Try To Explain It But…

Last night, I took time out of my insane schedule to listen to the latest Katy Kafe on DuranDuranMusic featuring one Mr. John Taylor.  A great deal of the “kafe” was spent talking about John’s upcoming autobiography.  He discussed how it was broken into three basic sections:  growing up in Birmingham, Duran hysteria, and living life.  I immediately sensed how reading this book will be so eye-opening for so many people.  In fact, it will be eye-opening to everyone except for, maybe, the members of Duran Duran.  Who else can really relate to what they experienced in the 1980s?  Obviously, the rest of the world might guess as to what it was like to be super duper famous, what it was like to be rock stars in one’s early 20s with tons of money and success.  Yet, we probably don’t have a clue.  I know that I don’t.  Will I have a better understanding of what John’s life was really like?  I hope so.  I definitely hope so but can anyone, no matter the talent of the writing, to be able to explain what it was like to live that life, a life so unique, so out of the norm?  I don’t know.

It seems to me that there are parts of John’s book that we are all going to relate to.  I might not have grown up in Birmingham, England, but I, too, grew up.  I, too, have had to figure out how to be an adult.  I think we all can and will relate to those elements of John’s story.  Can we really relate to being a rock star?  I don’t think so.  Then again, I have wondered the same about my own life lately.  Are some experiences so intense, so unique that they not only change one’s life but also make it so that anyone not there, not present, not part of it, can never really understand.  I suspect that must be what it is like for the band.  I feel that way about my own life.  If you have been reading the blog for any amount of time, you probably know that when I’m not on tour, writing the book, or talking Duran, I’m either teaching or I’m campaigning.  I have never gone into detail about those here.  Frankly, I haven’t gone into that much detail with my friends or family in real life, either.  They might think that I do or have, but I don’t really.  Why is that?  Obviously, part of the reason is that politics can be extremely divisive.  I don’t want to drive anyone away.  Teaching shouldn’t be problematic but it is.  Right now, I work in an urban middle school.  Most of my students live in poverty and are also minorities.  I feel like I always have to be cautious as people will draw conclusions about them or about teachers.  Many of those conclusions I have seen drawn by the general public have been hurtful.  Thus, I have kept these aspects of my life to myself.

That sounds like the perfect solution, doesn’t it?  I keep aspects of my life away from others in order to avoid conflict or hurt feelings.  I think I also keep these things away from others because, like I imagine John Taylor or Nick Rhodes to feel, I doubt that anyone can really understand.  How can anyone understand how frustrating, how emotionally draining, how wonderful teaching can be?  Campaigning is like that as well.  It is intense, detailed work filled with what seems like silly tasks that turn out to be essential.  Can people who have never done it really understand?  Likewise, how can John really explain what it was like to be him in 1984?  How can I explain what it is like to teach my students on a daily basis?  I wonder how open and honest John will be with this time in his life.  Will people make assumptions that he is making more to it than it was or will people think he is censoring himself?  I can’t wait to find out how he is able to balance honesty and openness.  Like many times in my life, I hope I can learn from John here.  

Of course, beyond John’s general experience as a famous rock star, I wonder if he has had moments in his life that truly changed him.  Did he have a specific moment that lead to his decision to finally get sober once and for all?  Was there an experience that pushed him to decide to leave or rejoin the band?  If so, will he share that with us?  Will he be able to explain the emotional intensity of those experiences in such a way that we, the readers, really get it?  In the past year, I had a moment during the Wisconsin protests that shook me to my core.  It is an experience that will live on forever.  Again, I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to alienate anyone but I also don’t talk about it because I don’t think people will really understand how haunting this experience was for me.  This, of course, brings me back to teaching, to work.  My students just recently finished the book, Maus.  This is a young adult graphic novel that depicts one person’s story during the Holocaust.  It begins before the concentration camps and goes all the way through until liberation at the end of World War II.  The story is written by the survivor’s son.  Throughout the book, the author openly wonders if he is giving the story justice.  That’s what I’m wondering here.  I’m wondering how to give my own story justice.  I have no doubt that John Taylor will give his story justice.  I have such confidence that he will be able to explain what life was like for him in a way that creates an emotional connection with all of us readers.  Maybe then, I’ll be able to explain my life, my experiences to those closest to me.

