Erin is Scrumtrulescent’s #CBR4 Review #05: Talking to Girls About Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield
When I was fourteen, I was a friendless mute in the halls of my high school. In classes I barely spoke and spent most of my time with my limp hair over my face, hiding both my acne and the tiny headphones from my Discman. It all changed when one of my brother’s friends tapped me on the shoulder one day and extended an olive branch in the form of pointing out the fact we were both wearing the same exact band t-shirt. The year was 1995, the band was the Smashing Pumpkins and from that day on everything else in life got easier. I had someone better than a friend; I had somebody who also spent way too much time memorizing song lyrics, minutiae about four people we had never met, and who also spent their money on unofficial picture-laden biographies and singles remixes. You just don’t find that every day, people.
This is the general theme behind Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. Having grown up in the 1980s, Sheffield starts each chapter with a song from a year within that decade. Sometimes the chapter is about that song or band and sometimes it is just an undercurrent in memories from that era. It is a fun look back at a decade I am too young to really remember through the eyes and ears of somebody whose record collection I would love to pick through. Everybody from Madonna to The Replacements to Haysi Fantayzee is included, and Sheffield does a great job of convincing you that you do remember that song and band even if you have no idea who they are.
While I have not always been crazy about Sheffield’s contributions to Spin magazine, I really enjoyed his debut Love is a Mix Tape. While this book does not have the emotional gut punch that his debut had, there are still some very nice moments captured. A large chunk of my memories between the ages of thirteen and twenty-three are based around music as well, but it was nice to read about somebody else’s. I would not go so far as to say you have to be a huge music nerd to enjoy this book, but it certainly would not hurt.
In one of the essays in the book, Sheffield goes into detail about the ups and downs of his relationship with the Smiths. His love was so intense at one point that even listening to them while doing mundane things made it seem as though Morrissey was reading his thoughts and having a conversation with him through the lyrics he was hearing. Even things like walking around or doing laundry were totally different with or without a soundtrack. This sounds a bit ridiculous, and you sense that Sheffield knows this as he is writing about it. I laughed when I read it, it DID seem silly but it was a silly I am still young enough to remember but old enough to already miss. I never thought I would miss seeing Billy Corgan in shiny silver pants but, God help me, I still do.