Tag Archives: John Taylor solo albums

I Heard You Talking Softly

Last week, Rhonda and I had a brief conversation about lyrics. In the midst of the discussion, I mentioned that I viewed Simon’s lyrics very differently than John’s lyrics in his solo work. In thinking about this, I started to wonder about the reason behind these differences and if their purposes for writing was the cause.

Let’s start at the beginning. How would you describe Simon’s lyrics? I know as a kid in listening to songs like Union of the Snake, I might have said that they were nonsense. If they had a meaning, I had no idea. Of course, some songs seemed obvious in their meanings like Rio, which I would assumed was about a woman, or Girls on Film, which must be about models. Later, of course, I started to realize that all of these songs might be deeper than I originally thought. Union of the Snake, for instance, could be interpreted in a thousand different ways. I learned that Rio was more about the United States rather than just a woman. Even Girls on Film was deeper than just about models but about the exploitation of them.

So what does this mean when it comes to thinking about Simon’s lyrics? Obviously, it showed me that there was more to his lyrics than what appeared on the surface. There is a poetic element to many of them and others could be thought of as more of a metaphor or analogy. Then, I wondered if there were any songs that were more of a personal nature. A few came to mind. Come Undone is about his wife, Yasmin, and She’s Too Much is about his daughter. We know that Hold Back the Rain was written about John Taylor. Yet, the songs that directly relate to his life seem to be few and far between. Interesting.

Let’s compare to John Taylor. Now, I’m willing to bet that some of you out there aren’t as familiar with John’s solo work as you are Duran Duran’s work. So, I’ll share a couple examples/verses.

Spirit of the Times

and now that I’m in Hollywood
I feel that here I’m understood
there’s fifty minutes to the hour
and twelve steps to every ivory tower

spirit of the times
spirit of the times
spirit of the times
prefects from birmingham
chamberlain’s birmingham
christ wasn’t perfect
he could have been from birmingham
rotunda
new street
jasper carrot’s birmingham
tis-was

rum runner
swordfish up the alleyway
steel pulse
bob lamb’s
moseley inna birmingham
underworld in our world
minutes up the motorway

Anon

I’m good at relaxing, I like to kick back
When I go to the steamroom, I get my hampton out
I get plenty of love from all the kids I meet
I get a sense of fun from them, Just can’t be beatI know a man with problems, So self-absorbed
He couldn’t see nothing past the end of his world
His life was grey then, It was hard to see
But I got the number, I got the recipe

Okay, so it seems to me that John’s lyrics are way more about his life and what he was thinking and feeling at that given time. If you listen to his complete solo work, you can tell a lot about how he was trying to really get his life together in his new world of sobriety, post Duran Duran, after a divorce/new relationship, etc. John’s lyrics are almost always incredibly personal, like the exact opposite of Simon’s.

Does that mean one’s lyrics are better than the others? I don’t think so. I love them both for different reasons. With Simon’s, I get to make guesses about what they could be about. I can interpret them in various ways, some that might fit only to my life. In that sense, they can more universal. Yet, I admire the heck out of John’s. It takes a lot to be that open, that vulnerable, that raw, especially in front of other people. This, of course, takes me back to the original premise. What is the purpose for their lyrics?

I suppose that you can argue that the reason for writing songs is for people to listen, to enjoy, to love, etc. I’m pretty certain that all of these songs were written with the hopes of selling copies of albums and singles, to make money. Beyond that, though, John’s lyrics seem to represent a personal process that he was going through. I might conclude that he was writing, not just for all of the usual reasons for writing lyrics to songs but also to deal with his thoughts and emotions, to help him figure things out. Part of me definitely can relate to that. I feel like I have been using the blog for more and more of that as time as gone on. Writing does help me tremendously when processing what I think. It helps me to organize all of the random ideas floating around in my brain. It provides a coherence.

As I continue to process a lot of potential changes in my own personal life, I suspect that I will be doing a lot more writing in the coming weeks and months.

-A

Happy 60th Birthday John Taylor!

You would think that I would welcome writing this blog, right? After all, I am a John Taylor fan. He’s my favorite. Yet, this blog makes me nervous as I want to do an amazing job to be worthy, to do his birthday justice. I am not all that confident that I’m up to the task, especially since this is a big birthday for our favorite bass man. Alas, I’ll do the best I can.

Childhood

I have a confession to make. I was not always a John Taylor girl. I hesitate to even admit this but…when I first found out about Duran Duran at the tender age of 8, I gravitated towards Simon. After all, he was the voice of the band. Even the initial videos that I saw from Hungry Like the Wolf to Save a Prayer focused on him, or at least that is how I saw it then. One video changed all that.

