Tag Archives: Lori Majewski

All Over You As They Say: Tomorrow is Election Day!

Tomorrow marks a day I have been awaiting for over 500 days now.  It is Election Day, and that means the end is nigh. No, I don’t mean the end of the United States or the world… I mean Decision 2016 will finally come to an end. I don’t know what will happen in the days following, but I do know that the political ads on television, radio, and other media will finally end. That alone is worth celebrating. For what has seriously been over a year now, celebrities of all kinds have voiced their feelings, concerns, and even a certain amount of vitriol on every type of social media. Musicians, including but certainly not limited to Duran Duran, have used their own on stage soap boxes to comment on our election, regardless of where they’re from, or their right to vote (or not) in our elections.

I have no shame in writing that the idea for this blog came from Lori Majewski. She asked on Facebook if fans mind seeing musicians making political comment. The answers and opinions were widely varied, as you might have expected.

As I’ve commented before, my views are unlike many other DD fans. I vote as a Libertarian these days, because I lean conservative when it comes to fiscal (money) issues, but I am also socially liberal. I am not here to tell you how to vote – only to admit how I vote so that no false assumptions are made as I continue writing.

I pondered Lori’s question as I read some of the replies posted. On one hand, I really believe music and politics go hand in hand. Throughout history, music has been used within cultures to describe, create, and foster social change. That doesn’t happen without people willing to put their opinions out there. Punk didn’t just “happen”. Gospel music didn’t just come out of nowhere. Someone had to come up with the words, thoughts and feelings.

I believe music has the potential to change people. It is what I believe to be the great common denominator. Music brings people together, and it is the essence of what is truly good. Even when the message isn’t one I necessarily agree with, I recognize that there are many others out there who probably need that message communicated.

Additionally, music has been used to make people aware. I think about Bandaid, USA for Africa, LiveAid, FarmAid, even Rock the Vote.  So in one sense, yes it’s OK with me if a musician I admire makes political comment. I expect it!

However, there is also a part of me that dreads seeing it. This comes into play when I see celebrity after celebrity trying to tell me, the voter, what is the “right” way to think or feel. I really dislike the parade of musicians and celebrities that come out in favor of one side (and in the US – I don’t think it’s any shock that they’re mostly Democrat). They use their celebrity draw to influence the vote. I’m equally bothered, if not more so, when the musician or celebrity isn’t even from this country. Should they even have an opinion? I suppose it’s a slippery slope. Yes, of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. It would be wrong of me to insist that they never voice it. But, I’m still bothered by it, whether or not I happen to agree with their stance. As I said—it’s a slippery slope.

For me personally, it is rare that I find a celebrity or musician who I identify with politically. I’ve gotten used to the fact that I disagree with not only most of my friends, but also a lot of the musicians I admire. I think there is a real risk of turning people off when you wear your politics on your sleeve, but more and more often—I’m finding that it doesn’t matter. This particular election cycle has been ugly. I’ve seen celebrities fire right back at hate and anger with their own hate and anger, whether they’re talking to someone who was once a fan or not. It is a little jarring to see a celebrity tell someone to F*** off on social media, because that someone was rude, and there is plenty of that going on anymore. It’s like we forgot how to be kind to one another, regardless of what “side” we’re on.  In our own community there has been a little of that, which has been equally disturbing.

I don’t think it’s a secret that Katy is outspoken with regard to her feelings for Trump. She has her own Twitter account and is not afraid to use it. Some fans haven’t always appreciated her candor, and voiced that opinion in return. She has since changed her account name (can’t blame her), but some fans really believe that people like Katy should keep their opinions to themselves because they represent the band. I have to wonder if it’s really that people believe that political views from people like her should be kept private, or if it’s really just that fans don’t like the message she’s conveying, so therefore it shouldn’t be said.

Ultimately, I am more concerned about the state of my country after election day. Tomorrow, someone is going to be elected the next US  President. Immediately following, we’re going to have to undo a lot of damage left in the wake. I’ve seen many of my friends say that they’re not sure we’re going to go back to being nice to one another. Many others say that they don’t really want to just be nice again, because they feel very strongly about the positions one candidate seems to convey – and if someone agrees with him even enough to vote that way, they want no part of that person. I have seen the other side say nearly the exact same thing, that there’s no going back.

