This week, we’re listening to Buried in the Sand, track number eight off of Medazzaland. The song was written by Duran Duran and produced by TV Mania, and seems to be about John Taylor’s exit from the band.
There was once an Ask Katy about this song, or rather, the whispers at the beginning of it. The “words” of those whispers do not seem to be documented anywhere. Rather than try to explain, we’ll just copy and paste from duranduran.com:
June 6, 2003: Hi Katy, At the beginning of the song Buried in the Sand Simon is whispering words that I can partially make out but not entirely. I think he is saying: “It’s too bad…. it’s really sad… it’s disrespectful???… nevermind???” I was wondering if Simon could be willing to enlighten me regarding what the final words he says before the official lyrics begin with “Can’t say that I was surprised…” Also, just wanted to comment that Medazzaland is a super album, very catchy in an unexplainable kind of way. It certainly deserves more respect than it has received. Lastly, truly looking forward to hearing all the original members making great music togther again, the sound bites are outstanding, energetic but with polished confidence… all the best, Richard
” Well, I thought about it and I seemed to remember this:
“You always were a wanker.
Fuck off and die.
My dick’s bigger than yours anyway.’
But then I put the record on and realised that this is much closer to the truth:
“Is there a reason?
there must be.
do you care?
It’s really sad.
I guess that’s just the way it goes, never mind.”
So I guess the moral of this story is………………. I’m too tired, I’ve got to go to bed; let’s talk about it tomorrow. whoosh s
PS. Of course the best thing about “Buried in the Sand” is that it’s followed by “Michael, you’ve got a lot to answer for.”
(*We* think the real moral of the story here is to answer a question the way you’d like it answered even 18 years later, because once it’s online…it’s out there forever.)
Can’t say that I was surprised
When you broke the ties
They were hanging by a thread
But now I have realized
It couldn’t be the same
Because everything has changed
And still I held out my hand
Tried to pull you back
But you were buried in the sand
I’m glad that you came along
But here our journey ends
I say goodbye to you
My very dear friend [Outro]
You were buried in the sand
Head buried in the sand
You are buried in the sand
There are a few songs in Duran Duran’s catalog that I skip with relish at nearly every opportunity, and this is one of them. It is so bitter-sounding, I find it difficult to listen. The song makes me sad. Don’t believe me? Just look at Simon’s answer to the Ask Katy question above and try to argue otherwise. Was he joking? I doubt it. Let’s face it, this was a tough time for the band. While the song might sound acerbic to fans, just imagine what it must have been like to live through it like Simon, or even Nick, who according to Wikipedia, wrote the lyrics.
Although the words are a little like swallowing apple cider vinegar – you know it’s cleansing, and good for the soul, but the taste is awful – the music is another story. Short and to the point, the song has a decidedly middle eastern flair, with tons of quirky and bizarre sound samplings in the background. I’d expected to see other artists credited with some of the background instrumentation, but oddly – there wasn’t. Anthony J. Resta performed solidly on drums for the track, and Warren handled both guitar and bass, although to be fair I hear very little of either, other than just some background sound. The song is heavily layered and processed in the same styling as the rest of the album. Thickly electronic, we have the fortune of hindsight to recognize the birthplace of the (much) later released TV Mania album. It is unusual that a song can be so uniquely interesting, yet still be quite uncomfortable for me enjoy.
Like so many songs on Medazzaland, I find myself thinking about how best to review. Should I review for sheer quality? Should I review based on whether or not I want to listen to it? What about artistic merit? How do I judge? Like Rhonda said earlier, this is not a song that is easy to listen to, at least for Duranies (assuming it is about John’s departure). The lyrics, in and of themselves, make it tough. Clearly, there is hurt and anger and…frankly, grief. I feel like it is so strong, it is almost tangible. The vocals certainly add to that feeling. Simon’s voice, like in so many Duran songs, becomes almost like an instrument with him adding to the mood or feeling of the song. In this case, he sounds just emotionally exhausted like he cannot give any more effort and is just trying to deal, to move on. So, for me, as a John Taylor fan, those lyrics and vocals make it really hard to listen to. Of course, in fairness, I do have to point out that saying goodbye to someone who has been a big part of your life for a long time and who has chosen to leave is one that I bet a lot of people can relate to. Perhaps, for people in that situation, they appreciate someone being able to articulate the feelings associated with this type of loss.
So, if the song is not fun to listen to, what about the quality or the artistic merit? I listen to a song like this one and compare it to a song like Careless Memories and I realize how much Duran had changed. In the earlier song, there feels like an attempt at instrumentation domination, as each instrument is fighting for its moment, to make its presence known. In this song, the instrumentation is tough to pick out. I hear so much of the unusual sounds and effects that the traditional instrumentation is silenced, to a large extent. I have to wonder if that was not intentional. Did they want to make as different as they could in comparison to usual Duran? Did they want the instruments to be “buried”? Were they hoping to make it more artistic that way? I do want to give them credit for creating something so different. I saw a YouTube comment about this song and it was something about how this is the song that gets made when you no longer worry about paying the bills. They weren’t trying to sell copies here. They weren’t trying to make a hit. They wanted to just express how they were feeling. I can understand that.
Overall, this song has some cool musicality, but is hard to listen to, to process for many of us. I admire that they just went for it and did what they needed to do for themselves. It was brave of them even if it is tough for their listeners, for their fans.