Tag Archives: Roger Taylor

Like a Birthday or a Pretty View

There’s nothing quite like a weekend to make you forget your work troubles….until, of course, your writing partner texts you on a Saturday morning to tell you the site isn’t working.

Not only was the site down, but my son moved back home. Special thanks goes to my husband who drove to Riverside, picked up the boy and his belongings, then drove back up to the central coast all in one day). Then yesterday, I was shocked to find that one of my chickens laid an egg – the first of the flock!

It’s a time of some anxiety and change for my family, and for my chickens – well, they’re nesting like crazy. We were busy finishing up the nesting boxes for the coop yesterday, and one of my chickens was bound and determined to get in there and start nesting whether we were done or not! Adding the website to the top of the list wasn’t something I had in mind.

We’d been having difficulty with the site since Friday – and as it turns out, none of it was our fault (read: Rhonda’s fault) at all. So we’re back up and running now. Thankfully.

I was concerned we’d miss out on blogging during the Iceland/Denmark shows, but it turns out we made it just in time to make a little comment on Simon’s birthday celebration this past weekend in Ibiza!

Wait, what month is this?? Simon’s birthday isn’t in June!

I can’t tell you how many times I saw those lines written over social media. It’s true, his birthday is in October. It is also true that this past weekend, there seemed to be a celebration to put an exclamation mark on all other celebrations, onboard a mega yacht in Ibiza. The weather looked glorious, the party seemed to be casual and fun-loving, just like Simon himself – and yes, John, Nick and Roger, along with their respective spouses and significant others – were there for the ride. It looked like a lot of fun was had by all.

One particular moment that made Instagram (and then reposted by Duranie after Duranie) was during what appeared to be a little speech that Simon gave at some point. He mentioned that without Duran Duran, he didn’t know where he would have ended up. Simon listed John, Nick & Roger by name, and said he was so thankful to have them in his life. It was a lovely moment.

No, I’m not part of the band in any way, which makes it all the more significant that I feel the same way. I don’t know where I would be without Duran Duran.

My life is pretty wonderful all on it’s own. I mean, I have three fantastic kids, a husband I’ve been married to for almost 25 years, I live somewhere I fall more in love with every day, a few friends I trust, and some hobbies that have given me great joy.

One of those hobbies, of course, is music. More specifically, Duran Duran. While they’re not the only band I treasure, they’re the one I follow most closely. I blog about them – or some aspect thereof – four days a week! If Duran Duran didn’t exist, I would have never met Amanda, I doubt I would have done some of the traveling I’ve been able to do, and I don’t think I would have had nearly as much fun in my adult life…not to mention surviving adolescence.

I share Simon’s sentiment about Duran Duran. I’m thankful for them. I find that each time I am able to get together with my friends these days, I spend more and more time in gratitude for still having these times to look forward to than I do worrying about what they might play. I don’t really care so much what I hear, as much I as treasure the time I’m able to spend with this special group of people. Can’t wait to do it all again in September.

-R

Was the Pop Trash Era Best?

Now that the beat is slow

DDHQ’s choice of the video for “Someone Else Not Me” for “Watch it Wednesday” sparks discussion of the Pop Trash era.

Admittedly, there were years from the mid-90’s until I saw the band for the Up Close & Personal tour in 2001, when I didn’t pay quite as much attention as I did in the 80’s. I was still interested, and believe me when I say my ears perked up at the mere mention of Duran Duran. Even so – my room was no longer wallpapered with posters and pinups. I grew up, and stopped needing those posters, I suppose.

I’ve spoken or traded posts and messages with a good many Duran Duran fans who proclaim the Pop Trash era to be their favorite – and if it wasn’t the music itself being mentioned, it was the live shows. Many of these fans are my personal friends within the DD community. I dare say that most of my friends in this community are die hard Duranies at heart.

Something I want to say

I only went to one Pop Trash era show—the one at the House of Blues for the Up Close & Personal tour in 2001. I will continue to scream “that single show changed my entire life” from the rooftops, but not for the same reasons that seem to come up with other fans. For me, that show re-opened up a door into my heart. I felt so much joy in being there in that room that I completely lost myself in the show. I didn’t even know the Pop Trash album that well at the time. The music between us, indeed.

Obviously, we can all make note of the hysteria present during the early 80s. Clearly that was missing by the late 90s. The era tends to ignite my curiosity not because of the fans who had left by that time, but by those who stayed connected.

Burst this bubble

So many of my friends who were truly engaged during Pop Trash speak so fondly of that time and those shows, over the years I’ve wondered what made it so. Sure, for many who loved the Pop Trash and Medazzaland albums, the answer is obvious. The music fuels the passion. For others, it was likely the proximity to the band itself. I have friends who tell me that back then, the band really seemed to embrace the fans. Rather than treating them like asylum escapees with a registered potential for violence quotient – they acted like they were old friends.

Were the fans just friendlier at the time? The late 90s -2000s were early days of the internet. Social media hadn’t yet hooked us with its talons. The reunion was a blip on the horizon, but no fan even suspected the possibility just yet.

Were die-hard fans during this period there more for the music than the nostalgia?