All it took was one direct look into the camera for me to openly and loudly declare, “Oh, he’s cute!” Thankfully, my childhood best friend totally agreed with me. We both fell for him at the same time. Interestingly enough, we were too young to compete or to fight over who got to claim him as theirs as many other young, female Duranies did. No, for us, it was reassuring that we could pick out the “cute one.” It meant that we were normal, somehow.

After that, Beth (my childhood friend) and I sought out every picture, every interview, every moment focusing on John Taylor. When one of us got a new magazine, we would stare and dissect every picture and every word credited to be his. We tried to like what he did. John is a James Bond fan? Let’s check out some Bond films. He liked cars. Let’s fantasize about which cars we wanted as adults. Of course, we followed him with the Power Station side project and thought we had died and gone to heaven when this solo song came out.

For me, for my friend, John Taylor was just the coolest. He was so fashionable, so smart, so articulate–the exact opposite of what we saw in our working class south suburb of Chicago.

Reunion

Like so many, Duran Duran took the back seat of life for awhile as I finished high school and throughout college. Yet, I never forgot the band and tried to pay attention to what they were doing, when I could. At that point, a new friend made sure to let me know what she was hearing about the band happenings. We went to see Duran for the first time in 1993 and loved the show even though something felt slightly off to me. After that, I paid a little bit more attention and remember being shocked when I heard that John had left the band. It felt like one more foundational piece of my childhood was gone. I didn’t know the circumstances or his reasoning. I just never thought I would see it. That said, I still felt excited whenever I saw John appear on TV, usually to celebrate the 80s like in this clip:

Thankfully, all the stars aligned in the early 2000s as the band reunited and I finished graduate school. I found myself with more time and desperately seeking some fun. All I needed was to have someone mention Duran Duran and their reunion and I became obsessed. When did they get back together? Would that make new music? Would they tour? Would I be able to find fellow fans to hang out with? Similarly, what did I miss? What could I catch up on? It was like someone invited me to a Duran Duran all-you-can-eat buffet. I literally could not get enough as I caught up with albums like Medazzaland and Pop Trash. More fun, though, was to find all of John’s solo work.

As I got to know John’s work, I discovered that his lyrics were vastly different than what we were used to with Simon. John’s words tended to be more personal, more obviously autobiographical. As I listened, I often thought to myself that he had to write them in such a way. He needed to. He needed to be that honest, that open. It reminds me of how writing this blog has allowed me to think through things, to figure stuff out. While many Duranies criticized his work for this reason or others, I found it so incredibly brave. It is not easy to show yourself like that, especially after being on a pedestal for decades by countless fans.

Present Day

As the reunion moved into present day Duran Duran, I noticed that I began seeing John differently. He was no longer that perfect fantasy of youth, cooler than cool. He also wasn’t the guy trying to process through life changes and the battle for sobriety that I saw in looking back at his solo days. It felt like I began to see John more as a complex human being with a full range of characteristics, feelings, etc. He was no longer the flat stereotype of a teen heart throb of my childhood and he was no longer the 2 dimensional image of a rock star trying to get himself together. No, he is way more than that. He can be the teacher educating us all about how various Duran songs were created in his bass tutorials. He can also be the writer of his own experiences in his autobiography.

While he is still the coolest guy in the room, he is also willing to be silly and even dorky as seen by the awesome Dad dancing of Danceophobia.

As I think about wishing John Taylor a happy birthday, I cannot help but to think about the gifts that he has given all of us. Those presents are more than just the music that he has created and performed over the years, at least for me. I think about how much he has taught me about the kind of person I would like to be. It isn’t about trying to be super cool. No, it is about embracing who you are, sharing your truth and finding joy without really caring what others might think of you. For all of that and more, I wish John the happiest of birthdays and many, many, many more to come!

-A

Crisis Equals Opportunity

Raise your hand if you have a copy of John Taylor’s Feelings Are Good album. I do. When I think of this early solo album of his, one of the first things that comes to mind is the phrase that I used as the title. Crisis equals opportunity. I think about it as it is on the cover of my copy. I had not heard the phrase before even though it has been around long before this album was released. Clearly, though, John felt that this phrase fit for him at the time of the release. It is a phrase that I always keep locked in the back of my mind since then. I like the idea that you take something awful, something terrible and it takes you to somewhere or something better.

