Tag Archives: Warren Cuccurullo

Ah, That Die-Hard Fan Thing

Please, please tell me now

Last week, a friend of mine asked if I thought one could even be considered a die hard fan if they weren’t upset about John leaving the band back in the late 1990s.

Granted, the comment, or rather, the question, was said in jest. At the time, I said I wouldn’t touch the subject with a ten-foot pole.

Maybe what I should have said was that I wouldn’t touch the subject unless I were planning on writing a blog in advance, knowing I wouldn’t be around to manage the aftermath!!

Is there something I should know?

Seriously though – in answering that question, I think one has to have an idea of what “die-hard” even means. Funnily enough, I think we all have an image of what that might entail in our own heads. Maybe you think a die-hard is someone who doesn’t miss a tour. Perhaps you believe a die-hard fan travels to all the shows, or maybe they’re someone that many within the fan community know and recognize.

Truth be told, I don’t think there’s one set definition, and as I explained last week – I’m definitely not going to be the person to start defining it. At the very least…… I won’t be doing that while I’m sober! We all have our own ideas of what a die hard fan is. Chances are, we either think we fit that definition and are proud of it, or we work very hard to tell ourselves that we’re not…THAT kind of fan.

For many fans, the day John left the band was one of the saddest days of their lives. Others felt that way when it was Roger, or Andy…either time. For still many others though, they didn’t notice the absence all that much. Maybe John wasn’t a favorite, or maybe their attitude was simply that as long as Simon is singing, it’s Duran Duran. I can remember going to see Duran Duran at the House of Blues in 2001. I purposefully kept my eyes on Simon and Nick, willing myself to believe I was seeing all five original members, ignoring Warren and the others onstage. It was utterly ridiculous now that I think back on it, but I was a young(er) pup then. What about you?

People stare and cross the road from me

Opinions and loyalties are often the spark applied to the powder keg of arguments when it comes to fandom. None of us are unbiased. If we were, chances are, we wouldn’t be fans at all – much less hold that super special, “die-hard” label. My own personal opinion is that if you’re a fan of Duran Duran – then you’re a fan of the band. Die-hard, casual fan, or blogger! It shouldn’t matter whether or not you were upset that John left. Others might believe that only the die-hardest (that’s a word, right?!?) of them all would feel as though John’s absence was like missing part of your heart.

Quite frankly, it is all pretty dramatic for me on a Monday (because that’s when I’m writing this) afternoon. It isn’t even wine-o’clock yet!

Someday, when I least expect it, someone will hand me many vodka tonics and then ask the fateful question, “What is the definition of a die-hard fan, Rhonda?”

That’s liable to be a rough one.

-R

Was the Pop Trash Era Best?

Now that the beat is slow

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

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

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

Something I want to say

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

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

Burst this bubble

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

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

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

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

Hardest thing is to let go

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

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

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

-R

Happy 24th Anniversary Thank You!

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

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

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

Track by Track

White Lines

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

I Wanna Take You Higher

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

Perfect Day

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

Watching the Detectives

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

Lay Lady Lay

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

911 Is a Joke

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

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

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

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

Success

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

Crystal Ship

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

Ball of Confusion

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

Thank You

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

Drive By

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

My inspiration

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

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

It will be done

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

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

-R

If You Want To Stay With Me

Something to let you understand the way I feel

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

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

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

To feel it once again

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

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

It’s just Duran Duran…

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

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

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

“It’s just Duran Duran!”

(Famous last words)

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

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

Thank you for the fine times

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

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

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

Do you remember

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

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

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

Would never seem to end

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

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

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

To feel it once again

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

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

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

At your liberty

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

…as if I could ever really forget her.

-R

Valentines Day 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. For many, this is not a favorite day. Personally, I have a “strong dislike”/love relationship with this holiday. To begin with, I don’t think we need a day set aside to tell people we love them – because we should already be doing that each and every day. Also, I don’t really enjoy setting people I know up to fail – and this holiday sort of does that for some reason. I also don’t think we need to remind single people that they’re in fact, single. They already know. This stupid day is sort of “in your face” about that, isn’t it? It’s obnoxious. However, I have children, and I have enjoyed spoiling them on occasion. I only have one at home now, and so today – she’s getting some treats.

