Sunday, November 21, 2010

Talking to Girls about Duran Duran

Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler HaircutTalking to Girls about Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield is like a long conversation with someone I'd never met, but who loves music like I do and uses it define his entire life. I love music, and I like to consider myself an eclectic listener, but in truth, I love rock, pop, hard rock, oldies, and the eighties. Because I grew up in the 1980s, so many songs have pivotal memories associated with them. Jesse by Carly Simon was the first song I fell in love with through no influence of my parents. Take it on the Run by REO Speedwagon was the song we all wanted to rollerskate to during the Starlight Dance with a cute guy at the skating rink. I had a love/hate relationship with Madonna - I loved My Isla Bonita and I decided Live to Tell was my theme song. I played Bon Jovi's self-titled debut until I had to buy a new cassette. And I did love Duran Duran; Roger, the drummer, was my major crush, and while I do feel a little ashamed at the amount of time I spent listening to them, studying their videos, and discussing who was the cutest with my best friends (Aileen loved Simon, Amy loved John), Sheffield reminds me just how glorious their music was, and how it is still incredibly popular today.  Listening to 80s flashback weekends on the radio is like watching a home video of my teenage years, the good and the bad. So reading this book felt like returning home. Each chapter is titled by a song by a specific artist, and Sheffield uses that song to discuss the everything from dating to the rules to what girls require from boys, to how teens listen to lyrics and decide that the writer is their musical soulmate with the answer to all of life's questions. Sheffield is both incredibly smart and unbelievably funny, and the combination of the two allow him to reveal great truths. His discussion on Paul McCartney really does explain his huge success as well as his polarizing effect on fans. In his chapter about his obsession with David Bowie, Sheffield says, " I yearned to become the Thin White Duke, yet I was stuck being a Thin White Douche." His essay about John Hughes' films and their impact on teens for the last twenty years should be required reading for anyone wanting to understand teenagers and/or the 80s and/or great films. Sheffield must be the only person left on Earth who has such fond memories for cassingles, other than me. My children and husband (who is a bit younger than me) can't even believe these 99 cent wonders existed, but Sheffield gives a list of the thirty best cassingles in history (although he missed my fave: Martika's Toy Soldiers). If you grew up in the 80s or even just love the music, this book is pure joy somehow magically condensed into 270 pages. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go listen to Duran Duran singing Rio.

Thank you to Dutton Books for providing me with a copy of this book for review!