Published by Dutton on July 15th 2010
Genres: Biography & Autobiography
The author of the national bestseller Love is a Mix Tape returns, with a different-but equally personal and equally universal- spin on music as memory. "No rock critic-living or dead, American or otherwise-has ever written about pop music with the evocative, hyperpoetic perfectitude of Rob Sheffield." So said Chuck Klosterman about Love is a Mix Tape, Sheffield's paean to a lost love via its soundtrack. Now, in Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, Sheffield shares the soundtrack to his eighties adolescence. When he turned 13 in 1980, Rob Sheffield had a lot to learn about women, love, music and himself, and in Talking to Girls About Duran Duran we get a glimpse into his transformation from pasty, geeky "hermit boy" into a young man with his first girlfriend, his first apartment, and a sense of the world. These were the years of MTV and John Hughes movies; the era of big dreams and bigger shoulder pads; and, like any all-American boy, this one was searching for true love and maybe a cooler haircut. It's all here: Inept flirtations. Dumb crushes. Deplorable fashion choices. Members Only jackets. Girls, every last one of whom seems to be madly in love with the bassist of Duran Duran. Sheffield's coming-of-age story is one that we all know, with a playlist that any child of the eighties or anyone who just loves music will sing along with. These songs-and Sheffield's writing-will remind readers of that first kiss, that first car, and the moments that shaped their lives.
Welcome to my feature Up Late With Kate where I share the latest midnight read that keeps me reading past the witching hour! Light that candle, grab a chair, and prepare to read all night!
There’s a good reason I wanted to read this book. I love Duran Duran. I can still remember the first time I saw the videos for Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf. I was just a kid, but I just knew I would grow up and marry Simon Le Bon or John Taylor. I would change my name to Rio, and in doing so I would be that girl dancing on the sand, catching that mirror way out west with my cherry ice cream smile.
Things didn’t work out with Simon and I, which is just as well, because I also had plans to marry Jon Bon Jovi, Johnny Depp, Michael Keaton, Christian Slater, Gabriel Byrne, Bono or Larry Mullen, Jr., Bryan Adams, and the actor who played Romeo in Franco Zeferelli’s version of Romeo and Juliet. If all those plans had come true, I’d either have become the most married woman in the world, or I’d be in jail for bigamy.
I picked up Talking to Girls About Duran Duran on our trip to Oklahoma. Almost two years ago, the Hubs and I visited a Book Warehouse in Georgia, which sold used library books. I was excited to see that there was one in Oklahoma City, so I worked it into our trip. My friend, Courtney, came with us, and she’s the one that found this book. This Book Warehouse was different- no library books- but the prices were 60% and 70% off the retail price. I decided to buy Talking to Girls About Duran Duran for Courtney- as a thank you for hosting us during our visit, but also because I planned on borrowing it from her someday.
Only it ended up coming home with us to Virginia. So in a rare move, I actually read a book that I bought recently. I know, shocker!
I’m Generation X- my teen years were more in the 90’s than the 80’s, but my older brothers helped give me a undying love for the music and movies of the 1980’s. Which made this book perfect for me. Rob Sheffield was an actual teen and young adult in the 80’s, and he is a huge fan of music (it’s his job now, since he writes about music for a living).
There was a lot about Sheffield’s upbringing that I could relate to, we’re both Irish, we both have siblings who helped inform our musical tastes, and we both felt more comfortable listening to music on our Walkmans or reading books to actually socializing. Of course, there were some cultural tidbits I couldn’t relate to, because I was 3 when the 80’s started, and 13 when they were over and done with.
Every chapter was titled with a song from the 1980’s- most from bands I recognized, even if it wasn’t their most famous song. Songs I had forgotten about (Cars that Go Boom has become my Spring anthem though), and a few bands that I don’t recall at all. Inspired, I even made a playlist of all the chapter songs on Spotify (which if you’re on there, it’s under Talking to Girls About Duran Duran).
The entire book was like a musical Back to the Future, and I loved it. I thought it was so interesting when Rob said that most of the songs that the 80’s are known for now weren’t necessarily the popular songs. I guess we just don’t know what will be the songs that have the staying power and the ones that fade away. There’s lots of books like that too.
My only problem is that Sheffield could be repetitive in parts, and that some of his stories just didn’t hold my attention 100% of the time. My complaints are small though, because I actually did stay up late reading this book. I wanted to know how his decade came to a close and what songs he was listening to at the end. I have plans to read his first book, Love is a Mixed Tape, soon. Well, soonish.
If you love the 1980’s then I’d recommend picking this one up!
Talking to Girls About Duran Duran gets a Midnight Book Rating of: