Over the weekend, I heard a Duran Duran song I’d never heard before.
Think about that. We’re in between albums, I think I’ve heard everything the band has recorded…so how is that possible?
It turns out, the song I heard is one of Duran-lore, which means it’s a song that some people have long-held as existing, while others swore it did not. In actuality, it is a song that I believe eventually became Seventh Stranger. That happens during the writing and recording process. You start with what you think is one song, and eventually, it ends up being something else entirely.
Reminds me a little of what Amanda and I have experienced with writing a manuscript. We started with one thing, switched it up and came out with a completely different version that we are now working on which will become something altogether new. Trust the process, so they say! Let’s write a book, it’ll be fun…
ha ha ha
Back to the case in point, I’ve seen a great many things written, asked and implied about this particular song. I’m not posting the link here because my point here isn’t to anger the powers that be or disturb the masses. I don’t honestly care whether the song is real or fake (although based upon the stories I’ve been told – I wholeheartedly believe the people who took the time to explain and share with me). What I find far more interesting is something I’ve titled “Duranlore”.
I grew up in the USA, and as I’ve said before, my world didn’t extend much beyond Glendora or Covina, California. Public transportation where I lived was something you didn’t take unless you wanted to get mugged, or had no other choice (meaning my mom wouldn’t let me step one toe onto any bus!). So I didn’t have the experience of going into Los Angeles or hanging out anywhere outside of my little neighborhood. It comes down to the fact that I’ve got no great 1980s fandom stories to share. From what I gather, that wasn’t the case for my friends in the UK.
I hear so many great stories, or lore, from my friends there. They had a much different experience when it comes to Duran Duran back in the 80s. To me, they were exotic and completely untouchable. I couldn’t relate to them. They were very enigmatic and otherworldly. They didn’t seem real. I suspect that half of my curiosity about them, even as an adult back during the reunion tour, came from the fact that I’d never even been anywhere near them. I suspect that may be the case for many other fans as well. Yet my friends in the UK knew them and are still familiar faces to the band. They were frequent sidewalk-outside-the-studio visitors.
I can’t help but be envious. I don’t know what that level of recognition or having that type of history feels like. In contrast, I spent my days between albums going to school, watching MTV, doing normal kid things, I suppose. I didn’t really think or hear about a Duran Duran album until news came out about it on the radio, on MTV, or in one of those teen magazines. That isn’t to say I didn’t spend time being a fan. My albums received ample play, but that was about as close as I could really get to experiencing the band. In all honesty, my “story” with Duran Duran really didn’t get started until much, much later in life.
Not so for my UK friends. I am always equal parts amazed, impressed, and envious, that so many of them have known one another since childhood. They met from hanging outside of the studio (or band members homes)! I love that. They have an entire story that I can’t even relate to, or be a part of, because they met when they were so young and grew up with this band in a way that was impossible for anyone outside of England to really understand. When I say I’m envious, that’s the truth. I’m not jealous of them—I wouldn’t want to take any of that away from them—I just wonder what it must have been like. So, I tend to ask them a lot about it whenever I get the chance.
When I saw the link to this song over the weekend, I listened with the same sort of giddiness I do when I get a new Duran Duran song. The thing is, the song has been around for a while. It’s not new to YouTube, and I know there have been questions about it before. I certainly had questions of my own, and in many ways I’m embarrassed to say that I’d never heard it before. So many die-hard fans have – it’s one of those songs “everyone” knows about. Here I am, Ms. Blogger-lady, and I hadn’t yet. Awesome.
Those who remember Kitty will know that she posted it on her now defunct website, Gimme A Wristband. John has said in the past that the song isn’t Duran Duran (although I am not an expert in sound engineering, it sure as hell sounds like Duran Duran to me). Katy has said this song doesn’t exist (which to be fair, it really doesn’t anymore because the song eventually became something else anyway). Yet my friends, who were there at one of the (many) places the band recorded Seven and the Ragged Tiger album – know it’s real. It is one of those songs that, the more it’s denied, the more it has become something of a treasure. My friends were able to tell me the story behind the recording itself. The quality of the recording is, well, not good – it’s been cleaned up quite a bit so one can hear it – but it’s still pretty muddy sounding. There’s a reason for that. It was recorded through a drain pipe.
That’s the good stuff right here. Imagine a kid taking the time to bend down, and getting what had to have been a horribly distorted recording of a song coming through a drain pipe, just because she was a huge fan! Yet the story doesn’t surprise me one bit, given the fan in question. I can’t imagine that she actually thought she’d be answering questions about that song and the way she recorded it thirty years later!
I went back and forth about whether or not I’d write about this song here on the blog. It comes down to this: for me, the true importance isn’t about whether the band says it’s real or fake, or what song it is…or was at the time. I wasn’t there to confirm it all, but I believe the people who took time to explain to me how it is that they have a recording of a Duran Duran song that was never released. It doesn’t matter what DDHQ has said in the years since, because they weren’t even there at the time.
No, the point that sticks in my head is the fact that these kids were so into Duran Duran that they spent their spare time (and probably some school time too!) sitting at the studio. They met one another, they became friends, and they experienced the same sort of fandom that many of us had to wait until we were adults to fully experience and enjoy. Think about how so many of us will wait hours in a hotel lobby just to be able to say hi to the band. Then think about the people we’ve met while waiting.
It is from these same friends of mine (ha ha ha) that many of the stories of how Duran Duran’s history all really happened and unfolded comes from. With all due respect to management, for the die-hards, it’s not about the “story” that they want out there in the general public. After all, that bio and image is a highly polished veneer that is expertly applied to the raw, organic reality. I think the real “stories” or Duranlore, particularly those that fans are most interested in, come from the fans who were actually there. They aren’t the ones who need to project a certain impression, or put on airs because the reality doesn’t match the pretty PR image that gets albums sold.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely a place for the image created by a hard-working management team, and I have ample respect for that. But there’s also the reality that comes from fans who have been there since day one, or close to it. Rarely does a management team stick with a band from beginning to end. Some fans do, though, and some lived close enough to actually see it happen. The tales of Duranlore these fans share aren’t always pretty, and they’re certainly not polished, but yet – it’s the oral history of people who, in spite of it all, are still fans forty years later.
That says something, doesn’t it?