Tag Archives: Duranies

It’s April 29th – Happy Birthday Amanda!

I love April 29th. If there is one thing I know each year – it is what will be written on this beautiful day. For me, this day has practically taken on “National Holiday” type significance. In a single day, I get to celebrate both the birth of my very best friend AND my youngest child. I can’t really think of a better reason to take off from work and school – although I would is at school, working as usual today.

Oh – yeah, my youngest is at home. In fact, she’s still upstairs sleeping. She’s also homeschooled on Mondays, so I don’t know that this really “counts” as taking the day off from school. (although we are – we’re going to the zoo instead, which is a learning experience cleverly disguised as a fun day out!)

There is no question here – Amanda is, by far, the hardest worker I’ve ever known. I’ve never known anyone with the passion she has, whether it comes to teaching, or politics. She isn’t someone who just says how she feels – whether in person or on Twitter or other social media. She works for the change, and she works hard. Amanda takes causes to heart, and she’s the kind of person who feels these things with her whole heart, mind, and body. I love that about her, even though I am almost the opposite.

I’ve known Amanda for sixteen years now. The time has really flown by, and while we’ve done a lot together, she has done an amazing amount of things outside of Duran Duran. I can’t really be sure of how many campaigns she’s worked on now – I try to count, but I know there’s been more than “just” the few Presidential, at least two gubernatorial, and a local school board campaign – I just can’t quite keep track. She’s worked at three schools, and has personally touched the lives of probably thousands of children now.

Then there are the every day things. She still finds time to check in with her wayward writing partner every now and then. Recently I’ve had some serious worries going on outside of what I would normally blog about, and she’s made sure to let me know she’s there if I need her. I have no doubt whatsoever that she’s done the same for other family and friends, too. Amanda is quick to put herself and her own needs aside more often than not – purely because she really believes you do for others before you do for yourself.

I know that to many – particularly Duranies – Amanda is quiet (I’m gonna add “until you get to know her” right here, because it is true!). I’ve been told she’s hard to get to know, and I know Amanda is aware of that perception, although I would wholeheartedly argue that it’s really not true. No, she doesn’t really hang out online because in her view – there’s really no time for that, and the time she does have, she’d probably rather spend doing something more productive. I really didn’t get to know Amanda until I met her in person at a convention, even though we were both on the same message boards beforehand. I’m glad it happened the way it did. I mean, who else bonds over vodka tonics??

I would say, in the kindest sort of way possible, that she isn’t very quick to let people in. I appreciate that she’s guarded about who she trusts, too. However, once she does open up a bit, she is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people you’ll ever meet. Amanda isn’t afraid to fight for what she believes in, but she’s also not afraid to let you know that she’s right by your side. I’m very lucky to call her a friend, much less my closest one.

She and I have been through quite a bit together…much of which, I would prefer to keep out of print. We’ve spent many hours over the past sixteen years laughing. More than a few of those hours have been at the expense of this band, which makes me giggle even today! Lately though, we’ve done precious little of that. Life has this crazy way of changing in incremental ways over the course of a few years, and before you notice – you realize you haven’t spoken with your closest friend in many months. I am hoping to correct that this next year and get back to regular phone calls and video sessions.

There is no one else with whom I’ve written more than one manuscript, spent blocks of hours on Skype, planned a convention, huddled over a notebook making edits, reviewed concerts, taken train rides all over the UK, v-logged in hotel convention areas, stayed up all night laughing, or even spent an entire week using dueling computers in an office. We have done a lot, my friend!

For a while, I really thought we were done writing, though. Turns out that no, we did need a break, but we’re going to get that damn book published. Even if we have to do it ourselves.

So, we’re not quite finished with one another yet. I suspect we have at least one more UK trip left in the tank, and hopefully a few more shows. After all, we haven’t hit the century mark yet. Still think we need to do a cross country trip with a motor home and a group of concert buddies…. can you imagine that insanity??

So, to my dearest friend Amanda: enjoy your birthday. I hope you take pride in what you’ve accomplished this past year. Your tenacity, passion, and drive continually make me stop and marvel at what a single person can manage to influence! If I had one small piece of advice as an older (but not really wiser) human, it would be to stop and smell the roses just a little more often. It will not hurt anyone for you to take a moment and breathe deeply. Our souls need replenishing every once in a while so that we can keep fighting that good fight. Your soul and body will thank you. You always feel guilty for taking a break, and yet everybody needs one. The better care you take of yourself now, the longer that fight will stay in you.

Happy birthday!!!

-R

A Shared Obsession, a Shared Ambition

This morning, I listened to my now favorite podcast (OK, in all honesty it is the first one I ever listened to, but I love it), The D Side . David (@boysmakenoise) was interviewing Baranduin Briggs (@bbamok), a fellow Duran Duran fan, and very gifted photographer. Amongst a garden variety of topics, one of the discussions was about how Baranduin experiences shows.

While someone might attend a concert and feel fully immersed in the music, their body trying to soak in and store every single note like a sponge, she sees the show in frames – as in camera shots. I thought a lot about this as I listened to the rest of the podcast, which was very entertaining. I chuckled and smiled a lot, thinking back over the first time I’d met Baranduin in Las Vegas. (I think that was 2016, right??) She’s a seasoned Duran Duran concert traveler now!

I think that our other hobbies likely influence the way we experience Duran Duran. For example, Baranduin takes thousands, and I do mean thousands, of camera shots at the shows she attends. She commented that at the recent New Orleans show, she had a front row spot and took 5,000 shots – to which she later said she’d only end up with maybe 15 pictures that met with her seal of approval (methinks maybe she’s a bit harder on herself than necessary…) While some might assume that because she’s so focused on pictures she’s missing the show, I’d argue that for her, the pictures are what enhance her experience. The photos are personal to her enjoyment.