To type the words seems so judgmental. I don’t mean it quite that way, but to be fair – don’t you wonder what the ratio between die-hard and “I-heard-a-single-from-Pop-Trash-on-the-radio” potential fans were in any given audience on the Up Close & Personal tour might have been? Let’s just be blunt: there IS a certain percentage of the greater fan base that continues to show up because they’re still in love with the pinup images of John, Simon, Nick and Roger. That doesn’t mean every fan from the 80s lives in nostalgia, it simply means some still might.

Hardest thing is to let go

I can’t say whether I’ve tested my theories enough to call them law, but I have definitely noticed a certain “Where were YOU in the 90s?” attitude that has permeated over the years. If you suggest that you stuck around during that time, you’re alright. If, like me, you mention a sabbatical, however brief – one can sense the eyes upon you narrowing as they scrutinize from head to toe. Judgments are made based on how one answers the simple questions of what live shows you’ve seen, or whether or not you remained a “true” fan during the lean 1990s.

On the other hand, and most likely one attached to the body of someone who haughtily says they’re not at all nostalgic to 1980’s Duran Duran – there is the fact that during these same Up Close & Personal shows, the band played a FAR more varied set list, filled with songs from—oh yes, you guessed it—their first few albums and B-sides. Not nostalgic, you say? Please, tell me more about that. Fandom is fueled by nostalgia.

I don’t necessarily think I’ve discovered the answers to the questions on my mind, but on second thought, I’m really not sure there are black and white answers to be found. Fandom is complex. This isn’t math. There aren’t firm answers, even though people like me really might prefer that. A lot of the ground we walk on is slippery. I would know, I’ve fallen a lot. And repeatedly. Then, I’m a bit of a klutz trapped in a china shop. Save the china!!

-R

I’ve Been Waiting For You

It’ll take a little time

I apologize for my tardiness today. I’m currently taking a break from a morning filled with online car shopping to write a few words here. My poor Lexus died a sudden death last week, despite my insistence that it could be fixed. (actually, it *can* be fixed…but it will cost me more than the car is worth. *sigh*) So, onward and upward, right?

The funny, and probably very sad, thing about me and that car is that we were pretty attached. Or I was to IT…rather. It was my dream car, and I fell in love with her (yes, it’s a she) immediately. I thought she was perfect, and I can honestly say I enjoyed every single minute of the thirteen years (nearly to the day) that she ran. That car was the most reliable vehicle I have ever had. In fact, the current oil leak and transmission issue (or death, rather) are the ONLY two problems the car has ever had that weren’t entirely man-made. (I did crack the oil pan once in a smallish accident that we won’t go into here.) No joke – Lexus makes a reliable car, and if they want to give me a new one, I’ll gladly take it as payment for my remarks. <wink, wink>

Stay wilder than the wind

Out with the old and in with the new, I guess. That’s kind of the way it is, isn’t it? I’ve had my Lexus long enough to where I am familiar with every subtle nuance, but it wasn’t always that way. For example, when I first got the car, on Mothers Day in 2006, I spent the first year or two marveling over the idea that I was driving my dream car. Fangirl mode, anyone? I knew next to nothing about the car at the time, but I knew I liked it.

However, as the years went by, I stopped being starry-eyed over driving a new car. I learned when things didn’t sound quite right, or when it was time for an oil change. I knew something cataclysmic was happening well before my husband ever listened to my worries. I’d poke at him when we’d be driving and say “Do you hear that little hum? That’s not right.” He’d listen and say “It’s FINE, Rhonda.” I’d sit back in my seat, full-well knowing the end was nigh. As much as I loved that “new car” feeling, there is something very satisfying about knowing my vehicle well. Good, and bad.

Words, playing me deja vu

Oddly, I think the same holds true with Duran Duran. I’ve been a fan of this band since the early 80s, and I was probably ten or maybe eleven when I first heard them. Very quickly after that, they became my obsession. I definitely fawned over photos, pretended to pass out when they’d come on the television. My bedroom walls, along with my school locker and folders for class, were decorated, and I absolutely had a favorite band member (Hello, Roger….I say in my most sultry voice…which isn’t sultry at all. *sigh*). I was absolutely a fan girl in every sense. Theband could do no wrong. It didn’t even occur to me that they could have opinions I wouldn’t like! The idea of not agreeing with them on one thing or another never even crossed my mind.

The weird thing is I’m 48 now. I don’t want to count the years – but there’s been a quite a few since those first days of staring deeply into Roger Taylor’s eyes….on the pinup pages of my Tiger Beat magazine! I doubt I know everything there is to know about Duran Duran, although I’ve certainly tried. Their history is well-known – I’ve studied them so long now, it feels like my story too. Their songs, music and videos have been the soundtrack for most of my life. I think I know the band itself rather well now. But do I know the people?

Is it something real

Definitely not. Sure, I can pick them out of a lineup, but I don’t know them as a true friend might, and that’s OK (and not the point I’m trying to make here at all). I appreciate the Katy Kafe’s that go beyond the surface “Duran Duran” stuff. Finding out a little bit about them as people, such as listening to John explain his interest in visual art, or what photography exhibits Nick has been to lately makes them seem a lot less enigmatic. I actually enjoyed hearing what Simon thought of our presidential elections, or even what type of food Roger likes to eat. While I recognize it’s not even remotely possible for them to have reciprocal relationships with 99% of the fans out there, I do like hearing and learning more about them as people. I’d have to imagine that while they realize talking and selling the brand is important – they probably like discussing something other than what they’re working on in studio too. (Not gonna lie here, if I were them, I’d be sick of it by now. I can almost hear them stiffen or shift position in their chairs just before Katy asks about the studio!)