This phrase, this idea is one that I have revisited frequently in the last few weeks, especially this week. When this pandemic first started, my anxiety went through the roof. I worried about my own health after having been in a building with 2000 people on a daily basis. My concern for my parents could not have been greater as I constantly fretted over whether or not they got it and would stay in. (For the record, my parents are stubborn and often feel/act like they are invincible.) When thinking about my job, I had no idea what my school district would do or what I would need to learn/do in response. In those first few weeks, I experienced constant tension, headaches, etc. My body clearly reacted to the extreme anxiety I was experiencing on a constant basis. As days and weeks passed, I figured out that this was not going to be a short term deal but one that could/would last far longer than I ever expected. I knew, then, that I could not keep going as I was. There was my crisis. I could either fall apart or I had to remember and use any and all strategies I had developed/created in dealing with my anxiety disorder over the years.

In looking back at various points in my life when my anxiety was particularly challenging, one or two strategies come to mind. For example, a few summers ago things were rough when it came to work. I started journaling again in response. I had to get it all out to make things not so scary. Before that, I had to walk on a daily basis to get rid of the headaches I was suffering from. So, now, I knew that this time would require a strategy or two to get myself together. I started coloring. It helped but not enough. I began journaling. It helped but not enough. I tried making a schedule in an attempt to have a sense of control. Naps became a daily feature. All things I attempted/started and helped but I still felt like a human ball of tension. What’s the deal?

I had to start really thinking about this time. What is the same and different about this period of extreme anxiety? One big element is that I am alone. I literally have been all by myself for almost 6 weeks. Once I realized that this is a big part of it, a lightbulb went off in my head. This anxiety is doubled, is magnified because there is the social aspect to it. Throughout my life, I have never been great, socially, which is interesting because people fascinate me and I chose a career in which I am around people all day long. No, I have always desperately wanted to have people like me, to be friends with me but I have been hurt a lot by people I called my friends once upon a time. This has led me to do more observing than interacting until I can trust people. So, now, I wouldn’t say that I have a lot of friends but I do have people I can trust. How does this fit into this crisis? How does recognizing that I need people I can trust in my life factor in? More importantly, what do I really need right now, socially?

In thinking through all of this, I have come to realize that I need to know that I matter. I don’t mean that I need to know that I make a difference as I do get that feedback from teaching, political activism and even from writing this blog. No, I need to know that people think about me, care about me, and not because of a job that I have but because I’m a person that they deem worthy, important and important to them. Thankfully, I have my family who checks in with me and the rest of the family daily. I have a couple of friends here where I live that text me each and every day. They text me random things from things about work or politics or just how they are feeling. In thinking about all of this, I am thankful that they just stepped up to do this but I should probably be prepared to explain to those people I have come to trust what I *need*. For a long time, I thought the goal was to be able to survive 100% on my own without anyone else but I don’t think that is right anymore. I need strategies to deal with my anxiety, including having people care about me. That doesn’t make me weak or demanding. That makes me feel like a person who matters.

This time in self-isolation has definitely been a crisis of sorts but it has also been an opportunity to learn about myself, about what I need to be well and to thrive. Am I 100% where I need to be? No, I’m definitely a work in progress and some days are pretty awful still. For example, Tuesday night featured a pretty bad meltdown in which I was screaming, shouting and crying about how hopeless it all seemed. This carried over until Wednesday, which was my birthday. I have had some weird ones over the years but being alone? That felt terrible compounded by having a window leak in my condo. I am still struggling to get everything I want to do done as there are moments during the day that I just sit down and feel paralyzed. That feeling, especially happens every time I think about the job search that I know I should and want to do.

In turning this crisis into what I hope is an opportunity, I’m hoping that the anxiety is more manageable than not so that I can continue to work, to function and even to write this blog. As I move through this process, this time, not only will I continue to think about my strategies but also will look to Duran Duran to inspire, to keep my going and thinking just like John Taylor did with including that phrase on his solo album. Crisis equals opportunity, indeed.

-A

Full of Fear

Throughout my life, when things have gotten tough, I have turned to music. At times, I gravitate towards songs to steer me away from negative emotions like sadness, loneliness, anger. Other times I find me seeking out songs that match my feelings. When I do that, I’m really looking for words, lyrics to articulate what I am thinking and feeling. Those songs provide comfort as I feel a little less alone, a little more understood.

