In Review: Ordinary World

This week, we are going to focus on Ordinary World. The song was the lead single off of The Wedding Album, released in December of 1992 in the US, and a month later in the UK. It climbed to #1 on the Billboard Top 40 charts, reigniting the band’s popularity. The song was originally leaked to a radio station in Jacksonville, Florida and proved to be so popular that Capitol had to move up the release date in the US, which is why it was released a month earlier in the US than in the UK.

We would be completely remiss if we didn’t applaud the songwriting of Warren Cuccurullo, as the well-known, brilliant guitar solo was arranged and performed by him. When the fab five reunited nearly a decade later and chose to include this song in their live shows, it was Warren who was brought in to teach Andy how to correctly play the part.

Lyrics

Came in from a rainy Thursday
On the avenue
Thought I heard you talking softly

I turned on the lights, the TV
And the radio
Still I can’t escape the ghost of you

What has happened to it all?
Crazy, some’d say
Where is the life that I recognize?
Gone away

But I won’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

Passion or coincidence
Once prompted you to say
“Pride will tear us both apart”
Well now pride’s gone out the window
Cross the rooftops
Run away
Left me in the vacuum of my heart

What is happening to me?
Crazy, some’d say
Where is my friend when I need you most?
Gone away

But I won’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

Papers in the roadside
Tell of suffering and greed
Here today, forgot tomorrow
Ooh, here besides the news
Of holy war and holy need
Ours is just a little sorrowed talk

And I don’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

Every one
Is my world, I will learn to survive
Any one
Is my world, I will learn to survive
Any one
Is my world
Every one
Is my world

Video

Rhonda

Look, there is just no arguing the brilliance of this song. Sometimes, you have one song that rises above and just sums up an entire career, or at least one chapter of it – and that is what Ordinary World really is for Duran Duran.

The very first notes heard are the very heart of the song – the gorgeous guitar solo written by Warren Cuccurullo. I do love that there are multiple guitar tracks for the song, and at least one of them sounds acoustic. The ballad itself has a warmth to it as a result, and I think that’s one of the reasons why the public responded so well. The background guitar tracks – done in a method that is far more connected to Warren’s personal experimental and existential style, have an almost haunting quality. The highlights of the song are clearly the guitar part, and of course Simon’s vocals. The rest – drums, bass, and keyboards, do their duty as background players and provide the foundation for the sound.

Let’s just talk about the lyrics for a moment. While the instrumentation is second to none, the lyrics are what immediately connects listeners to the song. So often, we commend Simon on his poetic word smithing. Phrases that aren’t completely concrete, adjectives that seem to make little sense, are put together to paint pictures that communicate directly with our hearts. This song, in contrast, takes very little thought to understand, but conveys feelings that we’ve likely all experienced in one form or another. My point is simply that for this song, the words matter as much as the instrumentation, producing what must be one of the best songs in their catalog.

Five cocktails
Five cocktails!

Amanda

This is one of those songs that is hard to be objective about, I think. First of all, it plays a significant role in the band’s history. We all know the story. At the time, this was a band that seemed to be fading into obscurity, or least trapped in the 1980s. Yet, this song brought Duran Duran back into the spotlight and onto the charts. It not only breathed new life into the band but it brought a whole new generation of fans. I know many fans who found Duran Duran due to this song, for example. Then, if all that was not enough, I think that most of us have a story or some sort of connection to the song. Often, the connection is something that happened in one’s own life that matched the lyrics to the song. Of course, many of us have memories of the various times the song was played live that captured a monumental moment. For instance, I will never forget Simon introducing this song at the Oakland show in 2017 shortly after his mother passed away. I doubt there was a dry eye in the entire venue.

What does all of this background say about the quality of the song? I am continually amazed by the lyrics of this song, even after decades of listening to it. On one hand, the words were very different than what many of us had come to expect of Duran Duran. It is not hold the mysterious poetry of so many of their band’s earlier works. No, it is straightforward and, yet, so unbelievably honest and poignant. The grief that Simon expressed both in the lyrics and his vocals penetrate right to one’s heart. One did not need to lose a close friend to be able to feel this one so deeply. After all, every single person has experienced some of loss and many have felt some life-alerting grief. On the same token, the true genius of the lyrics is that the loss that Simon expressed so beautifully could apply to other situations beyond the death of a loved one. This truly made the song universally understood and felt.

So, yes, when I think of this song, I do think of the lyrics and the vocals. That said, the instrumentation could have detracted from the message but it does the opposite. It adds to the intense emotion, particularly the beautiful guitars that seem to be the musical representation of all the feelings. When I think about this song live, I have to admit that I feel beyond fortunate to have seen this one performed live by all three of Duran’s guitarists (Warren, Andy and Dom). To me, each one brought their own selves to the song, which somehow feels appropriate and fitting. I know that this is Warren’s baby and we do need to acknowledge his genius. Yet, much like the lyrics, the interpretation by Andy and Dom fits. After all, everyone has experienced a loss and they all express that in their playing.

Based on all of this, it is hard not to give this one a perfect cocktail rating.

5 cocktails!

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