Thanks to Amanda’s shout-out over the weekend, directing me to come up with my own lifetime soundtrack, I have a topic in mind for today!
Duran Duran has been a part of my life for so long, that many of the mile markers I’ve reached along the way have one of their songs attached. In today’s post, I’ll go through some of the songs that stick out, and the memories that envelope each one. It’s important to note that these aren’t all favorite songs, and the memories to which some are attached, aren’t all wonderful. These aren’t songs that I would necessarily listen to each day – maybe I need to do another blog based on that scenario – but these are songs that, when I hear them, stir up the memories I mention. In every way, these are songs that, along with several others, make up the soundtrack for my life.
I’ll echo Amanda’s suggestion that you, dear reader, think of your own. If you’re getting the “sharing” sort of feels, send it our way. We would be happy to provide you the space for posting!
Every story has a beginning, and this song is mine. Planet Earth was the first song I ever heard by Duran Duran. I’ve had people ask what it was about the song that drew me in, and I find the question so hard to answer. I don’t know what it was. All I can say is that sometimes when you listen to music, you’ll hear something and it just makes your heart wake up. I’ll hear this song even today, and I can feel a little jolt go through me and a warmth spread through my body right along with a smile on my face…and that’s why I haven’t ever stopped being a fan.
This song is, and will always be, my song of summer. Granted, it isn’t just the song, but the music video that creates visions of the sun, the sea, yachts, and fantastic looking men in suits (I mean really, what more could one want??). I also think this is the video that made me decide that someday when I was grown-up, I would drink champagne aboard my own boat on warm, sunny afternoons. Sold the boat (never happier than THAT day), but the champagne afternoons remain, and I wasn’t wrong about them!
Hungry Like the Wolf
Yes, even this song gets a milestone marker. As I recall, this was the first DD music video I saw, and I watched it with my friend Marsha at her house. I can remember her telling me all about their videos, and how I couldn’t wait to go to her house to watch the whole thing. I can remember sitting on a chair at her house watching this video. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I can remember watching and thinking about how different my impression was of them now that I’d seen them actually moving around and all of that (as opposed to only seeing them in posters or magazines). I don’t know what I was expecting, but I guess my imagination of what they would be like was different? Who knows. I was only 12 or 13 at the time! Just imagine my shock and delight when I first heard some of them speak in the video for Nightboat! Then later, I must have put the album on my birthday or Christmas list (so perhaps in late 1983?). My parents had to order it, and by then Duran Duran was on the tongue of every single middle school girl I knew. So, it was on backorder for a ridiculously long time – something like three months or so. I finally got it in March of 1984 and I still own the VHS copy to this day. Can’t play it, but I can look at the cover!
Do They Know Its Christmas?
Alright, so I know this isn’t a DD song, but they’re on it so it counts. Every single time I hear the opening notes, I think of Christmas 1984. I had been asking for my own telephone for months on end – you would have thought I’d been asking for my own home, the way my mom and dad acted. So on Christmas morning, I opened my presents to find a chocolate phone under the tree. I mean chocolate as in it was candy, not its color. I was not at all pleased, and I was in that rough tween stage to boot. So, when a few gifts later, I opened a box that contained the real phone, my mom immediately took it from me and said I was grounded for two weeks.
Later that night, we drove around looking at Christmas lights, I was sulking in the back seat along with my sister and cousin (who was a Duran Duran fan like me) and this song came on the radio. It is forevermore attached to that memory of getting a telephone in 1984.
This single song reminds me of college, and it is because during my freshman year at Cal State Fullerton, I finally got to see Duran Duran in concert. It was (obviously) during the Big Thing tour, and I saw them at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, which no longer exists. My boyfriend from high school sprung for tickets. I dressed up for the concert, wearing a skirt, stockings, and the whole bit. Obviously, I was insane at the time. Our seats were in the last row of the entire amphitheater…I can remember sitting there thinking “This is it? I can see them better by watching videos on TV!”
I was wrong about that, but it took me a couple of decades to get up closer to the front….
Oddly, this song is a marker for me because it came out the year I graduated from college. I say “oddly” because as I’m about to explain, the song isn’t attached to great memories. By that time, I’d all but forgotten about Duran Duran, in many ways. I had grown up, and I figured the band had moved on. This song reminded me that they were still around, although I am not going to lie – I never fell in love with the song. (it was a ballad, and by then I was listening to a lot of rock) I can remember this song coming on the radio throughout the summer as I drove to interviews, trying to get a job so that I could take over the payments on my car. It reminds me of my dad – he’d been laid off from his job of twenty years – and how he struggled to find work of any kind. I think of my parents losing their home, having to live in an apartment, and barely getting by. The memories aren’t great in a lot of ways, and I suppose they color my opinion of the song, if not the album as a whole.
