Thursday, September 2, 2010

Talking To Girls About Duran Duran, by Rob Sheffield

Rob Sheffield has been one of th greatest music writers around, and his new book, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, by Rob Sheffield, is a collection of essays about his life in the 1980s, and the pop songs that remind him of different coming-of-age experiences he had as a teenager and 20-something. It's very good. He admits that a lot of the songs are corny, but is nostalgic for the years in the early-to-mid 1980s when what was popular and what was critically acclaimed were one and the same - Springsteen, Prince, U2, etc. Its very well-written and, full of charming stories like this, where Rob, home from Yale for the summer, runs into a casual acquaintance from high school:

I was wearing a cardigan, and Vincent was wearing a lime green tank top, so it only took a minute for us to start chatting about The Smiths. We found somewhere to sit and eat French Fries. The Red Sox game was on TV. We talked barely at all about high school, a great deal about gender ambiguity in "Still Ill," and a little about the Red Sox. He wasn't a baseball fan, so he was curious about what was happening on the field.


"What the hell was that?"
"A double play," I explained. "The runner on third got caught."
"Will he get home?"
"He hasn't got one."
"Barbarism begins at home."
We didn't have many friends in common, so we ran out of gossip fast, but we just kept talking in our private Smiths language. By the end of the game, we'd discussed The Queen Is Dead todeath, and I'd learned which members of the 1986 Red Sox were hot. Jim Rice grounded into a 6-4-3.
"That's it?" Vincent asked. "Its over."
"Its over."
"In a way, it never really began."
"But in my heart, it was so real."
"We shook hands at the train and traded addresses. We never wrote those letters and never ran into each other again. I thought it was strange to spend an evening having so much fun with someone I didn't know so well, and to not hang out after that, because I was too young to know adult life is full of accidents and interrupted moments and empty beds you clib into and don't clib out of. A few months later, the Red Sox lost the World Series.


Ellen said...

I haven't read this book yet but I'm really looking forward to it. I saw him read the Morrissey life-advice section, which was so, so funny.

He's also reading (and possibly DJing?) at the Bell House next weekend.

Wade Garrett said...

At the Bell House? I'm there! Even if I have to don a bullet-proof vest to get there.

Senor Beavis said...

While he can be a divisive writer (at least in my circles), I've always been a fan of his work. I will say that when I heard about his first book, I sincerely almost fell out of my chair to learn he was straight.