I feel like my life as a music fan was defined by two major obsessions: first the Beatles, and then Elvis Costello. There have been plenty of other bands and artists who I've loved in between and after those two major eras, including but not limited to: Aimee Mann, Blur, Tom Petty, Kanye West, Robyn, and Duran Duran. Duran Duran sort of symbolizes a general love I have for what I'll now refer to as New Wave music but I kind of used to just generally refer to as "80's music." I started off enjoying New Wave because it represented, to me, the music that the cool older kids in my life liked--my babysitters, people who were in high school when I was in grade school. The fact that it was the soundtrack to my favorite John Hughes movies didn't hurt, either. It lifted my spirits and possessed a type of joy and drama that I don't think you hear in too much popular music anymore. I now realize that a lot of my favorite music borrows a lot from New Wave sound--stuff by Yeasayer, for instance, sounds like it could be be present at a dramatic climax in a 1980's Brat Pack film or even covered by The Culture Club.
Every few years I'm reminded specifically though of how much I love Duran Duran and how, had I been born a few years earlier, I would have probably fallen supremely hard for them. In college, my boyfriend burned their Greatest Hits album for me and it was part of the soundtrack to my time abroad in Italy as I listened to "Girls on Film" and "The Reflex" hiking the hills in the morning for exercise. This was before I really became aware of how gorgeous the band was and how fantastically over-the-top their videos were and way before I learned much about how they came together and wrote their music.
After that initial introduction, I went through somewhat fallow Duran Duran periods where they got less play on my music-listening-device, but then every now and then I come across something that reminds me how much I enjoy them and gets me replaying their music and re-watching their videos. My favorites of late have been:
1.) Bassist John Taylor talking about the band's most famous songs for the AV Club. I have read this piece in its entirety several times since it was first published. Learning how the songs came to be made and seeing them brought to life in the videos, all told in what I find to be John's very charming voice, is like a mini-biography for me.
2.) John's autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove. I kind of maybe decided I was in love with John after reading that AV Club piece, so I happily took on the task of reviewing his memoirs for EMusic. I mean, I wouldn't say it's necessary reading/listening for all music fans, but I found him to be super sweet and unexpectedly insightful and honest. I'd say it fell somewhere between Keith Richards' interesting Life and Steven Tyler's book that I'm pretty sure he barely had anything to do with and was pretty obnoxious (which I both also listened to and reviewed.)
3.) This Sound Opinions episode about New Wave Music. I just listened to this yesterday and it lifted my spirits immensely after I had a crabby morning. I definitely plan on checking out Lori Majewski's book Mad World, which is an oral history of the musical era.
So we'll see what the next Duran Duran mini-bubble looks like. Fortunately for me, they don't seem to be interested in retiring anytime soon, so there's more to look forward to.
Oh, PS, I just discovered this, where John talks about his favorite band clothes throughout the years. There go several more minutes of my time.