The chances of getting to know John, Roger, Nick or Simon to the point when I can immediately recognize when something is “off” is highly unlikely for me, or most fans, I am sure. Even so, I appreciate having the chance to get even the tiniest of peeks into their “real lives”. I don’t feel slighted when I hear that one of them doesn’t like the same sort of food I do, for example. I’m not offended that maybe John has a real interest in politics. I love that he’s different from me in exactly the same way that I adore Amanda. Thank goodness there are people who are unlike me and have different joys! For me, learning about the band as actual, real, people isn’t about validating my own self though their likes and dislikes. I appreciate our differences, smile at the similarities, and today— I’m particularly grateful they don’t have failing transmissions!

-R

Happy Birthday Roger 2019

I do not know if I have ever actually the blog post for Roger’s birthday before! I am feeling the pressure a little bit to do a quality job. Typically, when I do a blog post for one of the band member’s birthday, I usually either focus on personal stories or his accomplishments. I will try to do a little bit of both even though I have had limited interactions with Roger.

As a kid, I didn’t notice Roger a ton. I’m sure a big part of that is that he did not get a lot of attention in teen magazines, interviews, etc. That said, I don’t know any Duranie who missed Roger Taylor in this video:

That said, when I did see an interview with him as a kid, I always liked him. He seemed sincere and sweet. It wasn’t about being funny or charming or cool like I sometimes sensed with the others. (Not that I think any of that is bad!) Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

Of course, we know that Roger walked away in 1986, which made everyone so sad. We knew that we would miss him and that the band wouldn’t be the same without him. Then, after almost 10 years, he appeared in this video giving us all hope of a real return:

We all had to wait for a few more years before he came back to the band during the reunion. One thing I immediately noticed with the reunion was the sheer relief that everyone I knew had about Roger’s return. I bet the band felt the same way. They no longer had to teach someone Roger’s parts!

Since the reunion, I have found myself appreciating him more than I ever did as a kid. I think some of that is simply his skills as a drummer, which can be seen in the this clip.

As an adult, I have been lucky enough to see Roger in person a few times outside of the concert venue. The first time was in the summer of 2005 when I saw the band at a hotel they were staying at. Admittedly Roger was not my first priority when the band arrived as I was determined to get John’s autograph, which I did. After meeting that goal, I sought the rest of the band. I found Roger chatting with a couple of friends of mine. The word I would use to describe him at that moment was friendly. He didn’t seem guarded or reserved but social. I approached him about getting an autograph and he said that he didn’t give out autographs at the hotel, that was his line in the sand. I told him I understood and moved on. I learned something valuable that day. It was the first time I really got that celebrities might have personal rules about how, when and how much to interact with fans. I appreciated that he had that line and respectfully told him that I understood as I walked away. Later, Roger approached me as stood by the elevators to ask if I had seen “any of his people.” I kid you not. That is how he asked me. The funny part is that I pointed in the direction I saw Simon go and he chose the opposite!

After that night in 2005, I have also seen Roger at a CD signing and a few nightclubs (some where he was DJing and one where he wasn’t). In almost all of those cases, I chose not to go to him for pictures or autographs. I am not really sure why. Maybe that initial meeting stayed with me more than I originally thought. It certainly wasn’t negative and I didn’t fear that he would be angry or annoyed with me for reaching out. No, it was more about respecting his desire to have space. I distinctly remember seeing him in a bar in 2011. As usual with Rhonda and myself, I stood to the corner with my friends and just watched people interact. Roger talked with lots of fans that night and smiled the entire time, from what I could tell. Yet, I continued to give him space even though I wanted to approach him like everyone else was. I, too, wanted my moment or my picture but I felt conflicted based on that previous interaction.

Now, I think I see Roger in a different light than I did as a kid. Back then, he almost didn’t seem real, like a character in a movie. Did I feel that way because he was so guarded? So shy? So often not in the spotlight? Now, he feels real, complex. Maybe it is from listening to so many Katy Kafes as he discusses his young son or his work with Road to Recovery as seen here:

As Roger celebrates another birthday, I know that I’m very glad about what he brings to the band, both musically and personally. As a fan, I feel like he brings a unique perspective and a balance that Duran Duran has always and will always need. Thus, on his 59th birthday, I wish him a fabulous birthday and the most amazing year of his life so far! Happy Birthday Roger!!!

-A


April 2019 Katy Kafe with Roger

Someone else has a birthday this month, along with Amanda and my youngest, and his name is Roger! As he explains early in this month’s Katy Kafe, this year isn’t the “big” year – and we’re not talking about that yet!

We did hear within the first few seconds that the band is going back into the studio today, and that his birthday is also a studio day. Little by little, we’re hearing more teensy little items of interest about that studio time. I can’t lie, for me, a lot of this Kafe, seemed to be about his drums, and while some of the questions were interesting, others really didn’t resonate – purely because I am not a drummer, and I don’t know the difference between Tama drums or any other brands. I took notes, and as always, I encourage everyone to get their own DDM membership!

Today’s Kafe featured a selection of Katy-chosen questions from their Instagram.

What is your max heart rate when playing Wild Boys?