-A

21 thoughts on “Try To Explain It But…”

  1. I have strange, mixed feelings about John's book. I have loved his writing for years – back to the mid 90s TTP days. When I first started reading his blogs back then I remember thinking 'wow this person has so much depth, introspect and compassion; he not just a pop dolly'. He has a powerful and compelling style. I have been jolted by his words on a number of occasions. My fear is if he opens up to a great extent, and I think he will, the mystique will go. Almost like 'Should I be reading this? Should I know this? Am I entitled to know this?”.

    There was time a couple of years ago when John wrote some blogs that were very sad, intense and dark. People posted judgemental comments about him. Saying he was losing it. I sensed something significant had happened or was happening in his life. It turns out it was the time of his Dad's passing.

    It's a brave move for someone so iconic to write their story. He's letting down that guard (not that he is that guarded) and letting us in. Or is he letting himself out?

    I have admired John for years and it is a privilege to be able to read his story. His courage is an inspiration.

  2. You bring up many, many valid points. I think we will definitely know him much better than we do now. Will that be good? I don't know. Nonetheless, I agree with you. His courage is an inspiration.

    -A

  3. I also wonder how honest and open John’s autobiography will be. I hate to say it but lately I’ve been getting this feeling that he will obviously only divulge what he wants us to know and that it might be a very watered down, politically correct version. I hope that’s not the case. Because, what’s the point in writing an autobiography then? Just to make money? All of his fans have a good idea of some of his struggles and major life events due to the interviews we’ve seen and read over the years. However, I just wonder how much he will really put out there that hasn’t been discussed before.

    One reason for my skepticism is partly due to something his ex- wife recently said on her new tv show. Amanda stated on the first episode of her new show “The Conversation”, that she started dating her first husband (John) at age 15. And, that she married him at age 16. Now, devoted Duranies know and have always been told she was 19 when they married. Why would she lie about something like that on her brand new national television show? It's not like there wasn't already a huge age difference (and bun in the oven). I mean, she was still very young at 19 compared to his 31. Why would she blatantly lie about that? Maybe she exaggerated – maybe not. I’m sure John knows she made that comment on national tv. But, will he address that in his book? Will we find out she was in fact younger then we were led to believe (perhaps to preserve his reputation)? Who the heck knows. I just think there are some things that don’t add up and we may never know the real story. Only the version he wishes to put out there. And that's just one example.

    All I know is that if he presents a watered down version of his life that doesn’t divulge his interesting life choices, paths, struggles, and challenges, I will be pretty disappointed and probably lose some respect for him. I would feel that way towards anyone who writes an autobiography yet leaves out key moments in their life or fails to address well known challenges, etc.

    Btw – if anyone out there has seen Amanda’s show (and I know there are probably many of you out there), can you please explain to me why there is such a discrepancy in the age she is now stating she was first married? Am I missing something? Or is this one of those taboo topics that are not allowed to be discussed on blogs, twitter, facebook, etc?

  4. I haven't seen Amanda's show and I have no idea why there is a discrepancy between what we believed before and what she is saying now. *shrugs*

    As far as John goes, I don't envy this task he has. Obviously, people have a ton of expectations for him and his book. Some worry that we will know too much and others worry that he will be too PC like yourself. I keep trying to put myself in his shoes. How would it feel to reveal yourself, to any extent, to the whole world? It must be scary as hell.

    -A

  5. I have to say that I have NO idea how old Amanda was when she and John married…only that, in my own personal opinion, she was far, far too young. (of course, a LOT of that comes having a daughter of my own that is now 15. I'd strangle her if she attempted to date a rockstar at this point, and I have to say – the rockstar would need to fear for his own life as well. ;D)

    I would imagine that at the time, if in fact what Amanda says is true (and I have no reason to wonder why she'd lie. I mean, does it really matter at this point??), it would have been a PR nightmare for John to admit he was marrying a 16 year old. I don't know about elsewhere but here in California where I live, one must be over the age of 18 to get married or else they need parental consent. In the 1980's, I still have to think there would have been a huge outcry over the age difference. Hell, there was already enough going around due to the fact she was so young and pregnant as it was. I hate to say it, but this sort of thing – changing ages for the sake of public image – and whatnot happens every single day in Hollywood. It's commonplace and I guess that for me, I'm not the least bit shocked that what we might have all heard or been told wasn't the entire truth. Let's face it, none of us really knows what goes on once the band leaves the stage. We might all THINK we know, but even then – we don't. You don't really know a person until you're with them day after day after day in regular circumstances, even after 30 years of being a fan.