So for the rest of us, whether you’re single, in a relationship, it’s complicated, or married (and isn’t it ALL complicated from time to time??), I figure we should treat ourselves. I mean, why not?

Last night for example, I watched Live from London. Now, that might not sound like much, but I hadn’t really watched it in years! I think Amanda and I sometimes include some of it when we do a video party online, but when that’s going on I have a hard time paying full attention to the video. So last night, I watched.

I cannot tell a lie – it was really nice seeing Andy on that stage with the band. Though I am well aware of the band’s working relationship over the years, there is just something about that guy with the music. Much of it was his. He wrote it, and he owned it. But even the music he didn’t originally write, he unabashedly made his own. (Whether people like the way he plays it or not… Andy doesn’t give a crap. He plays the way he wants.) There’s a confidence there and a sense of ownership that felt right.

Now, I realize that some of you are thinking, “But Rhonda, what about Dom?” Yeah, yeah…I know. The thing is, you can appreciate everyone who is has been involved with this band for what they bring to the stage. Andy’s swagger and “IDGAF-what-you-think” confidence, Warren’s artistry, Dom’s expertise as a studio musician and friendliness. All of it has brought us to present day. I was overjoyed, and even a little wistful, to see Andy’s larger-than-life picture onstage during the Miami show when the band played Seventh Stranger. I will be every bit as proud and excited to see Dom on stage next Friday.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Live from London last night. Fifteen years or so gave me a little different of a perspective. I still had chills when the band walked to the front of the stage while a track of heartbeats played. I remembered how that felt when I was in third row at the AllState Arena in Chicago. I noticed how different the band looked – their hair far spikier, and sure – they were a little younger. (as was I…) I noted how some of the songs were arranged the tiniest bit differently for that tour, which was interesting to hear. It also seemed like the whole production and staging felt a lot less choreographed than the Paper Gods shows.

I am hoping to get some time to watch a few more videos today. I feel like it’s time for another Sing Blue Silver viewing, but also maybe time for some YouTube searching for videos from Miami. At any rate – I hope everyone takes a little time to treat themselves today. You’re worth it!

Happy Valentines Day everyone! Have a wonderful weekend!

-R

What is definitive Duran Duran?

Happy Wednesday! I’m sorry for my unexpected absence yesterday. We were having carpeting installed, and we had to disconnect the octopus of wires behind a desk. Unfortunately, that also disconnected our WiFi and disrupted our internet connection until it was far too late in the day for blogging.

I’m also late today, because of a meaningful, deep, philosophical discussion regarding the merits of the song “Drive By”.

Only a fellow Duran fan understands enough to talk about the space a specific song or album occupies. It is rare to find someone who understands and is able to relate such a song to the bigger picture is a gift.

The conversation was simply about why I believe “Drive By” is a definitive Duran Duran song of the Simon-Nick-John-Warren period. Actually, I think its one of the more definitive songs of their career. “Drive By” is definitive of their career during the mid-90s, but does it’s statement go even farther than that?

Let’s consider the period of time. John, Simon, Nick and Warren were defining themselves as another iteration of Duran Duran. This was an era of rediscovery, reinvention, and to some extent – forgetting who and what they once were (as a group). So “Drive By”, a deconstructed, even “now separated, once-conjoined twin” of “The Chauffeur”, is a spectacular example of this period of Duran’s career.

I can point to the cover of “Medazzaland” as another example, granted in a slightly different period. The graffiti-laden image of “Rio” weighs heavily in my mind. I often wonder if they weren’t really trying to bury that bright and glossy 80s magazine pin-up image of the fab five. Let’s face it, there was quite a bit to run from at that point. Maybe they were really over the idea of fans swarming their limos, even if by necessity. Perhaps they were anxious to be accepted as serious musicians. Maybe they were  over being the pin-up dreams of fresh-faced, dewy-eyed teenage girls?  Maybe they saw this new iteration of Duran Duran as being the “anti”1980s Duran Duran?  It isn’t difficult to imagine what they might have been thinking of when picking a cover for “Medazzaland”.

