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Hungry Like the Wolf: Duran Duran and My Life

Jen Selinsky

Copyright © 2017 by Jen Selinsky

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Cover Art Copyright © 2014 by Travis Potts

ISBN: 9781370622344


I’ve had a lifetime long history with Duran Duran, even though I didn’t know it until I was in my early 20s. It was during that time when I really started to appreciate their music while discovering its great depth.

Though it took Duran Duran a few years to release their first album, the band formed in 1978, sometime during my nine-month incubation. I was born on November 2nd of that year, so it’s sometimes common of me to joke that I have been following Duran Duran for my entire life.

During my early childhood, I was slowly introduced to their work, particularly “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Those were the two songs and videos which I had first come to know.

My mother used to have MTV on all the time, so it was very common for me to see those videos back in the early ‘80s. Since she was a fan of music, she probably didn’t see any reason to ban me from the TV when she had that channel on. Besides, this was during the time when she started to become a fan of John Mellencamp, whom she started to work for a few years later.

Things started to change during my adolescence. It was 1994. I was fifteen years old, and I’d just purchased my first Duran Duran album, a copy of Decade on cassette tape.

I’d remembered that the band made a big comeback the previous year. In 1993, I added two more songs to my Duran Duran library of knowledge, “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone.”

After I purchased Decade, everything seemed to lead me to becoming a Duranie. And though I have added some other bands to my list since then, Duran Duran will always have a special place in my life.

Duran Duran is just one of those bands you can’t get out of your mind once you’ve heard or seen them. I knew this ever since I was about four years old and saw the videos for “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf.” The videos actually frightened me when I was younger, but they stayed in my mind for years.

If anyone asked me between the ages of four and fifteen if I’d ever heard of a band called Duran Duran, I would have told them that I did. Of course, until The Wedding Album came out, I only knew two their songs. Even though I started to become more familiar with their work, I didn’t know anything more about the band, such as their nationality of even their names. All that would come later.

My interest grew until my fandom had peaked in 2002. I managed to hold it steady until 2005, when things in my personal and professional life began to change.

Though it is now eleven years later, I still have a fondness for Duran Duran. I am happy that they are still together, and I am pleased to learn about all their accomplishments.

Though this book is not a regular-sized biography, I still feel that it needed to be written. There will be very few divisions and chapter breaks. These are simply stories about my Duran Duran experiences and how the band has impacted my life.

I certainly hope that the reader enjoys my prose, as it may bring back some good memories. Now, without any further ado, let me tell you about Duran Duran and my life.

The Early Years

Life outside the womb began for me on November 2, 1978. That was also the same year which had Duran Duran had formed, displaying their early signs of infancy. One could even get really technical and say that Duran Duran has been with me since before I was born, and they would most likely be right.

One of my earliest memories of Duran Duran is a bit fuzzy, in that I don't exactly remember the age I was when I was first exposed to their music. I know I was at least three, because I remember seeing videos for "Rio" and "Hungry Like the Wolf." If I had to venture a guess, I would say that I was four years old when I was exposed to their music.

Since my mother was an MTV; the channel was on all the time. I was not one of those children who was forbidden to watch MTV because of Mom’s love for contemporary music. The same is still true today because she listens to all the new artists while I delight myself in the works of the old ones!

Back in the old days, before satellite and streaming video, we had an analog TV which only received twenty-two channels. MTV was on channel 22, and I remember turning that dial if I wanted to catch a glimpse of what was new and happening at the time.

I remember that I was sitting on the floor, watching the television, then I looked up to see these "scary" videos on TV. "Rio" seemed to freak me out simply for the fact that it was a little odd; paint and colors flew around everywhere. That did not seem to stop me, however, from liking the video for "Freeze Frame" by the J. Geil's band a few years later.

"Hungry Like the Wolf" was scary in a different sense. All I saw was this woman being chased around the jungle. I also mistook her moans as screaming.

At four years old, I had no idea what sex was, so I just thought those moans were screams of terror. I honestly thought that the "bad man" was going to kill that poor woman! Little did I know, that twenty years later, I would wish that I was the woman in the video.

Since I was exposed to MTV at such a young age, Duran Duran was one of the first bands that I'd ever heard of.

The only other musician with whom I was familiar as a young child was John "Cougar" Mellencamp. As soon as my mother became a fan of his, it seemed like she talked about him a lot. I was exposed to his music as early as three or four years old.