Another strange choice given that it’s not a favorite – but this song reminds me of the year 1997. My daughter Heather was born in January of that year. It was both a joyous time, and a struggle as I struggled with postpartum depression. I can remember folding laundry at some point and watching Duran Duran on the Rosie O’Donnell show. They were doing promo for the album, and this was one of the songs they performed that day. The entire Medazzaland album reminds me of my red Chevy Venture minivan -which is a crazy memory to have, I’ll admit! Walt and I bought that van in late 1996, trading in his white Ford Mustang 5.0 to get it – that was painful for him. He didn’t want to part with it, and refused the dealers trade-in offers until I looked at him in the parking lot of the dealership and told him that I wanted that minivan for our family, and he needed to “do the right thing for his wife” and get rid of the car! Medazzaland, indeed.
This song is one of my very favorite – I love the version they do live, best. It is a milestone in my life, and probably one of the most pivotal, because it marks the time when I got involved in the online fan community. This song marks the moment I saw all five original members of Duran Duran together on stage for the first time. It reminds me of the year I joined a message board, made friends, planned a convention, traveled alone for the very first time to New Orleans, and met some of most wonderful people I know. The following year, I traveled to Chicago, saw Dom perform with Duran Duran for the first time, followed the band back to a Chicago hotel and sat in the bar watching Nick and Simon chat with a few fans before heading up to their rooms. It was the weirdest, most surreal thing I’ve ever witnessed – there was hardly anyone there to see them, and I still remained glued to my seat. This song reminds me of that time when I became brave enough to move past the role of “mom” and find a bit of my old self I’d stuffed back into a corner. Still love hearing it, too.
Red Carpet Massacre
There are highs and lows in fandom, and in life. This song marks a desperate low for me in both. Whenever I hear this album, I think of two things: My dad was very ill and died from a lung disease, which rocked my world in a way that not much else could; and it was the time when I realized how cut-throat fandom can be. Mixed in with those things was the birth of my youngest. Don’t get me wrong, her birth was a huge, wonderful ray of sunshine amidst a stormy sky. However, this song, with its razor-edged lyrics and punk attitude, is not a song I’d pair with her. feisty entrance into this world. Well, not exactly anyway (although oddly, when I think of her, she does carry this same sort of in-your-face, defiant spirit. Hmm.)
In late 2008, I traveled to Philadelphia and met up with Amanda for a long weekend. We had three shows lined up: Foxwoods in Connecticut, Atlantic City, and Montclair, New Jersey. I had a horrible attitude about the album, and in hindsight I can see now that I let the year I’d had cast a terrible glow upon the music. That, in tandem with the experience I had that weekend, left me with poor memories from that tour.
Fandom though, wow. The antics that weekend ranged from someone inviting Amanda to ditch me and join her in a club with members of the band, to that same person attaching herself to a well-known guy on the road team, in order to get a VIP ticket and all-access pass. It was all fair in love, war and Duran Duran. I was out of my own league.
Before the Rain
I could have easily picked any song off of All You Need is Now, and they’d all mean the same thing for me. I’ve told the story so many times now that it feels tired – but essentially, the song is attached to memories of hope after disappointment, of making lemonade from lemons, and triumphant returns. I think of the UK a lot, and in particular, I think about one night in Glasgow. Before this past year, I’d have said 2011 was a tough year. Who knew? I have deep respect, admiration, and love, for this song and this album as a whole.
I’m going to say something that will make no sense for 95% of you, and that’s okay, but this song marks a time when I really fell in love with Duran Duran. I think before that, it was mostly infatuation. Dramatic or not, I found a profound sense of, I don’t know, maybe it was respect, or maybe it was something more than that – when I visited their rehearsal space. Simon took the time to come out and talk to the crowd that had gathered. In that time, he was just like the rest of us. I mean, I didn’t see him as this sometimes over-the-top, flamboyant superstar. He was just Simon, and he cared enough that we’d gathered to come out and explain the seriousness of the situation. I felt for him that day, and that trip changed everything about being a fan for me.
I still get goose bumps when I hear the opening chords to Before the Rain, and I will go to my own grave saying that this song is the best opener the band has ever used on tour. Don’t bother trying to change my mind, you can’t.
Last Night In the City
Why on earth did I choose this song? Well, it could have been Danceophobia, so there’s that. If there was ever a song that could have been written to describe Amanda and I, and our relationship with touring and this band, it would have been this one, and really – the entire Paper Gods album has shades of the two of us woven throughout. Not that I think Simon actually wrote with Amanda and I in mind, (don’t send me hate mail!) only that we can certainly find ourselves in the music, as anyone else might. We’re just vocal about it because, well, we write this blog!
This song reminds me of a candle being burned at both ends, and that’s pretty descriptive of the two of us when we’re road tripping. The song reminds me of how I felt waiting for the album to come out, and how I felt when I arrived in Hollywood for that first show on the backlot at Jimmy Kimmel, and later when Amanda and our friend Heather arrived from the airport. I can remember road tripping California with the two of them, and then later on when we met up in Toronto that next summer. Amanda and I have always packed a lot of living into the few days we are together each year – laughing until all hours, sometimes not sleeping at all, reaching up for that sunrise whenever possible, and drinking all of the vodka in the city. It’s not a terrible way to celebrate.
Kind of makes me wonder what will come next.