Amazon As Duran Duran bassist John Taylor reveals in his newly-published…
- Posted on Jul 22nd 2010 2:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
This, the longtime Rolling Stone columnist said, is a good way to be. Over the years, he's been wrong about plenty of artists he thought were going to be important and changed his mind about others he originally dismissed. Case in point: Laura Branigan, whom he finally came to appreciate this past weekend, when he sang her 1984 hit 'Self Control' at a karaoke bar.
"I could not believe what an awesome karaoke song that was!" Sheffield said, likening the "really great, really scary, really druggy" tune to another '80s gem, Rockwell's 'Somebody's Watching Me.'
Of course, Sheffield's sisters dug Branigan back in the day, and they've been e-mailing all week about whether Rob, having failed to pick the vastly superior single 'Gloria,' "has not yet really turned, Laura Branigan-wise."
For all their wisdom, the Sheffield girls couldn't save young Rob from Morrissey. 'Talking to Girls About Duran Duran' centers on how Sheffield's adolescence was shaped by '80s music, and in the first of two passages he read Wednesday, the author acted out an imaginary dialogue with the former Smiths singer, a wellspring of suspect advice Sheffield once regarded as an infallible Fonzie-like shaman. As he imitated the misanthropic icon, quoting some of his best-known lyrics, Sheffield used not a lilting Manchester accent, but rather a clipped Clint Eastwood bark.
Asked during the Q&A session to name the worst piece of advice he ever took from Morrissey, Sheffield cited 'I Don't Owe You Anything,' from the first Smiths album, in which Moz, angry at his lover for daring to leave the sanctuary of their apartment and venture into the outside world, sings, "You should never go to them/let them come to you/just like I do."
"When I was 18, I was like, 'Yeah!'" Sheffield said, drawing knowing laughs from an audience containing more than a few Smiths fans. "Of course, that's terrible advice to give any 18-year-old. It's like giving them a toaster to play with in the bathtub."
In another passage, Sheffield recalled attending his first rock concert, a 1983 triple bill at the football stadium in Foxborough, Mass., featuring the Police, the Fixx and a group he defends to this day, A Flock of Seagulls. "They don't necessarily get a lot of respect," the author said. "That changes here. That changes now. You're witnessing a new wave of the surf the Flock of Seagulls are coasting on."
As a kid, Sheffield saw the Liverpool band -- better known for its haircuts than its hits 'I Ran' and 'Space Age Love Song' -- as exotic and avant-garde. He imagined girls chasing its members through the streets. Years later, when he went to college and talked music with British classmates, he learned his beloved Flock had been ignored in its homeland and loved only by "anglophile teen twits," such as he'd been.
A follow-up to Sheffield's acclaimed 2007 debut book, 'Love is a Mixtape' -- a memoir about meeting, marrying and losing his first wife, who died of a brain aneurysm in 1997 -- 'Talking to Girls About Duran Duran' focuses on one song per chapter, touching on the author's love of Prince, Lita Ford, the Psychedelic Furs and Tone Loc, among others.
Of course, the band referenced in the title gets its own chapter, and Wednesday night, when asked to name his favorite Duran Duran song, Sheffield chose 'Girls on Film.' He also revealed how he felt when singer Simon Le Bon recently read an excerpt from the book on his literary blog, Simon's Reader.
"Of course, he's reading a passage about how excellent Duran Duran is," Sheffield said. "It's funny. I thought about karaoke and I thought of all the times I'd sung Duran Duran lyrics and I was like, 'Wow, now Simon is kind of doing me karaoke.' So I'd describe that mood as deluded."
Check out an excerpt from 'Talking to Girls About Duran Duran' here.