Roger laughed, because I would imagine he hasn’t had too much of an opportunity to measure his own heart rate (kind of wonder what an Apple Watch would do under those conditions though, I must admit). However, he did say that whatever it might be – it would be much faster for “Rio”. Somehow this led into a short sidebar about the fact that he finds that he plays far more powerfully when he is relaxed. It isn’t about sheer strength, it is about playing with flexibility and precision. So while you and I might think he has pretty strong arms….he says no.

I’ve seen them. Well…I have in pictures before, anyway. I’m still gonna go with yes. <big grin>

Which drum track from your entire catalog makes you the most proud?

Roger says “Anything from Rio”.

What tracks from other drummers do you admire most?

“Trampled Under Foot” – John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)

“Superstition” – Stevie Wonder.

Your homework, fellow Duranies – is to go listen to both. 🙂

What provides inspirations when writing new songs?

“What is going on around me”, Roger explains. Just as they enter the studio today, they won’t have any preconceived ideas of what they’ll play. Nick might begin playing something and then that will give Roger inspiration for a drum beat and so on. They write “off the cuff” and have done so for many years (and albums). He mentions how they were in the studio with Errol Alkan and Mark Ronson, and that in each case – they had no ideas of what they might do, but that each of them had their own creative ideas, and that in turn inspired them.

Katy interjects at this point and asks if he’s heard any of the finished songs and Roger quickly says that nothing is finished yet. I add this tidbit purely because if you were hoping for finished music in 2019….I’m still thinking you’d be better off hoping for 2020!!

What were you whispering to yourself in the video for “Night Boat”?

Roger laughs and says “I was probably wondering what in the hell we were doing or what it was all about!” Then he explains that he hasn’t WATCHED the video since they made it!

I just have to say, this little kernel of truth shocked me. I mean, I know these guys have been busy over the years, especially back then – and maybe I’m just a control freak (I know I am), but really? You didn’t even WATCH it to see if you thought it was any good? I really hope Roger watches it, and that eventually somehow, we hear what he thought when he did! (In case you’re reading: your acting on it was A+, Roger. <big grin> I must have watched that video 30,000 times when I first got the video album. I mean…you were speaking! It didn’t even matter what you were saying – I could hear your voice.

Wow. Yep, I was indeed a fan. Big fan. Huge!

If you were stranded on a desert island and had the choice of what band member was with you – who would you choose and why?

Apparently, there is only one answer to this question as far as Katy and Roger are concerned. They’d choose Simon because he could get them out. (It turns out, they trust Simon’s sailing ability. Ok then. I can’t argue…except to ask, “Who said we wanted to leave the island?!?”).

Where’s the one “bucket list” place you’d like to visit?

India. Roger has never been to India, and he’d like to go and visit – not just a resort, but the “real” India.

What song from Arcadia (aside from Election Day) would you like to add to the set list?

Roger’s favorite Arcadia song is “The Promise”, and he’d like to add that – in fact, he says he may suggest that the next time the set list conversation comes up!

What drum gear are you using in the studio for the new recordings?

He is working with more of a live drum set-up. Errol and Mark both had kits in their studios he used. While the last album relied a little more heavily on electronics, these songs are more live, less electronic. More organic. Acoustic.

**note here for everyone committing this to memory, expecting whatever music to come out to be exactly as Roger describes here. It is still early in the process. Roger himself said nothing is finished. While this is how it’s sounding now, WHO KNOWS what will end up coming through our speakers when it is done…and remember he’s talking about the drums. We don’t know what the rest of it will sound like at all. Right?

Do you still have your earliest Tama drum kit?

They have a lot in storage, but Roger says he doesn’t really have anything from his first kit. As a side note though, Paul McCartney did at one time have a drum of his in his studio. Roger knows one of Paul’s daughters and gave her one of the drums he no longer needed.

Roger continues by explaining that he’s really not a collector. He doesn’t keep things – same with clothes. He has his Rio jacket, but he doesn’t know where the trousers are. That beautiful blue silk jacket was on display at the O2 Music Experience when I was in London back in 2011 – don’t know if it’s still there though!

Which song would you go back and re-record if you had the opportunity?

Roger said “None”.

His feeling here is like most artists – when you record a song, it is like a snapshot in time for that particular period. Going back and changing it is similar to stepping into a time machine and going back to fix some part of history. Once you do that, everything changes.

Would you still join the band if you had already known what was going to happen (all of the ups and downs, etc.)

He says he wouldn’t change a thing. One thing I can hear in Roger’s voice is how grateful he is for his career. He talks about how he might have been a mechanic or hated his day job, and obviously that’s not the case with the band. Despite the ups and downs, he clearly still loves his life just as it is.

Favorite performance of his entire career?

I would have thought a question like this would stump someone. I mean, this includes thousands of performances! However, he said that the last time they played the O2 – he had his family there with him. There was an incredible synergy with the audience, and the night was magical. So there you have it!

Happy birthday, Roger! It might be a working birthday, but we hope it is still fantastic!

-R

Part of a Celluloid Dream

So, anybody got that trip to Iceland booked yet???

Me neither. *big sigh*

If I rewind back to yesterday

Speaking of sadness, did you know that on this date in 1986, Duran Duran sent out a press release with the announcement that my favorite drummer (and hopefully yours), Roger Taylor, was leaving the band. Headed for greener pastures. “Gentleman farming”, as he later referred to it.

Bah. Whatever.

The good news, of course, is that he came back! Only took him what…17 years or so….before he played live shows with Duran Duran again?

