On the playlist for this week is Starting to Remember, the fifth track off of Pop Trash. Written by none other than Mr. Nicholas Rhodes, the song is poignant, and what many would consider to be an exact opposite from our offering last week (Hallucinating Elvis). Also produced by TV Mania, the song is a continued example of Simon’s decreasing involvement with writing and production during this period.
Alright. Say what I will about Nick, Warren and even TV Mania (which I do), this is one of the most underrated, absolutely stunningly gorgeous (and somewhat even saddest) Duran Duran songs ever written. I’m often shocked when fans mention nearly any other Duran Duran song and simply forget that this one – a gem if I’ve ever heard one – even exists. To Nick’s credit, I don’t think he’s ever written better than this.
Musically, it just doesn’t get better than this. The guitar is beautifully recorded, and the production is such that when listening, one can hear the strings, reminding me that yes, the song actually had human touch. I appreciate the piano/keyboard, providing the lacy “icing”. The song is warm, feeling, and expertly finished. While bass and percussion are not overbearing, they are both present, providing a solid foundation. The only negative, and not enough of one to require more than a mention, is that at 2:38, the tune is shorter than most, feeling as though it is just really getting going when it ends rather abruptly.
Vocally, Simon is well within his element. Managing to bring a dreamy sort of emotion to this song, artfully telling the story of so many – insomnia striking as we lay thinking of all the things that plague us from moving on. To my mind, the song is about healing, and pretending we have it all together, then the darkness comes and we’re left to our own thoughts, where we admit that we don’t know who we really are.The nighttime is when we begin to remember and consider that person we left behind. I think the song has notes of the struggles Nick may have had with coming to terms with his fame, knowing who he is, and remembering where he came from, along with somehow amalgamating the history of who he was before Duran Duran, with who he was then (at the time of writing). You may hear and experience the song differently, as to be expected. Overall, the song is extremely well-done, absolutely one of the best songs of their career, to which they’ve never been given proper credit.
The first word that comes to my mind when I hear this song is “beautiful” or some other word that is synonymous with that one. Musically, I struggle to think of many other Duran songs with the same level of beauty. Obviously, the guitar takes the lead along with keyboard elements. The instrumentation creates such a mood that definitely enhances the lyrics and vice versa.
Speaking of the lyrics, there aren’t a ton, actually. Yet, there is a lot to them. It seems to tell the story of someone looking back on their life. Maybe they are wondering where, when and why things went wrong or changed. Yet, they have hope that remembering how it used to be and having hope that things will get better. While the song has a feeling of sadness, it does not have the sense of hopeless. I am willing to bet that these lyrics were about a very specific time and situation when it was written. Yet, it is vague enough to allow the listener to interpret it themselves or put their own situation in the song. To me, that is when Duran is at their best.
I do have to wonder why this song is so often overlooked. It does not make a lot of sense given its beauty and lyrics that many could relate to. Is it because it is on Pop Trash? Maybe. Yet, I feel like it is more overlooked than other songs on this album. Is it because it is relatively short? Possibly. In thinking about this song versus other Duran ballads, I wonder if it does not have the same level of sing along capability. Of course, this might be a “me thing” but it matters to me if I feel like I can sing along with a song, especially with a ballad. I often choose to listen to ballads when I am struggling, emotionally, and singing along allows me to get some of my emotion out. The example here is Ordinary World. I can easily sing along and feel along with Simon. I struggle to do that with this song. Simon’s vocals while gorgeous aren’t such that I feel like I should or could sing along. Likewise, the lyrics and vocals don’t get in my head in the way that others do. Think about a song like Save a Prayer. Those lyrics definitely get stuck in my head. I have a very distinct memory of singing the chorus over and over again when hanging with my childhood best friend. I have to wonder if that element stops Duranies from listing this as a fan favorite. I would be curious to hear why the rest of you think that it might be ignored over other similar songs. Overall, this is a hidden gem in the Duran catalog.