Can it be true? That in the Duran's darkest hour, and surely most wretched song, there was a message that changed the course of Duraning history? Now read on as Ruth Galvin bravely investigates...
Two weeks ago, Billboard magazine provided something of a Cliff notes to John Taylor’s In The Pleasure Groove. It taught us something hundreds of thousands of readers had failed to appreciate - That 'Someone Else Not Me' saved Duran Duran, luring John Taylor back into the band (as a flower loves a bee?). So let's take another look at this (apparently) Deep Cut, as Cherry Lipstick traces the humble origins of this redemptive masterpiece...
(The screen goes wavy as we go way back in time....)
Simon is nervous. Audition day. He wonders what the other boys will be like. To help his chances he has his Book of Words. They’ll like that. He’s also dressed to impress, and to fit in. Well, his mother dressed him... she’s even here with him, cramping his style in his dapper shorts shirt and dickie bow. She spits in a tissue and cleans some strawberry jam from his face. “Le Bon, please come through” a voice booms. Simon clears his throat and starts to sing his self-composed song:
“Lots of bubbles get your laundry outta trouble,
On the line it will sway, fresh as the day,
Like a flower loves a bee,
Does that sound crazy?”
A surly Mr M Berrow (according to his nameplate), looks unimpressed. “Yes, Le Bon, it does sound crazy and I’m not convinced you have the vocal ability lad.”
To Berrow’s right sits a sharply coiffed buxom woman, Ms G Jones. “Jeez...What the fuck is it even about Simon? What’s it got to do with Persil?”.
Crestfallen, Simon starts to humbly retreat into the shadows.
“For God’s sake Grace, you can’t speak to a 6-year-old like that!”, exclaims Berrow fearing law suit against Unilever. “Tell you what lad, we don’t need the song, just the back of your head, you’re in!”.
“I’ll save the words for a rainy day then”, replies Simon, brightening. The Book of Words had grown by the time of the Dog Days audition, and since that punk gig involved just a lot of random shouting he had a nice catalogue squirrelled away by the time the Duran audition came up. Nobody gave a toss what he had written though because Nick had a crush on his leopard-print ski pants and, disconcerted with the continual staring at his crotch, Simon forgot the words.
His mother filed the Book of Words away in the attic with several participant medals for a three-legged race - no partner required these days thank you - and his drama exam certificates, lest Mr Berrow be proved right about his singing abilities.
“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance blind them with bullshit,” Simon thought to himself… and so over the years he paraded a hoard of sanhedrillties, maximum big surprises, and classiomatics. Nobody knew what the songs were about, nobody cared... All he needed to do was not get married...
Sometimes his lyrical ambiguity proved to be a problem, like when JT congratulated him for the masterstroke of writing about inclement British weather, whilst furiously chopping lines of coke on a lyrics sheet Simon had slid under his bedroom door the night before. And sometimes, with the same ambiguity, he got away with murder, as he wistfully recalled the ejaculatory spray all over fans in The Reflex video (missed that, Mike Read, didn’t ya?).
Fast forward 36 years from those cherub-faced Persil days - to the great year 2000 – and it’s fair to say that the rainy day has finally come. Simon has writer’s block, demoted to the role of guest vocalist in a bastardised version of a band he once brought to stardom. John had gone, cleaned himself up. Simon had tried to honour their friendship on Buried in the Sand, but the bongo-infused psychedelic trip that resulted was perhaps not the best medium to convey his sense of loss to his newly rehabbed friend.
“All you need to do is write the fucking words, just post them in,” Warren had warned the previous day as he flapped several sheets of manuscript industriously around his 15 guitars, and Simon meekly put a chewed pencil and empty noted pad back in his arse pocket.
“Keep it Simple Simon”, he thought later that day as he read through Tallulah’s “My News” homework signing the bottom of her journal, her fifth one this year (he was certain the teacher was keeping them and selling them to the ever dwindling hardcore fanbase). “If only I had something I prepared earlier,” he thought mournfully. His mind drifted to the Book of Words in the attic. Half an hour later, covered in a light dusting of cobwebs and fibreglass, Simon was leafing through the yellowed pages. Unfortunately, there was far more games of hangman and noughts and crosses than actual lyrics, but there it was, the Persil Poetry.
Time for some reverse psychology if he was to reach out to John - if he let him go, he might come back. Using the Persil framework, the David Bowie word soup technique and a cut out copy of The Sun, the most significant song in the Duran back catalogue instantly wrote itself. Surely John would understand this was for him? Of course, they’d never slow danced in the half light, but he’d never waited for a night boat either ….it was time to let JT know he was as free as a dove with his most powerful lyric yet. And, in the words from a famous film, “Find Duran Duran”...
Now while the beat is slow Here in your arms I sway Now that the light is low There's something I want to say
I guess you've known it for a while That I mean trouble I only want to see you smile And I burst this bubble
The hardest thing is to let go
When love is real Like a flower loves a bee But I know you're meant To give yourself To someone else not me...
For a more celebratory take on Simon’s contributions, please see Ruth's website www.headfullofchopstick.com
Cherry Lipstick had its own view on the brilliance of Someone Else Not Me on its release in June 2000...
A 1981 Pop Profile filled in by Mr Le Bon who appears to be in a playful mood with the answers... (note to overseas readers... there is nothing tropical about Clacton).
Let's face it, no one knows what's going on with the charts these days. They seem to count anything as a 'sale'. it's not like the old days blah blah blah (specialist topic on Mastermind: The Good old Days). Anyway, there is one way of counting - The Vevo Official You Tube Channel.
It’s a rough and ready measure of popularity, and Cherry Lipstick presents for you here the 22 Duran videos that have clocked up 1M+ plays.
Vaguely correct as at 14.1.18.
1. Come Undone 63.3M
2. Ordinary World 56.5M
3. Hungry Like The Wolf 40.2M
4. Save A Prayer 31.2M
5. The Reflex 16.1M
6. Rio 16.1M
7. Wild Boys 11.9M
8. Girl Panic 7.5M
9. Notorious 7.2M
10. Planet Earth 5.3M
11. New Moon On Monday 5M
12. Girls On Film 4.5M
13. Union Of The Snake 3.6M
14= Is There Something I Should Know 3.5M
14= Pressure Off 3.5M
16 A Matter of Feeling 2.3M (audio only)
17= Serious 2M
17= What Happens Tomorrow 2M
19 All You Need Is Now 1.9M
20= I Don’t Want Your Love 1.4M
20= All She Wants Is 1.4M
22= Out Of My Mind 1.2M
22= The Chauffeur 1.2M
22= White Lines 1.2M
22= A View To A Kill 1.2M
26= Electric Barbarella 1.1M
26= Skin Trade 1.1M
Falling Down – Officially 0.7M, but the audio has 2M!
Some Like It Hot – 1.2M
Sunrise – only 0.4M, which beats What Are The Chances (0.2M) but not Burning the Ground (0.5M)
So Girl Panic makes the top 10 with A View To A Kill at no 22! Persumably A Matter of Feeling is boosted by the Brazilian release, as covered by Cherry Lipstick earlier this year.
And, what the heck, a personal fave not on Vevo, but with 0.2M. The anti-thesis of Arena. What a band! Wish I’d been there…