It is Lyric Day Friday! My shuffle resulted in the song, Love Voodoo. Like many Duran songs, when I looked at the lyrics, many, many lines could have been chosen for the inspiration of the blog post. Before I got overwhelmed, I decided to focus in on the first one that caught my attention. The line, of course, is “You caught me in your web of youth.” It immediately reminded me of fandom, my Duran Duran fandom, to be specific, despite my lack of youth and the band’s lack of youth. Still, I became a fan as a kid when the band members were really young, themselves.
Whenever my students find out that I’m a Duran Duran fan, they want to know right away how old they are and if they were any good. Yes, they use the past tense. It makes me crazy. I immediately correct that assumption and explain that the band still creates music to this day. As for their second question, I have tried to explain that they were the most popular band when I was a kid. Each time I tell that, I feel inadequate in convincing them of the truth of my statement. I try to reassure myself that no matter what I say, they cannot really get it. They weren’t around then. After that, the next common questions are, “Why do you like them? Have you liked them for a long time?” Again, I try my best to answer but never feel like I capture their appeal.
I cannot remember the first time I heard or saw Duran Duran. As a kid, in the early 80s, I do remember listening to B96, Chicago’s Top 40 radio station. I recall turning the dial on the TV to MTV or staying up “late” to tune into Friday Night Videos. I’m certain that the first place I saw/heard Duran was on one of those sources. I doubt it was anything from the first album. I simply was too young and wouldn’t have tuned in then. It could be something off of Rio. I’m not sure what exactly. The first songs I remember really connecting with are the first couple of singles from Seven and the Ragged Tiger. One memory that stands out in my head is hearing New Moon on Monday on the radio at my then best friend’s house. If my memory is accurate, I was staying there overnight while the rest of my family was out of town, trying to look for a house for us to move to, which would bring us closer to my dad’s new job. I distinctly remember laying in my friend’s bedroom, trying to go to sleep while the radio played softly, when that song came on. While I liked the song, it wasn’t until their videos that the band really caught my attention.
To the kid version of me, every video I saw seemed so cool. First of all, I was drawn to the way they looked. At this point in my life, I was living in a Chicago suburb, a working class suburb, no less. People in my neighborhood, in my suburb did not dress up. They tended to work in blue collar jobs, in factories. Even my dad, who was a manufacturing manager, did not really dress up to go to work as he worked in an office within a factory. He wore steel-toed shoes for protection and never wore his wedding ring, in case he used the machinery. The only time I remember my parents, extended family or neighbors really dress up was for something like a wedding, a very special occasion. On top of all of that, even their dress clothes weren’t fancy or anything fashion-forward. No, they all dressed rather conservatively and all people stuck to their assigned gender role. Women wore dresses with pantyhose and short heels while the men picked a suit jacket and button down top.
This, of course, is the exact opposite of Duran Duran. They wore colorful clothing that was unique and fashion forward. I remember thinking to myself that I would love to dress like them, but that my family could never afford style like that and that I wouldn’t even know where to go to get clothes like that! Their fashion choices included things like fancy belts, leather pants, and fedoras. They looked nothing like the men and boys I knew. Heck, I also adored that they didn’t stick to their gender. I never questioned the make-up. I just knew that I liked what I saw. Overall, they oozed cool.
If that was not enough, the videos and concert footage showed a group of friends who had so much fun. Goodness, just writing this brings up scenes from Sing Blue Silver where the band is laughing and having fun together. While I didn’t need to see them having fun or being with a group of friends to think they were amazing, these images added to the coolness to create a package that I had no choice, but to fall hard for. As a young kid and preteen, I wanted to be them. I longed for my upcoming teenage and young adulthood to be the cool that my childhood was far from. The fantasy I focused on then wasn’t about becoming one of their wives but about being as cool as they were. That was more important to my geeky self.
By the time 1985 rolled around, I was definitely caught in their web of youth. They showed me that everyone does not have to be like those around me. No, there was a whole colorful, cool world out there. As a kid, it gave me something to look towards to determine what to do, how to dress, etc. Obviously, this web that they created is a strong one as I’m still here, over 35 years later.