Tag Archives: Simon Le Bon

Happy 40th Anniversary to the Fab Five!

If there was ever a day where I should wake up already knowing what in the heck I’m going to write about, it should be today…and I do.

Forty years ago today, there was this band who played their first show at the Rum Runner that included the full line-up whom most of us have come to know as the Fab Five: Simon, John, Roger, Nick & Andy.

I’ve been waiting patiently all year to write that very sentence. I thought I’d be doing so many things this summer to celebrate, such as in the UK, for one. Definitely thought I’d be seeing shows, or at the very least, hanging out with Amanda. I mean, how often does one get a chance to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a favorite band??

Simon said as much in a interview included in the UK based-magazine, Classic Pop, which circulated the internet yesterday. “I think 40 years is quite a landmark for a band, you are going some if you an make it 10 years now.”

Life has dealt a very different hand, for the entire planet. There will be no concerts, no in-person celebrating, or gathering. I see no reason why we can’t at least spread some joy online. This is one milestone that at least deserves smiles. As I sit here trying not to think about how and when I might travel overseas again, I’m grateful I still have this band to keep my spirits up.

I wish I could say that I was one of the souls in that audience at the Rum Runner on the 16th of July, 1980. When I first heard Duran Duran on the radio, I felt like molten gold was flowing through my veins. I wonder if I would have felt like that if I’d been in the crowd that first night? Then again, I’m not wishing for more years on this already-pushing-fifty body of mine. I wasn’t even quite ten when the band played at the Rum Runner!

Articles such as the one posted yesterday, give me a little bit of excitement and joy for what lies ahead. While I’m curious about the sound, as always (aren’t we all?)—Simon describes it as “naked, raw, the grass is slightly sharp and twinkly rather than smooth”, my interest is very much in the lyrics. “It’s modern and very honest, the lyrics are quite something. I won’t be doing a lot of talking about the lyrics because they really speak for themselves.”

He knows exactly what to say in order to get the attention of THIS fan, that is for sure. Momentarily, I even forget we’re in the middle of a pandemic and actually allow myself to think about the time – that glorious, stupendous evening – when this band is finally allowed to play a show again. When *we* are allowed to be together again. Can you imagine? Planet Roaring immediately comes to mind.

Who could have foretold that the band’s 40th anniversary would fall during a pandemic? In some ways, it is the type of irony that could only happen to Duran Duran. This band is truly like the Phoenix, and I have little doubt they’ll rise above the ashes post-Covid. In others, I just shake my head.

This post is supposed to be happy, although I find it to be a bit on the bittersweet side, at least for me. So, I’ll end it on a better, more nostalgic and personal sort of note.

Happy anniversary, Duran Duran. I feel as though I’ve been with you since nearly the beginning – at least since your music made it here to a little radio station named KROQ in Los Angeles. Since the moment I first heard the opening chords to Planet Earth, I feel as though you’ve always been in the background of my life in some way or another. Oddly, I never saw this ending with me writing about you, or about being your fan every day…but you know, who can really predict crazy things like this?

I have a lot to be thankful for. Your music not only got me through school, but also through a lot of my life. I can pinpoint songs and albums that coincide with precise lifetime milestones of mine, and I count myself very lucky to say that I really did have you to grow up with, and…grow older with. Not many people can say that about their favorite band, that is for certain.

Not only has your music been my soundtrack, but it has also been the force that has brought me to some of my closest friends, and favorite people, on the planet.

I hope to never forget the memories I have of going to my very first convention in New Orleans: the devil horns, the vibrant hue of Jessica’s red hair when she first opened the door to our shared hotel room that weekend, the utter joy I felt sitting at the table with new friends over dinner, and the sheer peace I finally felt knowing that I really did belong. Thankfully, the video of Amanda and I, along with many others, singing to Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf at Howl at the Moon has never surfaced….

I met my best friend that night, too. No one really understands Amanda and I, our friendship, or how we’ve remained friends this long. I just know I don’t question it. We are forever linked as a direct result of this band, and that is something I can’t ever express enough thanks for. Luck, indeed.

As I sit back and think on the nearly 17 years I’ve known Amanda, it isn’t where we’ve traveled, or what or whom we’ve seen, that my mind drifts off to first. I think about those lengthy car trips where we talked for hours, or the way that she and I pretty much know how one another will respond to one thing or another. I would have never ran into Amanda if it hadn’t been for Duran Duran. It is crazy, and if I could hug those guys for anything – it would be that.

The one constant I’ve had in my life over the past (nearly) 40 years has been this band. They’ve been with me through middle school bullying, high school boyfriends, college breakups, marriage, moving, childbirth (x 3…can’t forget that last one in 2008!), the death of a parent, high school and college graduations for my kids, a major move to the country, a global pandemic (really?? I mean… come ON!!), many milestone birthdays, and nearly losing my husband to a stroke. Duran Duran lives on, and so do I.

