Tag Archives: Spotify

Deep Listening

How often do you completely unplug from the world, even for a single hour, put on an album and just listen?

Recently, I read an article sent to me by a friend (shout-out to David O) about deep listening to albums. In this case, the article posed a challenge to the reader. Turn off your phone, shut off the voices in your head, and give full attention to not one, but three albums of your choice.

I’m about to get real with y’all on this Monday morning. I struggle with giving anything my full attention these days. I mean, I really and truly grapple with it. The idea of trying to do this for three hours while listening to albums feels very much like challenging myself to run a marathon. My brain can’t do it, much less my body! When I’m sitting on the couch watching a movie, I’m playing with my phone. If I’m not playing some sort of game, I’m crocheting. If I’m outside listening to music, I’m also reading emails, or reading a book. While I’m attempting to sit and listen to music, even on Spotify, my mind is racing in the background, thinking about whatever I should be doing (instead of listening). And those situations are just the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately.

Some of this, I believe, is training. In today’s world, we don’t allow ourselves any sort of time to just be still, unless of course we’re sleeping. (Which, by the way – I often wake up in the middle of the night, immediately thinking of the things I need to do, forgot to do, or don’t want to do) During the day, it’s a constant series of multitasking. What can I take to the laundry room with me as I drop off the clothes into the washer? While coffee is being made, do I have time to clean the chicken coop or collect eggs and get back up to the garage before it is finished? If I sit and listen to an album from a new band for 45 minutes, maybe I can read from a book I’ve been working on at the same time. “Whoosh” on Duran Duran Radio? I’ll listen to that while I’m pulling weeds. Can I run to the grocery store and still make it to school in time for pickup? It was, and still is, a constant series of tasks and time management. Sitting down, doing nothing and listening to music, or watching a movie, for an hour or more? ARE YOU NUTS?

My brain has grown very used to never focusing on one single thing at a time, but at least a few, if not tens of things. In some ways, it’s great, and in others, it’s horrible. Not one single thing ever gets my complete focus…unless I’m at band rehearsal. Oddly, as I was sitting here writing, I realized the one thing that still gets my complete focus is playing music. More on that later.

One might think that in times of a pandemic, I’d learn how to settle down and recenter myself. Maybe I’d slow down and take my time. I’d argue it’s been the opposite. Funny, I thought having my entire family home would be of great relief to me, and I suppose it is in some ways, but in others – there’s never a spare moment until the time my head hits the pillow each night. Having adult children at home doesn’t mean more help. In fact, I’d argue it means having them revert back to being teenagers in a lot of ways – with animals in tow. (I know it could be their own babies, and for my kids and their current situations – I am thankful it is not. They’re not ready. *I* am not ready, for that matter.)

The article couldn’t really have come at a better time for me. I needed the reminder that life can wait, at least occasionally. As I mentioned last week, I’ve begun challenging myself with the prospect of finding new music. I am forcing myself out of the box, I bought the premium Spotify subscription, and the search has begun.

What I’m finding is that while some music belongs in the background, other music takes my full attention. Things I may have written off as pure pop last week or last month may actually have a deeper message. You’d think I would have learned that from our own Paper Gods, but no. No I didn’t. My education continues.

As I wrote a bit earlier, the one thing that I have no trouble giving my full-self to is playing music. I think that is why I found band practice to be such a joy. For two full hours, I thought of nothing but the music on the page. In hindsight, I can remember that blissful feeling I’d have during rehearsal. Never once did I reach for my phone while in that rehearsal space. My full attention would be on playing clarinet. I’d leave the band room feeling completely calm and satiated, almost dreading walking back in the door at home because I knew that all of the same tasks I left (dishes in the sink, cleaning up from dinner, making sure the youngest was on her way to bed) would still be there waiting. Band rehearsal, and of course, practicing when possible, was the one thing I gave myself, and allowed myself to get completely caught up in.

Even when I had to force myself not to give into the urge to stay at home (those first few initial rehearsal sessions were brutal, and it was only the last rehearsal when I really hit my stride, naturally), once I got to the band room and dug in, it was total peace. When I think about it, even though practice was difficult – I felt completely centered, calm, and more “myself” than ever. I didn’t have to think about anything else other than playing the right keys, hitting the correct notes, my timing, counting the measures correctly, listening to the people around me, watching our director, and performing as part of an ensemble. Compared to the daily rigors of life, for me anyway, it was simple. I miss that.

I have yet to take up the full three-hour listening challenge as described in the LA Times article, but I might -just as soon as I find the three empty hours in my daily schedule. Maybe it is better to just take an hour. A single album, even! Could you do it? If you try it, let me know how it goes, and what you listened to!

-R

John Taylor’s “All Love” Playlist!

Have you listened to JT’s “All Love” Playlist on Spotify yet?  No judgment if you haven’t, only encouragement. “Try it, you’ll like it!”

It took me a couple of weeks to finally hit “shuffle”, but I caught a tweet from Duran Duran saying he’d updated the play list and figured I’d give it a try. I don’t really know why it took me so long.  I suppose, if I were to be honest, I was a little apprehensive, and admittedly – I’m stuck in a rut.