    As for John's book, I am not expecting much in the way of mindblowing surprises. I think John is going to tell us whatever it is he is comfortable sharing, and knowing what I've come to expect from John when he blogs, I am sure it will be a good read. John has a very personable way of writing and I really hope that isn't lost in the mechanics of writing and editing for publication. I think we all have to remember that although he might be comfortable sharing some things, he still has plenty to protect: the band, his family, etc, and perhaps THEY would prefer some things remain private. Can't blame any of them for that.

    Still looking forward to reading it, I know he's worked very hard. -R

  6. I think this is very similar the constant rumors of how old Gela really might be. We're never going to know the truth, only what we THINK might be the truth. Who cares? I don't see why Amanda would bother lying though if she's saying she was 16 when she married John. That makes no sense. Did she forget how old she was, did she make a simple mistake?? I've got to say here in her defense that I constantly forget how old I was when I married my husband. (and I've only got one…no exes. LOL) I just know what year it was, and then I count from there. ;D

    Eh – I still say “Who cares?” It's ancient history and they both have gone on to lead normal lives. Of course, who is to say what's really normal…. 😉 I just don't think it's any of my business. LOL -R

  7. I can’t find episode 1 of the Conversation online but I did find an article from the NY Post reviewing the show and the writer also notes that Amanda stated she married at 16. Here’s the link:
    http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/talking_sex_Ga34RzhG0wKnqMeE1DZcfI

    Rhonda, I understand your point but saying “who cares” and “it’s ancient history” doesn’t really apply here since Amanda is currently on a talk show divulging tidbits of her life with John and he is writing an autobiography. So yes, it’s relevant. They are trying to make money on their “stories”. Also, when they got married and had their daughter, they sold their story and pictures to tabloids. So, to say it’s none of our business is sort of hypocritical.

  8. You know what I find fascinating? I think it is interesting that this blog has turned into a focus on John and Amanda's marriage and how old she was then. While, yes, their marriage is part of John's story, I hope that it isn't told in a “look how bad I was in being in a relationship with someone so young.” I was talking more in this blog about emotions, not actions. As you all have pointed out, there is plenty of information all ready out there about when they got married, etc. What isn't out there is how John really feels about it now. Of course, that said, there is way more to his life than just that, too. It seems that some are more focused on his scandals and I'm more focused on his feelings, his insights into himself.

    -A

  9. I am anxiously looking forward to reading the more introspective too Amanda. I wonder if commenting on the gossipy aspect is because that has what has been in the public eye? That's what we've heard for years, it's the familiar.

    I am keen to read about John's childhood. That's the part of Andy's bio I found most fascinating. He's talked of being a shy, awkward, lonely child (that sounds like a song…) and then became this massively famous entertainer barely out of his teens. How did his family cope? And how has he ended up a gracious, humble, kind person? He probably already was, it's just that the glitter and glamor covered it up.

    It is going to be fascinating.

  10. Well, we're all entitled to our own opinion on this one.

    Amanda is making money on her own merit with her show, and while sure, she brought up her marriage to John, it was in context of the conversation (yes I've seen the show). I think to suggest otherwise is probably just a tad unfair. Sure, they each have their history, and they each have their own version of the truth.

    I think calling me a hypocrite is a bit out of line and rude, but I stand by my feelings on this one. Couldn't possibly care any less if someone agrees or not. -R

  11. Sorry if you got the wrong impression Rhonda but I wasn’t saying you are a hypocrite. I commented that I thought some of your comments sounded sort of hypocritical. I didn’t intend to upset you or anyone by stating my thoughts or opinions on your blog. I also didn’t realize my thoughts would be met with so much defensiveness.

    One again, I only brought up the Amanda issue as one example of a topic I hope to hear the truth about in his autobiography. Because, apparently Amanda tells different versions of their story (call it lies or fibs, or blonde moments, whatever. . .) and I thought it was worthy of questioning since John is about to release his LIFE STORY. If you still don't see the relevance, then I guess my point is mute. Again, sorry you took my comments the wrong way.