Other popular musicians’ work escaped me for the time. I hadn't even heard of The Beatles until I was nine or ten.

Many could say that I lived quite the sheltered life, but Mom did not censor too much from us. The only time that she really didn't want me listening to something was when I was six, and my older sister put the Purple Rain soundtrack on the record player. The song was “Darlin’ Nikki.”

She would tell Amy, "Don't play that song; there are dirty lyrics in it!"

Of course, I only knew the music, and I was not paying attention to the smutty, sexual connotations of the lyrics. After all, I was six.

When I actually saw the movie Purple Rain for the first time over twenty years later, I truly understood why Mom didn’t want us listening to that song at the time.

My sister was a bigger fan of Prince than I was, but I was shocked and saddened when I heard about his death on April 21, 2016. Still, I am comforted by the fact that he is now at peace. Prince’s music has certainly immortalized him.

Duran Duran was then stuck in the back of my mind for about ten years. I did not follow their career, and there were only rare moments when I thought about them in passing.

In the meantime, I discovered the magic of cartoon TV shows. At a young age, I did not take much pleasure in reading or writing, so I did what most normal American kids at the time did and immersed myself in toys, TV, and 8-bit video games.

Cartoons such as Heathcliff, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Super Mario Brothers Super Show were my favorites. I was also a big fan of Disney movies up until the time I was in college. Music and books were hardly anything that I would consider when it came to entertainment. I read mostly only when I had to.

But even though I did not care much for reading and writing until my adolescence, I was an imaginative child, who was always making up stories. Granted, the characters in these stories were often my favorites from TV shows or video games, but I made up new scenarios for them, nonetheless.

In early 1993, Duran Duran came back into my mind shortly after the release of their self-titled album, aka. The Wedding Album.

As soon as I heard "Ordinary World," I thought it was a good song. I then started to remember the band that I so hastily placed in the back of my mind ten years ago.

It's not like Duran Duran was my favorite band. I did not have one until a few months later. (It was Color Me Badd.) I did, however, listen to Duran Duran's music back and forth a lot throughout high school.

My best friend, Jen, liked to listen them in the car when I drove us to school. Her older sister is a Duranie, so Jen knew about Duran Duran’s music at a young age as well. Jen would tell me stories about how her sister got her into Duran Duran at a young age. Sharyl would tickle Jen if she got any of the band members’ names wrong.

Jen and I had officially met in Library Literary Club after school. We soon hit it off and became best friends. When Jen and I were in the car together, I’d dig out my cassette tape copy of Decade, and we’d listen to it on the way to school.

While the white ’91 Plymouth Voyager was no stranger to Duran Duran, the car usually played music by The Doors. They were my favorite band at the time and had been since 1995.

Jen, however, was not a fan of The Doors. Though she sometimes liked to make jokes about the song “Back Door Man,” Jen was not hesitant to let me know about her overall dislike of the band.

Jen not only listened to Duran Duran, but she would also dig deep into the song lyrics to define their meaning. One time, I remember her telling me that "Save a Prayer" was about a one-night stand. I told her how interesting her analysis was, since I never really bothered delving into Duran Duran’s lyrics at the time.

Even though I’d, tried in vain, to get Jen interested in The Doors, my efforts had failed. That’s not to say that I minded listening to Duran Duran when I drive us to school. It certainly didn’t bother me putting that copy of Decade into my car because I was starting to get into their music as well.

Approximately one year later, I was a freshman in college. I’d started off slow with my coursework because I didn’t want to overwhelm my brain. On top of my two classes, I had taken a part-time job at the local movie theater.

My mother had to urge me to take the job, especially since I have never been a fan of work. I guess she figured that taking two community college courses was not enough to help me occupy my time. Of course, this is time which I wanted to spend listening to The Doors and hanging out with my friends.

My nineteenth birthday was on November 2, 1997. I’d had a fun day, as some friends and I went bowling, after which we came back to the house for cake and presents. As juvenile as that sounded for someone of my age, I insisted on having a birthday party. I’d not had one since I turned twelve.

One of my favorite gifts was a new CD player and a copy of The Doors box set! Since my family was a little behind the times technology wise, this was my first CD player, and I was really excited about it. Now I could finally listen to those Doors CDs which I had purchased last summer in Seymour, Indiana.

Jen had a little something different in mind for a gift. She had given me a cassette tape copy of Duran Duran’s new album at the time, Medazzaland. I thanked her for the gift but looked at it with a certain bemusement.