I think that attitude is just sad. The candidate is one person, regardless of whether or not you agree with those views. I voted for neither of the main candidates. I usually don’t. If I said I wasn’t going to keep talking to people based on the way they voted, I’d be out of friends by now! The people who are voting come from several million different walks of life, with millions of difference circumstances. It isn’t all black and white. The last thing we should be doing is ignoring one another and assuming it will all go away with election day. That’s the thing with music. It speaks when some of us just cannot find words. Maybe it is time we start listening.

-R

Before I forget – thank you for all of the lovely birthday wishes left for me on Facebook and Twitter. It has been a strange birthday this year – my daughter is at school and there’s been no time to really celebrate, so your message brightened up my day and I truly appreciate them. Thank you!!

How Important is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Anyway?

How important is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame anyway?

As I read through this year’s list of nominees, this question swirled in my head. Sure, Chic is on the list. Again. For the 11th time, they appear on the list. Then there’s Depeche Mode, Yes, Janet Jackson, The Cars…..Tupac Shakur, Pearl Jam, Chaka Khan, ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), Journey, The Zombies, Bad Brains, J. Geils Band, Joan Baez, Kraftwerk, MC5, Joe Tex, and Steppenwolf.  I think I’ve gotten them all.

It seems like every single year I write something about the Hall of Fame. Quite frankly, I detest it. I dislike it to the point where it really isn’t worth my time—yet here I am, writing about it again.

It seems to me that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the one accolade everyone loves to hate. The process, in my mind, is absurd. The nominating committee of the RRHOF Foundation gets together and comes up with a list of nominees. The list is publicized, and then some 600-historians and members of the music industry vote upon the all-powerful although in the past few years (since 2012) they’ve bestowed that same glorious right to vote upon the public, so our collective opinion is also taken into account. The top five vote- getters are then inducted.

First of all, the nominees, or at least a reasonable percentage of them—are questionable. I could sit and name names, but the reality is, those that I may find odd are the same bands and artists that someone else probably sees as shoe-ins. So, I’m just going to leave it that I find a lot of the nominees to be questionable, and the inductees typically make me roll my eyes.

Secondly, Chic has been nominated ELEVEN DAMN TIMES. Come on now. That alone tells me something is screwy about the process. Yes, Chic is disco. Yes, Americans (in particular) have forgotten just how much disco-elements we use in our music even today. Even so, eleven times?  Unbelievable.

Thirdly, I’d argue that outside of the US, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame means nothing.  Just yesterday, one of my friends commented that they never hear about the RRHOF, and they live in the UK.  I have no doubt that’s true. Many (including myself) say that the heart of the music industry is here in America, which is probably why the Hall of Fame works here – but the rest of the world doesn’t care. I can’t blame them, because really, is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that important anyway?

I doubt it. Each year when Nile, as the sole surviving member of Chic is nominated, he graciously tweets something about being happy to be on that list, but he also mentions how many times he’s been on it. In my head, it’s becoming a terrible joke. What makes him any less deserving than Green Day—a band that has been around for a fraction of the time—but was inducted in 2015, the very FIRST year they were even eligible?  Absolutely nothing but votes.

Who votes? Who decides? The RRHOF description of their voters is remarkably vague. “some 600 historians and members of the music industry, including those who have previously been inducted.” Then there’s the public, of course. Fans are going to vote for their favorites regardless of whether they’re the most deserving. In the same way I voted umpteen times for Duran Duran to win the MTV EMA this year or “Best World Stage” without watching the other nominees to see if their performance really was the best, fans are going to get out the vote for their favorite, and I can’t blame them. But, that does not equate (in my mind) to being deserving of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Ultimately what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame comes down to is a glorified popularity contest.  The only people I ever see commenting on its importance are those who make a living commenting on such things (the aforementioned music historians), those who have been inducted, or perhaps fans.  As many Duranies mention, in any interview where the band has been asked, they carefully word their answer about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The band recognizes that the process is entirely political and not at all indicative of any success the band may have had, their continued relevance, or inspiration they may have given to other bands along the way.  It is difficult for me to argue the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in any other light, because I too, see the nominating process and the joke it has become.

Each year I read the list of names, and while of course, there are several on there that should and deserve to be there, there are just as many that I seriously question. Even bands I adore, like Depeche Mode or The Cars, I really have to wonder about. What makes them any more deserving?

Most awards come down to popularity. I’m well-aware that the MTV EMA’s are also awarded based on vote. Is it any different? In some respects, yes I think it is. The EMA’s are not trying to decide the most important acts of our time based on the previous twenty-five years (or more) of work. They reflect a single year, and in many aspects they reflect a single song and how it was received by the public.