It’s early for a cocktail, and I’m not with Amanda to do this correctly anyway – but I’ll hold up my coffee mug in a toast to all: band, DDHQ, and everyone else on the band’s team (that includes pretty much everyone reading, I think). Congratulations. Don’t be afraid to mark this milestone, because you’ve outlived a lot of other bands, and critics that said you wouldn’t make it. You did, with style, grace, and fortitude, beyond measure. Happy 40th Anniversary.

-R

I Heard You Talking Softly

Last week, Rhonda and I had a brief conversation about lyrics. In the midst of the discussion, I mentioned that I viewed Simon’s lyrics very differently than John’s lyrics in his solo work. In thinking about this, I started to wonder about the reason behind these differences and if their purposes for writing was the cause.

Let’s start at the beginning. How would you describe Simon’s lyrics? I know as a kid in listening to songs like Union of the Snake, I might have said that they were nonsense. If they had a meaning, I had no idea. Of course, some songs seemed obvious in their meanings like Rio, which I would assumed was about a woman, or Girls on Film, which must be about models. Later, of course, I started to realize that all of these songs might be deeper than I originally thought. Union of the Snake, for instance, could be interpreted in a thousand different ways. I learned that Rio was more about the United States rather than just a woman. Even Girls on Film was deeper than just about models but about the exploitation of them.

So what does this mean when it comes to thinking about Simon’s lyrics? Obviously, it showed me that there was more to his lyrics than what appeared on the surface. There is a poetic element to many of them and others could be thought of as more of a metaphor or analogy. Then, I wondered if there were any songs that were more of a personal nature. A few came to mind. Come Undone is about his wife, Yasmin, and She’s Too Much is about his daughter. We know that Hold Back the Rain was written about John Taylor. Yet, the songs that directly relate to his life seem to be few and far between. Interesting.

Let’s compare to John Taylor. Now, I’m willing to bet that some of you out there aren’t as familiar with John’s solo work as you are Duran Duran’s work. So, I’ll share a couple examples/verses.

Spirit of the Times

and now that I’m in Hollywood
I feel that here I’m understood
there’s fifty minutes to the hour
and twelve steps to every ivory tower

spirit of the times
spirit of the times
spirit of the times
prefects from birmingham
chamberlain’s birmingham
christ wasn’t perfect
he could have been from birmingham
rotunda
new street
jasper carrot’s birmingham
tis-was

rum runner
swordfish up the alleyway
steel pulse
bob lamb’s
moseley inna birmingham
underworld in our world
minutes up the motorway

Anon

I’m good at relaxing, I like to kick back
When I go to the steamroom, I get my hampton out
I get plenty of love from all the kids I meet
I get a sense of fun from them, Just can’t be beatI know a man with problems, So self-absorbed
He couldn’t see nothing past the end of his world
His life was grey then, It was hard to see
But I got the number, I got the recipe

Okay, so it seems to me that John’s lyrics are way more about his life and what he was thinking and feeling at that given time. If you listen to his complete solo work, you can tell a lot about how he was trying to really get his life together in his new world of sobriety, post Duran Duran, after a divorce/new relationship, etc. John’s lyrics are almost always incredibly personal, like the exact opposite of Simon’s.

Does that mean one’s lyrics are better than the others? I don’t think so. I love them both for different reasons. With Simon’s, I get to make guesses about what they could be about. I can interpret them in various ways, some that might fit only to my life. In that sense, they can more universal. Yet, I admire the heck out of John’s. It takes a lot to be that open, that vulnerable, that raw, especially in front of other people. This, of course, takes me back to the original premise. What is the purpose for their lyrics?

I suppose that you can argue that the reason for writing songs is for people to listen, to enjoy, to love, etc. I’m pretty certain that all of these songs were written with the hopes of selling copies of albums and singles, to make money. Beyond that, though, John’s lyrics seem to represent a personal process that he was going through. I might conclude that he was writing, not just for all of the usual reasons for writing lyrics to songs but also to deal with his thoughts and emotions, to help him figure things out. Part of me definitely can relate to that. I feel like I have been using the blog for more and more of that as time as gone on. Writing does help me tremendously when processing what I think. It helps me to organize all of the random ideas floating around in my brain. It provides a coherence.

As I continue to process a lot of potential changes in my own personal life, I suspect that I will be doing a lot more writing in the coming weeks and months.

-A

Pop Trash at 20

Last week saw a Duran Duran anniversary. No, I don’t mean John Taylor’s 60th (although that happened, too!). I am referring to the Pop Trash album turning 20! 20! How is that even possible?! Did you also know that there was a write-up about the anniversary on the band’s official website? You can read it here! I thought I would take a few minutes to read it and drop down some thoughts.

