Sunday, July 18, 2010

Spare your seedy judgments

I started reading this book tonight called Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut. I think I'm the first person to check it out of the Ames library. I literally can't wait to do the review - I hope it stays as good as it has started out. It totally put me in the mood for Duran Duran, but all I had on my iPod was the Astronaut album, four tracks from Rio (including "Rio"), "Electric Barbarella" But it also contained what is perhaps my favorite of all Duran Duran songs - "Notorious" from 1986.

The video is, frustratingly, not embeddable (DAMN YOU SALAZAR!) Everybody knows it, but here's a refresher for those that have forgotten.

There are much better Duran Duran songs and certainly better known Duran Duran songs, but this is, as I said, still my favorite. Its position in the top spot for me stems more from association than any real merits of the song as it is from the time in my life when pop music really woke up in me. It was my freshman year of high school and that entire summer was spent down in the Sernett music department, flipping through vinyl albums and the limited supply of CDs that they had. I bought True Blue on vinyl that summer, along with many other purchases I later regretted. I listened to American Top 40 each week and wrote it down on a piece of looseleaf notebook paper as Casey Kasem made it from #40 to #1 each week. As summer turned to fall and I entered high school, I felt ready but also petrified. I felt that armed with my vast knowledge of pop music, I could not go wrong. Arriving at school in the fall, I realized that my choices were far from mainstream, despite the fact that they were on the radio all the time. Suddenly, my love for Madonna seemed awkward - the first of many such occurrences through my adolescence, even persisting into my early to mid 20s.

It seemed, even though I liked what Casey Kasem said was popular, that wasn't enough.

My biggest recollection of this song is seeing it on one of the many Friday night video shows in the fall of 1986. I had walked home from the Homecoming football game toting my tenor saxophone the mile from the stadium to my house. "Notorious" was playing and for some reason, it just clicked. It's such a vivid memory from that night and every time I hear the part at near the end when Simon LeBon lets out the "Yeaaaaaaah! That's why I've done it again!" it takes me back. It was then that I started to realize that, despite the fact that what liked wasn't the same as everyone else and the songs I did like were perceived as "girly," the songs made me feel good. They made me feel good and provided the necessary solace that I needed then and even now as an adult. It's the reason I keep going back to them and will continue to write about them.

I wish I can say that was a watershed moment where I stopped worrying about what other people thought. It wasn't. But it was still one of those moments.

The rest of the Notorious album is a bit hit and miss although "Skin Trade" is another standout. Astronaut is still my favorite studio album of theirs but "Notorious" will always be just a little bit special.


mary35 said...

I thought I was the only one who wrote down the Top 40 hits each week. It would be interesting to see those lists now!

Dan said...

Mary, I can't believe the number of people I've come across that wrote down at least the weekly Top 10. I remember reading it in the DSM Register each week and typing it into a word processing document on the Apple //e. Those, however, are long gone!