Ultimately, this post isn’t going to convince anyone of anything. It’s simply a conversation starter in the same way that morning talk shows might spark discussion. Speaking of which, in case you haven’t heard, Lori Majewski (author of Mad World and fellow Duranie who once  was the editor of her own fanzine named Too Much Information: the Definitive Duranzine ) along with co-host Nik Carter have their  own brand new music talk show called Feedback on Sirius Channel VOLUME. It airs 7-10 AM EST live in all time zones and then repeats as soon as it ends, and is also available on demand. We wish Lori the very best!

-R

 

Touring is not a sprint, it is a marathon!

So here it is, our final video blog of the 2016 Paper Gods tour.  If we had to sum up the tour in a single sentence (or title), we’d say that touring is not a sprint, it is a marathon!  We tried to cover and condense all of our thoughts into a single video. At just over a half-hour, we’re recommending food and beverage before viewing. You’re welcome.

We have so many feelings and thoughts about this tour, it was hard to know where to begin.  As the exhaustion becomes readily apparent, the emotion also flows easily through our words. We love this band, and to quote Lori Majewski – we love them so much it hurts.

While neither of us are emotionally ready for this to end, we know that it must. So, I will drive Amanda to the airport today, and then spend a couple of weeks camping with my family (I have a few guest blogs to share with you in my absence). I hope that those of you who still have shows left will thoroughly enjoy them. I know that I did.

Life is so weird. I really believed that this trip would be my last for Duran Duran. I also think that’s where I went wrong in my thinking. After all, the trips aren’t just about the band. They’re about seeing many of you along the way. I spent a lot of time on this tour laughing, talking and just being thankful that my life crossed paths with so many of you in the process. For me, touring is my happy place. It is not only my escape, but it is my bliss, and I don’t know why I would want to ever stop doing that unless I had no other choice.

So, I’m off to drop Amanda at the airport and resume regular life. I’m amazed at just how quickly things pile up around here when I’m not around to do chores, so I’ll be doing much of that along with packing up so that we can get out of here early Saturday morning. I’ll be taking a lot of you along with me though, in my memories of what has got to be the best July I’ve ever experienced. Love to you all.

-R

 

Loving the Alien Lives On

I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been run over. I couldn’t figure it out because I went to bed at a reasonable time and slept very well – which is unlike me. Usually I wake up several times, but not last night. I hurried to get dressed, because I was also late…and rushed to get the youngest ready for the day and out the door. At some point before leaving, I looked at my phone and felt that feeling of dread come over me when I saw my news feed still commanded by post after post in tribute to David Bowie.

That familiar sinking feeling returned as I saw so many of my friends clearly in pain and mourning. My heart nearly broke as I read posts from dear friends as well as from people such as Martin Gore (Depeche Mode), Michael Stipe (REM) on Facebook, and even Conan O’Brien, covered on the Huffington Post. Dealing with the loss of a legendary artist like Bowie is tough enough – he really WAS The Beatles of the 80s (as my favorite New Wave experts Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein wrote in their Yahoo! Music article today), but seeing people you love, admire and care about grieve is a different thing entirely.

David Bowie is everywhere today. He’s all over the iTunes music charts, thanks to an-ever familiar surge in “after death” sales that nearly always occurs – and this is nothing to be sad about. I’ve seen a few lament over the fact that it’s taken death for people to buy his art. I say, as an arts appraiser – that this is the market. I wouldn’t look at it as being sad. It’s a silver lining. David’s music will live on. His music, his image, his ability to reinvent himself over and over again and never rest on his laurels, will continue to inspire for many generations to come. That, my friends, is a gift. Be sad that a man died. Be sad that there is no real cure for cancer, or that his wife and children will be grieving long after you and I get on with our lives, but don’t be sad that David Bowie’s music is being discovered by people who may not have paid attention previously – myself included. Last night my husband and I went through our vinyl collection and pulled out some Bowie albums we haven’t listened to in years. Yesterday, I bought Blackstar. Sure, I’d planned to buy it anyway – but hearing he’d died reminded me to get it. So I did.  Today, I’m listening to a greatest hits playlist on Spotify, with songs on it that I’d nearly forgotten about. (As an aside, I’m finding that I listened to FAR more Bowie over the years than I ever realized as I go through his collection….) None of that is bad, in fact, I applaud it.