When I think about my blogging partner, Amanda – she’s an organizer. I don’t think that’s a hobby for her though. It’s her passion, and she utilizes that throughout most aspects of her life, whether teaching (um, take it from me – you’ve got to be organized and plan ahead to teach), politics, or even in fandom. She really loved planning fandom events and really wanted to do far more with them than I ever did. I think being an organizer enhances her fandom. Yes, planning takes a lot of energy, but I think perhaps Amanda feels less connected without them.

Besides Duran Duran – what would you say is your biggest obsession? It doesn’t have to be another band. It could be a hobby like cooking or quilting. Maybe it’s cosplay, or perhaps you’re a movie buff! Do you find that in someway it plays a part in being a Duranie or is it a separate thing?

I’m thinking about what my own obsession might be. I’m honestly not sure I have one outside of writing this blog. I like writing. I thought about that a lot while listening to The D Side. Oddly, when I’m out, I think about writing quite a bit. What would work as a blog topic? How can I write about something in a way that hasn’t been discussed before? However, just because you love doing something doesn’t mean you’re necessarily great at it. Writing is sort of that thing for me. I am not blind to the enormous talents of other bloggers and writers – such as Jason, our contributor. I’m hoping to absorb some of his skill by screen time osmosis.

Let me know about those obsessions. Meanwhile, I’ll be outside mowing what has gone from beautiful green native grass to now golden yellow brush!

-R



To Find the Twist in Me

There must be somebody

I butted into a Twitter conversation this morning about “getting it”. How many times do you need to listen to an album before you connect, or “get it”? Is it a case of, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again?” Or, do you figure that if the ears don’t like it, you’re done?

Naturally, we brought the topic right around to the band at hand. I will confess that there have been a few albums where it’s taken me plenty more than one listen to really get there. Paper Gods is one of them.

When I first listened to Paper Gods, I really don’t know what I was hoping to hear. I’d already heard several songs by the time I’d had the full album in my hands. My love for “Pressure Off” began with the first listen. I still contend it to be the best hook the band has written in years. That feeling still stands and one needs to look no further than their live show to see how the entire audience comes alive when they play it. (Sure, the confetti helps.) That said, much of the album was still a mystery. So, when I finally played the entire thing from start to finish, I came away with it not sure of how I felt.

Blow the rules away

On one hand, it sounded similar to Red Carpet Massacre, with the beats and slightly electronic feel. I didn’t hate it, but I also wasn’t sure I loved it. Amanda and I called it RCM-lite for a while, because it did feel very much like the halfway point between the urban sounds of Red Carpet Massacre and the more mainstream, slightly retro-sound of All You Need is Now. Even so, I have to be honest and admit that I really had a hard time deciding that I liked the sound.

Anyone can go back and read my blogs on Paper Gods to see what I mean. I’m not exactly proud of the fact that I didn’t jump in with both feet and say I loved it. It just took me a long time to come to terms with Paper Gods I had friends – patient, kind and very well-meaning friends – come to me and explain that I reviewed it way too early after far too few listens, and that my feelings about the album may have tainted other fans from supporting it. I felt terrible because A. the last thing I want to do is ruin someone else’s listening experience; and B. I didn’t want to upset the band, either. They’d worked hard on the album, and here I was – a long time fan with a fairly big mouthpiece, even if at the time I didn’t realize. I was souring the water without really meaning to do so. I did what any other fan might do (in silence!) – I kept listening.

Working up to something

I can remember the day when my feelings began to turn around. Mop in hand, I’d been cleaning my house. I had the album on, earbuds in, listening to each and every word and note. I noticed the lyrics during “Last Night in the City” were things with which I could directly identify. In fact, I was pretty sure Amanda and I had actually said some of those lines in the song ourselves! “Pressure Off” was and is (to us, anyway) the story of Amanda and I. We feel every note of that song and then some. “Butterfly Girl”, “What are the Chances”, and even :Only in Dreams” all had lyrics that meant something to me personally.

Musically, the album started to work for me too. I enjoy the depth and meaning of the lyrics. Yet the music is light and fun. I use the word “juxtapose” fairly often when I describe DD’s music – but it works here. Even that though, there is music depth on that album. “The Universe Alone” uses a multitude of electronic effects, but it is also one of the toughest songs I’ve ever had to come to terms with as far as content.

Can you handle it?

So how many times did it really take for me to get it? I don’t know for sure, but it took many listens. I just knew in my heart that I wasn’t a “one time” fan of Duran Duran, and that I was probably going to have to work for it in order to really feel the album get under my skin. Some people will tell you that if you really love an album or really love an artist that it doesn’t work that way. Love should be instantaneous. Is there really a point where you should just give up? How many times do you listen before you shelve it and move on?

-R

Part of a Celluloid Dream

So, anybody got that trip to Iceland booked yet???

Me neither. *big sigh*

If I rewind back to yesterday

Speaking of sadness, did you know that on this date in 1986, Duran Duran sent out a press release with the announcement that my favorite drummer (and hopefully yours), Roger Taylor, was leaving the band. Headed for greener pastures. “Gentleman farming”, as he later referred to it.

Bah. Whatever.

The good news, of course, is that he came back! Only took him what…17 years or so….before he played live shows with Duran Duran again?

Watching slo-mo going frame by frame

Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled he left, but I was overjoy upon the announcement of his return! While I don’t love “celebrating” this day each year, I like reminding myself that things change. “This too shall pass”.

I sure hope so.

It’s been a rough week for me personally, Duranies. Positive thoughts go out to those who need them and a reminder that help, love, and support is here and waiting, whenever and however needed. Cheers.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate, and a wonderful weekend to all.