Before I get started, I have to acknowledge that I don’t feel a particular closeness with this album. I admit that part of that is because a certain bass player was missing and it came out in a time when my fandom was pretty dang low. I’m not like some fans who do not own the album at all. I own it and know the songs. There are many that I like. That said, I cannot say that I love any of the songs. Perhaps, by reading about its history, I’ll appreciate it more, especially since the write-up features Nick, Warren, the engineer and the art director. I am sure that multiple perspectives will help. Of course, I find it interesting that Simon did not contribute. I wonder why.

Art Director

The cover for POP TRASH did feature the Excalibur car which Liberace used once for a show at Radio City Music Hall in New York. We jumped through numerous legal hoops for the PT artwork, including permission to use Elvis Presley’s eyes for the ‘Hallucinating Elvis’ page. The decision to use Liberace’s car came from sitting around the kitchen table at Nick’s house with Simon and Warren. There were other cover ideas on the table, one of which was much liked, but was too close to Beck’s ‘Midnight Vultures’. In the end, the shot of Liberace’s Rhinestone-encrusted roadster seemed to be the perfect vehicle to encapsulate the concept of the album.

One aspect of Duran that I have always appreciated is the connection to art and how much art adds to the packaging. I love that they worry about the details of the album cover, font, merchandise, etc. I remember seeing an interview with Nick saying that they view themselves more as a multi-media company. I can see that. Anyway, I appreciated that they included the art director in this walk down memory lane. As I read the description above, I found myself taking a look at the album cover again. I wondered and still do if the title fits the flavor of the album. Yes, there is the song, Hallucinating Elvis, but so many others don’t feel like that song does to me. Nonetheless, the imagery fits the title in my opinion, even if all of the songs do not.

Engineer

The most interesting part was this, “I had worked with Warren when he was in Missing Persons, and through that relationship I was brought in to help on the THANK YOU album. As that was progressing, I would bring rough mixes of our work home, and when playing these to friends they were astounded to hear that it was DD. We were getting a much edgier more rock side of the band, it was wonderful, but then the management and label heard it, got scared that it wasn’t old school Duran, and persuaded the band to try and make it sound more like the band everyone knew.”

I would be very curious to hear those original mixes, if they were, indeed, edgier and more rock. Likewise, I would love to be a fly on the wall when the management and label convinced the band to make it sound “more like them”. What was that conversation like? Why did the band go along with it, if this is true? This seems to be a theme that runs throughout Duran history–this tug of war between sounding “like them” and being more experimental. Thinking of the late 1990s, I’m not sure that the advice worked all that well as the band did not experience roaring commercial success.

Warren

I could not pick out just one paragraph or idea from Warren’s recollections but there were a few ideas that had a general theme, which was that recording Pop Trash was a different experience than the rest of the albums.

  • Nick having to do a lot of the lyrics, and me doing the same with the melodies, made POP TRASH different from earlier albums.”
  • “As far as the approach to the POP TRASH recording, that was slightly different. We’d been listening to some old Bowie records and loved the organic sound.”
  • “I played on bass for POP TRASH and the recollections for me was all about de clicking, sitting on the couch with Nick waiting for Mr. Tin to get rid of the clicks in the take. Yikes! The album would’ve benefitted greatly having JT in charge of the bottom end.”

In thinking about all those differences, I wonder if I cannot sense them and feel uncomfortable in response. Did the lyrics not grab me because Nick wrote a lot of them as opposed to Simon? Did the music miss John like Warren acknowledged?

Nick

Nick touches on the very same subjects here, “Admittedly, it was an awkward time for us, and the first and only album without John Taylor at all, which felt really uncomfortable, particularly for Simon and I to have lost all three of our Taylors. To lose one may have been regarded as misfortune, to lose three looked like carelessness… We were trying to carve out a direction, but all feeling a little unsure. Simon was going through a difficult time in his life and so for POP TRASH, I ended up writing more lyrics than usual, and that in itself created a different dynamic.”

As soon as I read this, I immediately had a different feeling about the whole thing. I can understand having a difficult time and trying to push through. I’m sure that they probably knew that it was going to be unlike any previously recorded Duran album but, perhaps, the victory wasn’t making the best album ever but just getting it done. Maybe I am been judging too harshly. I know that I would hate for people to judge my work when I’m struggling. This weekend, for example, is a big time campaign weekend of action. Unfortunately, there is a lot going on with my paid career that has me distracted. Am I doing the best job I can on the campaign front? Probably not but my effort is still there.

My sympathy for the band during that time has grown. I’m glad that I took the time to read and think about it. It will definitely make the next listen to Pop Trash a different one.

-A

The One Constant

A week back or so, I mentioned that I’ve come to the realization lately that the one constant I’ve had in this fandom is the object of interest itself. (Hint: that’d be the band.) I also said that the subject deserved its own post.

Today is the day for that post. Welcome.