Rather than examining the song, or any one song, under the Duran Duran microscope, lately I’ve been thinking about the broader context. I’ve considered the changes in their sound over the years,  such as the rearranged, heavy jazz sounding brass and horn version of “Hungry Like the Wolf” or “Burning the Ground” – the remix to put a final period on 80s era Duran Duran.  I’ve pondered the more obvious, recent style changes, like the full, production-heavy pop sound on Astronaut compared to the deep urban groove of Red Carpet Massacre, or retro sounding All You Need is Now, along with Paper Gods.  Individually, each seeming to be a stroll down a different musical lane, but collectively – what do they really say about this band?

To some extent, I tend to believe the band has spent a great deal of time and energy running from what they (and critics) believed they were in 1984. We can say they’re not comfortable sitting upon their laurels, and we can claim that they are not easily satiated, creativity speaking, and I don’t think we’d be wrong. However,  I don’t think it hurts anyone to examine the deeper motivation of what might drive them.

Recently, during the BBC takeover night of DD television a couple of weeks back, John admitted that the critical comments from music journalists back in the day have bothered him up until very recently. This was not a surprise to me, other than being shocked at his utterance of the words out loud for all to hear. Amanda and I have been talking about that for years now – we’ve written about it many times on the blog, and I think we both cheered when we heard John say the words. Of course it bothered them. I get it! I very much appreciate his honesty and vulnerability. Accepting, and even respecting that one nugget of truth gave me such a different perspective on their career. It is like finally having the big picture come into focus. I just love them.

This is a band with an image based on the proverbial double-edged sword. On one side, they were incredibly successful because they appealed to teenage girls. They never said no to being the – poster boys of the 1980’s. In fact, they welcomed it, and we welcomed them! On the other side of that sword though, somewhere down deep, they secretly aspired to reach the recognition, acclaim and respect that comes from critics and other musicians. Screaming girls are wonderful, but perhaps having respect mattered too. Could we really blame them?

That isn’t to say the band’s career has been a giant folly, or that they were wrong to explore. Not in the least, and I want to be clear on that. In my mind, the fans are the ones who have made out the best on this deal. This band is still hungry. They are still in search of whatever is out there. With each new album comes a newly discovered Duran Duran. I just happen to believe the motivation to do so comes from something a bit more definitive.

-R

Can’t We Just Love Them All?

I touched on the whole guitarist debate yesterday, and I realized I had something else to write.

Why does it really matter? What is it about Andy, Warren and now Dom that makes all of us feel the need to debate their worthiness?

Let’s face it, Andy was with the band during much of their climb to the top. He helped write many of the songs we continue to hear on the radio, and in their live shows. There’s no denying any of that, and I don’t think anyone is trying to rewrite that history. However, there’s also no debate that Andy has left the band at this point. He did his job, and from everything that I can see, it would appear that he’s happy to remain outside of Duran Duran.

On the other hand, Warren took up where Andy left off.  While Andy was chasing a solo career, Warren made himself available and willing. He wrote a lot of the music that many love most, and at least two of the songs that are still played most on the radio. No one is trying to rewrite THAT history, either. However he too is no longer in the band at this point, regardless of how that happened.

Lastly, there is Dom, who is not a band member in the same respect as the other two. He began as a studio musician, a hired “gun”, so to speak, standing in for Andy while he was sick. Then again as Andy was away due to his father’s death, and carried on after he quit. He has been given writing credit on a few of the band’s albums in the years since, and while many have settled in with his presence onstage, still others choose to ignore what they cannot accept.

After a lot of needless, useless time spent defending Dom over the years – he doesn’t need defending – I realized that it doesn’t matter.

IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER  (although sometimes I still forget)

Andy and Warren are ex-bandmembers. They no longer play with Duran Duran, no matter how amazing they were. There’s no debate there, even though I know that some fans are intent on having one.   Even if Dom weren’t with the band, it would still be someone else other than Andy or Warren playing guitar, and we would still be hearing that they aren’t as good as <fill in the blank here for whatever the reason>.