-R

Duran Duran is Going to Iceland!

Packing up from the polar sheet

Wanna see Duran Duran this summer? Well, your options just expanded to include ICELAND.

That’s right! For the first time in fourteen years, according to DDHQ – the band is returning to Iceland. They will be performing at Laugardalshöll in Reykjavík, Iceland on June 25. Tickets go on sale April 24th through tix.is.

It’s funny because a while back, DDHQ asked where we’d want to see a show if money were no problem. The thought of Iceland went through my head – it is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. It’s a dream vacation spot for me, not somewhere I think I have a snowballs’ chance of ever visiting with two kids currently in college and one still at home. Regardless, Duran Duran has now upped the ante by announcing a concert in Reykjavik. Well done, my friends….well done.

While there’s little point of me even whispering the word “Iceland” in my husband’s ear – particularly today, the day after tax day, I can certainly encourage others to make great choices! (My husband took the day off yesterday to file our taxes. He never takes time off unless he has no other choice, and trust me it was not a happy day. That is how much fun we’re not having here…)

However, I am here to convince the rest of you to buy the damn ticket and go!

I am a signal somewhere in your bliss

I took the liberty (ha!) of doing an online search of things to do in Reykjavik during the summer….aside from seeing Duran Duran perform, of course! A list has been compiled, and while I know it would have been smart to link it all in a way where if someone booked something that Daily Duranie would make money off of it, that isn’t the case. The links are purely informational and fun…and I will never retire at this rate. Or travel, apparently!

If you want to stay the night…here’s ten things to see in Iceland!

  • The midnight sun!!! That alone is worth the trip, in my opinion. On the waterfront in Reykjavik (by the time I get finished with this post I hope to be able to spell “Reykjavik” without having to look!) there is the Solfar Sun Ship sculpture that puts on a fantastic light show.
  • Nauthólsvík Beach is a geothermal beach created by a large sea wall that allows the (very) cold sea and hot geothermal waters to mix. It is summer, go sunbathe, enjoy the hot tubs and check out the beach.
  • The Perlan Museum, right in Reykjavik has a planetarium, a man-made ice cave, and looks really cool for an afternoon of exploring.
  • If you’re staying longer, do me a favor and go visit the West Fjords – a place I’ve always wanted to see!! Waterfalls, wildlife, it looks amazing.
  • PUFFINS!!! Go to the Westman Islands for this, take a photo of the little guys and send it to me!
  • If you go early, you can check out Iceland’s National Day of Independence on June 17th. There are parties throughout the country on that day – and what Duranie doesn’t like a party?!?
  • Speaking of parties, ever heard of the Secret Solstice? Well, this Midnight Sun music festival takes place from June 21-23. Just in time!! If that doesn’t grab you, the nightlife in Reykjavik should! Check it out!
  • The Blue Lagoon! Wanna soak in a natural, geothermic spa right in the heart of a volcanic landscape? Yes. Yes I do. Duran Duran who??? Oh that’s right…we’re going for the party!!
  • The Reykjavik Food Walk. What better way to really experience a country than through it’s food? I hear the ice cream is fabulous – and I’m hoping someone checks on that for me! If that doesn’t work for you, do what Amanda and I would do, and check out the local distilleries!!
  • Glaciers! I’ve never been to a glacier. Most people think you can only see the glaciers during the winter, but this is untrue. If I were going to Iceland, I’d be taking a tour to a glacier for sure!

Nothing I would rather like

I think I’ve given enough suggestions to pack a week’s worth of activities in around the concert. I wish I were going, but I’m going to have to live vicariously through the rest of you, or win the lottery. Quickly.

-R

Headline In Tomorrow’s Papers

Happy Monday. Today marks the beginning of Spring Break for us. The youngest and I have this week off of school, and I can spend time thinking and doing something other than teaching. This has been a rough year. A move combined with changing schools twice, I can’t say that fifth grade has been great, but my girl is trying her best, and I think she likes her new school for the most part. Me? I welcome this week with open arms, and a to-do list that is longer than I’ve got hours to complete. I’m sure I’ll blink and it will already be Friday, but the good news is that we’ll only have about five weeks left in the school year. We can make it…probably.

Midnight, I think I’m gonna make it

After working on our various home projects during the day, we sat down to watch SNL on Saturday night. BTS – a K-pop group, was the musical guest.I have to admit that I was curious about them. My husband ran into them waiting for a flight in a Korean airport once – he’d never heard of them, but there were a crowd of girls waiting for other flights that had come running when they saw them. They draw a huge crowd, and the girls who camp out to see their shows or follow them look strangely familiar.

K-pop isn’t something I am deeply involved in. I know what it is (obviously), but I don’t follow much of it. My oldest went to a school of the arts during high school, and one of her closest friends was a girl who came to America to attend the school. Apparently in Vietnam, she was a huge star and part of the K-Pop community. That’s when I first took notice of its apparent popularity.

There’s a lot that can be said about K-pop. People call it “manufactured” and “throw away”. Others complain that it’s not real music. I can understand the criticism. After all, this is a boy band, and no – they don’t seem to perform by playing instruments. They’re good looking, the music is catchy, they do highly choreographed dance moves to every song they perform, they sell out places like the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA and Soldier Field in Chicago, and – the real kicker here – girls love them.

Show me your secret

Put together by a management group (Big Hit Entertainment) in 2013, the band has already had certified platinum albums in the US. The last time they played shows here, I can remember my local Los Angeles news covering the fans camping out for days in order to secure spots. Like it or not, this manufactured boy band has taken on the world by storm. In four years, they’ve managed to do more than some bands do in a lifetime. However, this is a boy band that actually co-writes and produces their own music. It is a lot less, “stand there, wear that, and sing these words” than some might want to believe.