If it was another one of Duran Duran’s greatest hits albums, then I would have understood. But this was something new to me, and I didn’t think that I would like it. Besides, all I had to do was look at the cover art to determine that the whole album looked strange.

Sometime later, Jen and I were in her car together. She was driving, and she asked me if I liked the song “Electric Barbarella.” In all honesty, I hadn’t even listened to the tape yet.

I don’t even recall if I gave Jen as direct answer to her question, but I certainly wasn’t going to get enthusiastic about a song I knew nothing about.

As Jen continued to drive, I’d hoped that she would change the subject. I didn’t want to talk about Duran Duran anymore, especially because I had felt guilty about not yet having listened to the album.

Eventually, the subject was dropped, and we did not talk about Medazzaland again for at least two years.

Between the rest of 1997 and mid-2000, I listened to Duran Duran on and off again, since I had been doing since 1995. I liked most of the songs from Decade, and I would listen to them until I pretty much got tired of the album.

I had gotten a copy of The Wedding Album from somewhere and started listening to it on the way to school in early 2000. I don’t remember too much about the experience at first, except for the fact that I didn’t care for the song “Too Much Information.”

Shortly after, listening to The Wedding Album had become more than a force of habit. I wanted to hear more Duran Duran, and I found whatever resources I had handy. Though it took me a while for it to register, I was bitten by the Duran bug.

Duranie Rising

For some reason, when I first started listening to their music on a regular basis, I thought that Duran Duran was Australian. Maybe it had something to do with their accents or the fact that I might have heard that from another person. In any case, I was misinformed. It was not too much later when I found out that they are actually English.

Sadly, some people used to laugh at me when I told them that I am a fan of Duran Duran. And while I do respect that fact that everyone has his or her opinion, it used to bother me a little.

I need to keep in mind, however, the fact that I was telling people this as early as the year 2000. Even though the whole ‘80s nostalgia thing seemed to start up during that year, some people just weren’t accepting of the fact that I liked an “ ‘80s band.”

Mere months after Duran Duran became my favorite band, I wrote a paper trying to convince the reader that they were a punk band. Needless to say, I talked about Duran Duran during the ‘80s to give the reader more of that impression:

My Own Way

One of the groups that I know best from the “punk era” (the early ‘80s) is Duran Duran. I know that their music and manner of dress are not quite up to par with such musical groups as The Sex Pistols, The Violent Femmes, Sonic Youth, The Ramones, (or even Billy Idol). It was much more neat and trendy than any of those mentioned above. They established their own style of dress, which was primarily a combination of what many other rock stars wore during that time.

When one hears the name Duran Duran, one may think, “Right, they’re English, so they have to be a punk band.” However, another might think, Those guys had nothing to do with punk rock! It’s all a matter of opinion. Not everyone who came out of Great Britain in the early 1980s was considered to be a punk band, but these “fabulous five” helped to contribute so many things to the first generation of punk rockers.

Back thirty years ago, when we heard of an individual who had an ear piercing, we automatically assumed the person-of-discussion was a female. However, as early as twenty years ago, things started to change. Simon Le Bon, the lead singer of Duran Duran, was one of the first to introduce male body piercings by having an earring in his left ear. Today, this is not seen as a big issue, but that was not necessarily the case twenty years ago. Simon probably got called a lot of names for that small, but controversial contribution he made. None of the other existing band members, even today, have had any (visible) body piercings that I know of, but it only takes one to stand out.

As for tattoos and Mohawks, these boys were clean, but their style of dress was far from that of normal society. Simon and the boys usually wore things such as bandannas, leather pants, cut T-shirts, (midriffs), sunglasses, and jeweled belts. They also wore things such as tuxedo tops, sweat bands, necklaces, and dress ties; this could be the reason why varying opinions exist for this discussion.

As it was mentioned in the paragraph above, the members of Duran Duran did not wear Mohawks, but they did color their hair. That was another trendy thing during the early 1980s. Simon wore his hair in an auburn shade, whereas Nick and Andy wore a shade of yellow (Nick sometimes dyed his hair an orange or a red shade). The other two, Roger and John, usually kept their natural hair colors (which was a dark brown), but they sometimes dyed it the same color as Simon and Nick. Please note that this is not as extreme as a band member dying his hair blue, green, purple, or pink, but Duran Duran was one of the groups who started it all off.

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