Still others scoff, saying that today’s generation of music makers won’t be listening to Bowie – they listen to the radio, filled with monstrosity like rap and auto-tuned “fast food” varieties of music that continue to be churned from labels. Artists like that won’t be influenced by true artists like Bowie, and kids who listen to those types of artists obviously won’t be influenced either. I disagree completely. I might not be able to hear it, and I might not be able to see it – but that doesn’t mean the influence doesn’t exist. Just yesterday I’d read a quote from Kanye West of all people, saying that he owes Bowie for much of his musical inspiration.  Kanye is about as far out of my musical realm as it gets, to be fair, but I can’t help but applaud the example. After all, who is to say that some 8-year little girl old didn’t, for example, hear “Lazarus” yesterday when her mom was writing a blog and say “Wow Mom, I love his voice.” and then try to copy the sound herself? Or maybe she saw the video for “Blackstar” and then asked to see “Space Oddity” and marveled over the way he looked and sounded? We just don’t know where the influence will come from, or how it might affect future artists. As cynical as I can be about music, the industry and even art in general at times, I refuse to believe Bowie’s influence won’t continue in some fashion. I think we get ourselves into trouble when we start convincing ourselves that inspiration doesn’t flow from generation to generation, and that nothing from our own era has come through because it was simply just “too good”, and music has gone straight downhill from there.  That’s one slippery slope.

There’s no arguing the fact that music will never be the same. When you lose a family member, there’s no replacing them in the same exact way.  For us, the children of the 80’s, the music lovers, the fans…Bowie was family, whether he was extended family or the head of our musical “household”. Even so, music will go on. Life goes on. The permanence remains.

That’s when it hits me: I must be grieving. That feeling of exhaustion and pain is one I’m familiar with, although I didn’t honestly expect to feel that way from something like this. You see, David Bowie was never a favorite of mine in the way that he was for some of you – and I really do feel for each of you in a way I really can’t put into words. I am so sorry.  Grief has a horribly ironically funny way of sneaking up when you least expect.

A friend suggested I listen to his music, certain that I will find something within to touch me – and I have. His hand, whether by physical touch or inspiration, was involved in nearly everything I love in life. The grief, sorrow and loss of my friends, my heroes, and the people I love is also my own.

-R

This Week in Duranland – November 3rd to November 9th, 2014

What happened last week in Duranland?  It was quiet, right?  I don’t think so!  I know that I had a hard time keeping up with everything.  Anyone else?  If so, this is post is for you and for me!

Wild Boys Anniversary
Despite all of our efforts, time has not stood still.  This means that Wild Boys really did just turn 30!  It is hard to believe that it is 3 decades old.  Rhonda discussed all of this as well as the video posted of John Taylor talking about the song and video on dd.com on this blog post here.

Austin
Obviously, there was a ton of activity regarding Duran Duran’s performances in Austin.  First, they played at the Formula1 Fan Fest.  Then, they played at Dell World.  If you want to catch up on those performances, I recommend reading the following blog posts:  I Wish I Was On That Plane and You’ll See I’m Right Some Other Time.  The posts give links to reviews and a playlist of video clips, which is perfect for those of us dying for a show!!!  If that wasn’t enough, DuranDuranMusic has exclusive photos for members.

Press Clips
Duranduran.com has a new gallery!  It is a collection of press clips.  If you have some, you should definitely send them on to Duran Duran!

Simon and Hunger Game Soundtrack
Lori Majewski, author of Mad World, wrote a little article on Yahoo! Music News about Simon’s appearance on the upcoming Hunger Games soundtrack.  If you didn’t check it out, do it here now!

Countdown
According to the post on Duran’s Facebook:  Countdown’s 40th Anniversary special is airing next week in Australia.  Duran Duran is featured on part 2, which will air on Sunday, November 23rd at 7:40.  Hope someone will share with the rest of us!

Finishing Up DD14!
Speaking of Duran’s Facebook, more studio photos were posted.  These were posted with the statement about how they were “finishing up DD14”!  Let’s hope!  I think we are all dying for it!!!

Careless Memories and Nick:
Nick Rhodes was interviewed this week on the webiste, BlackBook, to discuss the book of photographs called Careless Memories, by Denis O’Regan.

An Illustrated Guide…
Duran Duran was featured in “An Illustrated Guide to Every Animal in Rock Music”.  Before you read the guide, can you guess which animal might be featured?  After all, Duran Duran mentions quite a few animals in their songs…

Today Show Mention
The Today Show discussed who should be the next artist to do a James Bond theme this week.  This, of course, led to a Duran Duran reference along with a brief debate about who is the better band member:  Simon or John!  It is a fun watch!