Watching slo-mo going frame by frame

Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled he left, but I was overjoy upon the announcement of his return! While I don’t love “celebrating” this day each year, I like reminding myself that things change. “This too shall pass”.

I sure hope so.

It’s been a rough week for me personally, Duranies. Positive thoughts go out to those who need them and a reminder that help, love, and support is here and waiting, whenever and however needed. Cheers.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate, and a wonderful weekend to all.

-R

Repost: Paper Gods, The Book

Today, I’m taking a self-imposed break. I saw that DDHQ had asked fans for their favorite tour book, and remembered how much I loved the one for Paper Gods. As you can see below, it is far more than just your average picture book commemorating a tour!

Have a wonderful Monday and I’ll be back tomorrow!

-R

**************************************************************************

I needed a diversion from reality last night.

So, I cracked opened the Paper Gods book that my ever-fearless partner-in-crime-and-everything-Duran-Duran sent me for Christmas!

cover

When I opened this particular present, I was delighted because I’d heard it was well-worth the £20, and I hadn’t ordered it myself because I just wasn’t sure I needed it. I own a few of their tour books from the past, and while they’ve always been a sort of “Oh, that’s really nice to have”, I wasn’t positive about this one. All I could think of was that it was 120-pages of photos, and did I really need a book of photos in my collection? I wasn’t sure. I wanted to see more of it in person before making a decision and I didn’t know when or how that might happen. Sometimes, a book like this needs a little previewing, you know? (It’s too bad DDHQ doesn’t know a fan website that could do that kind of thing for them every once in a while…..) So when I opened the gift and marveled at how big the book really is…and then began thumbing through it, I realized just how much I needed a book like this in my collection!

And…it’s not really so much of a tour book, although there are certainly a plethora of pictures in there (even some of Dom, Anna, Jessie & Simon W!). I would describe this book as being sort of the Encyclopedia-of-Anything-You-Wanted-to-Know-About-Paper-Gods-But-Figured-You’d-Never-Be-Able-to-Ask.

First off, the book is big. It’s not your basic 30-page tour book that’s mostly pictures (although yes, there are plenty and I mean that).  At 120 large format pages (13.25″H x 9.5″W), it’s a bit of a monster…and I mean that in a fantastic way!

bookwidth

There’s actual writing in this one, and not just a welcome note from the band or anything like that. There are interviews, thoughts, feelings…lists of words or phrases I can’t quite figure out yet (but trust me I am enjoying the process of trying!), and I’m not even halfway through it yet! Each of the band members gives a full-length interview about the book (and believe me, these are not short answers to questions), and they also interviewed Nile, Ben Hudson and Josh Blair. They even talked creative with Nick and Alex Israel, the artist who did the front cover of the album!!  I AM IN HEAVEN AND I’M NOT COMING BACK!!

I love that they took the process of recording this album and thought to have a book made for people like me.  People who basically dreamt of being a fly on the wall during the entire painstaking process: everything from those first jamming sessions at Dom’s studio down to seeing their reactions to the art for the cover.  The book is really something very special, indeed.

If the interviews and writing doesn’t grab you, the photos certainly will. This book is art…and if you needed to have large format photos of each of the band members, here they are for you to gander at will. I really love how each of the band members has a black and white full-page headshot, along with what I can only describe is a sort of silver “giclée” shadowing overlay printed on a heavier, plastic-like sheet. Way cool. And if you like stickers – they’re included too!

stickers

As I said, I haven’t even read through it all yet. I had to stop myself at 11:15 last night because I needed to get some sleep, and even after I put it down I kept thinking about what I’d read. In many ways that Amanda and I will get into later as we dissect this book from cover to cover on the blog (oh yes – it’s happening), I think the book makes me see the album with a completely different set of eyes, and I’m curious if my ears will pick up anything different too.

My only problem with this book is simply that they really should have marketed it differently. It’s such a great piece of Duran-memorabilia, you’d think they would have gone to more trouble to alert the fan base to it, you know? Seems like they could have used a resource…such as this very website, thankyouverymuch…to get some enthusiastic words out to the fan base and beyond. Amanda and I have a certain knack for grabbing the attention of the fan base when it comes to things like this, and let’s face it..the book is also a freaking steal at £20. (That is $28.91 USD as of this morning)

Let’s just talk about that price for a second before I settle back into my chair and read a bit more: for less than $30.00 US, you can have a large format, coffee table-sized book on Duran Duran (It is paperback). Everything from what some  might describe as “lickable” photos (I certainly wouldn’t say that..,coughs…but hey… I may have heard the term used before somewhere…) to in-depth discussions of the music and process. For the more abstract-minded amongst us, there are poems and lyrics and lists to read and ponder, as well as the aforementioned photos, both posed and from live shows (from the last year). I can’t really get over the value on this one – it’s the best bang for your buck I’ve seen in quite a while.

Like nearly everyone reading, I own a lot of Duran Duran books. I’ll go one further and say I own a lot of books period, but particularly within the realm of fandom and music history of this particular band  – I own a lot. This is a book that any fan of Duran Duran should have in their collection, and I’m thrilled (and shocked!) that they’re not charging the $50 or $60 that the book is really worth, even as a paperback.

Run out and grab a copy while you can! As I said, in coming weeks Amanda and I plan to do several blogs about the interviews and other writing within the book, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is running off to order their own copy right now…so go get it!

