Tag Archives: John Taylor

My thoughts on Medazzaland as it turns twenty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-R

Medazzaland’s 20th Anniversary

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

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

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

Fan Community’s Relationship with Medazzaland:

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

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

Official Press Release about the Album:

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

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

My Relationship with the Album:

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

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

-A

There’s nothing gonna ace this

My desk calendar tells me that on this date in 2004, Duran Duran played on Good Morning America. It feels like a million years ago. Andy was still with the band and all seemed well on the outside, even if it may not have been on the inside. I had no inkling of the struggles it took to get the album recorded. I didn’t realize that drama from the past had somehow crept its way back into the studio and beyond, and I sure as heck didn’t know that over the course of the next year or so, Andy would stop performing with the band altogether. I was so naive, I had the audacity to believe that the original five would keep going. It never occurred to me that the relationships were so fragile.  Then again, I didn’t really know much of what had gone on behind the scenes in the 80s, either. I basked in the glory of having the band back together again, and in some small way that is typically unlike me, I appreciate that I had no idea of what was to come.

Wide-eyed innocence was sort of my theme for the entire Astronaut period. I was new to traveling to see the band, I was new to the fan community (although I’d been a fan for many years), new to message boards, and the group of friends I’d stumbled upon as a result were all brand new to me. At the point of this GMA appearance, I had just recently gotten home from the Friends of Mine convention in New Orleans. I can remember sitting in front of my TV with Gavin on my lap, marveling over some of the women in the front because I’d met them at the convention. Prior to Astronaut, I had never known anyone who had even gone to something like that, much less gotten up so close! When I think back to those Astronaut days, I’m amazed at how naive I was to the entire fandom phenomena. Everything seemed bright, colorful, new, and lovely. I didn’t see much of the insipid bickering, or the jealousy between fans. I hadn’t gone to enough shows or mingled with enough hard-core fans to know that while all is fine and good when the band isn’t around, once they enter the room, the struggle to be seen and acknowledge is so great that we often push one another out-of-the-way just for that tiny bit of validation. In my head, fandom was a utopian paradise, and I wanted to take up residence, permanently.

There are shorter clips of this, but I chose the long one – nearly a full hour – because there are so many short snippets of the crowd.  On this day, it is a breath of fresh air to look back at the memory of what it was like to simply be in love: reinvented, reimagined, reinvigorated, naive LOVE. I particular enjoy the vision of an audience sharing those same feelings.  There is nothing that can ace this.

Yeah, I know the band isn’t nostalgic. Sometimes though, it feels good to look back. It reminds me how I got here, and why I stay.

Take a look. Breathe deeply. Squee if you must…I did 🙂

-R

2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

Well, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees are out, and you-know-who was notoriously left off the list. Again.

I’ve learned never to assume anything when it comes to writing this blog, but I have to think that many fans, but perhaps not all, would have liked seeing them included on the list of nominees. Am I right, or no? On the other hand, Duran Duran (notably Simon and John) have openly said during interviews that it’s a non-issue for them. They don’t care. They see it (the Hall of Fame) as a political vehicle and therefore it’s not worth their time. Whether or not this is truth or a carefully worded reply meant to hide disappointment, I can’t say.

Even so, there are groups of fans out there that try to rally support for their inclusion each year. In the past, we (Daily Duranie) have stayed out of the argument beyond echoing what the band has openly said themselves. It caused a few people, including those petitioning to have the band included, to block and unfriend us. Our official position was simple – if the band didn’t even want it, we felt like we shouldn’t push it. Some didn’t like that, and I can understand and accept their fury. I also need to call out what I see as industry-driven BS, as you’ll read below.

Before I go any further, here’s the list of 19 nominees for 2018:

Bon Jovi

Depeche Mode

Dire Straits

Eurythmics

J. Geils Band

Judas Priest

Kate Bush

Link Wray

LL Cool J

MC5

Moody Blues

Nina Simone

Radiohead

Rage Against the Machine

Rufus feat. Chaka Khan

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

The Cars

The Meters

The Zombies

The very idea that Duran Duran continues to be omitted from the list of nominees each year is gross. We’re not talking about a band that never graced a top ten list, or never did much beyond release a few unknown albums. At one point, Duran Duran was the biggest band in the world. They are video vanguards, lifetime achievers, and continue to influence younger generations of musicians and performers. They didn’t just embody the style of 1980 and beyond…they created and drove it.  They’re still creating, nearly 40 years later.