Gavin Elder
Does that name sound familiar to you?  If not, let me catch you up.  Gavin is Duran’s videographer!  Thus, if there is a video put out by the band, it is usually done by Gavin!  This week, he got a little recognition on the Between 10 and 5 website.  Learn more about Gavin and his work here!

It definitely wasn’t a quiet weekend in Duranland!  It was so busy that I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed a thing or ten!  If so, drop me a comment here!

-A

Charli XCX vs. Simon LeBon

Simon talks Hunger Games and Charli XCX with Lori Majewski

If you haven’t caught the Yahoo! music news article written by none other than Mad World author and fellow Duran Duran fan Lori Majewski – you really should.

Personally, I’m looking forward to getting the song. It’s the first time in recent years that I am going to brag to my oldest that she likes an artist (Charli XCX) that collaborated with someone from MY main musical interest. Oh yes, I plan to buy that song and play it non-stop. I’m looking forward to hearing what Simon describes as dark lyrically and the nursery-rhyme melody. Sounds like a perfect fit for me!

The soundtrack is out on November 17th…just a mere 13 days away now. New music, here we come!

-R

 

This Week in Duranland (October 6, 2014 – October 12, 2014)

It is Sunday!  That means that it is time for me to summarize the past week in Duranland.  What happened this week that you (or me!) might have missed?  What do we have to look forward to in the weeks to come?

Nick as Curator
According to the press release on duranduran.com, Nick acted as curator for a set of artwork for the Parisian Galerie 1900-2000.  This is for the upcoming Frieze Masters art fair that will take place from October 15th to October 19th in London.  I wish that I was in London to be able to attend this fair myself, especially as Nick pointed out that this Galerie had a tremendous collection of Dada and Surrealist art!

Unstaged Availability
It seems like there is more news about Unstaged each and every week!  Now, the big news is not only will it be available On Demand in the US and Canada but it will also be available for download and rental on the same day (October 14th)!  The press release has a list of where you can rent, download or watch via On Demand.  Likewise, the same press release said that there will be news coming about international air dates and DVD releases.

Astronaut Anniversary
This weekend marks the 10 year anniversary of the release of Astronaut.  TEN YEARS!?!  I can’t believe it.  To me, it feels like it was just yesterday when it was released.  Roger wrote a very nice piece about his remembrances from the reunion and from making Astronaut.  It is definitely worth a read.  The best line, in my opinion, is the last line about how it worked for a period of time.  It definitely did!

Recent Pictures
Pictures from Duran Duran’s Facebook page–Simon from a recent photo shoot and John in the studio!

Simon photo shoot 2014John from studio 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Nick Rhodes & Lori Majewski
This week, Nick was interviewed along with Mad World author, Lori Majewski on the Robert Elms show on BBC London.  Rhonda covered this interview well on this blog post.

Simon, Lorde and Hunger Games
Like the Nick and Lori interview, Rhonda covered this here and gave all the details!  To summarize, Lorde picked Simon for the next Hunger Games Soundtrack!

What did I miss?  While I might have missed some stories on the Duran front, I will tell you what I definitely miss.  I miss seeing the band.  I miss going on tour.  I miss Duran shows.  I miss my friends.  These news tidbits are good but I want more.  Am I the only one?

-A

Inside this gilded cage

I was able to take some time and catch the Robert Elms (BBC London) interview with Lori Majewski and Nick Rhodes. Here’s the link for those of you who want to listen. (It starts with Girls on Film at about the 2:31:00 mark)

For the first half, Robert spoke with Nick as they were having “technical difficulty” getting Lori patched in from New York. They talked about New Wave, and how even on American charts – most of the acts were British. Nick spoke of how British acts really wanted to make their mark in America. He also talked about the diversity of the charts and what was available at the time.  At this point, Lori is on the line and is able to say that we were very much caught in “middle-aged” American tastes. She’s right. I can remember being at my sitter’s house after school and having to listen to Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” over and over again. On 8-track. It really is a wonder how I made it through that year before I finally discovered KROQ and heard Planet Earth for the first time.

They continue on this theme, and it seems almost astounding to Robert Elms, and I suppose many Brits, that here in America it wasn’t places like New York and LA that drove New Wave. It was suburbia.  Lori makes the point that MTV didn’t arrive in NYC or LA (proper) until 1983, but places in middle-America had MTV far earlier. It was when radio stations began getting requests to play Girls on Film in the middle-of-anywhere Kansas or Florida that suddenly New Wave got a foothold. Thank goodness, otherwise we might still be listening to the Piña Colada Song…

Lori also talks about John Hughes films, which, if you’re not from America, I’m just not sure the importance comes across. You just cannot really imagine how vital those films were to 1980s coming-of-age. Movies such as Pretty in Pink, the Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire…those films were what framed our adolescence. They set the bar for what American teens wanted to look like and be like, and that music really became not only part of the soundtracks for those movies, but for our lives. Much of that music IS New Wave.

