I don’t know how common this is, but back in the 80s when I thought I was super busy with school and clarinet practice – yet still had considerable time for daydreaming, I thought about goals.
One of my goals, was to someday have something signed by Duran Duran. Granted, I was a kid then. I wanted to have something I could look at and hold that was signed by them. I figured it would be the absolute most I could hope for. It never occurred to me that maybe I’d actually meet them, or God forbid – speak to them. I don’t even know that I thought much about what I’d have signed, only that I wanted something.
It wasn’t until I was older, and by that I mean I was probably in my early thirties, that I realized having that signed – whatever – wouldn’t actually make a difference in my life. Would I love them more because they signed something for me? I wasn’t so sure. Mind you, I still didn’t own anything that had been autographed! It just didn’t seem as important.
Then of course, the reunion happened, I went to see the fab five play in Orange County, went to a convention, and found out that a lot of fans didn’t just settle for an autograph – they’d met the band, had photos taken with them, and some of them were known to the band by name. That last part blew me away. I was completely dumbstruck by the thought that some of the people I’d met in the fan community were known to the band. I can remember listening in astonishment to some of the stories I’d been told at the fan convention, or how excited I’d get while reading a tale about someone meeting Nick outside of a hotel. It occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t about the autograph at all, but the experience of obtaining it that might really matter.
I’ve told the story of the Astronaut signing many times – I did go, I took my oldest with me, and yes, we had a vinyl record and CD signed. In some ways, the whole thing remains kind of surreal to me. I have to remind myself that I finally did get my wish and have a signed album. I’ve seen a good many signed albums up on eBay over the years – many of them with real signatures. I wouldn’t ever sell my album, but I also don’t have it on display. It’s out in our record collection. Every now and then, I take it out and look at it. I feel like that album and the signing I attended was an entire lifetime ago. I suppose in a lot of ways, it was.
Once I had that album, I was sure I really didn’t need anything else signed by them. What made that special was seeing each of them take their pen and sign the thing – it was done in the blink of an eye, but I was there to actually SEE it. Since then, I’ve gotten a couple of other things that had one or all of their signatures on it – one was the CD for All You Need is Now, signed by all of them, including Dom. I also have John’s signature on my hard (USA edition) copy of his autobiography, and his signature on my copy of his audiobook. I have both of Dom’s albums, as well as Blue to Brown signed by him, too.
I hadn’t even thought about how many things I’ve gotten signed until I started writing this. While it isn’t that many – it is more than I would have ever considered possible back when was eleven or twelve, and I’m sure it’s more than many have right now. I guess my point is that back when I was kid, I was sure that it would be these things: the signed albums and memorabilia, that would somehow stand out in my mind and make me feel like I was connected to the band. That I was special – if not to them, then just to me in my own head.
What I can tell you though is at less than a month from turning 50, it isn’t those things that make me a fan at all. They aren’t things I pull out to show people, or even brag about – although I feel like perhaps I’m doing that here and it’s not my intention. They’re just things. That’s how I feel about most memorabilia, to be honest.
The All You Need is Now CD is special to me because it’s signed by the entire band – although I wasn’t there to see them sign that – but more importantly, I was able to hand that CD liner to Dom myself and ask him to please sign it. We were standing in the rooftop bar area up at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. He’d played at the David Lynch concert that night with the rest of the band. Seeing him up there at the bar was, well, probably the luckiest I’d felt in a long time. Unfortunately though, I could barely hear him. I remember that specifically because instead of talking to him the way I normally might, I clammed up. Not because I was shy or nervous, but because I couldn’t really hear him. That night was one of the first times I realized that I couldn’t hear as well as I should. I have some mild hearing loss, some of it stemming from a hearing issue I had as a small child. That night was the first time I really noticed it as an adult. The background noise was so bad, I couldn’t hear a single thing he said. Hello middle-age!
Regardless, saddled a bit later with liquid courage and a booming voice that cuts through any crowd, Amanda and I were able to talk with Dom and ask him to sign our CD liners. I laughed as he held the liner and then thought he’d just sign it somewhere inside or on the back. I quickly redirected him back to the front, telling him that he was every bit as worthy and important as the others, and to sign on the front. So he did.
What I’ve come to realize, is simply that it isn’t the signature that makes a difference. For me, it is the memory I have of taking my daughter with me to Hollywood and standing outside for hours to get our wristbands to come back. She still remembers going with me, and says she learned more about me that night (and two nights later when we returned to actually have the album and CD signed). We bonded so much each of those nights. I still smile warmly when I think of those evenings. The same holds true with Dom and the All You Need is Now CD. I wasn’t even there when the rest of the band band signed it – chances are, they signed thousands of them, and mine was one of them. No, the real “memorabilia” for me is the story I can tell about talking with Dom that night when he signed it for me.