Tag Archives: The Beatles

I Won’t Go Away Quietly and Die. Will You?

How many of you can remember your parents going to concerts in their mid-40’s or later?

Aside from one Neil Diamond concert that I can remember from about six or seven years before my dad passed, and perhaps a Beach Boys mini concert that took place after a USC football game, I can’t really remember my parents going to concerts. I know that my mom and dad always struggled with money, and it was rare that they ever actually went out without my sister and I in tow. Even that Beach Boys concert was a family affair, because we’d all gone to the game. I just don’t remember live shows, or evenings out being a part of my parent’s life.

Music was a part of our household in that occasionally my parents would buy records, and they liked playing music after dinner, but it was typically older, rather than newer. For my parents, Elvis was the common denominator. My dad liked “Country Western” and my mom seemed to gravitate more towards pop of all kinds, and somehow, they agreed on Elvis. Neither were really into The Beatles, oddly enough – my mom told me it was because they seemed to come along later as opposed to during those momentous high school years. (My dad graduated from high school in 1958 and my mom in 1962) I can remember hearing anything and everything from Charlie Pride to Elton John at one point or another.

My dad never took trips with “the guys”, and my mom absolutely never set foot out the door with intentions of a girls weekend anywhere. My mom was never the type of woman to get together with friends. I can’t ever remember, for instance, there being any “friends” of my mom in our house. I never came home from school to see my mom chatting with anyone, and the only people that ever seemed to call our house were family.  My mom and dad did every single thing they could together, as a couple. My mom simply preferred to be with my dad.

For that matter, my mom was never a shopper. We went to the mall on those “once-a-year school clothes or Christmas shopping” trips together as a family, and there were rarely mother/daughter outings.  I can honestly count going out with her alone for a day out shopping on one hand, and one of those times was for my wedding dress. I attribute most of that to a lack of discretionary income, but also because my mom wasn’t that type of person. She still isn’t a window shopper, she doesn’t like going out to the mall unless it’s for a reason. She has never been much of a browser, because in her mind, if you go to a store, it’s got to be because you need something. Some of that, she has passed on to me, although I fight it, which I will get to in a minute.

I read an article yesterday about loving ourselves even as we age. Once we reach the age of about 35 or even 40, both of which are well-behind in my rear view mirror now, the world stops caring about us. Advertisers ignore us, because I’m pretty sure that the rest of the world has decided that once you’re 35, you should go somewhere, lay down, and await death.

Except we haven’t. And I won’t go quietly.

I think about my mom. She’s 74 now. Unfortunately, she lost my dad ten years ago, and her friend and partner about two years ago.  My mom and I have had numerous conversations about my “Duran Duran exploits” over the years, which makes it all sound slightly lascivious, and perhaps to my mom, they were. I think the expectations of women were very different for her than they might have been for my generation. I think she was shocked when I first told her I was flying across the country to go to a convention. That wasn’t even a concert – I was just going to go meet people I’d “met” online!  There have been many times when I know she felt that I had my priorities crossed, even though I know how much happier I am as a person now than I was, isolated and caring for two very young children. The cross-generational differences are glaringly obvious at times.

Historically, perhaps women did get married, have children and stop doing anything else outside of the family.  If other women were anything like my mom or my grandmother, maybe life did slow down quite a bit after 35 or even 40. But to just pretend we don’t exist? Um, tell that to the thousands (yes, thousands) of women my age or even older at Duran Duran shows!  Not only have they not laid down to await their impending death – they are living. Vibrantly. Beautifully. Strongly. They’ve got life by the tail and are swinging it around, ready to throw it whenever, and however, they choose. I’m happy to be in that group, too.

I fight the urge to just stay at home. I can be a bit of a hermit. I’m far better at being an introvert than I am an extrovert. The effort it takes me to be chatty and friendly at gatherings is pretty embarrassing. I will literally collapse after get togethers sometimes. It is easier for me to sink back into the comfort of spending my entire life just hanging out with my husband (and we’re like oil and water a lot of the time!) than it is for me to find good friends to do lunch. I try to remember to get out of the house and to go do things with my daughters (or even my son) from time to time. It isn’t always easy, but I am not just going to lay down and wait for death to sweep over me like a cold blanket. I can do that later.