I think back on my pre-teen/teen years and it’s really impossible to untangle it all. Unlike many people who chose to write off the 80s as some sort of style experiment gone off the rails, those years matter to me. They made me who I am. I interviewed Lori Majewski several months back (you can read that interview here) and we talked the reasons why Duran Duran fans respond so emotionally to the band, even today. Why does this band matter so much to us?  Many of us were so young when the band was at the height of its popularity, I know that in my case, I didn’t even have the opportunity to see them (Duran Duran) until I was in college.  Even seeing them today has the potential to live out (some of) the fantasies that rolled through my head back when I was twelve. That undaunted, unbridled, RAW teen emotion still exists within. For many, that emotion is not only what keeps us returning for more, it is also what drives us to do some of the crazy things we hear about. Not that I’m judging.  After all, I’ve bought tickets to shows I openly swore I would not be attending, I’ve fawned over a band member or two in my time…and I write a blog. When I picture my fandom, I see it as that leopard in a cage that a certain song mentions. Occasionally, the leopard gets out. I’ll bet yours does too.

-R

Book Club: Mad World (INXS, Thompson Twins and Simple Minds)

It is Book Club Monday!  There are only 2 weeks left of our latest book and book club.  As we hope you know, we have been reading and discussing the book, Mad World:  An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s.  This week we are focused on the chapters on INXS, Thompson Twins and Simple Minds.  Join us with your thoughts on these chapters!

INXS

Amanda:

Before I started reading this chapter, I wondered if the focus was going to be Michael’s death or how the band has attempted to keep going without him.  I wouldn’t have criticized that, if that had been the focus.  After all, Michael was such a talent, a larger-than-life person.  Yet, I knew that the loss of Michael would be felt, would be acknowledged (as it should) through the music, according to the last couple of lines of author’s, Lori Majewski’s introduction about interviewing remaining members of the band, “…I could tell that they were still dealing with the loss 16 years later.  But they weren’t melancholy conversations, because we were talking about the part of Hutchence that will never die:  his songs.”  Truly, I think this is all any artist can hope for–that one’s art, no matter the medium, lives on.

Like Rhonda mentions in her section, I, too, wasn’t surprised that Original Sin was produced by Nile Rodgers.  Much like Duran, they were clearly fans of his and knew that working with him meant that they had were in the current music scene.  I suspect artists today still feel the exact same way.  Of course, they were such fans that they were nervous about working with him.  I can understand that.  Nile saw that and knew that he was going to have to deal with that.  I love that he did by having the rehearsal of Original Sin be secretly recorded and going with that.  Of course, the song created some controversy with the interracial lyrics.  It saddens me that lyrics about an interracial couple would cause anyone to be upset, but I’m not surprised by this, especially in the States during that time.  This reminds me about how the record label of Duran’s didn’t like Nile’s mix of The Reflex as they felt it sounded “too black”.  Clearly, racism was alive and well then.

One thing I always like about reading these chapters is how I learn something new about the artists behind the music.  I was fascinated with the statement about how Michael felt that he could talk to people through his lyrics.  He didn’t need to talk much and let his lyrics speak for him.  On one hand, I love the idea that one’s writing, one’s art truly does show what someone thinks and feels.  On the other hand, I know how easily one’s lyrics can be interpreted in multiple ways.  Wasn’t he worried that there would be misunderstanding?  That said, I guess all forms of communication can be misinterpreted. No matter how his lyrics are interpreted, I, for one, are thankful they were written and made available for all of us to enjoy.  Truly, his voice and words live on.

Rhonda:

You know what I would love? I would love for the first thought to come to mind when talking about INXS NOT be that Michael Hutchence is no longer with us. But it is, and as much as I try to fight that – I simply can’t. 

Some say that Michael Hutchence was sex, personified. I probably wouldn’t disagree. Lori Majewski mentions that his death was the first time she’d lost one of her idols. Again, I wouldn’t argue one bit and there are times when even now, I sit back and think “Wow, did that really happen?” That’s real grief, and it’s unavoidable. She says that in interviewing Andrew and Tim Farriss for this chapter she could tell that they were still dealing with his death. I have no doubt. Grief changes in feeling, but it’s still grief.  Jonathan says, “I listen to ‘Devil Inside’, ‘What You Need’, and ‘Never Tear Us Apart’, and I think ‘Boy, could we use a band like that today.’” AMEN.