Interestingly enough, there are few Duran songs that I turn to at those extreme moments of distress. I’m not sure why. Maybe there are few that match my moods of despair or rage. I’m not sure. Yet, I have turned to some music connected to Duran Duran and that is some of John Taylor’s solo work. Anyone here familiar with the song, Johnny Full of Fear? Here are the lyrics that I could find:

He’s walking on the wall

Cause he’s heard it all before

He’d laugh it off, if he could

But his glasses might fall off

The madman’s at the door

Whispering through the floor

Sordid times in life before

Will keep him from flying once more

Johnny full of fear

He’s hanging on a thread

Don’t be afraid of the dark

Don’t be afraid of what you are

Johnny is learning, to feed, to fear

He’s whacking in time

‘Cause his wife gave him some room

Now he’s up to neck in debt

And his partner’s blown a fuse

Well he sits still for a minute

While he’s waiting for some credit

The property’s in ruins

But the suit is good and shiny

Johnny full of fear

He’s hanging from a thread

Don’t be afraid of the dark

Don’t be afraid of what you have

Johnny has known to fear

The messenger

The messenger of fortune

He’s the messenger

He’s the messenger

He’s alone most nights now

More often than not

He’s too much time to think

Gives his committee too much room

He’s thinking of expanding

Taking on responsibilities

I’m, in all, in favor of it

I’ll encourage him every chance I get

Johnny full of fear

Johnny full of fear

Full of fear

I remember the first time I heard this song. I connected with so many of the lyrics on a deeply personal level. The lines about the “madman’s at the door” and “hanging by a thread” especially got to me. True confession time. I have an anxiety disorder. You know one that has been officially diagnosed, is on file at my doctor’s, etc. It is not something that I generally bring up or talk about. I’m not embarrassed about it or anything like that. It is just part of who I am and something that I have to deal with in my daily life. That said, it is rare that I ever see anything like anxiety described in a song. Usually, if it mentioned in some way shape or form, it is not written seriously or with any real understanding of what it is like. This song, though, feels genuine. Now, I have no idea if John Taylor has ever experienced anxiety himself or knows someone who has. I just know that he was able to capture how I feel sometimes.

What made me think of this now? It is probably obvious but with the coronavirus, my anxiety has been seriously spiking. (In general, medical issues are a trigger.) I don’t necessarily worry about myself but I do about my elderly parents (one of whom is over 80 with an underlying medical condition that compromises the immune system). I’m concerned that my niece who has been studying abroad in Ireland now needs to find a fast way to get home. I need to be the calming influence for my students who are asking if they are safe at school. (Good question–is it really a good idea to have a couple thousand people in one building?!) The government’s response (or lack of one) adds to it. I don’t really think there is a plan to really get it under control. The combination of all of this means that I wander around my house, unable to get anything done, unfocused. It has meant not sleeping well and calling family frequently demanding that they check in. Headaches have been common as has the irritable mood that won’t go away along with my inability to calm my thoughts. Then, as anxiety tends to do, it has builds on itself as the lack of productions leaves me with an overwhelming list of things to do and a feeling of being inadequate. I have been describing it as my anxiety has anxiety. It is not fun.

So, as I try to use various strategies to keep my anxiety at a manageable level, I’ll put on a little JT and feel better thinking that someone out there gets it, at least a little bit. That helps.

-A

Twenty years ago, John plays his first solo gig

I’m struggling this morning. First of all, it’s Monday. Second, in the past 72 hours I have had a bout of food poisoning, had a massive allergy attack, and I’ve gotten a cold. I’d really just rather be sleeping right now.  Today’s blog will be short and sweet.

On this date in 1997, John Taylor was seriously committing himself to going solo. He played at Radio Antenne Bayerne in Stuttgart, Germany.  It was his very first live show as a solo artist.

Flash forward twenty years (yes, twenty!), and he’s back with Duran Duran, getting ready to hit the road for what seems to be the final leg of the Paper Gods tour.

Time flies when we’re all having fun, I guess!  Today’s date in history is a gentle reminder to trust the process. Just when you think all is lost, maybe it’s not after all!

I’m off to begin the week. Happy Monday, everyone!

-R

 

Ultimate Box Set: Side/Solo Projects Part 5

In the last few weeks, our Saturday polls have focused on side projects.  The idea is to pick 7 songs from various side and solo projects each week until we have asked about all of them.  Then, we will have one final poll to pick the 7 side and solo project songs that Duranies believe should be included on the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set.  So far, we have asked about Power Station, Arcadia, The Devils, TV Mania, Neurotic Outsiders, Dom Brown, and Freebass.

