This is all me, and I’m doing it my way
I don’t know about anyone else, but I felt the best about Daily Duranie when I didn’t worry about what I was writing. There was a time when Amanda and I would write with abandon. We put our thoughts out there, sometimes—well, actually often times—crossing into topics of fandom taboo, hoping to avoid landmines, but also trusting that a conversation would inevitably begin. These were subjects Amanda and I felt we, as a fan community, needed. Somewhere along the line, the fear of upsetting people got in the way. We’re more careful now, or at least, we were. Until now.
Don’t get me wrong. My plan isn’t to go viral with absurdity, or push the envelope until it shreds. However, I’m going to come to this table, this Thursday morning one-sided “chat” with the rest of you, with my heart open and my brain ready to think through the hard things. I hope at least some of you are willing to come along for the ride, but if not, I’ll write anyway.
So, where does that bring me?
Listening again and it feels good
First of all, I’ve been listening to Duran Duran today. Sure, that’s not breaking news to anyone, unless of course you’ve been reading and watching Daily Duranie as of late. If you had, you’d know that I have struggled with listening to them for the past (I’m sorry to say) year or so. I couldn’t manage it. If you want to know more about that, click here to see my v-log. Well, today I did it. I’m doing it. Aside from listening to the aforementioned “Five Years” several times in succession, the first album I clicked – and this is key for a lot of reasons – All You Need is Now.
While I could easily write an entire blog about that one choice, I’ll sum it up in a few sentences. For me, All You Need is Now represents a time when I the closest to the band. Each and every song on the album makes my heart soar. That time, filled with anxiety over whether Simon’s voice would recover, trips to the UK, and actively writing with Amanda, was my favorite period as a fan. By far. Even today, as I turned on AYNIN and heard the opening song, I could feel my throat tighten and tears spring to my eyes as memories—good ones, mind you—flooded my thoughts. I wish every song and every album could be like that for me. Hell, I wish Paper Gods did that for me. I went to more shows and did “more” on that tour than any other, yet when I think back, it’s not the same. I don’t know why.
Why do some albums and songs set our souls on fire, while others just don’t? It’s not usually about the quality of the song, or the lyrics, or even the personnel of the band at the time. It’s something else, and honestly—I don’t get it. I wish I did.
That brings me to this past week. Like many of you—oh hell—probably all of you out there, I was overjoyed by the prospect of finally hearing new Duran Duran music. I couldn’t wait to wake up on Friday morning and click on the new single. When the morning arrived and I was finally able to sit down and listen, my finger hung over the play button. There’s really nothing like that moment just before the new music is heard, is there? I mean, all of the possibilities lie there in that moment. That music could really be anything. It’s difficult not to have expectations, although if I’m being super honest, these days I don’t even know what to expect!
I waited to hit “play” until finally, I did what I should have done on Thursday night. I texted Amanda. She is a teacher, which means I know she’s online and *gasp* working. I should not have bothered her, but I did. I asked if she’d listened yet. Amanda is a better fan than I am. She already had. That surprised me a little, only because I can remember a day when she would have texted me immediately – no matter the time – to share her thoughts. Regardless, I clicked play and listened while she and I chatted.
I can’t say this strongly enough so that it’s taken seriously – the song is good. It is as solid of a single as any I’ve heard from this band, and Simon’s vocals are outstanding. I really don’t understand how he went from nearly losing it all almost *gasp gasp GASP* TEN YEARS AGO IN MAY, to a voice stronger than I think it has ever been. Here we are. He holds notes that, I’m pretty sure he has no business holding for any length of time, much less as long as he does in this song. It is THAT good. The piano, done by Mr. Mike Garson, is just beyond anything I would have expected. Overall the song is brighter, more colorful, and far more overflowing in hope than the original – in my opinion. I said those things last week, and I still mean them today.
Throughout the week, I’ve seen people talk about the wonders of the song. It isn’t just that it’s good, and it isn’t just that it’s the first single after what feels like ten years of creative silence. It’s something different. This song has set the souls of many fans alight, while mine seemed to be wondering what would come next.
That moment when the post you’d written no longer applies
This blog post started out very differently. I’d written a lengthy essay examining this very topic, until I listened to “Five Years” again. I read the lyrics. I listened again. And again. And more time just to be sure. This post isn’t going the way I’d originally planned. Read on.