I wasn’t disgusted when I saw them on Saturday. While I didn’t know their songs at all, I was still impressed. They can dance and they’ve definitely got stage presence. They’re not very much different than N*Sync, New Kids on the Block, the Backstreet Boys, or any other boy band, except that from what I saw on Saturday – it doesn’t seem to matter to fans if they’re singing in English, Korean or anything else. Sure, we can complain that they’re not a real band if they don’t play their own instruments. We can cry foul because they didn’t come about in the same organic sort of way as other bands we might know – but does any of that really matter?

I’m not the only one out there taking notice. Just this morning, Notorious Nik and our friend (and fellow Duranie) Lori Majewski talked about BTS and Kpop’s world takeover. It is perfectly OK not to like their music, and to say they’re not your thing – but give them due credit. Like it or not, they’re selling faster and far more than your favorite band.

Try to remember again and again

It wasn’t so long ago that our band was in the crosshairs of those who came before them, complaining of their lack of substance. How many times did we see Duran Duran reduced to sheer “Bubble gum pop”? How many times did I read of a critic casting Duran Duran aside for one reason or another? Did it really have anything to do with the music, or was it because the girls – girls like me – loved them? If a little tween-aged girl loved Duran Duran, surely that must mean the real men couldn’t. Damn if history doesn’t just continue repeating itself, over and over.

As Lori is fond of quoting, “Men don’t get it, but the little girls understand.” And we did. I’m just wondering if we still do.

I look at those fans – the ones who lined up, days ahead of time – camping out in hopes of being in the audience Saturday night. I think about friends of my daughter, who gleefully put posters of BTS and other K-pop and J-pop groups up on their wall. They’re not so different from me at their age. Hell, I didn’t even camp out for Duran Duran tickets back then. As much as I’d like to point fingers, and suggest that Duran Duran had far more musical merit, and thus was much more worthy of my attention, I can’t. I won’t. When it comes down to it, I don’t think this is about the music at all.

What it is that I recognize

Sure, it is easy to just sit back and say “Nope. It isn’t about any of that. They suck. They look glossy, fake, manufactured and synced to a backing track.” I get it. I felt that way about N*Sync, New Kids on the Block and countless other boy bands. I’d point at Duran Duran, with their obvious musical talent, and righteously mention that they didn’t need to rely on choreography to perform. They could actually play. Yet, ask any critic during the mid-80s and they’d tick off any number of crazy reasons why Duran Duran wouldn’t amount to a single thing. The thing is, to write BTS off is doing virtually the same thing that others did to us in 1980-something (and still do).

Sure, it is your right and mine to say it like we mean it – I’m just suggesting we take a second before taking to social media in an attempt to rid the world of their manufactured uncreative souls. (that’s tongue-in-cheek, people!)

Don’t be angry that a group of seven young men are taking the world by storm. I don’t think any of us need to mourn the idea of real creativity or music. No, BTS doesn’t have to be in our wheel house, and I’ll just forget that I’m not really in their target demographic, anyway. I’ll leave off by asking a simple question – food for thought, if you will. When was the last time Duran Duran was invited on SNL? Now, if you want to be mad about something – be mad at that. Be furious.

Is it really just about the music? I doubt it.

-R

Happy 24th Anniversary Thank You!

Happy Thursday, everyone! Today is a special day as Thank You celebrates its 24th birthday!

In honor of this occasion, I decided to do something I haven’t done in a long time – I played the entire Thank You album. I know, I know – what a shock, right? The things I do for this blog. It’s rough.

Thank You is still playing in the background as I write. I’m on “Thank You” right now, and I have to say, I don’t really understand the fuss. No, the songs aren’t original (although “Drive By” counts as original in my book), and maybe they’re not songs you and I would immediately have suggested they cover, but overall? The album isn’t bad. Musically, I think it’s actually very well done.

Track by Track

White Lines

A live crowd favorite, the album version is slightly less packed with energy, but still has plenty of punch. I still believe they do it best in front of a live audience, and I can appreciate that even Duran Duran can put a cover in their set list and have fans believe it is their own.

I Wanna Take You Higher

I love the drums on this one. I like that the band took liberties and pushed the tempo, amplifying the song up to a bit more of a rock sound. Say what you will, they made the song work for them – which is exactly what a cover should do. Take the song, spin it on it’s head and see how it shakes out. That’s what Duran Duran did here and it worked. I’d be amiss if I didn’t give a shout to Warren’s guitar solo. It is indeed excellent.

Perfect Day

I really don’t know what I can say about this particular song that hasn’t already been said. Like the title – I think it’s just about perfect. Lou Reed had a brilliant song here, and Duran Duran took it up a notch. Oh, and Roger came back to play drums on it. Can’t really complain about that!

Watching the Detectives

What I love most about this song is not the melody, the drums, or even the vocals… I love the tiny little things found underneath. Those little synthesizer chords, the seemingly infinitesimal arpeggio notes, the harmonica, and the small effects here and there are what make this song interesting for me. Oh, and another Roger Taylor appearance. I like it better than the Elvis Costello original.

Lay Lady Lay

I haven’t ever heard anyone comment about the guitar on this – but hello Come Undone part 2. I love the intro with Warren’s guitar, and you can quote me on that. The song is romantic, sultry, and everything I could have wanted. I appreciate the song choice because one might not have ever guessed that Duran Duran could pull off Bob Dylan, and they do it here beautifully.

911 Is a Joke

I know how the community feels about “911 Is a Joke”. Simon is not quite the rapper type, in my opinion. I mean, it was a valiant effort I am sure…but…it does miss the mark. Overall, by principle alone, I don’t love the song. To be fair, I didn’t love the original either. However, and this is a big however, what about the irony??

Seriously people, how ironic is it that Duran Duran, a group of reasonably wealthy (if not filthy rich) WHITE guys decided to cover a song like “911 Is a Joke”?? The band doesn’t take themselves nearly as seriously as we fans take them, that’s all I’m saying. In fact, when the band made their choices of which songs to cover, it was none other than John Taylor who chose this one. “in addition to being a great song, it made him laugh to think of how many people it would piss-off.” (quote from an official “Thank You” press release) If you can’t see the humor and irony – well, are you sure you’ve been following the same band I am?

I think we can sometimes get up in our own heads to the point where we take the band far more seriously than they intend. It is worth taking the time to get past the surface – don’t always assume everything should be taken at face value. This is a band that treasures the ironic. They love the dry humor. As do I.

Bottom line: 911 isn’t likely to make anybody into a Duran Duran fan, but I really don’t think it was ever meant to be taken so darn seriously, anyway. I know so many people who got so stuck on that one song that they gave up on the rest of the album, and news flash – “911 is a Joke” is only ONE song. There’s eleven other songs!

Success

I think that in order to fully appreciate “Success”, one has to know and understand Gary Glitter, and not necessarily the original version by Iggy Pop. A brash, flamboyant UK performer, Gary Glitter had a stunning career. 20 million records sold, 168 weeks spent on the UK music charts, 21 hit singles…. and Duran Duran chose to cover a song that he in turn covered. There’s irony there if you look deep enough., although I’m not sure it was intended. The song is as brash as Gary Glitter’s career…never mind his eventual and spectacular fall from grace and into a prison cell (well AFTER the release of Thank You).

Crystal Ship

If they really needed to cover The Doors, I’m glad they chose this one. While I’m no big fan of either The Doors or this song, I think that Simon did slip rather well into the existential role of Jim Morrison here. Again, the best parts of this song aren’t the vocals or the melody – they’re the tiny little effects underneath that we rarely take full notice. Nick and Warren did incredibly well adding those nuances.

Ball of Confusion

My, my…how far we’ve come from the days of The Temptations. Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong are the original composers of the song, and judging from the lyrics along with the video I found of it on YouTube…it has evolved substantially over the years and has been covered by a brilliant number of artists along the way. I myself am a Love and Rockets fan, and this song is one of my favorites by that group. I have to admit that despite my bias, I really like this version. It has all the rock edge when needed, but I can also hear the appropriate throwback to the roots of The Temptations with the background vocals.

Thank You

Must admit, I don’t think I ever saw Duran Duran covering Led Zeppelin coming, which perhaps is the most jarring thing about this album – the song choices themselves. This cover is beautiful in it’s own right, and while it might not be my favorite, I give silent thanks that it isn’t “Stairway to Heaven”.

Drive By

I really don’t understand the outrage over this one. How dare they rethink one of their own songs? Are you kidding? I applaud it. In my head, it was a genius and ballsy move to take one of their best loved but not necessarily most well-known songs from an era that had long since past and evolve it. Maybe that’s the real problem here though. They sacrificed the sacred cow. The fab five. You tell me.

My inspiration

After listening a few times, I have to think that song choice had everything to do with the lack of love for this album. Fans didn’t know the music well enough, and critics knew it all too well.

Duran Duran didn’t choose to cover Roxy Music, or even Chic. They went with far less obvious influences. In some ways, I think that may have helped them far more than hurting them. Fans didn’t have quite the same sort of affinity for Elvis Costello, for example, than they might have for Nile Rodgers. But, by the same token – they didn’t have a connection with the music either. I struggle with that because you would think that a fan, like myself for instance, would have taken time to listen and bond, just as I might have done with any of their original music. However, I didn’t.

It will be done

Then there are the critics. Self-professed “experts”, they know and often tout their own musical intelligence. I kind of feel as though many of them are too far up their own noses to have been willing to give the album a fair shot. This was Duran Duran, the band causing much ire in the 80s, daring to cover not only The Doors and Led Zeppelin but even Public Enemy? Oh hell no. I’m not saying that some of the reviews and comments weren’t valid, only that it wouldn’t have mattered what they heard – all they needed to know was that it was Duran Duran.

So I ask you fans – give the album a good listen in 2019. It might surprise you, at least a little. It did me.

-R

Mars Meets Venus

Let’s start as friends

My friends, think back to the beginnings of the band’s career. For me, 1982 puts me at about eleven or twelve – which was during middle school. As I’ve asserted on any number of occasions, I was a nerd. An awkward, frizzy-haired, clarinet player in the band, potential good student sort of nerd. I was not only a nerd, but I was absolutely an underdog in every sort of way.

Much of sixth grade is murky for me. The memories are dim. I I know that maturity-wise, I was way behind my peers. Boys? They were fine for being friends or even playing kickball, baseball or tetherball, but as actual BOYS? Gross. I didn’t even know how to flirt!

Frog seeks Princess

I can remember sitting in social studies in Ms. Beck’s class though, and getting into the first (of many) arguments with another kid. My face flushed, I argued until the final bell. I grabbed my books and ran out of class, embarrassed because he had been one of the “cute, popular boys”.

Eventually, he asked me to “go around” with him, which was middle-school speak for being his girlfriend. I said yes, and then had no idea how to behave. Hold his hand? As if I liked him??? Ew. Sit next to him at lunch? Uh, I have friends for that. Slow dance with you at a school dance?? Not a single chance, buddy. Keep your hands off of me, or my dad will kill you.

I was not prepared for boys.

Our romance lasted for about three days, two of which included Saturday and Sunday, days where I didn’t see him. After that, he went out with another girl in my class also named “Rhonda”. That romance lasted for a lot longer, lucky for her. The entire memory still makes me chuckle and blush over my own naivety. Poor John. We are still friends on Facebook, and every so often he has to remind me about sixth grade. As if I could really ever forget. (I’ve tried!)

