Monday, October 18, 2010

Talking to Girls About Duran Duran

Book Review
Talking to Girls About Duran Duran
By Rob Sheffield

This happens so many times. An author writes a memoir about a cataclysmic event in their life. After the story has been told, however, they have little more to say. This was the case with the follow ups to Julie and Julia, Angela’s Ashes, Marley and Me, and Eat, Pray Love. Once you’ve told the big story, nothing else will live up by comparison.

Fortunately, this is not the case with Rob Sheffield’s new book of essays, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. Sheffield’s first outing, Love Is A Mix Tape, chronicles his young married life and the untimely death of his wife. Sheffield is a writer for Rolling Stone and his life has a constant soundtrack. His first book was funny and beautiful and I really could feel his love and anguish, but he always kept his sense of humor and while you felt for him, you never pitied him.

His new book goes back in time to give us a glimpse into the songs and people that shaped him. Drawing on music from the 80’s, Sheffield is fearless in admitting songs he loved and the role they played in his upbringing.

Like most of us, when we remember a certain time in our life, we usually remember what song we loved too. So it’s not like Sheffield is necessarily dissecting these songs, but more so using them as vehicles to chronicle key points in his life.

What I love most about Sheffield is how unpretentious he is. This guy works for Rolling Stone and I’m sure he has met a string of great musicians; he could easy parlay this into having a cool, underground, hipster taste for bands we’ve never heard of. He could pretend he never listened to Whitney Houston, but he embraces his love for pop music and all the embarrassment that may come with it. Since I’m also a child of the 80’s, I was familiar with most of the songs covered in the book. Interestingly, though, I have never seen the video for “Shiny Shiny” that Sheffield claims was aired constantly on MTV. I don’t know how that’s possible, but the wonders of the internet cleared that up for me.

I was also never a fan of Duran Duran. It’s interesting that he chose this band of the 80’s because it’s quite true that DD will find a way to get you sooner or later. At the time, I hated them and I thought they were all weird looking pretty boys. It was their release of “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone” in 1993 that made me finally admit that I liked their songs. I then went back and enjoyed all the 80’s hits that I shunned at the time.

As I read about Sheffield’s sisters, lack of girlfriends and early jobs, I could reflect on my own 80’s experiences. The true beauty of this book is you will love hearing about Sheffield’s life and family, but it will also, hopefully, take you down the soundtrack of your life.

In honor of pointing out an 80’s band I never heard of (a task I did not think was possible), I’m posting Haysi Fantayzee”s video “Shiny Shiny” for all to enjoy.


Erin said...

Oh I was such a huge DD fan! And I could imagine catagorizing my life in terms of 80's music!

JD said...

Ha! Believe it or not, I was a HUGE Duran Duran fan even while I was headbanging along with Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden records. As a Rolling Stone subscriber for years, I love Sheffield's writing and definitely have his books on my must-read list.

Also ironic, while I spent the 80's wanting my MTV, I didn't get it until the 90's and by then, well, didn't want it so much.


I hate when a book's title leads you on and the story has nothing to do with the story lol

mom said...

jen I didn't get my MTV until it was too late too! LOL

ruth said...

I was never a fan of the band, though I like a few of their songs. I think I like A-HA better in those days :)

You're right, I have never heard of Haysi Fantayzee before. Sheesh, with a name like that you'd think they'b be famous!

Rachael said...

He sounds very interesting, and now I'm actually interested in his first book too. I'll have to check them out!

Karen said...

I've been wanting to pick up this book - I didn;t realize it was a book of essays. Looks good.
I was never a Duran Duran fan either but my sister in law was. Posters EVERYWHERE!!