I don’t spend a lot of time listening to music these days, and even less trying to find new music I enjoy. With at least two of my three kids here, along with my husband, it is never quiet. Someone always wants me for something, and I find that if I’ve got earbuds in, I’m constantly having to hit “pause” and pull them out anyway. As the years have dragged on, I’ve noticed I spend far less time listening to music. Whenever we’ve got something on in the background, it’s normally not a very recent release. I hang my head in shame. I think I get my best new music recommendations from my daughter Heather, because as a choreographer, she really does need to know what’s out there.

When did I have to actually start working at finding new music? it used to be so easy. I think the rut creeps up on so slowly, we don’t even notice. My kids call my music the “Oldies”, and that makes me cringe because, of course it is NOT. “It’s New Wave. NEW Wave, kids”, is my typical reply.

Yeah, I’m not buying it either, and wow I sound like an old person. EEK!

I’m at the point in my life where I care very little about someone’s image, and a whole lot more about their talent. It takes a lot to make me buy music these days, and not much out there seems worth my dime. So I fall back to what I know, because in the ten minutes I might have to actually listen to something throughout the day before I’m interrupted, I want to hear what I know I’m going to like. I hate the idea that I have to TRY to like something. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I’m not looking for instant “love”, I just don’t want to feel as though I’m having to find artistic merit within the sound of nails going down a chalkboard.

Yep, still sounding a lot more “Get off my lawn” than I’d like to admit, I’m afraid.

So, when I finally did hit “shuffle” on his playlist as I was cleaning downstairs, I decided I wouldn’t look at what was playing, or what was coming up. My job was simply to listen and enjoy. I won’t lie, occasionally I found myself rushing to my phone to click “next”. More often than not though, I liked what I heard. Sometimes, I liked it enough to go see who the artist was and make a note to check out more of their music! Not only that, but John’s playlist surprised me. He certainly didn’t bind himself to only one genre. I heard everything from Phillip Glass, who is arguably one of the finest composers of our time, to Kanye. Ariana Grande to MNDR and TOKiMONSTA. Bowie to Chic, and of course Duran Duran.  I heard plenty that I liked, and even more that I loved.  I shouldn’t be surprised, but I kind of am!

John isn’t afraid to challenge us to expand our musical horizons. I can appreciate that, and goodness knows I need the kick in the pants. I’m finding that it takes real work to stay wired in to what is relevant. I remember something that Nick said in a Katy Kafe a few years back, and it really stuck with me. He was talking about how difficult it really is to get music heard these days. He described it as the internet being this fat pipe of information, and so everything comes at us as though it’s a fire hose. It is difficult for any one thing to catch on and be noticed. I feel it. Spotify is so overwhelming with many choices. I rarely know where to start.

Over the years, John has fed me more than one new artist to check out that I’ve ended up really enjoying. From this playlist, I’ve discovered Charlotte Gainsbourg most notably, among a few others. She’s someone I probably should have known about and just didn’t. So while sure, a part of me is like “Soulja Boy?  Kanye?? Really??? Hard pass, John.” I know I need to at least try before I scoff too much. So I do, and now I’m glad I did.

Thank goodness John does his homework and is willing to share. I might be a slacker, but even I know what’s good for me!

Check out his “All Love” playlist on Spotify!  (Link is in the words)

-R

Duran Duran performs at Cannes Lions

Where in the world is Duran Duran?

Well, I can’t tell you where they are at this very minute – but I can tell you where they were last night! That lucky band performed in Cannes, France at the International Festival of Creativity for the Cannes Lions.

According to their website, the Cannes Lions are the most established and coveted awards for the creative and marketing communications industry. There’s an entire festival built around the awards, including performances and appearances by bands, artists and notable figures.   So, last night Duran Duran performed, apparently intended to be a secret for the attendees until the last possible minute, and today Simon appeared on a panel about saving the worlds oceans.

It wasn’t until Anna had posted something about performing in Cannes that I wondered about the band being there, and sure enough – pictures started showing up on social media this morning. Sometimes, I feel so far removed from the happenings with this band, it just makes it tough to stay engaged. I can’t imagine I’m the only one feeling that way…and I don’t mean that because I live in California and these things are taking place elsewhere I don’t pay attention. I mean that because I really don’t know what they’re working on, and so much of it is kept quiet, I tend to drift off and not always pay rapt attention, figuring they’re not doing much of anything (at least that I’m able to write about!).

I love that John and Simon do these panels, I really do. It is wonderful to see their passions beyond Duran Duran, and in both cases – I wish I’d been able to be there.

If all of that weren’t enough Duran-love for you, John left us all a gift of his own on Spotify. It is the JT “All love” playlist, and I really think it’s worth the time to download Spotify if you don’t already have it. He added more to it today, after he spent time wandering around the Christian Marclay exhibit in Cannes. Check out the playlist here!