Choose life

The other part of sixth grade that I do remember though, was music. First, I was a clarinet player. I sat through my regular classes in order to get to band at the end of the day. My real “academic” success, at least that year, was in band. In particular, I hated 6th grade math and science – in fact I got my first “D” notice in math from Mr. Thompson that year, who openly told my father at parent/teacher conferences that I’d probably never amount to much.

(I TAUGHT TWO OUT OF THE THREE OF MY CHILDREN, MR. THOMPSON – AND ONE OF THEM IS NOW MAJORING IN PHYSICS – A SCIENCE NO LESS – AT A UC. HOW’S THAT FOR NOT AMOUNTING TO MUCH???)

Second, I loved the radio once I figured out what stations I preferred. I would walk into my room and snap on my small, portable AM-FM radio/tape deck combo unit (not quite a boom box just yet), and let the music fill the air. It was during one of those moments that I first heard Duran Duran, in fact.

Soul sister hippy chick

I had very few close friends. While I wasn’t being thrown head first into a trash can every day, I wasn’t one of the popular girls, either. I’d avoid the mean girls like they had the plague, as they’d stand in the middle of the hallway lockers. If they saw me, they’d make fun of anything they could find about me that was “off” that day. (There was generally plenty to choose from. Fashion wasn’t a strong point and my hair was even worse.) So the girls I chose to spend time with were more like me, I guess.

When I marched to school the following morning after hearing Duran Duran on the radio for the first time – I thought I’d rock their little worlds. I had grand visions of my teeny group of friends thinking that I was some sort of secretly cool girl who knew all of the up and coming artists. What I didn’t expect was for my friend Marsha to roll her eyes and announce to all of us that she’d already heard of Duran Duran. I also didn’t expect for her to tell me that I actually already owned one of their songs on one of those K-Tel compilation records my parents bought me for my birthday. That girl knew everything!!!

The cover of my now infamous K-Tel record with Duran Duran on the B-side with Girls on Film!

What did happen though, was that everyone in that group, including me and Marsha, went home and tried to find as much on Duran Duran as they could find. We came back to school armed and ready to discuss the band, sharing pinups, interviews and anything else we’d come across. Eventually, we’d find t-shirts, hats, pins, and anything else that denoted we were fans. Sometimes, other slightly less nerdy girls would notice and comment on how cute the band was (I always enjoyed it when they’d screw up the names of the band members, because then I’d show my expertise by correcting them. Wow, how was I not trash-canned??), or they’d gush over how “cool” the band was. I felt in turn that if the band was cool, I must be semi-ok too. It was the closest I’d ever come to NOT being a nerd.

Where are you

What I don’t think I really paid much attention to until later was that while it was cool for me to like them, it was the opposite for boys. Admittedly, I didn’t care one bit about that back then. Boys? Who needs them?!? They had a plethora of other, more “rock” sounding music to choose from anyway. I never thought twice about it.

So, when my friend David O. from The D Side Podcast (check it out at the link!) discussed his theory in episode 4 that being underdogs kind of brought us to Duran Duran, it got me thinking. On one hand, indeed – I was a geek. It wasn’t just that I was a geek, but for the most part, I was invisible. It wasn’t until I made the local papers because I was the youngest person asked to join the California Junior Philharmonic that other students noticed I was even alive. The only thing aside from being in the paper that even sort of made me cool, was my love for Duran. Being a Duranie made me an instant part of a group. So while I was definitely still an outcast or an underdog – Duran Duran made me a little bit less of one.

On the other hand, I knew plenty of girls who liked Duran Duran that were not geeky at all. They might not have been in the upper echelon of popularity at my school, but they sat firmly on that second rung down the ladder. They were still cool to begin with. Duran Duran just made them all the more edgy.

Shake me up wild girl

The cool girls had more fashion sense in their pinky than I did in my entire body. They wore black eyeliner. I struggled with convincing my mother that it was OK for me to wear tinted lip balm. Their hair mimicked the styles I would see on male or female new wave artists in Tiger Beat or Smash Hits. Mine was this strange concoction of frizz and waves that could only be tamed by cutting the sides short and layering them to hell and back….a style I kept until the second year of high school.

In my head, being a Duran Duran fan made everyone seem cooler. But did it really?

Clearly, the trajectory for boys was different, although I’m the first to admit that in 1980-something, I didn’t even begin to notice. I didn’t care. A boy might have been cool until they mentioned Duran Duran in any sort of sentence that could have been construed as complimentary. Any self-respecting male wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to “Rio, much less “New Moon on Monday” or “Save a Prayer”. Once discovered, the G-word was thrown around liberally, whether the word fit or not. Looking back, I’m ashamed to think about how the boys who really were gay and struggling with their identity must have felt.

Seeking something

I don’t think the idea of gay or straight quite registered with me back then, at least beyond the near-constant name calling I’d hear in the halls. However, I did recognize the differences of black clothing, eyeliner, and sleek hair from the heavy metal, mullet-mania that was taking shape elsewhere around us. In seventh grade, I began to take more notice of the males around me. To me, the boys who liked new wave, and then the even smaller group that would admit to being closet Duranies really were cool – something I still believe to this day. I never saw those guys as underdogs in sixth or seventh grade, because I admired them. They were brave in a way I could never quite live up to myself.

Even so, I knew that the only boys who would even quietly admit under their breath to liking Duran Duran’s music were usually different from the other boys I knew. They were nicer to me, first of all. They didn’t try to snap my bra, or tease me about my hair, or even my body shape. Their interest in me started and ended with music. I was totally on board. Music was one thing I knew I could manage.

