Tag Archives: Pressure Off

Paper Gods – Which Is Your Favorite?

As I continue to kind of sort out my final thoughts on all things Paper Gods, I’ve been thinking about the album itself.  This album took a while to grow on me.  Amanda and I spoke about it on the way home from San Francisco, and she surmised that this was a ‘thinking person’s’ album.

I think she’s right about that. In my case, it wasn’t an album that reached out and grabbed me, but instead it kind of sat bubbling in my head, percolating away. For what seemed like months, I’d listen to the album on repeat in the car, and then I’d put it away for a bit. Then I’d pull it back out, and listen to it again on repeat. I would think about the lyrics, the meaning, the possible story, and the music itself.

There were a few things about the album that just didn’t sit well with me. I struggled with the idea that Dom was barely on it, for instance. Yeah, I’m loyal. I know he’s not an “official band member”.  Whatever. He’s been with them for so long, it sure feels like he’s official. It bugged me. I wasn’t totally in love with the feel of the album at first, either. It felt very electronic in parts, and oddly un-Duran Duran like in others. I kept listening. I did not want a repeat of Red Carpet Massacre – an album that I never really enjoyed – so I kept at it, trying to bond.

Somewhere along the line, I must have done just that. The songs no longer sound foreign to me. They no longer feel too electronic, or not DD “enough”.  I don’t even think about who played or wrote what song. They feel just right. Even so, I have favorite songs on every single Duran Duran album. I think we all must have tunes we enjoy more than others, and this one is no different. I also think that looking back on this tour has kind of given new meaning to at least a few of the songs I once struggled with.

When I think of Paper Gods though, a few songs come to mind: Pressure Off, Last Night in the City, and What are the Chances. I am certain this is because the band played all of them on tour, and so they come to mind easily. I also think about The Universe Alone, Planet Roaring, and Cinderella Ride. It’s kind of hard to pick a favorite from that list, but in the end it is purely sentiment that drives me.

While I know he didn’t write it, there’s no arguing that Dom owns the guitar solo in What are the Chances when he plays it live. He took something that wasn’t really his and made it so, and the album version is every bit as beautiful, of course. I feel just a teensy bit guilty that I had to remind myself on the way home from San Francisco that John Frusciante actually wrote the guitar part – I’d gotten so used to Dom doing it that I’d forgotten.  I’m not normally a ballad person, but on this album it’s the two ballads (What are the Chances and Cinderella Ride) that I love hearing most when I’m at home.  The words for both ring very close to home for me in completely different ways – which is something I can say for 99% of the album. The lyrics really hit me.

There is a lot to like on this album, and since it’s release, I’ve fallen in love with much of it. It may not have been an album that knocked me over upon first listen, but it is definitely one that made me think, reconsider, and ultimately embrace. It’s been a great ride.

-R

On the other side of what we’ll never know

Today is my last post for the week. I’ll be back on Monday as usual, but in the meantime, I have a very important event to attend on Saturday. My son Gavin will be graduating from high school. Those are words I wasn’t quite sure I’d ever get to write.

It marks an ending, and a beginning. I remember when Heather, my oldest, graduated. It really was “A Big Thing.” I had no idea what to expect. Would we remain close?  How would she do in college? Was dance really the right path for her?  As I recently said to a friend whose first-born is graduating this year, it is hard to be sad, excited and scared all at once. I broke down many times, always in the shower, and tried very hard not to show my feelings. I figured she was having a hard enough time adjusting without the added pressure of mom’s emotions added to the mix.

Oddly, Heather’s graduation, and now Gavin’s graduation, mark the beginning and end of the Paper Gods album cycle. As the soundtrack of my life continues to be written, I think it’s kind of poetic that I will always equate Paper Gods with the graduations of my two oldest children. Even the album itself—lyrics and all—work well with this part of my life. I don’t know how Duran Duran does it, but they did it again. I’ll never think about this time of my life, with its endings and beginnings, without thinking about Paper Gods.

Gavin’s graduation, on the other hand, is weird for me. I thought I would be far more emotional than I am. I’m excited for Gavin to start college. He needs the challenge, and I have no doubt that Astrophysics will provide! I will miss him at home, but I am also ready to stop being his teacher. Honestly, I think he was ready for me to stop being his teacher about two years ago, but we survived! That said, when I think about just how far this kid has come since seventh grade when he looked me in the eye and told me, with all the seriousness that a twelve-year-old can muster, that he didn’t see the point of school because he was going to be a YouTube star, and by the way I’m failing out of school anyway….well, it’s been a long road with many crying sessions in the shower. I’m incredibly proud, and not just of Gavin. I’m proud of myself. Heather was my first baby and I learned how to be a mom with her. Gavin was my second, he was a challenge from day one, and he taught me how to advocate for my child. I’m so grateful.