It is a pretty unfair battle when you think about it. Can’t we just love them all?

-R

 

Watching Over Lucky Clover

The other day Duran Duran tweeted a question about how they celebrate anniversaries of songs, albums, etc. and then asked fans what DD dates they commemorate.  Immediately, I responded about how I like to remember my concert show dates.  In fact, in our homemade Duran calendar, the dates and locations of each show that Rhonda and I have attended, together or separately, is listed.  Today is one of those dates for me.  On this date in 2005, I saw Duran play in Detroit.  It was the last of my spring Astronaut shows and the end of an amazing Spring Break in which I saw five shows that week.  More significantly than that, it was the first show I saw with all five original band members.

At the time of Astronaut’s release, I remember feeling so behind the curve because I had yet to see the Fab Five live.  It seemed so many other people I knew saw all of them in 2003 or 2004.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards for me so I had to wait until Astronaut.  In December, tickets were purchased and a countdown began.  January and February felt like the longest months ever.  During that time, I kept my excitement about seeing all 5 mostly to myself.  I didn’t want to point out that I wasn’t a cool fan like all those who saw reunion shows.  Then, finally, my part of the tour approached only to find out that Andy had to fly back to the UK to take care of his dad.  Obviously, I understood but was disappointed.  Others around me expressed that while I quietly convinced myself that I would still enjoy the shows, which I did.

By the time the third show came, I stopped hoping that Andy would return.  I reassured myself that this was just one tour and that the band would be back around.  Yet, I was stunned when my friend called the day of the Detroit show telling us that Andy would be there for the show!  I cheered along with my friends and my excitement of the show increased immensely!  Indeed, it was a special show and have a fond little spot in my heart for it.  As I drove home the next day, I found myself feeling very, very lucky to have been able to see the Fab Five live and it didn’t matter that it was in 2005 rather than 2003 or 1984.  I did it.

Speaking of lucky, I believe that I have been a very fortunate Duranie in that I have had the opportunity to see the band live with not only Andy, but Warren once and Dom a bunch of times.  The debate of Duran’s guitarist will probably never die.  While I personally love Duran as it is right now and feel strongly that Dom should definitely be there, I appreciate the history that came with Andy and the creativity that came with Warren.  I know that each guitarist has brought something to Duran that cannot really be measured.  So, on today’s date, I celebrate not only the Detroit show that took place 13 years, but also the guitarists that have been a part of the Duran story.

-A

The Extraordinary Magic of Ordinary World

This month, DDHQ is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Duran Duran, or as most fans call it, The Wedding Album. 

I’ve struggled with a topic for this particular post, primarily because as much as I’d like to celebrate The Wedding Album, I don’t honestly remember a lot about that period of time. I was in college, and my mind was about as far away from Duran Duran as possible. So much so, that I was actually shocked the first time I heard “Ordinary World” on the radio. I didn’t even know they had been working on an album, although I suppose I must have assumed they would be. I just don’t remember.

It is an accurate statement that Duran Duran hit it out of the park with “Ordinary World”. That iconic guitar line, along with Simon’s voice, makes the song. Any fan could be just about anywhere—the grocery store, in the car, at a mall, just about anywhere—and with the first note we are awakened like a dog to Pavlov’s bell. It is THAT kind of melody, and yes, we have Warren Cuccurullo to thank for it. There is no arguing that at the time, he brought something new to the table for the band to feed from, and it worked. The song remains fairly permanent on set lists, despite constant complaints from Warren fans about whomever is playing guitar. No one plays it the same way as Warren, and no one ever could. I don’t know why that is. Another guitarist could play the exact notes in the same way, and still not have the feeling quite right. It is something that only the most passionate of fans pick up on, and yet, it makes all the difference. I can only explain it by describing it as magic.