Meanwhile, I’m going to settle back in my chair and read Nile’s thoughts on Paper Gods…

-R

Happy 24th Anniversary Thank You!

Happy Thursday, everyone! Today is a special day as Thank You celebrates its 24th birthday!

In honor of this occasion, I decided to do something I haven’t done in a long time – I played the entire Thank You album. I know, I know – what a shock, right? The things I do for this blog. It’s rough.

Thank You is still playing in the background as I write. I’m on “Thank You” right now, and I have to say, I don’t really understand the fuss. No, the songs aren’t original (although “Drive By” counts as original in my book), and maybe they’re not songs you and I would immediately have suggested they cover, but overall? The album isn’t bad. Musically, I think it’s actually very well done.

Track by Track

White Lines

A live crowd favorite, the album version is slightly less packed with energy, but still has plenty of punch. I still believe they do it best in front of a live audience, and I can appreciate that even Duran Duran can put a cover in their set list and have fans believe it is their own.

I Wanna Take You Higher

I love the drums on this one. I like that the band took liberties and pushed the tempo, amplifying the song up to a bit more of a rock sound. Say what you will, they made the song work for them – which is exactly what a cover should do. Take the song, spin it on it’s head and see how it shakes out. That’s what Duran Duran did here and it worked. I’d be amiss if I didn’t give a shout to Warren’s guitar solo. It is indeed excellent.

Perfect Day

I really don’t know what I can say about this particular song that hasn’t already been said. Like the title – I think it’s just about perfect. Lou Reed had a brilliant song here, and Duran Duran took it up a notch. Oh, and Roger came back to play drums on it. Can’t really complain about that!

Watching the Detectives

What I love most about this song is not the melody, the drums, or even the vocals… I love the tiny little things found underneath. Those little synthesizer chords, the seemingly infinitesimal arpeggio notes, the harmonica, and the small effects here and there are what make this song interesting for me. Oh, and another Roger Taylor appearance. I like it better than the Elvis Costello original.

Lay Lady Lay

I haven’t ever heard anyone comment about the guitar on this – but hello Come Undone part 2. I love the intro with Warren’s guitar, and you can quote me on that. The song is romantic, sultry, and everything I could have wanted. I appreciate the song choice because one might not have ever guessed that Duran Duran could pull off Bob Dylan, and they do it here beautifully.

911 Is a Joke

I know how the community feels about “911 Is a Joke”. Simon is not quite the rapper type, in my opinion. I mean, it was a valiant effort I am sure…but…it does miss the mark. Overall, by principle alone, I don’t love the song. To be fair, I didn’t love the original either. However, and this is a big however, what about the irony??

Seriously people, how ironic is it that Duran Duran, a group of reasonably wealthy (if not filthy rich) WHITE guys decided to cover a song like “911 Is a Joke”?? The band doesn’t take themselves nearly as seriously as we fans take them, that’s all I’m saying. In fact, when the band made their choices of which songs to cover, it was none other than John Taylor who chose this one. “in addition to being a great song, it made him laugh to think of how many people it would piss-off.” (quote from an official “Thank You” press release) If you can’t see the humor and irony – well, are you sure you’ve been following the same band I am?

I think we can sometimes get up in our own heads to the point where we take the band far more seriously than they intend. It is worth taking the time to get past the surface – don’t always assume everything should be taken at face value. This is a band that treasures the ironic. They love the dry humor. As do I.

Bottom line: 911 isn’t likely to make anybody into a Duran Duran fan, but I really don’t think it was ever meant to be taken so darn seriously, anyway. I know so many people who got so stuck on that one song that they gave up on the rest of the album, and news flash – “911 is a Joke” is only ONE song. There’s eleven other songs!

Success

I think that in order to fully appreciate “Success”, one has to know and understand Gary Glitter, and not necessarily the original version by Iggy Pop. A brash, flamboyant UK performer, Gary Glitter had a stunning career. 20 million records sold, 168 weeks spent on the UK music charts, 21 hit singles…. and Duran Duran chose to cover a song that he in turn covered. There’s irony there if you look deep enough., although I’m not sure it was intended. The song is as brash as Gary Glitter’s career…never mind his eventual and spectacular fall from grace and into a prison cell (well AFTER the release of Thank You).

Crystal Ship

If they really needed to cover The Doors, I’m glad they chose this one. While I’m no big fan of either The Doors or this song, I think that Simon did slip rather well into the existential role of Jim Morrison here. Again, the best parts of this song aren’t the vocals or the melody – they’re the tiny little effects underneath that we rarely take full notice. Nick and Warren did incredibly well adding those nuances.

Ball of Confusion

My, my…how far we’ve come from the days of The Temptations. Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong are the original composers of the song, and judging from the lyrics along with the video I found of it on YouTube…it has evolved substantially over the years and has been covered by a brilliant number of artists along the way. I myself am a Love and Rockets fan, and this song is one of my favorites by that group. I have to admit that despite my bias, I really like this version. It has all the rock edge when needed, but I can also hear the appropriate throwback to the roots of The Temptations with the background vocals.

Thank You

Must admit, I don’t think I ever saw Duran Duran covering Led Zeppelin coming, which perhaps is the most jarring thing about this album – the song choices themselves. This cover is beautiful in it’s own right, and while it might not be my favorite, I give silent thanks that it isn’t “Stairway to Heaven”.