    I started reading your blog because I found it pretty interesting. I thought it was ok to speak my mind here and participate in some of the thought provoking topics. But, it sure is feeling like I have crossed some imaginary taboo line and touched a nerve.

  12. I wouldn't say that Rhonda was being defensive. Her point was that the ages in reality vs. the ages in statements do not really matter to her. Maybe it does to you, which is fine, but it doesn't to her. It doesn't really matter to me, either. Yes, obviously, John's relationship with Amanda is a part of his life story. That said, I'm WAY more interested in the emotional part to it or the insights he has learned about himself through that experience as well as the rest of his experiences. I don't want to read a “he said, she said” sort of thing. The truth is that she was young, very young. He wasn't. Why do the specific details matter beyond that? It won't offer me new insight into John and it won't tell me much about Amanda either.

    It is okay to speak your mind here and it is fine that we disagree. That said, don't mistake disagreement with “touching a nerve”.

    -A

  13. Listen, I don't really know where these comments got so off-topic, but the only thing that annoyed me was having my statements labeled as hypocritical. You see, they can't really BE hypocritical if I'm telling you that I don't care how old Amanda really was when she got married vs. how old she tells everyone she is. I'm interested in reading about John's insights into his career. Sure, there might be other stuff in the book – but that's not the reason *I* am reading the book. You might feel differently, and that's OK. Trust me, you didn't hit a nerve, although I did think that perhaps you could have characterized my comments a bit differently than saying they were hypocritical. Disagreeing with me is just fine though. I expect that, and I welcome discussion. Really. 🙂 -R

  14. I totally agree. I think everyone will have their own reasons for reading the book. Some hope for a tell-all, some hope to understand how he made it through his addiction, others probably want to learn about his childhood and his relationship to his parents…I think that once again, it's going to be impossible to please everyone. I'm just hoping to read something different from what I already know about him or Duran Duran, and I suspect that I won't be disappointed. 🙂 -R

  15. I can't wait to read it because I have never been privy to johns writings. If there is a link to his former blogs, please reply with it if it is available.
    I haven't been able to read or do much of anything for the past 2 weeks due to disabling migraines, a byproduct of my brain injury. Aside from being visually impaired now, it was a full year before I was able to read a book after my injury. It was like reading “Green Eggs and Ham” on my own when I was in kindergarten.
    After reading through all the comments hear, I am reminded that I am just grateful that I can read. Sure, it takes me longer to process and special colored overlays on my glasses to read, changes to the screen contrast and font….etc. to do it, but it brings me so much joy. And to complete a book before it is due back to the library means I really liked the book, the topic is of interest to me.

    And what books have I read this past year despite battling 4/wk migraines? Duran bios, this blog, and 3 other authors most recent books (although one I started recently I could not finish before it was due so I had to get back in line and wait for it again).

    So this is my world and how I “see it”

    I can't afford to buy books. I use the library. But I will buy JTs book. Why? Many reasons. First and foremost, I love JT the most out of all the Duran members. I want to hear his voice, his words, his story. What he thought, felt, believed, experienced, through his 3 part autobio. Second, I am very interested in his views on how things came together, relationships within the band and those associated with the band, both insiders and outsiders. And, what meaning he has assigned to these experiences in looking back on all of it now at this stage in life.

    One can say whatever they like. Freedom of speech is the freedom to disagree…as my bumper sticker proudly states. My opinion is just that. MINE. To me, there aren't versions of ones personal stories. When stories are shared, they hold meaning to the individual. It is not my place to state a persons story is edited, watered down, etc. because I did not live that persons life to know what it was like for them. I also believe that our life narratives change with time as we learn more and more about ourselves, that our understanding, insights and awareness and rich details to that story over time.

    JTs book represents his life's story, his narrative as he understands it now. Say what you will about the financial gain. I know many will read it and have various opinions on it like me, but not about validity or truth. It is about valuing Duran and especially JT enough to want to hear his story the way he tells it. And I will likely come away from reading it with questions, new insights, and a sense of gratitude and privilege for his sharing his story with me, and other duranies.
    Deb

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

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