The funny thing, at least to me, was that I didn’t fit into THAT crowd either. I didn’t wear black. There was no way I was going to be cutting my hair in some “weird, asymmetrical style” (my dad was such a stickler). Fashion? “You don’t go to school for a fashion show, Rhonda Lynn. You go to learn, and you’ll wear the clothes in your closet.” I looked like Holly Hobby trying to fit in with The Cure. Even so, I liked Duran Duran. I had made it at least partway through the door marked, “You’re not half-bad”.

Someone is perfect for you

My friend David also believes that Duran Duran are underdogs. When I think about it, I agree. Whether due to their own looks, the androgynous fashion, hair and makeup choices of the 1980’s, their fans, or their music, they’ve never been completely accepted. They’re the band that everyone outside of Duranland thinks went away, but has actually been quietly working their asses off. We love them for that, too.

I tend to believe women have a harder time seeing that we might also be drawn to Duran Duran as a result of our geekiness. After all, I’ve met many women in the years I’ve been a fan that exude anything BUT geekiness. They’re far more “in-touch” than I’ve ever been, and I highly doubt they’d agree with David’s assessment that they’ve somehow bonded with the rest of us nerds as a side benefit of being a Duran Duran fan. Being a Duranie included me into a group I might never have found otherwise, and I don’t think I’m alone.

I also buy into David’s theory that, had the band made it in the same way as some others (like U2) – with the same sort of critical success, they might have hung it up already, out of boredom. Maybe fans would have done the same. Instead, there’s been a sort of “fuck you, we’re still here” attitude that has settled in. I admire that in-your-face tenacity. Not only do they tell us not to count them out, they show us.

Here’s looking at you

I like the idea that when it comes down to it – we’re all the same and have bonded together over this band, whether we’re male or female. I appreciate that when I chat with David or anyone else about Duran Duran – they don’t automatically assume that my experience and knowledge is different or less worthy because I’m female (or vice-versa). Perhaps our perspectives are different, but the end result is the same. We’re all fans, gathered together for the love of Duran Duran.

-R

You Catch That Mirror Way Out West

Her name is Rio

True confession time: I love “Rio”.

Hold on, before you click the red “x” in the corner – I know this isn’t breaking news. No, it’s not earth shattering, or really even all that important in the grand scheme of things. Even so, it’s the one song that I don’t ever seem to get tired of.

“Hungry Like the Wolf”? 200% over it. I’m convinced it will outlive the human race. “A View to a Kill”? That’s my cue for Kodak moments – as in, I take pictures. “Come Undone”? It’s fine, but I wouldn’t miss seeing them play it live.

“Rio”? LOVE IT. Can’t imagine a show without it!

I’ve seen you on the beach, and I’ve seen you on TV

I don’t know exactly what it is about that one song. For me, it is pretty much the epitome of Duran Duran. Perhaps it is because Rio was the first Duran Duran album I purchased. Maybe it is because it is likely one of the first videos I ever saw. I have vivid recollection of my friend Marsha calling me on the phone after she saw it for the first time. (Of course she was first. She had her finger on the pulse of anything Duran-related the entire time we were in middle school!) I can remember her cracking up at the idea of Simon falling off of the dock. I remember her description of Nick. “Rhonda, if I didn’t know better, I’d think he was seasick.” Little did she know then that yes, he was! I also recall her explanation of the neon-colored drinks in the champagne glasses – for whatever reason, those always interested me. I couldn’t wait to see the video for myself. It did not disappoint. To this day, when I think of the song and/or video, I think of those drinks!

Growing up in California, we had plenty of beaches around us, but none looked this tropical (and the water definitely was not that clear!). I was captivated by the entire vibe of the song and video. It seemed about as far away from my life as I could get. At the point Rio was released, I don’t think I’d even been on an airplane before. I’d never traveled outside of the state! Antigua?? I thought to myself….what is that?? The imagery stuck with me though. I always felt that it was summer, encapsulated in song.

In the years since, I’ve caught on to the idea that the video isn’t all about glitz and glamour. In fact, the guys look like they trip all over themselves trying to be cool rock stars and get the girl, when in fact they mostly just look like nerds. I never quite picked up on that until adulthood though, and I tend to believe it is because I was so awkward and nerdy myself, that it all seemed normal! <big cheesy grin right here>

Like a birthday or a pretty view

When I was finally able to go to Antigua myself as an adult with three kids and a husband, I insisted that we go to Miller’s Beach – which is where some of the scenes were filmed. Absolutely stunning. You’d swear it wasn’t real, the water is so clear and perfect – and the weather is gorgeous. Naturally, my kids barely remember being there. Our youngest was only about three when we went – the only thing she remembers was having a fresh coconut to drink and deciding it was “awful”. For me though, it was extra special knowing what had been filmed there!

Our Day in Duran History spreadsheet tells me that on this day in 1983, the single “Rio” peaked at #14. I have several thoughts about that which include the following:

  • Only 14?? Really??
  • 1983? That was 36 years ago!!!
  • Where did those 36 years vanish off to?
  • How did Simon get so tan??
  • Why haven’t I ever tried playing the solo from Rio before? (Seriously! Here I am – clarinet player/sax player – and I’ve never ONCE tried it. What?!?)
  • What was in those glasses that Simon drank underwater anyway? Don’t just say food coloring. That’s boring.

She dances on the sand

I know that everyone has “that” song or “those songs” on the set list that they can’t imagine ever being removed. That’s the problem, because I think between all of us – there’s literally no chance of their set list ever changing if they were to take advice from fans. That said, Rio is mine. I can’t imagine not hearing it in a set. Many fans would probably love to see them can it for a while, but I would be sad. I wouldn’t vow to come after them with torches blazing, but I really can’t imagine it not being in their set at all. To me, it is a closer like no other. It ends the party with…what else but a party!