Yet with each passing year, they’re not even given a mention beyond a couple of tweets from well-meaning fans. Not only is the Hall of Fame dismissing the band and their career, but they are also smugly discounting the thousands of fans who have stood by them for the last four decades. The old men might not get it, but the little girls completely understand, and always have.

Last weekend, I finally sat down and watched the induction ceremony for 2017. Yes, I’m behind. The one thing I saw over and over was how the bands thanked their fans for getting them there. Of course I liked seeing that, and it was touching that when it came down to it for the bands being inducted, their fans mattered. I thought about all of the history I’ve read about Duran Duran.  Disparaging comments about the band’s fan base aren’t hard to find. The critics hated that little girls loved this band. As far as critics were concerned, the reason to hate this band was purely because little girls (who are now grown women) loved them. That one highlighted detail created a situation where Duran’s music was never quite taken seriously. Why would it? Girls liked them, they couldn’t possibly understand what good music is about, and therefore the band were pin-up material. Period.

Amanda and I haven’t just seen this written once or twice in books. It has been discussed in every piece of comprehensive band history we’ve ever read, watched, or heard.

Simon addressed this general topic in an interview done just before they appeared on Jimmy Kimmel in 2015. He commented about the critics and their hatred for them and their fans. He believes much of that comes down to jealousy, and that may very well be true. He also commented that much to the chagrin of the critics—many of whom are not still writing or in the industry—the fans of the band, and the band themselves, are still around today. In many aspects, that alone is the best revenge. But is it enough?

I’m not so sure.

Sexism, my friends, is alive and well in the music industry, whether  the performers themselves, the business-side, or the fans. Look at the list of nominees again. Do you see many bands up there that have a predominantly female fan base? I can see a few that might have a sizable percentage of female fans, but none of them to the extent of Duran’s. None. Why is that?

The very idea that a sizable number of Duran’s fan base are women drives people crazy. Even the band tries to even it out in interviews by mentioning the growing number of men in their live audiences. People try to attribute our (female) presence to be about anything but the music. I’ve seen the very words “What would girls know about music?” in print more times than I can count.

Really?

I have heard similar anecdotes from female fans all over, whether they’re a blogger like me, your average concert-goer, or a radio show host. Sexism is everywhere. If you’re a woman, you couldn’t possibly know anything about the band you admire beyond their looks, and the only reason for being a fan is to fulfill that one-night stand fantasy. You know, the one we’ve all secretly held for nearly 40 years now?  The assertion that we’re all fans because we’re still waiting for our one nighter with Simon, John, Nick and/or Roger is pretty astounding.

(Call me crazy, but the last thing I’d fantasize about is going backstage and getting on my knees for a band member, only to be gracefully guided to the exit doors immediately following. Why on earth would I waste FORTY YEARS on that???)

Seriously, people of this world, THINK. We’re gonna have to try harder. It does not have to be like this. We have to be ready and willing to call the bullshit out when we see it and force change to happen, because it is obviously not going to happen on its own.

Now THAT is an effort I can get behind.

-R

Are we ready for a Power Station Revival?

On this date in 1985, Power Station appeared on Miami Vice.

That seems like an eternity ago. I barely remember the episode, but I do remember squealing like a piglet when John and Andy appeared onscreen. I miss moments like that.  I miss that weird “squirmy” feeling I’d get just before the band would appear on TV, or just before MTV would air a video, or….just before the band comes on stage!

Speaking of Power Station, though, reminds me of a rumor I just read yesterday. According to HRH Magazine, Andy Taylor is looking to “revive The Power Station from the depths of a wall but perfectly formed Ibizan recording studio.” The magazine was granted “exclusive access and they heard “two belting new tunes”.

Say what? Power Station???

So many thoughts swirling about. First of all, I have to wonder if this revival is for real, or just a bogus rumor, magazine or not. For all we really know, the belting tunes could have been anything. It doesn’t really say what the songs were or give any sort of detail. Since Andy himself wasn’t quoted in the blurb I saw, it could be that he simply said he’d once considered reviving the band, and the magazine – being a magazine and all, took off with it. We’ve seen similar things happen with Duran Duran. (Anyone remember a rumor about AT joining back up with the band for their 40th??) I don’t really know, but call me a skeptic.

Secondly, half of Power Station is deceased. I’d love to sugar coat that fact, but it’s reality. So who is in the band? John and Andy?? John didn’t even participate in the last go-round, so I have to admit if I were a betting person, my money would be on the space marked  “he’s not involved”. So who has Andy lined up for this revival?