While I don’t remember a lot from that time as a fan, I do remember hearing “Ordinary World” on the radio. I remember how well it did as a single, and how utterly surprised I was to see Duran Duran back on the charts. That wasn’t because I didn’t think they were capable, but because the time was so different. Yet, hearing “Ordinary World” on the radio didn’t energize or excite me in the same way it probably did for many of you reading. I felt wistful for a time that had passed. In 1993, I was getting ready to graduate from college, I had no real plan for what would come next. My father was out of work, my parents were in the process of losing their home, and I bounced around from friend to friend so that I wasn’t another burden on my parents. Anxiety was not ever a welcome, close, friend; but it sure seemed to be looming around every corner, chasing after me with every step. I missed the carefree days of youth, and this song reminded me of that every time I heard it.

There are many people who are huge fans of Warren in the same way many are of Andy, John, Roger, Nick, Simon and yes, even Dom. For those people, The Wedding Album might be the equivalent to Rio, or perhaps even more aptly, their Duran Duran. (given its name and all…)  I try very hard to remember that these days, because while this time period was not my personal favorite, for many of you—it was. I can appreciate that, and I’m trying my best to do it justice here.

In 2012, Duran Duran played a gig in Durham, North Carolina. I was there, and as Simon introduced “Ordinary World”, he explained the importance of the song for the band. The band had been at a fork in the road, basically. Either they were going to keep going, or they were going to hang it up. “Ordinary World” was the song that convinced them to keep going. I’m not doing any sort of justice to Simon’s eloquence that night, but his explanation convinced me – Ms. Doubter – of its permanence in the set list at the time.  The word “convince”, isn’t right. That word makes it sound as though I’m an owner of the band, when I am absolutely not. I think the right word is “respect”. I have deep respect for the song, and obviously the band, and yes, including Warren for writing it. How could I not?

In years since that gig, I’ve witnessed “Ordinary World” do extraordinary things to people. Regular people sob openly when it is played. I’ve watched it heal, and I’ve seen it bring people together. I have also seen the song give someone strength when they needed it most, and create the strongest of bonds between relative strangers. There is indeed something very special about that song, and there is no denying it’s magic, even 25 years later.

-R

 

Twenty-one years and counting.

On the 22nd of January, twenty-one years ago, I woke up at 6:30am and new something wasn’t quite right. I was having short little pains, but they were enough to wake me up out of a sound sleep. Smiling, I began to time them, and oddly – they were coming at fairly regular intervals. Ten days late and counting, I knew that I was finally, blessedly, in labor with my oldest.

After what I felt was many hours of waiting, I finally got the OK to go to the hospital at about 1pm. It was in the middle of a snow storm, but I barely remember the drive from our house to the hospital, except that my mom was with us and we really had no idea what we were about to be in for. I’ll save everyone the details except to say that what began that morning didn’t actually finish until 12:05am the following morning – which if you’re following along, meant the 23rd of January in 1997.

I always like to say that Heather Kathryn Rivera was born in the middle of a blizzard (this is true), she was ten days late (also true, and really eleven if we’re counting – which believe me, at that point, I was), and that to this very day, the child is still late. She runs by one clock: her own. She still prefers the cold weather to our ever-sunny days, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she ended up back in the Chicagoland area after college. (then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if we did as well!)

Today, she turns twenty-one.

I’m marveling about that, because it doesn’t seem possible. I still remember seeing the snow fall that day and night in the hospital, I still remember sitting up in bed the following day, looking at her wondering how on earth I was ever going to be able to handle caring for another human being.  They say that to have a baby is to agree to allow a part of your heart to walk around outside of your body forever. That’s so true. It is simultaneously the apex of joy and some of the worst pain imaginable at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for all the peace in the world. (Most of the time, anyway!)

I remember not long after Heather and I came home from the hospital, I was watching Rosie in the afternoon while trying to feed Heather. Guess who were her guests?  Simon, Nick and Warren. They were there promoting “Medazzaland”.  I remember watching them while Heather was crying, and I was so upset because I could barely hear the interview. I was already learning who came first, of course, and before long I was crying right along with Heather. As much as I loved being a mom, and I really did, I missed being me. I didn’t know how to be both a mom and Rhonda, the human. Life circumstances at the time didn’t help, either. The real “adjustment” didn’t come until later, when I finally figured out that in order to enjoy being a mom, I had to enjoy being ME, too.