So many of us have been around, circulating within the walls of the fan community like electrons around a nucleus, for decades now. We bounce into one another, sometimes creating a violent reaction as we’re jostled about, vying for some sort of attention and space. For others, it’s more symbiotic. Friendships are sometimes coaxed and cultivated, sometimes lasting for several album cycles. Other times, they end in fiery outbursts. Still others fade away in silence over time. I’ve seen a good many people come and go within this community. The general population, or circle of “known” Duranies that I find at any given concert I attend seems to change with each new tour. Sure, some of that is due to what shows I go to, but even in the semi-regularly attended major cities – the group of active Duran fans is a constantly moving kaleidoscope of faces.

My own circle of friendships seems to keep evolving. People don’t stick around forever, I guess. When times get tough, life changes, or they grow tired of following a band – people leave. Maybe they don’t set out to distance themselves from friends, but inevitably that seems to happen. While Amanda and I have stayed close, I can name ten or more friends just off the top of my head that were once huge fans, and dear friends of mine, that I barely exchange words with now – not out of anger, but just because the friendship ran its course. Things happen, and interests change.

The one thing that stays constant in the fan community is of course, Duran Duran. Of course, if I were being fair—and I’m trying—I’d say that not even the band is exactly the same. In 1980, it was obviously a very different Duran Duran. 40 years changes someone a bit, you know? Members have left, been replaced, come back, left again, other replacements have come and gone, and that’s not even mentioning the music itself. There have been at least a few times where I’ve had to sit back and ask myself, “But do you still like the band?

So many times, I’ve written words here on the site about how the band is the backdrop to the friendships and social interaction I find on tour. I’ve said that while the music brought me to this community, it is the people IN the community that keep me active. As I sit back and contemplate at least the past 20 years that I’ve been active in the fan community, I don’t know that I still completely buy into that narrative.

The one constant I have with this fandom IS the band. Yes, I’ve made friends along the way. That is like the cherry on top for me, but if the music wasn’t as engaging, would I still write Daily Duranie? Tour? Watch videos of John talking about bass lines and music? Read Ask Katy? Click on links to watch Roger discuss his Desert Island Picks? Listen to Simon’s Whoosh Radio? (Maybe that, I would.)

The music tends to keep me here, even if I don’t automatically love everything the band does. The people—from Simon, John, Roger and Nick right on down to the last person who followed Daily Duranie on Twitter, are what continue to make it fun.

-R

Quality Over Quantity: Fan Engagement

I don’t know how many people actually saw it, but John had a surprise for us over the weekend. Not quite satisfied with the birthday message he’d videoed for all to see, he “couldn’t resist” taking to Instagram live for a bit on Saturday.

I wasn’t around during the time he was actually “live”, but somehow I stumbled upon it later and was able to watch. While there were obviously sound problems (his sound went in and out during some of the most inopportune moments – so we’d only hear part of his answer to questions that fans were asking), it was really fun seeing him take to Instagram completely on his own that day.

I remember the days when John was on Twitter. He seemed to really take to the platform and would often get online for a few minutes at a time, navigating through a barrage of questions. Somewhat abruptly, he quit Twitter, and we didn’t really see or hear much from him again on any social media. Until recently, that is. It began with a Twitter Q&A, which – in my own opinion, was a nightmare. It has nothing to do with John, per se, but with fans themselves.

Any time the band gets on to Twitter, or anywhere that fans can directly engage – it’s a shit show of epic proportion. Yes, I said that. Truth be told, I find those moments oddly entertaining every once in a while, primarily because I’m not the one on the firing line. I’m in the peanut gallery, watching, making my own comments, and quite frankly – frolicking amongst the insanity.

My thinking is, I’m never going to get a single word in edgewise anyway, so best not to take any of it seriously. When the band started doing the Q&A’s at the beginning of the pandemic, I had some weird sense of hope that it wouldn’t turn into a free-for-all. As soon as the band announced that they’d take questions, it became a game of “How many times can the same person post the same question over and over again? Or “How many ‘I love you’ tweets can one band member receive?? It was utter lunacy. Hate is a strong word, and yet I showed up week after week anyway, so I’ll just say I disliked the exercise. Very much. Watching the Q&A’s was not really joyful, although I tried to find humor in them, and I can’t imagine there was a lot of joy in being the main participant, either. I’d commented to Amanda that all I really wanted was to be able to see and hear the band talk about something other than the new album, where they’d tour, how they were feeling, who they should say “hello” to…etc. etc, and not be interrupted for a change.

I don’t know if the band sensed the disquiet, were just looking for a way to engage without having to engage, or wanted some sort of creative outlet to pass their own time in lockdown. Chances are, it was all of it. Next thing I knew, Simon was doing his radio show with Katy, and John was offering his Stone Love Bass Odyssey chats on Instagram…and then the Q&A’s to follow. My jubilant cries could be seen all over Twitter in one form or another. This was what I’d been wanting all along.

