I hope you’re still enjoying Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. I will fess up: Like Chris, I finished the book. This week I’m feeling a little mixed. I still love it and am finding it a fun read—I think one of the reasons I was able to finish it so quickly is that it’s turning into a series of vignettes, and less a linear narrative, so it’s easy to jump into and out of. But as easy and readable as that makes the book, I find myself wishing for more of a story. The chapter that did it for me was Chaka Khan “I Feel for You.” I had been riding along on his tour through adolescence, and then when we got to that chapter, I felt like we took a pretty sharp detour into modern day, singing karaoke at a basement bar on Avenue A. It felt out of place to me. What did you think—were you hoping for more of a story, or are you liking the vignettes?
Of course, that all said, this middle section of the book still had me laughing and reminiscing. I think my favorite chapter of this section was The Smiths “Ask.” (And that’s not because The Smiths happened to be my very favorite band in high school and Morrissey and I share the same birthday, which I always took to mean we had a cosmic connection.) I like the idea of all of us having our own Ally Sheedys—those things in our past that we just can’t quite let go of. And it makes perfect sense to me that a certain band or a certain song could be your Ally Sheedy. For me, at least, music that speaks to me has been what’s gotten me through tough (and even wonderful) times in my life. I still think of driving the back roads of Allentown, PA while listening to Oscillate Wildly by the Smiths, or the night of the junior formal when my boyfriend broke up with me anytime I hear New Order’s Brotherhood album. I can’t listen to those songs and albums without going back to those particular times and places. And I relate to Sheffield when he says he looked to the music for words of wisdom and even terrible advice. Do you have songs or bands that take you back to your past or that you’ve looked to for advice?
I also thought his explanation of the basic paradox of adolescence was touching and poignant—and true. “Our dreams and our realities are barely on speaking terms, so we look forward to making out with people who aren’t real, keeping us in a nearly universal state of teen frustration,” he says, and while it can be miserable when you’re going through it, I think that in hindsight, it’s one of the most innocent, sweetest, endearing aspects of being an adolescent. Something that I even miss a tiny bit, maybe?
Which parts of this section did you find to be touching and/or true? Anything that didn’t resonate with you?
As with the first section, there were a bunch of lines in this section that I loved. In no particular order:
- “Don’t you know that song? Billy Joel. You had to be a bitch-off, didn’t cha? Oh no, you had to be a bitch-off.”
- I’ve played the song for people who respond, “Hmmm, this is interesting,” but in a way that’s more like “There are two exits in this room, the window and the door. If this song doesn’t end soon, I’m going to opt for the window.”
- Why not let sleeping one-hit wonders lie? Because the song is too damn good, that’s why. It’s a Taj Majal of awesome, a basilica of No F*cking Way.
- All kiddie shows had rock bands in those days…They’d sing a song at the end of the episode to remind us all what we’d learned.
- It was an intensely moving experience, with everybody dancing while Sting sang “hee-yo, hee-yo-yo” for two hours.
- It was the closest thing I’d ever come to being a star, the kind that Prince was in Purple Rain…I was already a big fan, but watching Purple Rain, I thought, this is my life. Finally, someone else gets it.
- The Stones suggested that if you dabble in decadence, you could turn into a devil-worshipping junkie. Paul McCartney suggested that if you mess around with girl worship, you could turn into a husband. So Paul was a lot scarier.
- As a cruel Italian goddess, [Madonna] does stupid things like Evita or the “Secret” video, but that’s just her painful way of teaching us not to trust her.
- I was grateful to be surrounded by all these women. All I wanted to know was how to live with them in peace.
Enjoy the last section of the book, and I’ll see you back here next week to discuss!