I’m still learning how to love myself at 47, or even 50. It’s not easy. I look in the mirror or down at myself and see the bad things first. The grey hair, the bags under my eyes, the middle-aged weight gain, and the way my legs seem to grow lizard scales if I don’t moisturize daily are all things my eyes focus on first. I have to talk myself into the idea of going to Duran shows, the struggle of feeling confident amongst the rest of you is real. All of those things can really get me down if I let them. But then I think about the things I’ve done, and what I still want to do. I’m not old yet. I still feel young. I’m not ready to retire. I won’t go away quietly.

-R

I Knew When I First Saw You on the Showroom Floor

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading recently.  I just finished Electric Ladyland last night, which is about women and rock.  While reading, I found a quote that I couldn’t get out of my head. I sent it on to Amanda because we’re working on something and I thought it would be of benefit to her, too. I’m going to share it here as well, because I’m curious about what our readers might think.

“Even after I realized women were barred from any active participation in rock music, it took me a while to see that we weren’t even considered a real part of the listening audience.  It was clear that the concerts were directed only to men and the women were not considered people, but more on the level of exotic domestic animals that come with their masters or come to find masters. Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” –Susan Hiwatt, “Cock Rock”, an essay from Twenty-Minute Fandangos and Forever Changes

First of all, before the roaring chorus of “No way!!” begins, I feel as though context may be important.  I found this quote in Electric Ladyland, but it came from the essay cited above. Electric Ladyland examines the role of women in music, whether as musicians, writers, or groupies (anyone want to guess why I was reading?).  More specifically, the book targets the years of 1960 through the 1970’s. Anyone who has properly studied that time in history knows how much change occurred during that nearly twenty year period (1960-1979ish).  The quote came from something written in 1971, but I’m wondering how much of it still hold true today, and for the sake of argument, we can take Duran Duran for an example.

I don’t necessarily think that Duran Duran bars women from active participation, per se. I mean, I’ve been to concerts. So have many of our readers. It’s pretty clear they’re on board with the whole “there are women in our audience” thing.

That said, let’s take a few things into consideration. The band itself has never really gotten respect from critics and the like. Part of that reason is because of their following. And who made up most of their following?  Us. Women. Girls. Teenyboppers. Even today, when the band talks about their audience in interviews, they are certain to bring up the fact that their audience has broadened to include men. The point is, if it didn’t matter, I don’t think they’d bring it up.

Let’s talk about the concert itself since that’s something mentioned in the quote I shared. If you spend any time at all looking at the video screens behind the band, the images are mainly of women. Not ALL, but most. This has always amused me, because if the audience is primarily women, and we’re watching the show, which includes the screens…who are those images for, then?  Sure, we can and should argue that girls/women/models/etc has always been a part of Duran Duran’s entire visual package. Even so, there’s part of me that wonders, if the women in the audience cannot tear their eyes away from Simon for even a second to see the screens behind them, who is watching those screens?  Their dates?? Maybe. So while I wouldn’t argue the entire concert is directed towards men (hardly!), I do think there are images there designed for them. Not a bad thing, I’m definitely not condemning the band for them, I’m acknowledging what they’re designed to do.

Now, about that whole exotic domesticated animal thing. I’m not gonna lie – anytime I read words like that I think of “The Man Who Stole a Leopard”, which I feel is symbolism for a lot of different things.  But, when I get past that thought, I would agree that it’s difficult for me to see a Duran Duran concert in that same light. But isn’t that part of the reason why critics had such trouble giving Duran Duran even an ounce of credit back in the 80s?  The band wasn’t playing just for guys, or just for girls for that matter. They were meant for everyone.

On the other hand, I feel like there are a plethora of other examples, particularly in hard rock, where women are merely the eye candy for the evening. The music is meant for men, and they can bring their women along with them for the evening. Or women can show up on their own and then go looking for men! While I’m not saying that can’t happen at a Duran Duran concert, I’m also saying that they’re not the first band that pops into my mind when that scenario is discussed.

What about Duran Duran’s videos? This is another area that I think we have to at least acknowledge packaging.  Let’s be honest: many of their videos have beautiful women in them. Girls on Film, Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Falling Down, Girl Panic, New Moon on Monday, Careless Memories…I could go on and on.  They don’t just put women in their videos for their own benefit. They’re there to attract the audience the label (and maybe even the band) would like to have: men. Now why is that?  Why are men so important, and why is it that even when a band has millions upon millions of ardent female fans, why are they never given credit?