Since I’ve gushed about “Rio” so much, I’m going to watch the video again. It is warming up here in Atascadero. I’ve moved the chickens into their coop (Finally. OMG they are enormous and WAY past the time for being moved out of the house!!), and I heard a crazy rumor that our temperatures are supposed to start soaring next week. It’s time for a brief, visual vacation! Enjoy

– R

Heroes Inducting Heroes

Those words are all remainders

Hello Monday! I solemnly swear this is not an April Fools post.

(I must admit considering the possibilities of writing a piece on the gem-like qualities of “Read My Lips”. However, I decided that today required something a little different. I’ll leave that other task to those slightly more inspired!)

Instead, this is a post that I have been itching to write since Friday. My heroes inducted heroes of their own into the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame. Distance, and lack of invitation or tickets kept me from being there myself (of course!). I just waited patiently, curious about what John and Simon would say about Roxy Music.

Sitting here at home, social media was abuzz with activity. Duran Duran fans flitted from one platform to another, building their arguments for why Duran Duran should already be inducted. I saw many suggest that it was even insulting to John and Simon for needing to lend their kind words to such a ceremony. Was that really the case? I thought about that a lot over the weekend.

Echoes growing in the heart of twilight

Much has been written and said about the Hall of Fame over the years. Read any article about the nominees of any given year and you will find a plethora of opinionated fans responding below. Words such as “politics”, “overrated”, “underrated”, “joke”, “overlooked” and “ignored” dot the comments like punctuation in a grand essay on the history of rock music.

It would also be true that Amanda and I – perhaps more me than Amanda – have lent our voices to the side that says none of it matters. And really, the Hall of Fame doesn’t “matter”. It is no different than any other sort of recognition in that sense. The notation is wonderful to have, but it certainly isn’t the kind of thing one should campaign to receive.

Whether or not a band or artist has been inducted into the Hall of Fame does little to vindicate, or validate. My opinion is simply that the band’s history – in this case I mean Duran Duran’s – speaks for itself. An induction into the Hall of Fame isn’t going to suddenly convince anyone of their greatness. By the same token, I am not saying they aren’t worthy of such an honor. I just don’t happen to believe they need me, or anyone else, to beg or campaign their peers to bestow such a distinction.

Awaken all those whispers

Getting back to Friday night – it was a different story. John and Simon were asked to induct a band that is as important to them as Duran Duran is to me – or likely anyone else reading. Roxy Music was their inspiration, and a driving force behind their career. While my
“career” as a blogger is “slightly” less fortuitous, I am indeed a fan. Duran Duran is 100% my inspiration. Obviously. So, I can fully imagine their joy, admiration, respect, and honor in taking the stage for Roxy Music. Even as I strained to hear their speech on a YouTube video, it was plain to see their pride. My emotions swelled. After all, my heroes were inducting their own heroes. The thunderous applause when they took the stage was all I needed to remind myself of one thing – Duran Duran is loved by many.

I also felt something very different while listening to John’s tale of waiting backstage at the Odeon. He and Nick were there in 1974 (I was four years old at the time – which makes me laugh!!), listening to Roxy Music’s soundcheck. It was as though I were listening to a friend tell a story about fandom. In fact, I am nearly certain we’ve all done similar things over the years. Who wouldn’t have run to the back of a venue if one could hear Duran Duran soundcheck? For example, I remember waiting in 95-degree heat outside of the backlot venue for Jimmy Kimmel Live. I could hear Duran Duran play “You Kill Me with Silence” live for the first time. Adrenaline coursed through my veins because in a few hours, I knew I’d be in front of them for the first time in a couple of years. So exciting!

John spoke about seeing the black Mercedes pulling up, band members rushing out, piling into the car and speeding away. More than once I’ve been amongst the gathering of fans at the back entrance of a venue, waiting to see the band emerge. The thrill is intoxicating, and John communicated those feelings like…well…like any other fan I’ve ever met.

This brings me to one thing I feel most confident in saying about John. He knows what being a fan is like. I don’t think he’s entirely forgotten what it feels like to be one of us. During the four and a half minutes or so that he spoke (their entire speech was just under nine minutes I believe), he conveyed the feelings I have whenever I see Duran Duran. A thrilling mixture of pride and joy, adrenaline and emotion, inspiration and comfort flow through me – every single time. Seeing John and Simon speak of the very same things that have kept me engaged with Duran Duran over the years reminded me once again, we really are not so different.

All these faces look the same to me

John and Simon were not two men forced to eat a generous slice of humble pie while inducting Roxy Music into a club that has not accepted them. No, these were two men overjoyed by being able to recognize the band that made Duran Duran what it is today. These were two fans inducting their heroes. To say otherwise completely defeats the messages that John and Simon were trying to communicate. Everything they said, all of the body language present that night indicates just the opposite: they were proud to be there.

I was proud to watch them, if even after the fact. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to induct their heroes. Oddly, I almost think it is more of an honor to be the one inducting than it is to be the one inducted. After all, how many people get the opportunity to gush over the career of a hero?

Well, besides this blog, anyway…and to have the heroes actually listen? I cannot imagine ever being quite so lucky to have the honor.

I must be chasing after rainbows

So, to my fellow fans commiserating over Duran’s obvious absence in the Hall of Fame – it was no insult for them to be there that night. Never think that. Instead, I earnestly recommend focusing on the obvious pride they took while inducting Roxy Music. Sometimes, the real rewards don’t come packaged in a trophy or plaque, or in ways we might easily notice. Taking those accolades from the band purely because we fans don’t like the box is unfair. It does a great disservice to the very people we admire most.

-R