Never did I think though…okay, I can’t really say “never” because I’m pretty sure John would occasionally hop on the DD Instagram to post a photo, or maybe even help Gela with her own…but I can’t swear to it…but I just didn’t see John wanting to do his own live Q&A thing. With fans. Even after Twitter?

Regardless, on Saturday when I saw he’d gone “live”, particularly at what seemed like a spur of the moment thing, I clapped. Yes, I’d missed the entire thing. I didn’t care about that part of it – that wasn’t the point. I mean, from my own point of view, John never minded chatting with fans on the internet. I don’t think he quit Twitter because of fans. As he says, he’s been a fan himself, and in turn I’ve appreciated how aware he is to the whole fan/idol debacle. On Saturday, he took questions and seemed very happy to be doing it, not at all like he was shackled to the computer, or some other form of torture treatment. I couldn’t see how many people had tuned in live, or how many questions were being hurled his way, but it seemed to go really well despite the obvious audio problems.

I’m not sure if I’m the only fan out there that feels this way, but the issue of quality versus quantity rings especially true. It isn’t the individualized milliseconds of “HiJohnI’mYourBiggestFanCanWePleaseTakeAPhotoRightNow” that I need while the band is on tour, or when I see them out and about. In fact, I’m a whole lot less likely to even approach them than most people, I think. I appreciate the other things, like when they take time out of their own day to do these shows (whether or not they have comments on!), or when they take the time to deconstruct the music and explain the evolution of their part, or whatever else they can come up with, for that matter. I don’t need to know when the next album is coming out, what the titles are, or much of anything about it right now, to be honest. I just like getting past all of that typical stuff and talking about things that matter. The music matters – it’s what got me here to begin with!

Maybe I’m just weird.

-R

An Unexpected Peace

Generally, I would say that I don’t mind a bit of intensity in my life. Teaching is such that I could eat, breathe, and sleep the profession and my students. Campaigning also leads to a lot of work in a short amount of time with lots, lots, lots of pressure. Even my fun tends to a have certain level of passion. I wasn’t content just to be a Duran Duran fan. No, I have to be part of a daily blog that has also planned meet-ups and a full-blown convention, etc. and so forth. Yet, these days are filled with a heck of a lot of intensity that I could do without. Obviously, in terms of world events, there is a LOT going on, much of which has caused me sleepless nights and terror about the future. If that was not enough, my place of employment has made some moves to undermine its workers, including myself. I feel downright shaken by it all. So, I spend a heck of a lot of time trying to figure out how to escape the insanity for a few minutes or a couple of hours.

Thankfully, Duran Duran has provided a number of ways to help me “get away”. When the pandemic hit home and we were ordered to stay inside, Duran opted to do some chats on Twitter, which Rhonda and I covered here. I “watched” each of the chats as band members showed up and fans rushed to ask questions, hoping to get said members to respond to them. As I observed these chats, I found myself inwardly cringing. Social media events like that set up fans to be competitive, to try to get attention over other fans. In some cases, people try to ask a clever question to rise above while others increase the frequency of tweets to do so. I hate it. Let me be clear here. I appreciate that the band wanted to interact with fans. I’m never going to complain about that, especially in the middle of a pandemic. That said, I am not criticizing any fan who participated. I totally get their desire to get attention from a band member. Who wouldn’t want that?!

But I hate the competition–if you get attention, someone else does not. It makes me feel icky. Now, I will be the first to admit that I shrink from competition like this. I don’t even try. It is less painful to not participate rather than try and fail. I mean…come on. I’m not going to ask a super clever question and I am not one to have a super quick and witty response. There is no way that a band member would see my tweet(s) over others. I’m just not that cool. So, yes, I admit that part of the reason that I’m not a fan of competition is because it makes me feel badly about myself.

Lately, though, the band has switched to other methods to remind fans that they are around and to give us something to distract us in this-less-than-fun times we are living in. No matter if it is John’s tutorials or Simon’s radio show, there is no competition present. Interestingly enough, both do allow for some fan participation. For John’s chats, fans can comment or ask questions on Instagram. Likewise, fans can send questions to Katy for Whooosh radio. Yet, I give both John and Simon credit in that they might take time to respond to a few people, they choose not to have that be the focus of their “shows”. They do not allow the competition to creep in. From this fan’s perspective, I never feel any pressure of “should I try to get a response”. No, I can just sit back and relax. I can just enjoy.

Over the course of my time in Duranland, there has been far too much competition for my liking. (Now I know that there are some fans who don’t see it, is not part of their experience or don’t mind it. That’s cool. I’m happy for them. I am only sharing my perspective and experiences.) That competition has, at times, threatened my enjoyment within this fan community. I, for one, am glad that I don’t have to worry about that right now. It has helped make fandom a place of just fun, escape, enjoyment again. That is much appreciated and needed.