It’s not just Duran Duran in that boat, and it’s not just the 80’s we’re talking about here. The Beatles, Bay City Rollers, New Kids on the Block, N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, and yes, One Direction. By any account, all of those bands were (and still are) very successful. Millions of fans, sold-out tours,  and #1 records to go all around. In every example given, women make up the majority of their fans, and in every case the critical acclaim has never quite been there. (with the possible exception of The Beatles, where the majority of their critical success came after the band broke up). I just don’t think that’s   purely coincidence.

“Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” 

If I am to understand that quote correctly, if men like the music – I think of Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Rolling Stones, The Police, etc – it’s because the music is genuinely good, men get that, and that is why they choose those bands to follow.  If an audience is made up of women and girls, it is because those women don’t really get the music. I mean, how could they – they’re too busy looking at the band to hear much else, and they don’t really understand music anyway. Ah. I see.

I can remember sharing my thoughts about various songs the band has done over the years. Amanda and I have done many reviews on the blog or even on YouTube. I never failed to be amused by some of the comments we received, some of which came incredibly close to a virtual pat on the head, explaining that while we’re cute, we don’t understand music.

Outraged, I’d write back, sharing my education with them. I would punch at the keys on my computer as though each one was hurting the (typically) male who dared question my intelligence. But then one day, I got smart and stopped responding. I don’t need to bother. I know what I know. I am confident that for the most part, the men (and some women) who choose to belittle whatever Amanda and I are doing at the time, aren’t going to ever be convinced of why or how we do it. We run into that kind of judgment all the time, whether it’s someone criticizing why we go to shows, why we blog, or why we’ve written manuscripts. We can’t win those individual battles on our own, but together, we can win the war.

It just doesn’t have to be this way.  I’m interested in reading your thoughts and ideas!

-R

RIP Sir George Martin

I went to bed really early last night and missed the tweets announcing that Sir George Martin, long time producer, arranger, conductor and “Fifth Beatle”, had passed away at the age of 90.

My journey through the wonderland of Beatles music began long after they had stopped recording as a group and moved on to other things, but that didn’t stop me from discovering them and falling in love, even going so far as to take a class on just their musical catalog when I was in college. (My professor was terrible. Talk about ruining what should have been the best class ever….)

 If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George.

Sir George Martin was part of the heart and soul that was The Beatles. It is no small thing that Paul McCartney acknowledged the title of “Fifth Beatle” in his kind condolence letter after the news came out late last night (or this morning if you happen to anywhere else in the world…) If George hadn’t been producing them, he was arranging them, conducting the orchestras that worked with them, and much of the music that came to be known as favorites – “Yesterday” among them, would not be the same without his influence.

Two of my favorite songs ever were touched by the hand of Sir George Martin – “Eleanor Rigby”, as he arranged it,  and “Fixing a Hole”, where he played harpsichord. Plenty of the more “experimental” things The Beatles did over the years was completed with George Martin at the helm. Think of “Day in the Life”, or “Strawberry Fields”, even the circus atmosphere in “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”.  It wasn’t until very late in the band’s career,  notably the White Album, that The Beatles really produced on their own, meaning that it is likely that much of the music we listen to from The Beatles today we can thank Sir George Martin for, at least in part.

Fans have commented that kids today are listening to trash, that the greats have left us. Sir George Martin lived quite a long life – the beauty being that his art stays behind. I’d also add that it is up to us, the parents out there, to expose and teach our children about music. Even my parents, who were by no means experts about music of any kind,  consistently had music playing in our house. I heard everything from Elvis (a LOT of Elvis, I might add) to Elton John and The Beach Boys (“Help Me Rhonda”. sigh)  My kids had a pretty steady diet of Duran Duran, The Beatles, Oingo Boingo, Frank Sinatra, Tears for Fears and even a few Reggae groups in there somewhere…along with countless others while growing up. While I’m pretty sure that my oldest still listens to some pretty cringeworthy stuff (we all do at one point or another…as I recall my own college “Hair Band” years…oh boy), I know she has a pretty diverse library to choose from. My son took the EDM route. If you knew him you’d agree with me when I say it’s weird, but hey, there are moments when he’s listening to something that I’ll do a double take because it sounds just the tiniest bit like a band I know. Imagine that!! (I take a little delight in knowing that as far as he thinks he’s getting away from me…I’m still right there!) My youngest is still figuring it all out, but any kid who will request “Pressure Off” every time we’re in the car has GOT to be on the road to good taste.  I’m sure many of you find the same with your kids. It’s up to us to pass it on, and we should.

RIP Sir George Martin, and thank you for a life well-spent.