Homeschooling has been one adventure after another, and I will never regret a single day. Gavin went from working very hard to fail out of school, to wanting to become a research physicist. Despite being told by more than one of my in-laws that I wasn’t smart enough to teach him—I did it anyway. My kid is not only going to college, but a UC school. I am ridiculously proud of Gavin. He learned to use his Autism as a tool and turn it into a positive. Sometimes, defiance is a wonderful source of energy. I embrace it.

Duran Duran is similar in many respects. To begin with, this day marks a couple of notable anniversaries in their world. It’s the date that the first album was released in 1981. (thirty-six years ago, but who’s counting??) Critics called them a flash in the pan, a one-hit wonder, and just about anything else they could think of.  Duran Duran didn’t shrink into the night because the critics couldn’t pull their heads out – they defiantly continued. Do they still have something to prove? Not in my mind, but I get the motivation. I live it every single day. If that weren’t enough, just two years ago, Pressure-Off, the lead single off of Paper Gods, was also released on this date. The full album came out a few months later, and what did that album do?  It soared to the top ten. So much for being a flash in the pan, right?

I don’t really know what will come next for my family. I’ve always halfway joked and expected that when the right opportunity came up, that Gavin would move far away and we’d get the occasional postcard. This is not a child who is going to stick close to home out of affection or loyalty – it’s not who he is.  It is very hard to stand back and let your child fly from the nest without knowing what will happen, particularly when you’ve spent the majority of his life front-loading him for even the smallest changes in schedule. I am not living his life for him though, he’s got to live his own. I have to let him go, and I will. I would imagine Duran Duran feels the same way when they release an album. You put all of this time and energy into something, and when it’s done and needs released, it’s no longer yours. They tour with it, show it around, and then it’s done.

I feel the same with my kids. Things don’t stay the same after they graduate. Yes, we all get together sometimes – but not nearly as often as we did when they were little. Nowadays Heather is in her own apartment, and is home here occasionally for dinner. (Free food brings them home every time!) I treasure the nights when everyone is home and we play board games or cards and laugh a lot. I can’t really look back with sadness at the loss of their childhood, though, so I don’t. I adjust to what is new, and embrace what comes next.

In the meantime though, I might just spend a little more time listening to Paper Gods, and sneaking in an extra shower or two before Saturday.

-R

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

Yesterday, I wrote about some things I am thankful for. I decided a visual was in order.

I’m going to apologize to my male friends out there, should you be over the whole “gawking at the band” thing. I have decided that life is entirely too short to worry about what some of you may think. I’m gonna do this the way I wanna do it…period.  If the band didn’t want us to look at them, they’d perform behind a damn wall.

So with that in mind, here are some of the more visual things I am thankful for, on this lovely Thanksgiving Day.  Enjoy!

I think this thumbnail alone speaks volumes and says everything I need say.

On the other hand….

(and I could have posted just about any video from Dom…I just like this one, and it’s his solo stuff, so enjoy!)

Back to Duran Duran…

 

Oh look, another thumbnail with Roger.  😀  No seriously, I am thankful for this video because it is with all five, and it is the five that I grew up identifying as Duran Duran.  There is no more joyous of a video than this one for me, to be honest.

I love this video. I am thankful that Nick decided to be a pain in the ass and chew gum, too. You go on with your bad self, Mr. Rhodes.

 

So much to be thankful for in this one I do not know where to begin. Well, there’s John Taylor, to begin with… and Simon. What?  I need therapy.

Ah yes, therapy.  This might work. I am thankful for this video because regardless of what the band or the director had in mind – I have my own personal meaning for all of it. And Dom is in it.  :)It’s

It’s Late Bar. It’s semi-recent(ish).  Oh, and Dom is in it.  To be honest, I don’t even know if he played well. Does that matter right now?

NO.

There’s a lot of memories here for me. I saw the studio they filmed this at (the tin foil was still on the wall), I walked through the cemetery Nick walked through (it also thundered, lightning and hailed which was amusing), and I saw some of the other sites in the video too. Plus – all we really need is now, isn’t it?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Welcome to the holiday season, 2016 (we are almost through this blasted year!)