-A

Surprising Fireworks and Sudden Silence

I’m a big fan of the deeper thinking questions that DDHQ occasionally throws out to fans for contemplation. Yesterday was no exception as they asked what was our fondest Duranlive memory.

Invariably when I see these questions, I end up stumped. Sometimes, the answer is as clear as day and I’ll post, but other times, like yesterday, I can’t think of a single memory that stands out above all others. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t because I don’t have great memories. Hardly. It’s because I have so many.

My time as a Duran Duran fan has been such a bright light in my life. I’m not talking about the time I’ve blogged, or even the time I’ve been a host at a party or a convention, though. I mean the times when I am simply a fan. I’m not half of Daily Duranie, not even L8BarMom. Just some…woman…standing in an audience, cheering for her favorite band. There’s no question, at least not in my head, that I’ve loved being a fan of this band. The music fuels my daydreams, motivates my words, and keeps me coming back for more. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Even so, I have no doubt that if it hadn’t been for my friendship with Amanda, I wouldn’t have gone to half as many shows as I have over the years. It is far too easy for me to say “I can’t”, and let it go at that. In fact, that’s what happened with the Vegas shows that were just cancelled. I didn’t even talk with her about them, I just said “I can’t”, and went about my day. While that might have made my life easier here at home at the time, it wouldn’t have made my heart quite as full.

Maybe not so surprisingly, I have thought quite a bit about the shows we’ve been to over the years, particularly lately. It’s so weird to me that so few of the memories seem any more “over the top” to me than others. One time that comes to mind – and I mean, it happened within a blink of an eye – was when I realized they were actually playing Secret Oktober in Brighton back in 2011. Context is important here, so let me describe it.

Amanda and I had already made one trip to the UK that year, and so we’d gotten ourselves to Brighton by sheer luck again in November of 2011. I say “luck” because we managed to get there despite a union walkout for public transportation, leaving my family, Amanda leaving her job, I don’t know how we made it work, but we did. I’d been begging for the band to play Secret Oktober at one of those shows…for months. Make no mistake, I knew the chances were about none, but I begged anyway. We’d gotten to Brighton in time, went to our crazy modern hotel, got ready and got ourselves to the show. There we stood in our spots, and all of the sudden this song starts and I’m not sure what it is until I KNEW what it was. If only to have a picture of my jaw hitting the ground that night at the precise moment I knew what they were playing…the rest of the song is an absolute blur to me, but that moment? Golden. Amanda and I hugged one another, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that much pure love and joy in a single second.

There are a ton of precious memories like that, occupying space in my head. I’m lucky. The thing is, most of those memories are just of being in the audience. Sometimes I can’t even remember where I was standing at the time – front row, fourth row, tenth row or beyond – it doesn’t matter now. I couldn’t tell you what was on the set list at the time, or what I was wearing, or even where the concert was at the time. The only thing that seems to matter was that I was there, with Amanda, and we were having the time of our lives watching this band that we’ve grown up watching.

Sure, some small things stand out. Like the time Roger shook my hand, when Dom flicked a pick my way once, when he ran over to be sure and grab my hand, every single time we duck from Simon’s baptismal blast during during White Lines…and seeing Nick look down at us and laugh in response, and when John looks our way. Those moments, though, aren’t necessarily what my mind drifts towards first. Just being there, basking in the glory of still being a fan of this music. Marveling in my head that I can still go see my favorite band along with my best friend. How could I ever have gotten so lucky?

A lot of things have changed in the past couple of months. I’m really not sure when I’ll feel comfortable traveling again. Getting on a plane again does not excite me. Wearing a mask in order to go to a show isn’t going to happen for me. Donning one for an entire plane ride is my idea of hell. I’ll just drive, thanks. I’m so thankful I did all of the things I could in the years before this stupid pandemic, because who knows when I’ll do them again next?

Thinking about being in the audience of any Duranlive experience brings a smile to my face, and sometimes, even laughter. Today more than ever, I realize how lucky I’ve been. I don’t think I can say that enough these days.

-R

We Walk the Mile

I have really been enjoying the extra content lately. The bass tutorials, the instagram chats, lengthy interviews, and of course Duran Duran radio, have all been fantastic. I want to make sure to yell that out to the world, and to thank all those involved. All of it has helped to keep me entertained, engaged, and interested, and I’m positive I’m not the only one feeling that way.

This pandemic has kind of forced all of us to see things differently, and I’m not just talking about the issues at hand. Specifically, I mean life. Friendship. Family. Learning. The list goes on and on. We have all had to find our way. Some of us are better about it than others, and that’s not really a surprise. I’ve chatted with family via text and email, Zoomed with a couple of friends, and spent more time with my three kids at home than I have in years. My husband and I have grown closer, and we’ve learned to rely on one another. I’ve cooked more at home meals over the past eight weeks than I have in YEARS. (I can’t say I’m loving that, but I’ve grown used to it, albeit begrudgingly. I even prepared food yesterday for Mother’s Day!)