Drive By

I really don’t understand the outrage over this one. How dare they rethink one of their own songs? Are you kidding? I applaud it. In my head, it was a genius and ballsy move to take one of their best loved but not necessarily most well-known songs from an era that had long since past and evolve it. Maybe that’s the real problem here though. They sacrificed the sacred cow. The fab five. You tell me.

My inspiration

After listening a few times, I have to think that song choice had everything to do with the lack of love for this album. Fans didn’t know the music well enough, and critics knew it all too well.

Duran Duran didn’t choose to cover Roxy Music, or even Chic. They went with far less obvious influences. In some ways, I think that may have helped them far more than hurting them. Fans didn’t have quite the same sort of affinity for Elvis Costello, for example, than they might have for Nile Rodgers. But, by the same token – they didn’t have a connection with the music either. I struggle with that because you would think that a fan, like myself for instance, would have taken time to listen and bond, just as I might have done with any of their original music. However, I didn’t.

It will be done

Then there are the critics. Self-professed “experts”, they know and often tout their own musical intelligence. I kind of feel as though many of them are too far up their own noses to have been willing to give the album a fair shot. This was Duran Duran, the band causing much ire in the 80s, daring to cover not only The Doors and Led Zeppelin but even Public Enemy? Oh hell no. I’m not saying that some of the reviews and comments weren’t valid, only that it wouldn’t have mattered what they heard – all they needed to know was that it was Duran Duran.

So I ask you fans – give the album a good listen in 2019. It might surprise you, at least a little. It did me.

-R

If You Want To Stay With Me

Something to let you understand the way I feel

Today is March 28. On this date back in 2001, I went to see Duran Duran in Anaheim. Granted, it probably wasn’t a monumental show to anyone but me. Regardless, every single year I think about that night, and how it completely changed me.

I know that for many of you reading – you’ve seen this story and are sick of it. I get it. The reason I take the time to write about it each year though, is because I think it illustrates just how one single show, event, etc, can change your life. (So buy the tickets!)

Had I not been in the audience at the House of Blues that night, there’s no way this blog would exist. I would have never met Amanda, Jessica, Lisa, Suzie, or Lori. Prior to that night, I’d tucked away memories of being a Duranie right along next to those marked “high school” or “middle school”. Sure, I still loved their music, but rather than having the songs be a vibrant part of my life – they were special memories.

To feel it once again

I still loved them. I mean, whenever I’d hear they were going to be on a talk show in support of an album, I’d be sure to tune in. Most of those shows were during the day, and I was a stay-at-home mom anyway so it worked well. I didn’t deliberately keep Duran Duran a secret, but I also didn’t think to talk about them much. My knowledge of them was rather limited to whatever I’d heard on the radio or read in a book or magazine. It was the kind of thing where I’d say “Yeah, I really loved them back in junior high and high school.” No more, no less.

But then Walt insisted on buying these tickets to see them at the House of Blues. I thought they were a fortune at $65.00 a piece. (Seriously? Someone slap me!) To say I wasn’t excited was an understatement. I tried to talk him out of going several times, even complaining about how we didn’t have a sitter. (Obviously we found one) But the night arrived, and my husband was hell bent that we were going.

It’s just Duran Duran…

I can remember arriving at the venue. It was in Downtown Disney at the time, and we walked up to see a line of people waiting to get in. It was only about 5pm, maybe 6 at the latest, and I was appalled.

“Waiting to get in as though it’s still 1985??? REALLY?!? There’s no way I’m waiting in that. I don’t care how far back we are. How dumb!!”

We went and had dinner at the House of Blues. We found out through our waitress that since we ate there, we’d get in early. I waved her off, laughing.

“It’s just Duran Duran!”

(Famous last words)

We finished dinner and walked right into the music hall, where I announced that we would just stand by the bar. Walt was floored.

“Really? Are you sure??” He shrugged and went to go get us drinks.

Thank you for the fine times

I stood there for a while and surveyed the scene. The floor continued to fill up steadily, but I was insistent that I didn’t need to be in that mess. I could hear them just fine from the back. My thinking was that John, Roger and Andy weren’t even in the band, and I had no idea who in the heck was even playing drums or bass these days. Simon and Nick? Warren? I shrugged to myself. They weren’t my favorites, who cares?!? I just hoped that they’d sound like what I remembered.

I’m not exactly sure when I finally made my way over to about the top of the stairs (going down to the floor), but I suspect it was because Walt insisted. I don’t remember much about him being beside me after that, either – which is pretty funny, and telling.

The band took the stage (although if I remember right, they were way late to do so), and from the second Simon opened his mouth to sing – I was lost to the rest of the world. I was there. In the same room. With Simon! Breathing the same freaking AIR.

Do you remember

Not going to lie, aside from Simon introducing a song at one point by saying it was off of their Pop Trash album (I couldn’t even tell you what song it was – and I didn’t even OWN the album), I have no idea what they played that night. I just know that I was transported somewhere else. I felt like I’d stepped back in time and was reintroduced to someone I’d left behind many years back—me.

Junior high, or middle school, were tough years. Puberty, hormones, just an overall feeling that wavered between being thankful I had friends to feeling awkward and completely alone. Duran Duran had been my saving grace, then. It was the one thing that made me feel “cool” (and I definitely was not). I was included in a group of friends who loved the band as much as I did, and that’s how I managed middle school.