-R

I’m Still Breathing, and So Should You

There are days when I am so thankful for this blog, this safe, happy place, that I wish I could hug it. Today is one of those days.

Yes, we had an election in my country yesterday. Some may be happy with the results. Others may be very unhappy. I am concerned. I don’t know what to write, or how to feel.  Mostly I want to move on, but I can’t seem to find the right way to go forward yet.

John voted in his first American election yesterday. He tweeted a picture from the @duranduran account. I am sure that must have been a very exciting and proud moment for him, despite the results not turning out as he may have wanted.

I know the rest of the world is sick of our politics right now. I live here and I’m sick of it too. I’ve seen many a friend and acquaintance comment in a variety of ways about the election, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing I can say to make people happy.  Once again our country has come to a crossroads, voters have spoken, and we find ourselves waiting for the other shoe to drop.  There are massive wounds left behind to heal, and I would be insane to think I could do anything to help with that process.

So, I’m watching videos today. I may not know much, but I do believe that music heals. It makes ME feel better. Our world is not perfect. My country may not have voted the way the rest of the world felt best, but watching a video or listening to my favorite band still has the power to make me feel better.

 

 

 

I’m just going to shut off my TV, shut down my computer, put down my phone, and try to enjoy some music for a while. I invite you to do the same.  Sometimes, you just have to take time out to breathe.

-R

 

 

 

No Tomorrow: Last Few US Dates

Today marks the beginning of a new school year in the Rivera house. As I type, I’m still trying to get my youngest up out of bed, and I haven’t even started on the boy yet. It’s his first day of his senior year (I still can’t quite grasp that). My oldest drove back to her apartment after spending the weekend here at home. I am still adjusting to the idea that she’s got her own place, and not-so-secretly I love it when she comes home on Friday nights!  She started her fall semester a week ago.  I would swear it was May only last week, and I’m not really ready to start this yet. (but I won’t tell the kids that!)

This next school year will bring big changes. Again. Last night I spent my evening editing and helping to rewrite a couple of essays for colleges. Last week we started the college application process.  Gavin is going to major in Astrophysics.  No, he doesn’t get it from me, that is for sure!  On the other hand, my youngest starts with her singing “team” this week. We went from show choir being a casual once a week practice to this year where it will be twice a week (four hours practice) and Saturday performances. She’s still doing piano and soccer, and I am now down to one day of the week where I will not be doing the mommy-shuttle somewhere.

I am particularly pleased that as I get busier with my kids, Duran Duran is finishing their US tour. I was so worried that I’d have to miss  seeing them this time.  I definitely didn’t miss out. This week they do two dates in San Antonio, then two more in Oklahoma, and then they’re finished, at least for now.  They’re talking about doing one more date on the east coast at some point before the end of the year, and I keep hearing that they have plans to go elsewhere in the world, but nothing confirmed and announced just yet.

While part of me is sad that I am likely finished planning trips to see Duran Duran for now, I’m also glad that it worked out as it did.  I had the chance to see them more than a few times, both a year ago and then this summer.  The only shadow cast over this tour was Nick’s absence. MNDR did a fantastic job stepping in for him, and I am forever grateful she did. My summer would have been a drastically different tale otherwise.

For the past few years now (yes, years), it seems that the rumor mill has turned constantly, rumors of this being the final tour keeping the wheel moving. Even Amanda and I have caught ourselves beginning sentences with, “Well, if this is the last…”  I suppose we can’t help but not think about it occasionally.  I wanted no regrets (I’ve since realized that no matter what I do, I’ll always want more). But as the tour went on, I wondered if this really would be the last. I mean, have you seen the band up there on that stage?  They all genuinely look like they’re having the time of their lives.  Do they really want that to end?  And (somewhat) more importantly—are you really telling me that the last shows they do here in the US won’t include Nick? Well, I suppose if they come back before the end of the year Nick might be with them for the one date they’re hoping to do, but it still seems strange.  You never know, I guess.

Since this tour was announced, I tried to make plans with the idea that this might be the last I see of the band as a whole. I went to a lot of shows—not as many as some—but certainly more than I’m used to doing. I traveled to Toronto so that I could see my friend Heather.  I spent most of July with Amanda.  We stayed at a couple of really nice hotels, one of which we’d always wondered about staying in, so we finally did it. Even as I did all of that, and stood mostly silent in front of the band as they’d segue from “Sunrise” to “New Moon on Monday” and I’d feel goosebumps on my arms and the hair stand up on the back of my neck each time, I wondered if it was really possible that this could be it.