We’ve slowed down a little. I think my family spends a little more time talking, a little less time rushing about. As a household, we’ve agreed to become even more self-reliant, pushing forward with our plans to become more of a homestead where we grow our own food and start our own cidery. (Think winery but with hard cider and mead. Mead is essentially wine made from honey.) We’re seeing how the world is changing and trying to adapt so that we can be happy, fulfilled, along with exercising some control over our own destiny.

I don’t think we’re all that different from Duran Duran, or anybody else really. None of us asked for this set of circumstances to be dropped like a lead weight in the middle of our lives. It is doubtful anyone really knows how long this is likely to go on. I’ve sat in on a lot of webinars lately, both those inside and outside of the entertainment industry. Concerts aren’t coming back as soon as we might hope, and even if they do – it’s hard to guess how they’ll look. It appears that the band recognizes that too. I mean, how could they not? They’ve decided to wait on releasing the album until 2021, which isn’t a surprise. I can be sad, but I don’t blame them. In the meantime, they’re doing what we’re all hopefully trying to do: exploring alternatives!

Simon discovered that he doesn’t mind doing a recorded radio show, or podcast. Katy seems to like that too, which I think is great! Nick took time to do a lengthy interview that I can’t imagine he’d have done normally. I mean, two and a half hours is a long time! John seemed to really enjoy his bass tutorial last week, along with the chat he had with Dave from Chromeo. (A band that I am going to check out this week. I know, I know…I’m slow, but I’m trying!!) While Duran Duran might not be a band that performs to an empty audience, or films a song during zoom calls, editing and then sharing it with fans, they are finding ways to engage and share parts of themselves in ways that many of us have wanted for years.

Personally, I love what they’re doing. I don’t need another Twitter Q&A, circa 2012 to remind me that there are 50,000 other fans out there, each vying for their two and a half seconds of attention with <insert band member name here>. What I do appreciate though, is getting past that nonsense, and hearing real discussions about music, their experience, or whatever they’re willing to share about themselves and Duran Duran. I feel far more connected to them now than I have in, well, a very long time, and I haven’t even left my house. Maybe it’s just me, and I can accept that some might disagree, but I think the content they’ve been creating has been golden. I look forward to whatever comes next.

As I said weeks ago, it is going to be the bands who figure out how to continue engaging their fan bases in some way that make it through this crisis, particularly if the lack of live shows continues into 2021. It is the people who find some way to make lemonade from lemons that will thrive in the future. Sure, my life looks different in 2020, as I’m sure yours does, dear reader, but it isn’t all bad. While I have my bad days and I worry about things from time to time, as does everyone, I also see that the only way through this is to keep evolving and finding the good. I’m going to keep working on that.

-R

Duran Duran Radio!

Last Friday, Simon and Katy embarked upon a new adventure with their first installment of what I feel may become my newest favorite thing – Duran Duran Radio! It’s been a few days since it was posted, but I thought it might be time to cover it a bit for those who may not have had the opportunity to give it a listen yet.

There is much to love about Duran Duran radio, and not just it’s name. This particular episode is similar to a podcast because it was pre-recorded. I appreciated that I could hit “pause” (With my entire family here…I’m interrupted a lot), and then there was that moment when my stupid WiFi router decided to restart out of nowhere I love rural life, I really do, but the technology can *sometimes* be a problem.

I love the banter between Katy and Simon in between all of the songs. I also appreciate their song choices. “Horse with No Name” by America started off the show, which is probably one of my favorite songs of all time. I loved hearing that it was the very first album Simon ever went into a record store to purchase on his own. (Mine? Duran Duran’s debut album!!) Katy said it was a song she’d hear while camping and sitting by the campfire. I can remember riding in my parents car when I was very young – some sort of Pontiac if I remember right – and I have the distinct memory of hot vinyl seats, the window down, and that song on the radio!

While I wasn’t familiar with all of the music choices, I am 100% familiar with their third pick of the show – “The Man” by The Killers. I was thrilled to see it on the list, and listening to Simon explain how Erol Alkan changed the song from one that he (Simon) really didn’t “get” as he first heard the demo into one that become the biggest bonafide hit from Wonderful, Wonderful certainly made me even more excited to hear Duran Duran’s next album since Alkan is listed as one of the producers.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 45 minutes, and learned more about Simon during that time than I did while he sat on the “firing line” of Twitter answering questions. No, it’s not the same thing as sitting in a room with him chatting, but at the same time – I’m not sure I need that in order to feel like I’ve gotten to know more about him. Does that make sense? I like hearing his thoughts on music, or anything else really. It has nothing to do with Duran Duran, yet it’s everything. I just really enjoyed getting past the same topics and hearing about something else entirely for a change.

