way, we’re ready for something new.
As we get used to this site though, I’ve been dealing with some loose ends on the old site. Saying goodbye, I suppose. I posted a message giving the new address, and in a couple of days, I’ll simply redirect the site to this one, and lastly – probably next weekend, I’ll delete our blog from Blogger. It is bittersweet in many respects, but on the same token I’m excited for what may lie ahead.
Right now, we have quite a few “loose ends” to get knotted before we can really move forward with firm plans for what comes next. I have the book proposals to work on. Amanda will be editing more chapters from the book and putting together our bibliography. (which is far more work than I would have ever considered!!!)We are still working on getting the highlight video from the last convention edited (no, we haven’t forgotten and we’re working to get that accomplished as quickly as possible, but we’ve run into several snags along the way), we have many more questions than answers regarding the possibility for a next convention…and in the next several weeks we’ll be addressing all of those loose ends, tying and finishing them off.
In the meantime, I bask in the joy of finishing a major loose end – this website!