As good as this tour and album cycle has been, it’s also been strange in its own way.  The band doesn’t change their set list much. They’ve toured with Chic nearly the entire way….which isn’t really weird, it’s just different.  They’re playing a lot of festivals.  The show is very production-heavy. Nick wasn’t here for this leg. I don’t even know what happened to the promotion for this album.

It seemed like Warner went all-in at first, but then the release for “Pressure Off” was bizarre, and I don’t really care what the band’s PR says elsewhere—I’ve never once heard “Pressure Off” on the radio, so I don’t think you can call it a radio hit.  And as far as other singles go, I wouldn’t know if there have even been any. I know there’s at least a video for “Last Night in the City”, but it’s never actually been released. I don’t know how Warner falls in with all of that, but I’d be remiss for not noticing the lack of…well…support in that sense.

As always, I’m left with questions. Amanda and I have often said that no matter how much we feel gets answered, there’s still more left unsaid.

-R

 

 

To Lighten Up Your Mood: Motivational Duran

Yesterday students arrived at the school I teach at for the first time this year.   (I know that this blog is supposed to be about Duran fandom.  This post will get there, too.  I promise.) The beginning of the school year is always a little rough and this year is no exception.  There are always changes and adjustments that need to be made no matter how much summer planning was done by school staff.  In my case, this year, it is all about my class rosters and how many students I have.

For those not in the know, I teach 4 sections of freshmen United States History (along with the very welcomed Women’s Studies).  This means that I spend most of my day trying to get 14 and 15 year olds to engage in activities and discussions surrounding U.S. History from 1865 to 1945.  It is not the easiest task in the best of circumstances.  This year, though, my class lists are pretty messed up.  I have a small class that I’m team teaching with a colleague.  Then, I have two HUGE classes.  One of those classes I am also teaming with but not the other one, which makes no sense.  I also have 25 more students than my colleagues, which is beyond not cool since we assign a lot of essays so I’ll be grading until the cows come home.  Even weirder, still, is the fact that I have a class that has 25 boys and 5 girls.  A lot of those boys have a history of getting themselves into trouble, on top of it all.

While the scheduling seems random, I would not be surprised if I was assigned the class of what I would lovingly call “naughty boys” because I have a long history of success with kids who fit that description.  Part of me appreciates the weird sort of compliment.  The other part of me just worries about being exhausted for the next 37.5 weeks.  Therefore, it is pretty obvious that I’m going to need some energy, some motivation, something to keep me going.  As with everything else in my life, I find myself turning to music, Duran Duran music.  Can Duran give me what I need to be a successful teacher this year?

In order to see if Duran’s music can get me through, I have selected some songs that should work to motivate me.

Wild Boys

The reasons for this song seems obvious, yes?  If I’m going to have a class of “wild boys,” then the song of the same name better keep me going!  I specifically chose the one with “Relax” in the middle because I will need to remind myself of that a lot!

Paper Gods

This song will be used not so much for motivation but for validation.  A teacher’s life in the present day United States is typically filled with a lot of “paper cuts,” both literally and figuratively.  This song acknowledges that paper cuts of some form or another exist, which I often need and appreciate.

Sunrise

The thing I love about this song is how optimistic it is.  I think most teachers need to feel that optimistic, that hope in the beginning of the year and I am no exception.  Many, including myself, need to “feel the new day” as a positive.  I chose the John version of the song because…well…I like his version for obvious reasons and because I stop thinking or worrying about anything else when I’m watching it.

Hold Back the Rain

This song always reminds me of being on the road, being on tour with “no time to worry.”  While the school year gives plenty for me to worry about, I need to remember that there are times, moments when I don’t have to worry.  I will need to recall fun times of this past summer and hope for more in the future when things start to weigh me down.  This song will allow me to go to my happy place when I need it!

Pressure Off

Of course, the school year features breaks and the summer when the pressure truly comes off.  This song will me to remind of that during the long stretches without breaks.

All You Need Is Now

While breaks are always welcomed, I have to remember to appreciate the now and live in the moment.  While teaching is never an easy gig (I just read a stat that states how teachers make about 1,500 decisions in a day or more than 4 decisions in a minute!), I also want to appreciate the moments that remind me of why I got into this field to begin with and why I stay.  I have already had a few this week, such as when I saw some former students who ran up to give me hugs.

So what about the rest of you?  What Duran songs do you use to motivate yourself or to keep you going even when you are exhausted?  Which songs keep you going at work?  I would love to see everyone’s lists!

-A