If this rumor is really true, and I’m not entirely convinced of its validity, I think the timing is interesting. As we all know, Duran Duran’s 40th anniversary is coming up. What better timing for a previous side project to reappear? Not that I think a brand-new Power Station would steal Duran’s thunder. In fact, I think it might profit from it. Timing is everything.

I have to wonder though, do we really need a Power Station revival?  For me personally, my interest waned quite a bit after their first album. It felt like a one-off to me, and there’s no shame in that. I don’t know what value it might really have after all of this time. Maybe I’d feel differently if the original band were still intact. Then again, one could (and should) point out that Duran Duran still have plenty to say 40 years later, and it is not their original line-up that I hear on their albums. Fair enough. I’d be more likely to agree if Power Station had done more than two fairly incongruous albums over the years. Even as I write though, I’m wondering if I’m being entirely fair. I suppose in many ways I’m hedging my bets so that I’m not disappointed in the long run.

Discuss!

-R

 

Limited Edition Double Vinyl of Astronaut released, 2004.

How many different versions of Astronaut do you own? I can’t even answer that myself – a lot of them are packed away, but I know I must have a few. I’ve got a couple of copies of the regular CD that I bought at midnight at Virgin Records in Hollywood.  I also remember buying this special CD – it was a dual sided CD if I remember right (did those ever really catch on??)—and it had 7.1 surround sound. I can’t remember what was on the other side, though. Was it a DVD?? I really need to go find it and look.  Anyway, I liked that CD because I could actually hear Andy’s guitar (which is another blog for another day), and because it was unlike anything I’d seen before.

But on this date back in 2004, Duran Duran released the limited edition double vinyl of Astronaut. I have a copy, and it is signed by all five members.  I’m particularly proud of it because it’s the one thing I have signed by the original five members of Duran Duran, and for a long time – it was the only thing I had signed, period. I can remember periodically sitting and staring at that vinyl from time to time. It was one of those moments where afterwards, you wonder if it really did happen. I can tell you that back when I was just a kid listening to Rio, never did it occur to me that one day I’d actually meet them. That just seemed like something out of a fairy tale, and admittedly it felt a little that way when it happened.

Seems like a great day to take out that double vinyl album and spend a little time thinking back on 2004. For me, Astronaut helped to mark the beginning of the community aspect of fandom.  I had just gone to my first convention, and everything felt bright and new.  Astronaut was a new beginning for Duran Duran, and I’m happy to spend a little time thinking back on that time today.

-R

Books Never Read Better

The title is my weird attempt to switch up one of John Taylor’s frequent phrases in his autobiography.  If you have read the book, you know that he wrote the phrase, “Music never sounded better,” a lot.  I twisted around for the title of this blog.  Needless to say, I’m not feeling particularly clever or witty right now.  No, I’m feeling pretty desperate for the weekend.  The third week of school is always busy, overwhelming, stressful, or whatever appropriate adjective could fit there.  The ten to twelve hour days are sucking the life out of me, which is why the lame title.

Instead of thinking about the upsetting world events (or American politics–same difference) or the mountain of grading I have, I want to think back to this time in 2012.  Five years ago this month, John Taylor’s autobiography was released and he was traveling around the UK and later the US to do various book talks and signings.  I have fond memories of that time period.  First, I was so super excited to read the book that I downloaded it from Amazon UK because I couldn’t wait for the US release.  I even ordered a British copy as well as buying for American copies as well.  Once downloaded, I cleared my schedule, laid on my couch and read until my battery ran out.  I think I read the book in like a day, which is not my style at all.  I’m usually too impatient to continue to read that much despite my love of reading.

Then, in October of 2012, I attended one of those book signings and talks in Chicago even though I had no business attending.  In October of 2012, I was working about 80 hours a week.  I was teaching full time and I was campaigning full time, too.  My level of exhaustion was so strong that I barely made it to election day without literally collapsing.  Yet, I couldn’t miss this chance to see John read his book in person or to have him sign my copy (and one for Rhonda!).  Thus, I drove down to Chicago, about 2.5 hours, attended the event and drove back, knowing that I had to be at work the next day.