It was never a surprise to learn that Nile Rodgers had produced Original Sin. One cannot help but hear his influence…and let’s face it…he also worked with Duran Duran (notably after INXS). It’s no wonder the band wanted to work with him – he is a genius.  Tim Farriss notes, “We were the first young white band to use Nile. I remember seeing John Taylor, and he was saying how much [Duran Duran] would love to work with him. ‘You used Nile Rodgers, eh? How is he?’ I was like, ‘Awesome man, but I don’t think he likes bass players.’ I was trying to turn him off to the idea. Sure enough, they ended up using him. That trick didn’t work.”  I laugh.  

What IS surprising, however, is Original Sin was a one-take record. Nile realized the band was in awe of him, so he had them rehearse it – while he had the sound engineer record the entire thing. That’s the way to get ‘er done, Nile. (I know a band that could use some of that again….*coughs*)

More “surprises”…the song was banned in the US, and I’m sure it’s because as Andrew Farriss described, it was the elephant in the room (and still is).  It’s so silly when you think about it now, but back then?  That was a huge deal. Yes, America is still far behind the rest of the world. To my parents – you just didn’t see that sort of thing in their generation much. Just to let you all in on a piece of my own history: it was a HUGE deal when I dated a Mexican kid in high school. You can’t even imagine. I mean, I’m Italian for crying out loud (my dad was kicked out of places when he was growing up because he was Italian and lived in New Jersey – where that lineage was frowned upon!) – and my boyfriend at the time was half Mexican/half white-as-me, but I practically had to get permission from the Pope before my parents gave me the OK. Ridiculous. My kids don’t even blink when they see people together, which is the way I want it. Things change. We’ve still got a long way to go, but from my point of view, it’s getting better. Slowly.

It seems like the only other thing to touch on is life after Michael. I have a continued difficult time with that – and I’m not even one of their biggest fans. I’m just a fan who loves their music, and I miss them. I’ve had fleeting affairs with some of their lead singers, but none touch the heartstrings of Michael – and I’m not really sure I’d want it any other way. I wish the band would tour again on one hand, and on another I’m not sure it was ever the same…but then, I never expected it to be. I just wish them well.

Thompson Twins

Amanda:

This is going to sound weird but my most vivid memory of this band and this song was when I was stereo buying.  My first CD player happened as a result of my 8th grade graduation.  It didn’t last.  By sophomore year in high school, I was back to buying a stereo.  I couldn’t live without my music!  How did I decide which stereo to buy?  I decided by listening to this song played loudly in the store on various stereos!  While I always liked this song, there was something about hearing it played in such a way that I appreciated it in a much bigger way afterwards.

Two aspects of the Thompson Twins story really caught my attention.  First, there was the couple aspect between Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie.  Second, there was their very clear decision to be “pop stars”.  Both seemed to affect not only the life of the band but also their decision not to reform as Thompson Twins.

Again, like Rhonda below, I had no idea that Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie were together, eventually married (and divorced) and had children together.  I’m not ever really surprised when I read about how two people from a  band were romantically linked.  I think that can happen whenever people work very closely together.  What I find more interesting is what it was like for the third member, Joe Leeway.  Was he worried about how their relationship would affect the band?  What if they broke up?  Would they want to become a duo?  Clearly, they managed to navigate this but I still wonder what affect it had.  Now, of course, Tom and Alannah are divorced.  Would they be more interested in reforming, if they were still married?  Who knows.

Lastly, I found it very interesting that they made a clear distinction about being pop stars instead of trying to be pop stars.  They went this way in order to treat it like a serious job and as a means to achieve their goals.  I think things like how you refer to yourself definitely does affect how confident you are, which impacts everything else.  Yet, now that they have different careers, does the title hold them back from reforming?  They can’t reform because they aren’t pop stars anymore?  Again, who knows.

Rhonda: 

My name is Rhonda Rivera and I am a fan of Hold Me Now. Any hope of being “hardcore” (as my 17-year old daughter Heather says) is finished now, I suppose.  Damn. I loved that song the entire way through school, and I still love it today. I miss the band, having bought all of their albums and continuing to treasure them today.

