The Clever Words I…Haven’t Said in a Long Time?

One of the most frequent discussions around Duranland seems to be about Duran Duran in the early 80s, during that era of the Fab Five, versus Duran Duran now.  Some fans like both eras, both times.  Others seems to believe that there will not and has not been anything great released by Duran Duran in decades.  Those fans usually have a number of reasons for believing this, but one of the main reasons is Simon’s lyrics.  The claim is that Simon’s lyrics in those first few albums were poetry like.  They weren’t obvious and didn’t seem to make sense or didn’t seem to make enough sense to understand what they were about.  On the other hand, they say that Simon’s lyrics now are too straight-forward or lack that flair, that poetic element that he used to have.  Many times when I hear or see this argument, I just nod my head and move along without really thinking about it.  Yet, I have to wonder.  Is this true?  Have Simon’s lyrics changed that much in style?  In this blog post, I will actually compare by using a quick grading scale of sorts.  I will list the songs of the first 3 albums and determine if those lyrics are very poetic, somewhat poetic or not poetic at all.  Then, I will do the same for the last 3 albums since the reunion.  Now, before, I start, I feel it necessary to point a couple of things out.  First, Simon is older.  He doesn’t need to imagine scenarios of life like he might have when he was in his early 20s.  I’m sure life experience has an affect on his lyrics.  Second, Red Carpet Massacre featured songs that he might not have been in complete control over, lyrically.  Nonetheless, I will use them.

1st album (Duran Duran):
Girls on Film–not very poetic, pretty straightforward
Planet Earth-somewhat poetic with a stretch
Anyone Out There-pretty straightforward
Careless Memories-somewhat poetic with a stretch
Sound of Thunder-somewhat poetic
Friends of Mine-somewhat poetic
To the Shore-poetic
Is There Something I Should Know-not very poetic
Totals:  Poetic 2, Somewhat 4, Not 2
Rio-somewhat poetic
My Own Way-somewhat poetic
Lonely in Your Nightmare-somewhat poetic
Hungry Like the Wolf-somewhat poetic with a stretch
Hold Back the Rain-poetic
New Religion-poetic
Last Chance on the Stairway-somewhat poetic with a stretch
Save a Prayer-poetic
The Chauffeur-poetic
Totals:  Poetic 4, Somewhat 5, No 0
Seven and the Ragged Tiger:
The Reflex-poetic
New Moon on Monday-poetic
Cracks in the Pavement-poetic
I Take the Dice-poetic
Of Crime and Passion-somewhat poetic
Union of the Snake-poetic
Shadows on your Side-somewhat poetic
The Seventh Stranger-poetic
Totals:  Poetic 7, Somewhat 1
Before I look at the last three, clearly, the poetry, in my opinion, increased over time.  Now, let’s look at Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre, and All You Need Is Now.
Sunrise-not very poetic
Want You More-not very poetic
What Happens Tomorrow-not very poetic
Bedroom Toys-!!!
Nice-not very poetic
Taste the Summer-not very poetic
Finest Hour-somewhat poetic
Chains-somewhat poetic
One of Those Days-not very poetic
Point of No Return-somewhat poetic
Still Breathing-somewhat poetic
Totals:  Somewhat 4, Not 6, ?? 2

Red Carpet Massacre:
The Valley-somewhat poetic
Red Carpet Massacre-somewhat poetic
Night Runner-not very poetic
Falling Down-not very poetic
Box Full O Honey-somewhat poetic
Skin Divers-somewhat poetic
Tempted-not very poetic
Zoom In-not very poetic
She’s Too Much-not very poetic
Dirty Great Monster-not very poetic
Last Man Standing-somewhat poetic
Totals:  Somewhat 5, Not 6

All You Need Is Now:
All You Need Is Now-not very poetic
Blame the Machines-not very poetic
Leave a Light on-somewhat poetic
Safe-not very poetic
Girl Panic-not very poetic
Leopard-somewhat poetic
Other People’s Live-not very poetic
Mediterranea-somewhat poetic
Too Bad You’re So Beautiful-not very poetic
Runway Runaway-not very poetic
Before the Rain-poetic
Too Close to the Sun-somewhat poetic
Early Summer Nerves-not very poetic
Networker Nation-not very poetic
Totals:  Poetic 1, Somewhat 4, Not 8

I should note that I quickly judged those songs, those lyrics.  I didn’t think too much about any of them but went with my gut instinct.  That said, some of those songs seem VERY obvious but truly could be metaphors for something else.  A good example of this is Point of No Return.  From what I understand, the song is about 9/11.  It isn’t real obvious by those lyrics.  It is hard to judge those songs or songs that I feel, but have no real confirmation, are about something else.  I think this is one observation I can make.  I think Simon’s lyrics have become more and more about real life and what is happening in the world.  He often seems to cover them with a metaphor or analogy.  One could argue that this is a pretty significant writing technique.  Now, based on my ratings, Simon’s lyrics are more obvious now, overall.  Does that mean that he is completely obvious all the time?  Nope.  Before the Rain is a good example of poetry.  Does this mean that Simon was never obvious in his lyrics in the early days?  Nope.  Anyone Out There is a good example of that.

Overall, I could say that Simon’s lyrics have changed over the years.  His writing seems to make more sense and less like, “What the heck does that mean?” Yet, he uses more metaphors and discusses more real world issues.  Of course, the real question here is not whether or not his lyrics have changed.  The real question is does this change make the songs less good?  Are the songs impacted negatively by these changes?  What do you all think?


2 thoughts on “The Clever Words I…Haven’t Said in a Long Time?”

  1. Simon is older and wiser, more lucid and I think a good part of the very 80s “let's party like no tomorrow” has ended.
    I love both of the ages.
    Talent is making both visual and more real lyrics.
    Lyrics of The Reflex and Ordinary World got the specific Ivor Novello Awards. Reflex reincarnates the “visual” side, Ordinary features the down to earth side of Simon, so say.
    I heard from Nick's fans over here the new album will feature “real lyrics, close to people”

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