While I hadn’t really discovered boys yet – I discovered Duran Duran. They were safe. They couldn’t reject me, and they didn’t know I was a nerdy kid with frizzy hair that didn’t know the first thing about fashion. I could put posters all over my room, retreat into the safety and warmth of my room, and daydream about meeting them. I was convinced that Roger would fall for me, and that I’d become best friends with the rest of them. Ah, the innocence and naivety of the tween years.

Would never seem to end

High school began much of the same way. I was still a total nerd with frizzy hair, but I’d gotten into marching band. In high school, marching band became my haven (although even there, I was one of the nerdy ones). I had no idea how to flirt with the boys, was disgusted by the girls who did, and instead of learning – I did the opposite by befriending them all. One of my friends would giggle and act like an idiot at our local pizza parlor hangout, whispering about her then-boyfriend with our other friends in a corner. Me? I’d sit with him and the other guys at a table, and we’d talk like normal people. I couldn’t ever understand why the boys would always fall for girls like my friend, and never ones like me, though.

Naturally, that changed during my high school years. I had boyfriends. I suppose I finally learned how to flirt without feeling like I’d lost IQ points in the process. My hair stopped being so frizzy. While I never quite became a fashionista, I did settle into my own style and owned it. Sort of.

College was more of the same. I gained and lost friends, all the while learning who I really was. I changed a lot, and not necessarily for the better. By then, Duran Duran had been all but completely shelved. My posters gone, my childhood bedroom became someone else’s as my parents moved out of the area and I lived at school. I just don’t think I ever noticed just how much of myself I was leaving behind in the process.

To feel it once again

I didn’t recognize how different I was until I saw Duran Duran that night in 2001. I’d been functioning for so long, I didn’t see it.

That’s just it though. I functioned. Something was always missing. I lived, but not fully. I loved being a mom, but secretly I wondered if that was really all there was left for me. Rather than search or start asking questions, I just settled into what I had. This reads so pathetically as I’m typing it – but it’s exactly how I felt at the time.

Going to that show on March 28, 2001 opened up a door. In some ways, it feels a little like an escape hatch! I became reacquainted with this inner-Duranie that I thought was gone forever. I really like her, too. There’s a fierceness, a sense of bravery, and even a bit of fiery independence somewhere inside of me that peeks out every now and then, at her insistence. She’s not willing to just settle, no matter how often I try to stuff her back into the box and explain that I can’t just restart my entire adult life over again to suit her.

At your liberty

I think that’s a lot of the reason why I keep writing this blog. Sure, sometimes finding topics of interest is tough. I’ve been writing for eight years, and the words don’t always just float ever so gracefully to the surface. While this blog serves as a sort of tribute to being a fan, it also gives a little justice to the inner-Duranie each day.

…as if I could ever really forget her.

-R

South Africa Interview from 1982

Life sure has a way to swing from one extreme to the next, doesn’t it? Last week at this time, I was finishing up my second winter break of sorts as I had four snow days in a row. Those days were pretty chill. While I checked off some items on my to do list, it was done with minimal stress. Since returning to school/work, I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off with campaign work taking up just as much time as my teaching job. This means that by Thursday night, I’m beat. I was even supposed to go to a meeting last night but opted not to due to slick roads and exhaustion. The results for this blog means that I cannot be super creative or even probably decently articulate. I’m settling with a “good enough” attitude. I apologize in advance. I hope to be on my game more tomorrow.

Rather than attempt a topic that is super thought-provoking or funny that would not go so well in my current state, I figured it might be better to check out an interview. By interview, I mean a Duran Duran interview. Yes, it will be random because that will be fun. I’ll share the interview in a second and then share my thoughts about it. I’m sure those conclusions will be amazingly uninterestingly but what the heck. If I haven’t alienated you yet, maybe you will put up with just a little bit more.

Somehow, I managed to find an interview that I haven’t seen and I don’t think I have shared on here before. According to the video description, this is from South Africa in 1982. Fascinating.

Ignoring the very quiet audio, I’m not surprised that the first real question had to do with video. Simon’s statement about how they had to do something new to get attention and how they are going to be the first video band made me think. While I totally get why he said that as they were getting lots of attention because of their videos, I wonder how long it was until he wished that he had answered differently. I remember countless interviews where they talk about how much longer it takes to make a song vs. a video and that they wished that people focused on their music more. Sometimes, saying something that seems good at one time ends up coming back to bite you in the butt.

Interestingly enough, the next time Simon speaks he gives an answer that does not sound dated in that they are trying to broaden their audience. Heck, he could say the very same thing today. After all, I’m sure that there are a lot of women in the front these days with lots of guys further back.

The last part that caught my attention was the discussion about America’s musical tastes. Simon talked about how America just seems bored of the “rubbish” music that is out. (In 1982, I don’t know that I would disagree with him especially when it comes to mainstream, Top 40 radio.) The funny part is that Simon said something along the line of how once the U.S. hears the new music coming out of the UK, that it will catch on quickly. He really wasn’t wrong. I wonder how he knew that. How could he tell?

This was not my favorite video (mostly due to the poor volume) but I enjoyed it, nonetheless. I thought it was cool to see Roger looking about as relaxed in an interview from that time period that I have ever seen. It is fascinating about how many of these questions might be asked today and how they might respond exactly as they did then for some questions but not for others. What did the rest of you think?

-A