Guess when that happened? I can tell you the exact date. March 28, 2001.  House of Blues, Anaheim CA. Duran Duran walked out on that stage, and something in me that had been dark for many, many years suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree.

I’ve written about it before, but finding myself again was really the key to being a good parent. After that concert, I started being ME. I found friends, I went to a convention, I brought my own personality to the table of parenting. My kids know exactly who I am. They’re not afraid to call me out for it sometimes, too.  

My Heather is a beautiful human being. She is so much better of a person than I could ever hope to be myself. She’s got a sharp tongue, a wicked sense of humor, and a very kind heart. She’s tenacious in a way that I never learned, and she has more talent in her pinky finger than I do in my entire body. She’s danced her way through life so far, and now she’s twenty-one. She’s grown. I don’t even know how it happened, because at some point on the way home from the hospital, through the snowy streets and freezing temperatures, I blinked. Now she’s an adult. Where does the time go?

I guess I feel similar with Duran Duran, really. At some point after New Moon on Monday, I blinked. The past thirty years went by in a single blink. The last 17 in particular FLEW by, and I can mark the moments in Heather’s life by songs, concerts and road trips I’ve taken along the way.  She still smiles widely at the memory of going with me to the Astronaut signing in Hollywood when she was just seven or eight. She remembers Simon quizzing her about her favorite song and how he asked about the book she was carrying (I think it was a Nancy Drew book). She also remembers how tan they all looked for not being from California (I laugh about that because she’s right) and how they all wore more makeup than I did. (also true!)

Heather and I at The Pearl 2009

We still laugh about how she went with Amanda and I to see Duran Duran at the Pearl in Las Vegas in 2009. She was twelve, although a tall twelve-year-old at the time, and she STILL laughs heartily over her reaction when John walked up to the microphone during the show and called us Mother F*kers. Heather turned around and looked at me with her eyes as wide as saucers. I doubled over laughing. Yep, I’m that kind of mom!

Amanda and I always talked about employing her to drive us from gig to gig after she turned 16 so that way we didn’t have to drive ourselves any longer, but we’ve never done it. Today, she’s old enough to belly up to the bar right along with us.

 

Somehow, that doesn’t seem quite right. AT ALL.

Heather taught me how to be a mom. She patiently waited for me to figure out how to manage feeding and caring for an infant and yet still being able to take a shower and get out of pj’s by noon. She would smile and sit next to me when it came time for me to learn how to do it all again when her brother Gavin was born – so all of that x2.  Then she taught me how not to be one of those “stage moms” and how to provide a stable environment for her when everything else in her life was chaos with dance and school. She forgave me for having yet another baby just as she was becoming a teenager, and even offered to help with her youngest sister. I will never ever forget going through that pregnancy because Heather was by my side nearly the entire time. She’s become a second mama in a lot of ways to the baby of the family – who isn’t a baby anymore (so she constantly reminds me).

Heather listened to me complain about life, growing older, losing a parent, learning how to be a better caregiver and spouse, and even how to be a better mom to her as she grew up and had her own ideas that may or may not have been completely opposite to her dad’s and mine. I daresay that parenting is toughest after the children have grown.

Through most of that, she also had to contend with this crazy blog, my writing, the road trips, conventions, and the ups and downs within. Duran Duran has been a near constant presence in her life even though she’s only met them from across a table (same, Heather, same here for the most part). I don’t think she can really hear Duran Duran without thinking of me immediately at this point, and I don’t know whether to apologize or applaud.

So today, as I watch the kids at recess and continue thinking about the journey I’ve taken over the last twenty-one years, I’m also thinking about how this is just the beginning for Heather.  I love that kid and I couldn’t be prouder. Today is bittersweet for this mama, but I am looking forward to taking her out tonight for her first (legal) margarita. It has been quite a journey.

(BTW John and Nick… if you need a choreographer for a musical….I know somebody…..)

Happy Birthday, Heather-Feather. (You can thank me for not printing your REAL nickname at any time.) Be careful, but not too careful – Love Mom.

-R