-R

Look For the Girl With the Sun In Her Eyes and She’s Gone

They are pretty much dropping like flies at this point, aren’t they?  I have to admit that each morning as I open my laptop, I’m almost nervous to see what the news might be…which idol, legend, favorite, etc, has left us.  January has not been kind to the music lover this year. Yesterday afternoon, it was announced that Glenn Frey, founding member of The Eagles, had passed away. I don’t know how popular The Eagles were in other countries, but for me – they were one of the quintessential California bands of the 1970s. I grew up listening to them on the radio, whether I knew it or not at the time.

At heart, I am a rock and roll girl. While it’s certainly true that Duran Duran has left an indelible mark on my soul and I love 80s New Wave with a passion that continues to burn bright a few decades later, it is also true that I adore a great classic-rock guitar. (is this really a surprise to anyone?)

Some of my friends had parents that listened to The Beatles, whereas my parents were fans of Elvis, in a pretty big way.  My mom likes to say that The Beatles came too late for her in the same way that I say New Kids on the Block were too late for me…so I get it. (Although I am a pretty big fan of The Beatles, oddly) Before I came along, my parents were also big fans of The Beach Boys (hence my name). I don’t know how that fits into the whole “rock” scenario – but we all have our departures. For instance, I love Duran Duran, but can also be known to blast Styx (anything but Mr. Roboto) from time to time. It happens. I make no apologies, but I’m getting away from myself. The point being, I was groomed on rock and roll (and a little bit of the blues, I guess…which is both bizarre…and fitting at the same time.)

When the news came out about Glenn Frey yesterday, I started thinking about all of the songs I knew of his. There are too many to list, yet again – just as I noticed with Bowie – I really didn’t take stock in many of them until after he was gone. It’s the case where I recognize his music, I don’t typically change the radio if they happen to come on, but I also didn’t seek him out, and I didn’t ever stop to think of just how many of his songs I really knew. I think in a lot of ways we take these legends for granted. We don’t ever consider that one day they might not be here, until they’re just not…and this month, well, that’s happening on a near daily basis, isn’t it?

I was in the car this morning, considering what I might write about this morning, and Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners came on the radio. This is one of those songs that I almost never turn off. If it comes on – whether it’s the radio or my iPhone – I don’t skip it or change the station. I love the song. It’s ridiculous, but it always reminds me of school dances in junior high. You’d think that memory alone would be enough to force my hand, but no. They’re good memories, albeit awkward ones. Then I started thinking about other songs that I always allow to play through, and decided to create a list when I got home. I’m going to share mine here – trying to go for at least 25, but we’ll see. The caveat: NO Duran Duran, and they have to be songs that whenever they play – you let it play through. I have a ton of songs that I adore (in fact, most of my favorite songs are this way), but I have to be in the right mood to hear them.

These songs, for the most part, aren’t even favorites (with the exception of the few classical ones I’ve mentioned – those are definite life long favorites of mine). My list could be WAY longer than 25, and I didn’t include nearly as many new wave songs as I would have first thought. I just sat down and just started writing the first ones that came to mind, coming up with 25 in an incredibly short amount of time, and they are in no particular order, and like I said – I could have added so many more. I was surprised. Makes me wonder why I haven’t ever done this before.

I encourage you to do the same and post it!  I wonder how many out of our lists will be from musicians we consider to be legends?

The Wall………………………………………………….Michael Jackson

Mr. Brightside…………………………………………The Killers

Mad World………………………………………………Tears for Fears

Alive and Kicking…………………………………..Simple Minds

Marriage of Figaro………………………………..Mozart

Rhapsody in Blue…………………………………..Gershwin

Tom Sawyer…………………………………………….Rush

Jessie’s Girl……………………………………………..Rick Springfield

Too Much Time on My Hands……………..Styx

In the Mood……………………………………………Glenn Miller

String of Pearls………………………………………Glenn Miller

Hit Me With Your Best Shot………………..Pat Benatar

Should I Stay or Should I Go…………………The Clash

Anyway You Want…………………………………Journey

We Close Our Eyes……………………………….Oingo Boingo

Blasphemous Rumours………………………..Depeche Mode

Been Caught Stealing…………………………..Jane’s Addiction

Eleanor Rigby…………………………………………The Beatles

More Than a Feeling…………………………….Boston

Infected…………………………………………………..Bad Religion

Under Pressure……………………………………..David Bowie/Queen

Rock With You……………………………………….Michael Jackson

Love Will Tear us Apart………………………..Joy Division

To Cut a Long Story Short…………………….Spandau Ballet

Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds……………The Beatles

-R