Tim Sings Blue Silver

The first time that I ever heard of Duran Duran was from a classmate who lived a few houses down the road, touting the greatness of Hungry Like The Wolf.

(by summer, this same kid had gone metal and was slavishly devoted to the bands in Circus)

Three days later, I heard Hungry Like The Wolf for the first time, listening to the radio on a sleepy Saturday morning with snow on the ground outside.

And then I heard it again…and again…and again…

By the time we returned to school on Monday it was impossible to surf the radio and not hear, on one station or another, the suddenly familiar laugh that opened the song.

Most of us dug Hungry Like The Wolf, but, in 1983, cable television was still exotic to most of us and MTV wasn’t available in our area, so the opportunities to see Duran Duran’s groundbreaking music videos was limited to those who had access to USA Network’s Night Flight.

Duran Duran mania might have been raging in the outside world, but not so much in our small town in the hinterlands of the American Midwest.

The trappings of the New Romantic movement were not easily adopted with the nearest Chess King and Merry-Go-Round locations sixty miles away.

We were mostly a jeans and t-shirt crowd in our high school.

Except for Tim.

Like half of the kids with whom we attended school, Tim was a farm kid whose family lived at the outskirts of the furthest bus route. He had five older brothers who were indistinguishable having the same curly hair and low-key demeanor as Tim.

Tim was a bright kid who, since grade school, we had watched drive our teachers to distraction with his mumbled answers that would invariably prompt requests to be repeated.

He was, like a lot of us, mostly an extra in the daily drama of high school life.

But, as we settled back in for a new school year that August, with Duran Duran on the radio with Is There Something I Should Know?, a track culled from their debut album that had been ignored in the States two years earlier, Tim returned with a new look.

It wasn’t a profound transformation – his curly hair sculpted into a swoop with a hint of purple that covered one eye, a shirt with a flap across the chest that snapped closed on the side – but it was enough to set him apart in the sea of Rush and Triumph concert shirts of our high school hallways.

It had the makings of a PR fiasco.

Instead, Tim was drawn into conversations with kids from social cliques who had never paid much attention to him.

I didn’t experience Duran Duran mania, but the band did provide entrée for one of us into a higher echelon of the high school caste.

Here are four songs from Duran Duran…

Duran Duran – Girls On Film
from Duran Duran (1981)

A lot of my friends owned copies of Rio, but I think it was my buddy Beej who quickly picked up a cassette of Duran Duran’s debut.

(he was also one of the few friends who had cable at the time and, thus, was familiar with the band from seeing their videos)

The video for Girls On Film caused a stir, but, when I finally saw it several years later, it was a bit underwhelming and less racy than what aired on Cinemax late at night.

And, I was underwhelmed when I heard Duran Duran on the heels of Rio, but I loved the lean, frenetic Girls On Film.

Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
from Rio (1982)

Hungry Like The Wolf exploded within hours of my first hearing it on the radio, becoming immediately inescapable as it would be for the next several months.

It’s odd to think of a world without Duran Duran as Simon LeBon and company have been a part of the musical landscape from almost the beginning of my interest in music. I was entranced with the kinetic and mysterious Hungry Like The Wolf from the first time I heard the laugh of LeBon’s girlfriend that opens the song.

Duran Duran – Do You Believe in Shame?
from Big Thing (1988)

I loved Rio, but going forward found their singles to be a mixed bag and their albums to offer diminishing returns. The band went on a hiatus after recording A View To A Kill during which the members split into Arcadia and The Power Station.

When Duran Duran returned with the funkier Notorious, I was in college and had no interest remaining in the band. I saw the videos for Big Thing‘s hits I Don’t Want Your Love and All She Wants Is often, but I was non-plussed.

When someone at the record store where I worked played Big Thing, it was the somber, hypnotic Do You Believe In Shame? that I wanted to hear.

(I still thing it’s damned hypnotic)

Duran Duran – Ordinary World
from Duran Duran (The Wedding Album) (1993)

Duran Duran had vanished from the scene when I found an advance cassette of their single Ordinary World. I was working a Saturday morning shift at record store with a prickly co-worker who was immersed in the grunge scene.

We popped the cassette in and I was surprised by the song. It seemed so grown-up.

Somber and deliberate, Ordinary World renewed interest in Duran Duran and became one of the biggest hits of their lengthy, hit-laden career. The lyrical content was as memorable as the musical packaging and I’d likely name the song as my favorite by the band.

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