As nieve as I was, I had no idea that Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie were a couple. This explains the song so much, and yet I understand why they kept it private. I had a friend who was in a rock band that was becoming well-known and somewhere early into the journey he told me that he was taking a stage name. I didn’t get it at the time, but now I understand. For him, he was trying to keep the stage life separate from the real life. I don’t know how successful he was (we lost touch), but I can understand the need to compartmentalize. 

One thing I truly loved about the Thompson Twins was the audible  influence of world music.  I think of “You Take Me Up” or  “The Gap” and you can’t help but hear the African influence, and it’s done well.  The other thing I loved about the Thompson Twins was something I didn’t even realize until I read this book – and that was Nile Rodgers.  It isn’t lost on me that among the bands I cared about most during the 80s – Nile seems to be a common denominator. (Not bad for someone who never thought she was a disco fan!) 

It’s curious to me that during the writing of the book, Tom Bailey says that he isn’t interested in touring as Thompson Twins, which I really can’t blame him given that he and Alannah Currie are divorced.  But not long after reading, I saw that he is actually touring with Howard Jones, Midge Ure and others.  Good for him. 

Simple Minds

Amanda:

Seriously, this is one of those songs that I have to wonder if there is anyone of my generation who doesn’t love it.  Much like the movie in which it featured in the soundtrack, it represents that time for so many.  Everyone knows it.  Everyone loves it.

When I read this chapter, I realized how lucky we all were that it got made.  Clearly, the band wasn’t super comfortable to do someone else’s song.  (Isn’t that a sign of the times, too?  Nowadays, I assume that any popular, radio-friendly song is written by someone OTHER than the artist/singer/band performing it.  Then, though, I thought everyone wrote their own songs.  I believe that all the songs written in this book, up until this point, were written by the singers/bands themselves, just to prove a point.)  Yet, they decided to “smell the coffee” as they phrased it and went with it.  I like how they worked to make it their own, though.  I suspect is something not done much today as performers just go with what has been given to them for whatever reason.

Throughout this book, there have been a number of themes to emerge.  This chapter brings out two of them:  how bands dealt with their apparent (but not really) one hit and how this time period was filled with such creativity.  I have to say that I truly appreciated how Jim Kerr viewed both.  While he knows that he had many, many other quality songs beyond this one, he knows that this is the one that has lived on.  He understands that the song now belongs to everyone.  It is that HUGE.  He also understands the connection to a movie that also connected for so many.  There is no bitterness or anger there.  I only sensed acceptance.  Likewise, I appreciated his attitude when discussing the creativity of this musical era.  He talked about how bands all hung out together and would acknowledge chart success.  Competition did not seem to be fierce, but part of that seemed to be because each group was so unique.  No one had to worry about the other.  There was “no collective sound” but an “imagination”.  I miss that.

Rhonda:

Another “most favorite”.  I think I might be better off naming the bands that are NOT on that list – it would be far shorter! When I think of this band, I can’t help but think of “Alive and Kicking” and “Don’t You Forget About Me” first…but bringing up the rear is “Someone Somewhere in Summertime”.  I got a massive sunburn while listening to the entire album (New Gold Dream) one year while camping in San Diego, but I still love the song. 

I never realized the song wasn’t theirs, and that’s on me. I just assumed…which I’m finding in this industry is a huge “joke is on you” type of error to make. I will say that Jim totally makes it Simple Minds own with his vocals and his “Hey hey hey HEY” at the beginning, and I’m glad that they consider it a pleasure to play. So many times it ends up being the thorn in the side of what was a great career, but they seem to have embraced the fact that the song really broke through the American Ceiling for them. I think what bothers me about the band is that they’ve still got a lot of great music going for them that never gets heard over here, and as a result they rarely tour here, which really bums me out as a fan – but I get it.  

Once again I find something poignant to end my portion of the discussion, this time from Jim Kerr himself – about the 80s, “There wasn’t a collective sound like there was a sound of the sixties, but there was an amazing imagination. That was a very potent collection of kids – and we were kids at the time – and I still listen to a lot of that music to this day. (299) 

I couldn’t say it better.

It’s nearly the end!!  Next week we end our chapter-by-chapter discussion of Mad World by discussing what is likely the most shocking and shameful chapter in the entire book – “Obsession” by Animotion. Then we turn that emotion on it’s head by talking about the most beloved holiday song for nearly any Duranie/New Wave fan: “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, by Band Aid…and then just maybe we’ll do a wrap up of what we’ve learned along the way.  Please feel free to join in!!

-A & R