Last week, we started asking about John Taylor’s songs.  Instead of asking about all of John’s songs, I split his long list of songs in half to make it more manageable.  The songs of John’s that people picked last week were:

John Taylor:

  • I Do What I Do
  • Feelings Are Good
  • Always Wrong
  • Anon
  • Don’t Talk Much
  • Losing You
  • Look Homeward Angel
  • Silent Skin
  • Lovers Afternoon

The rest of the possible side/solo project songs are:

Power Station:

  • Some Like It Hot
  • Get It On/Bang a Gong
  • Communication
  • Murderess
  • Harvest for the World
  • Still in Your Heart
  • She Can Rock It

Neurotic Outsiders:

  • Feelings Are Good

Arcadia:

  • Election Day
  • The Promise
  • Goodbye Is Forever
  • The Flame
  • El Diablo
  • Lady Ice
  • Keep Me in the Dark

Dom Brown:

  • Amazing
  • Day Turned Black
  • Crocodile Tears
  • Changing
  • Chocolate Fever

Freebass:

  • Love Is Like Oxygen

This week, then, we will finish voting on John Taylor’s solo songs.  Before you vote, here is a playlist of many of the songs on this poll.  I put as many of John’s songs that I could find on the playlist.  Now, go listen, vote and have fun!  Which of these 7 songs of John’s should be considered for the Ultimate Duran Duran Box Set?

-A

[socialpoll id=”2448155″]

 

Ultimate Box Set: Side/Solo Projects Part 4

This week, we continue to tackle the side and solo project songs for the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set.  So far, we have picked out songs by Power Station, Neurotic Outsiders, Arcadia, The Devils, TV Mania, Dom Brown and Freebass.  We have two solo projects to go:  John and Simon.  This week as promised we will focus on John Taylor’s solo work.  Originally, I thought I would be able to list all of John’s songs and have people pick out the 7 that should be considered for the box set.  That won’t work, though, as John has a ton of songs.  He has too many for just one poll.  Therefore, this week we will look at half of his songs and next week we will do the other half.

Before I list the poll, I do want to do two other things.  First, I want to share the songs under consideration for this category.  Then, as many of John’s songs that I could find will be posted here.  You can listen before you vote!

Side/Solo Project Songs Under Consideration:

Power Station:

  • Some Like It Hot
  • Get It On/Bang a Gong
  • Communication
  • Murderess
  • Harvest for the World
  • Still in Your Heart
  • She Can Rock It

Neurotic Outsiders:

  • Feelings Are Good

Arcadia:

  • Election Day
  • The Promise
  • Goodbye Is Forever
  • The Flame
  • El Diablo
  • Lady Ice
  • Keep Me in the Dark

Dom Brown:

  • Amazing
  • Day Turned Black
  • Crocodile Tears
  • Changing
  • Chocolate Fever

Freebass:

  • Love Is Like Oxygen

Now, here’s a little playlist that I put together of some of John’s solo work.  It does not include every song on the poll but a lot of them.

On that note, you should be ready to vote!  Which 7 John Taylor songs should be considered for the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set?  Please note that I Do What I Do is spelled wrong on the poll.  I apologize.

-A

[socialpoll id=”2446147″]

The Distance Between Us – Techno For Two released, 2001

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

This feels like a John Taylor sort of day to me. This is appropriate because on this date in 2001, Techno for Two was released in Japan.

Now, maybe some of you are now squinty-eyed and wondering “What in the hell is that about?” Fair enough.

This is the fourth solo album released by Mr. Taylor, and in my little opinion – it’s his best. It includes “Mister J”, “Mansman”, “Tight”, “Immortal”, and my personal favorite, “6000 Miles”.  The album feels very introspective to me, and I guess I must like that about John’s writing.

I like a lot of John’s solo efforts, but this album is indeed my favorite. One of my favorite memories is traveling by train in England, looking out at the gorgeous countryside while “6000 Miles” played in my ears.  (Not the Ventura Mix..the original ballad) The timing couldn’t have been better, and now I can’t think of that trip without hearing that song in my head. Funny how music works.

What is even more fascinating to me is that at the time this came out, Duran Duran was in the progress of putting the original line-up back together again. In hindsight, I think I can see the beginnings of that through this album and the way it was written. Trust the Process, indeed.  Everything happens for a reason, and I don’t think I’m entirely out of line by believing that John needed that solo time to get to the place he currently resides today.

It’s also a little hard, in some ways, to believe that this album is now sixteen years old. So, while I’m in a quiet, reflective sort of mood today – I’m going to give Techno for Two a listen. If you don’t have a copy of the album, you can find a lot, if not all, of the songs on YouTube.

-R