Like reading the book, I have distinct memories of that event.  For example, I remember being in line, chatting with friends and fielding constant campaign calls.  I wanted to just focus on John Taylor that night but couldn’t.  Honestly, I feel like that is the story of my life.  When I’m at work, I sometimes want to focus on fandom and what’s the latest tweet or post from the band.  Sometimes, I’m able to squeeze in a glance or two.  Likewise, when I’m at home or campaigning, other aspects of my life demand my attention.  It is rare that I just focus on one role I have in life.  I feel like I have to multi-task all the time.  I not really a fan of that.

What is interesting, though, is that when I think about reading John’s book, I don’t remember being districted or interrupting (other than the battery drain).  No, I was able to be laser focused and I liked that.  Of course, the book had a fascinating focus that led to a little book club on here as I reread and led discussion on it.

Anyway, I wouldn’t mind another book by John Taylor or about John Taylor to totally distract me from real life.  I think I could use it and it would give me an excuse to just say, “to hell with,” my grading or my household tasks or whatever else I need to do.

-A

Power Station Closes Its Doors

A piece of history closed with a celebratory “good-bye” party on Monday, as the famed “Power Station”, more formally known as Avatar Studios, closed in advance of changing hands on September 1st to the Berklee College of Music. There has been no comment from Berklee as to what they plan to do with the studio space.

Fans know and recognize this studio as the namesake for The Power Station, the side project featuring John Taylor, Andy Taylor, Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson of Chic. The studio is also known for recording such musically important albums such as Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA and Peter Gabriel’s So.

I hadn’t thought about this in years, but I vaguely remember Amanda  having the address to The Power Station when we were in New York for the special fan show in 2007. I want to say that Amanda, our friend Sara, and myself wandered the streets for what seemed like hours in search of the studio – we didn’t want to bother anyone, we just wanted a photo. It’s weird how I forgot all about this until today, but I distinctly remember us stopping in front of one building or another, trying to see if that was in fact the right place! I seem to remember we did find it, but there were no signs out front or anything. (what, no neon signs saying “Power Station Recorded here!!!”?!? The horror!!)

It is in these moments, as I am writing the blog and have a question, when I know that Amanda is in the middle of teaching class in Wisconsin and there’s no way for me to talk with her, that I miss her most. I don’t think I have the pictures we took (we did take pictures, right?) that day, and yet she’s not at home so I can call her right now and ask.  It’s not even the moments when I really miss the simplicity of just being a fan on a road trip that I miss her most, or when I think back on the debauchery over the years. Nope, it’s when I have a real question.

Someday, I’m moving closer to her. It won’t fix the work problem, but just imagine her shock when I show up on her doorstep at night to ask if she’s got a picture I need!!!

Talk about rambling…I digress.

It is sad to hear about these historical places closing, but as in most things, the gift is the art created from within.

Even so, if those walls could speak….

-R

 

Sets You on a Path: The Reunion

Today is easily one of my favorite dates to celebrate. On August 29th of the year 2000, Simon and Nick visited John at his house in Los Angeles.

What could they possibly have talked about?

Getting the band back together!! The reunion they said would never happen….

That’s right. It all began with a chat around the pool. (well, that’s how I picture it in my head, anyway) And if it weren’t for that day, and the reunion that followed, seventeen years ago now, none of this – the albums, the touring, the message boards, DDM, Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre, All You Need is Now, Paper Gods…and this blog….probably would not have happened.

I just don’t know if I would have kept going to shows. Maybe I would have for a while, but life gets in the way. I know how I am with other bands. If it’s not “easy”, I don’t bother. Would that have become the way with Duran Duran? Probably. After all, I hadn’t gone to very many shows before the reunion, although it was one of their gigs at the House of Blues in Anaheim that really got me back into the band, and that was before the reunion was announced. Even so, I’m not sure that I would have been inspired to keep reading message boards or meet people had the reunion not been announced. I don’t know that I would have gotten involved with planning a convention, or that I’d have ever met Amanda as a result.

It’s wild to consider that just one conversation at someone’s house changed everything. But it did.  And while the reunion may have been one fleeting moment in my life, I’m grateful. And happier. I found a part of myself I’d been missing. That “something” wasn’t really Duran Duran. They were just the catalyst to get me looking for it, and I’m thankful. I really am.

This silly band. They don’t know me much beyond the words I write here and my face in their audience. Yet, in some odd way, I will always feel as though my life is weirdly entwined with their professional one. One day in August of 2000 set me on a path, and while yes I’m nearly quoting “What are the Chances”….it is incredibly fitting.

So while I head off to work today – I’ll be thinking about that band a little. It’s a good day.

-R

A Good Place to Start: First Day by Anna Ross!

