The other day my friend messaged to me to say, “Guess what I’m listening to?” Now, this isn’t the first time I have gotten this exact question or something super similar. I always know that the answer has something to do with Duran Duran. Turns out that my friend was listening to Ordinary World. Once my friend identified the song, she went on to say, “I know. This is not your favorite song or album.” Obviously, we have had conversations about Duran Duran and this particular era before. Sadly, when we have talked, it is not quite the same as if, say, Rhonda and I were talking. My friend’s knowledge about Duran is limited. I struggle to explain everything I think without overwhelming her with information. Nonetheless, the conversation got me thinking.
This friend of mine (no pun intended), a fellow teacher, is about ten years younger than me. While we share much in common, the age difference comes up, especially with something like Duran. I remember playing the video for Planet Earth in my classroom when the most recent anniversary of the song came up. This friend came in and said, “I wasn’t even born then.” Oh boy. That’s great. Anyway, the first Duran songs she heard were, in fact, ones off of the Wedding Album, which makes sense based on her age. To her, this is Duran Duran. After all, this was her first exposure to the band. The brain put the sound of the Wedding Album as the default Duran Duran sound. That isn’t necessarily bad but explains why she doesn’t see the big deal out of the Rio era, for example. She doesn’t get it when I explain that most of the original Duranies turn to the first three albums as the default sound. After all, that was the first Duran Duran we heard. The Duran Duran we fell in love with.
Interestingly enough, the Wedding Era sound is her favorite despite me trying to expose her to other eras. She cannot connect in the same way that she did to Ordinary World and Come Undone. I, on the other hand, find myself seeking out a Rio like sound whether that is the Rio album itself or an album like All You Need Is Now. After all, that is the first Duran I heard. While I can appreciate the Wedding Album sound, it isn’t what typically comes to mind when I think Duran or when someone mentions the band. No, I think about that early 80s era.
So, in thinking about all of this, I have another question. If I wasn’t a kid in the 1980s and I didn’t hear that early Duran, would I have still become the Duranie that I am now? Would the Wedding Album instead be my go to sound if I was born ten years later or would I simply not be into the band? What about my friend? Would she have become a bigger fan if she was born ten years younger?
Then, I broaden this thinking. Was it just about the music? Did I become a fan just because I liked songs like Save a Prayer or New Moon on Monday? Or did it also have to do with everything else that was in place then? For example, I know that I heard Duran first before I ever saw them but what if MTV wasn’t a thing? What if they didn’t make videos? What about all of the media attention? I couldn’t escape seeing Duran Duran on the cover of multiple magazines when I went to the store. They couldn’t be avoided, really. If all that wasn’t enough, Duran Duran merchandise was everywhere. I had Duran Duran pajamas for crying out loud that I bought at my local box store. They were simply everywhere. So, did I become a fan because of the music, the other things or a combination of both?
One thing I always find interesting when talking with my friend is how little video played a role in her life. When talking about Ordinary World, she, in fact, stated, “Yeah, I think I saw the video once on VH1.” I had to take a deep breath after that. Well, then. This has led me to ask about other videos only to discover that she has never seen Hungry Like the Wolf with its exotic locale and missing Simon storyline. She must struggle to really understand why I am so into Duran and how that happened. After all, I do think the context matters, including all that media attention but also where I was, personally, coming from at the time that first heard and saw Duran.
As the conversation moved away from music, I couldn’t help but to think how lucky I was to grow up in the 1980s in order to experience all that I did with music and pop culture. It made me not only the fan I am now but also the person I am.