“Five Years” is a cover. It’s not a Duran Duran original. Additionally, and I write this with nervous trepidation – I’m not a Bowie fan. I own Blackstar, and a few other albums (okay, true confession: they’re really part of Walt’s collection, but our marriage is a 50/50 deal so….) – but the reality is that I couldn’t name more than five or six Bowie songs beyond Blackstar, and it’s not a coincidence that those songs have all been played by Duran Duran at one point or another. (on a side note, it is in moments like these that I’m thankful I am not doing this one on video) Yes, I know he is a huge influence for Duran Duran. I also appreciate how important David Bowie was to music. IS to music. All I can say is that his music doesn’t pull my heartstrings. I don’t know why.
Personal taste is a huge deal, and I’d be far more apt to accept that reality if I hadn’t spent more than half of my life being trained otherwise. I’m a classically-trained musician, for crying out loud. Surely I can not only appreciate the technical beauty of a piece of music, or that of a band, and somehow translate that into love and respect?
The real “Rhonda” deal
I’m extremely suspect of anyone who goes around saying they love everything. Really? EVERYTHING? I mean, hey, if that’s true, that’s wonderful; but, I’m having difficulty buying it. Maybe I’m just picky, but I hear a ton of things every single week that do not make my heart sing. That feeling is reserved for a short list of songs and bands. While sometimes I feel like I missed the bus that everyone else is on, there are other times I see that bus pulling away, and I’m positive it’s headed somewhere I don’t want to go.
I review albums quite often now. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, I do a YouTube gig now with my long lost “brother” and Daily Duranie intern Jason (aka @velvetrebelmusic) called The Encores Club. We review new albums at least monthly (sometimes more often). The one thing I know for sure after doing the show for nearly six months now is that I can find good things to say with regard to just about any piece of music, but whether or not my heart believes what my brain is saying is another story entirely. I get teased about my “You Kill Me with Silence” face, and I’ll just say – I’ve learned how to cover that sort of thing now! After listening to thousands of songs at this point, there have been very, VERY few that have set my soul on fire or filled my heart with joy. That doesn’t mean I can’t find the technical merits of something I’ve heard, or have respect for the act of creating art, but that doesn’t always translate into love. In my experience, it rarely does.
Maybe that’s really the point though. For me, loving a band, or a song, is rare. I don’t go “all in” for just anything or anyone. I like a lot of things, but love very few. That doesn’t mean I am right and you are wrong, only that the same things don’t make our hearts sing. That’s what frustrated me last week. I wanted to like this song. Why didn’t I fall in love with it immediately?
The fact is, I rarely fall in love with Duran Duran songs upon first listen. My problem is that in the past, Amanda and I would listen to a new song and immediately comment. Rookie mistake, to be blunt. We didn’t understand our own influence at the time – or maybe I should say that *I* didn’t. Daily Duranie doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and I’ll just say that I hurt the feelings of people I dearly, dearly respect, and leave it at that.
This time, with “Five Years”, I commented on the positive things I heard, complete with the pride and admiration I always have for Duran Duran, and let it go from there. Even so, I silently wondered why I had no desire to play the song over and over. I let it go. Then Monday arrived, and I saw more glowing comments about “Five Years”. What in the heck was my problem??
I listened again. Still nothing.
Then, I saw a few of my close friends chatting about the song. These are people I love and respect, and trust. They adore the song, so I asked them about it. I’ll just say that reading their thoughts drove me back to listening again.
Still nothing. Do I just not love Duran Duran anymore? Can that even be a thing???
This morning, I woke up knowing I would have to write this blog. I didn’t know what I was going to write, but I thought my honesty might be of interest, as long as I didn’t get myself into trouble. I mean, some trouble is fine, but right out of the gate?? I’m not afraid of writing what I think, but I also want to be respectful to Duran Duran. I owe them that much.
I listened again. Wow that Le Bon can sing, and the notes he holds…. wait, are those goosebumps on my arm? I really like the way the song ends with just John and Roger, too. More goosebumps. I stop writing the blog and go get the lyrics, listen again while I’m reading. Wow.
I had only half paid attention to the lyrics previously, but as I read and listened, the full meaning(s) of this song hit me like a ton of bricks. It almost shocks me that this song translates so well in 2021, but let’s face it – this is Duran Duran. This is Simon. He is feeling what we are feeling, and he’s never sung it better than he is in this song. Yes, I said that. He blows Ordinary World completely out of the water with this one, vocally.
The goosebumps are still there, and they’re welcomed. I don’t know why it takes me so long to feel these days, but I’m grateful I still do. To be fair, I don’t know if the song makes my spirit soar the way it does for some of you, but I do know I have a deep admiration and appreciation for what they’ve done for us. I continuously marvel over having been a fan of this one band for over forty years now, and they still make me feel all of the things. Sometimes it takes me a little longer to really get it and accept what they’re trying to show me, which is an interesting thought – but I do very much love and respect this band.