Well, that’s a wrap for me this week! I’m off to do some more driving around and house hunting!

-R

 

 

Duran Duran Playlist for Newbies!

Today, I’m writing from a Starbucks on State Street in Santa Barbara. I woke up at the unkind hour of 4am, and accompanied my husband Walt up here for the week. He’s working, and I’m…well…I’m not really sure. I’m looking around, trying to decide if I mind how compact and busy Santa Barbara is, or if I prefer to be farther north with more land and fewer people. (I am leaning towards the latter) For this morning though, I’ve made this Starbucks my mobile Daily Duranie office!

Last week, I participated in a fun survey, courtesy of GuyFansofDuran on Twitter (@BoysMakeNoise). The question was simple: If you had to create a comprehensive mix tape/playlist for someone who had never heard of Duran Duran, what songs would you pick?

In order to make it easy and give everyone a good starting point, he did one survey per album. All one needed to do was pick the song they felt best represented the album (or whatever song they wanted). At the very end, he did a survey to choose one B-side, and as a bonus track (there are ALWAYS bonus tracks!), we could write in an additional B-side.

The votes were counted, and after each survey ended, the results would be posted for discussion and fodder. More often than not, I wasn’t surprised by the result, but saddened that my choices never quite made it to the top. I didn’t start questioning my own choices and/or sanity until later in the week, beginning with the winner for The Wedding Album – “Femme Fatale”.

To be honest, I never even considered “Femme Fatale” as a possibility to win, particularly since it shares album space with “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone”. I narrowed my eyes a bit when I read the results, wondering if I’d either lost more of my vision that day, or that I’d woken up in an alternate universe. I even checked to make sure that Ordinary World and Come Undone were in fact included in the choices for the survey. I did not choose any of those songs, but I’ve been in the fan community long enough to know that many others would – and to think that neither of those songs won – well, that blew my mind. But hey, whatever, right? It’s all just for fun.

Similar things happened for Big Thing, and then again for Rio, to the point that @BoysMakeNoise decided to clear the results and try again. Apparently, either as an attempt at a joke…or to pad the ballot box, someone had figured out how to foil the system. My feeling is, if you’re going to make a joke – go full throttle! Don’t stop at “Femme Fatale”, go “Shotgun”!!  Make me crazy and pick “Can You Deal with It” off of Liberty. Then again, maybe you did.

Eventually, a mixtape did result from the redone surveys, and it was a fun experiment to see what the community came up with. The mixtape was put together on YouTube, and I have the link here. If you’re a Spotify fan though, here is YOUR link!  What do you think?  What would you choose??

-R

Social Media: Could Less Really Be More?

During my typical morning social media read-through, I noticed an item of interest that I thought I’d share with my fellow Duranies. AskKaty on Facebook (who actually works for more artists than just Duran Duran!) retweeted a comment from Miss Taylor Swift about her bestselling album, “1989”.

“1989 became the year’s bestselling album in the very last days of 2014, helped in part by absence from streaming services.” @taylorswift13

I thought this quote was interesting for a number of reasons, not in small part due to my lack of knowledge when it comes to streaming – I do have Spotify, but in truth I rarely have time to sit and listen (a small allowance to make when you are a homeschooling parent).  I seem to recall hearing that Taylor Swift had chosen to stop streaming her music through such services, but I don’t think I ever gave the idea much thought beyond wondering what purpose it would really serve. I have to wonder if her above statement really holds any kind of water…and assuming that yes, removing her music from streaming created huge demand…would it work for others?

Let’s be honest: Taylor Swift is a hot commodity in today’s music whether you like her or hate her. My own daughter fell in love with her writing back when Taylor was still singing about prince charming, and that hasn’t stopped. It is difficult to argue that 1989 was an unlikely success, given the sheer amount of fans that seem to be behind Swift…but even so…to go platinum four times?? If we agree that removing her music from streaming services somehow created a sense of demand that made the sales of 1989 go off the charts in an unprecedented amount of time…could it be that a similar idea is being used for Duran Duran?

Celebrities and artists today are far more accessible now than any time prior, and many believe that ease of accessibility is more harmful than helpful. I’m not sure I necessarily agree, but I’m also,not ready to cry foul just yet.  On one hand, Taylor Swift, for example, seems to love social media, Instagram and Twitter most notably. While she has removed her music from streaming – the songstress continues to remain very connected to her loyal fans, and not just while trying to sell her latest record. On the other hand, many other artists – such as Nick Rhodes, for instance, abhor social media of any kind and yet Duran Duran does allow their music to be streamed.

Sure, Duran Duran could easily remove themselves from streaming. I certainly wouldn’t notice – like most diehard or longtime fans, I already own their entire catalog and having them disappear from Spotify wouldn’t be a game changer for me. Perhaps though such a move might also cause potential fans to make a purchase rather than just stream the new album for free. Whether or not the percentage of potential “seeking” fans would prove to be large enough to make a notable difference or not is up for debate. However, if they were advised to stop engaging and connecting through social media – how might that change the overall narrative?

-R