Wow, I probably don’t sound like a fan at all, and that’s really not it. Couldn’t be farther from reality. The way I’d explain it is simply that everyone has their own “thing”. Some fans insist on pictures every time they see them. Some really want Simon to give a shout out on Twitter or where ever. They just want him to say “hi”. Others need to know when they’re coming to tour (and maybe some people want all of that). For me, I’m at a point where I’ve been a fan for a very long time now, enough to where I know Simon doesn’t necessarily want to talk about the album, he gets asked the same basic questions every time he’s interviewed, and while I can’t think of anything specific to ask – I like talking about everything BUT Duran Duran. I like hearing about other music, and other topics in general from him. Fair enough?

The one constructive criticism I’ll make about the program is the inconsistency of the volume. The segue from “The Man” into another favorite of mine, “Sleeping Satellite” by Tasmin Archer was abrupt (“The Man” ends abruptly, which is just the way it is!), but the volume change is pretty drastic. I had to turn down my volume for “The Man” and then turn it right back up for “Sleeping Satellite”. It’s not a big deal, just something I noticed. A slightly bigger problem is the volume difference between Simon and Katy. I don’t know what can be done about that without some sort of mixing (and I’m not sure they want this to become that much of a production) but I would highly suggest that both of them get external microphones with pop filters. They don’t have to be expensive (even my youngest has one!), and they’ll cut out a lot of that background “shhh” noise that you hear. But Katy’s volume is especially problematic, at least for me. I could barely hear her at times, and I didn’t want to miss anything.

Overall, the first episode of Duran Duran Radio was very enjoyable. Even more so than I would have thought. It is very difficult for me to sit down long enough to listen to the radio without being interrupted 45,000 times right now, and yet for this – I’d make the time. At under an hour, it’s the perfect length, and the song choices were great!

Loved it!! Definitely check it out if you haven’t given it a listen yet. Looking forward to the next one!

-R

New Playlists and Music Or Not?

This week I took note that Simon has been developing a “STAYING IN” playlist and sharing it via Duran Duran’s social media. First of all, I appreciate that he (or any of the band members share what music they are listening to or would recommend). I think it is pretty cool that he keeps adding to it so it is not just a go check it out once and done sort of thing but works to keep people’s interest longer. I am also glad that there is something that the band is doing on social media just to keep them active and help give some distraction to their fans sheltering in place. Of course, it is not quite the same as some activity in which there is at least a sense of interaction but it is something.

Interestingly enough, though, I’m struggling to actually go over to Spotify and listen to the playlist. Why the heck is that? Do I not like Simon’s taste? Obviously, that is a silly question. How do I know if I don’t listen to all of the songs? Besides, I doubt that there is any person that I’m completely in alignment with when it comes to music. My goodness, Rhonda and I agree on a lot when it comes to Duran Duran’s music but we do verge at times. For example, outside of Duran, I’m way more into Depeche Mode or more electronic bands than she is. People and their tastes are just different. So, no, I’m not judging Simon’s list before I listen to it. Besides, I rather like hearing new music even if I don’t ever become a fan of the artist or song. My nieces, for example, routinely share music they are listening to so that is definitely not it.

Then, I got thinking. Why the heck would I have little interest in checking out new music, especially music recommended by Simon? That’s weird. That’s big time weird. This led me to think back to the music I have been listening to in the past month since I have been home. Then, it hits me. I have not been listening to a lot of music. What? That cannot be right, can it? No, I think that is true. My music has not been getting much action. Of course, I have to ponder why the heck that would be. It isn’t like I don’t have access or time. Goodness, I have lots more time. I can listen to music while I’m working much easier than I ever could when I’m in school. So what’s the deal? Has it been silent in my house? Generally, no, I don’t spend a lot of time with quiet as I always have the TV on in the background, even if I am not watching it.

So what is TV doing for me that music cannot? When it comes down to it, I’m used to having a lot of voices around me during the day. Schools are never quiet. Even when my students are taking a test, there are still students in the hall, phone calls that happen, students who need assistance. On days when the kids are not there, on teacher workdays, I struggle to get anything done. I need the noise to work, at this point. So is that what is going on with me choosing TV over music? Does it better replicate my usual work environment? I think that is part of it, for sure. I also think TV provides voices, people talking. As someone who has been alone for more than a month with at least another month and a half to go, voices help me feel less lonely. My cat is great, too, but his cat language is not sufficient to fill in some people gaps.

I wonder how long my need to hear other voices will last. Will it be something I seek out during this entire episode of isolation or will I be able to move past it so I can listen to more music? Obviously time will tell. I have to admit that I hope this “need” ends not just so that I can check out Simon’s playlist but I can enjoy music more myself, in general.

-A