A lot of things happen in a two-week time period! I am back from vacation, although I remained fairly “plugged-in”  while I was gone.   We arrived very late on Saturday night. Yesterday, I spent the day attempting to catch up, do laundry (I am staring at a mountain of clothing yet to be done…), and get my son Gavin ready to leave for his college orientation this morning.

So while I sit here trying not to worry about how he’s doing, I’m going to blog instead! (For those who don’t know, my son Gavin is on the autistic spectrum. He’s very high functioning, which means that for the most part, people just think he’s a little quirky. He is also incredibly smart. His major is physics, if that gives any indication of what I’m up against. He’s also one of those kids that tends to fall through the cracks…and I’m really hoping all of the work we did for the past six years to teach him to ask for help and advocate for himself worked! I’m imagining him wandering the campus for two days rather than asking where the line is for orientation….)

I’m going to take a deep cleansing breath, and try to focus on the task at hand.

Has anyone listened to the new music Anna Ross has been working on? Get on it, people! She is working steadily on completing her first album, which was funded (in part) through a pledge campaign. I’ve taken part in a few of these campaigns for various artists and bands, but I was thrilled to help Anna out. She’s been around since I started going to shows with…how shall I put it…vigor? enthusiasm? unbridled, relentless spending??  Anyway, she’s been around a while, and I’m happy to support!

“First Day” is aptly, her first single. She co-wrote the song with Simon.  Can I just say how fantastic it has been to see Duran Duran not only embrace, but truly support Anna’s music? I love that. I’m proud of my “family”. (Like it or not, Duran Duran – we’re all in this together. Consider me one of the intelligent, precocious younger sisters with a wild side!) I just think it’s refreshing to see Simon tweeting and encouraging Anna, and the reminders from Duran Duran to buy the single (which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND). I like when we encourage our own. I know that some of this comes down to business, but for a minute – I just want to forget about that, and focus on the warm fuzzies I feel when I see us all pulling for one another.

Another striking thing about this song is that it was funded, at least in part, by a pledge campaign. I participated in the campaign, and so I have heard snippets of this work since nearly the beginning. The evolution of the song has been a lot of fun to witness and I’ve enjoyed hearing the way the song grew. I was very excited to finally hear the finished product when I was finally able to download and listen. I have seen some comments that the single should have been given to pledge participants, and while I know some bands do that – this is Anna, not Duran Duran. It’s her first album, and it’s not like she’s a bank. She’s a hard-working artist, and I fully support her efforts. I’d do more if I were able, because I adore her and love music in general. I don’t need a $1.29 single and/or a remix to feel like I got my money’s worth for what I pledged.  Maybe that’s just me, and maybe I’m being naive. I am, however, thrilled she’s getting her album finished. It’s a long road, and I have some sense of how difficult it can be to reach the finish line. I just want to see her succeed and reach her goal – whether that’s completing the album, or eventually touring. (Can you bring Dom with you???)

One of the reviews I read suggested that the song is EDM. I’m not going to lie – this threw me because it’s not what I would have characterized as EDM. Then again, I’m a 46-year old woman. What in the hell do I know? That said, it IS electronic, which is funny – that’s something that typically I notice right off the bat. This time I paid no attention, focusing instead on Anna’s beautiful voice, which really drives the music, in my opinion. I especially love the crispness of her vocals, even when she’s singing at a fairly frenetic pace. The song is uplifting, positive, catchy and promising of what is to come.  Can’t wait to hear the rest of the album, Anna!

If that weren’t enough, the John Taylor/Charles Scott IV remix of  “First Day” dropped while I was camping, deep in the forest of the Washington-side of the Columbia River Gorge area. (Can I just say that there isn’t much more frustrating than being nowhere near wi-fi when new music is released?)

A while back, I was reading something about remixes and how they are the interpretation of what a producer heard when they experienced the song. I thought about that while I listened to John’s remix. He slowed it down, which worked very well for the song and even for her lyrics. There is one section of the song, about 2:40 into the remix, that is very reminiscent of The Universe Alone, as far as effects go, and it really gives the song an ethereal quality. I thought it was done beautifully, and what I really appreciated was that rather than change the song into something completely different, it highlighted the structure that was already there.  As I said yesterday on Twitter, I look forward to playing this, and the original single,  in my car, LOUDLY.  Sometimes I just need a little extra inspiration to get through the day!

-Rd

Get Anna’s music here and enjoy:

First Day single on iTunes

First Day Remix on iTunes