Tag Archives: Robert Elms

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