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  • Writer's pictureJO'B

The Songs That Saved My Life #3: Save A Prayer - Duran Duran

Updated: Jan 9

In 2024, it's 40 years since I first started buying records properly, so it seems as good a time as any to look back at the records that really shaped my tastes, such as they are. And as Moz said, "don't forget the songs that made you cry and the songs that saved your life..".

There was a time in the early 80s when you either loved Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet - hard to imagine such dark times...(or should that be daft times...?).

Don't get me wrong, I love Duran Duran, and over the years have developed a soft spot for Spandau Ballet. But that large groups of teenagers could be divided on such lines is quite ridiculous - plus look at all the other choices? What about Depeche Mode, Wham!, Culture Club etc etc? Or, Heaven forfend, The Smiths, New Order, The The?

But these were strange times, where hair was big, shoulder pads were huge; hair was also bleached and streaked; mullets were, in these tasteless years, prevalent outside of Australia and the midwest of the USA; Nik Kershaw's "snood' was an acceptable topic of conversation and the singer of A Flock Of Seagulls was not sectioned under the Mental Health Act, despite the state of his hair being a clear sign he was, at the very least, a danger to himself, if not others.

By the mid-80s, I was a Durannie. Not a card-carrying one, but I was a fan. I had loved New Moon on Monday, which featured on the first compilation album I got with my first stereo in 1984 (Now That's What I Call Music Vol 2).

I picked up a tape of their debut album cheap somewhere and then saved up for Rio, their huge sophomore album. I even watched the pop Battle Royale that was Pop Quiz in December 1984, when Duran Duran faced off Spandau Ballet (and lost!). I must have loved them if I was willing to bear watching the dreadful Radio 1 DJ Mike Read* hosting the show - though I did enjoy watching it, my future pop geek already taking shape. I was gutted that Spandau won though - how mad is that?

*don't forget that in 1984, Bob Geldof took on famine; Mick Read banned Relax because it included the word "cum" - priorities Mike, priorities...

Save A Prayer was soon my favourite Duran song (though possibly New Religion might have edged it out - it would today). But the reason Save A Prayer is included in this series of blogs isn't hearing it when my musical tastes were taking shape, it was later...

After I left school, I was hanging around with a couple of similarly music-minded friends, while working in a bank (to raise cash before I went to Uni). They all played instruments, so I thought I would have a go and acquired a bass guitar and amp. Did I get lessons? No. Did I get a book to learn from? No. I decided to learn by ear, so tediously, and patiently, would listen to tapes of songs and slowly, note by note, teach myself how to play the bass line, rewinding the tape again and again until I learnt each section of the song. If there is a difficult way to do things, I will find it...

I must have sat for hours teaching myself how to play Save A Prayer. I got quite good at it and would bore any poor friend who mistakenly strayed into my bedroom (they never stayed long if I got the bass guitar out - quite handy if I wanted to get rid of someone).

Worse still, if any poor girl was interested in me, I soon killed off any sexual attraction she may have misguidedly felt for me, by playing her my latest tune, especially my masterpiece interpretation of Save A Prayer. Not a prayer would have been a better description of my bass playing prowess. It's fair to say in 1989, when condoms were being promoted to avoid the risk of STIs and HIV, my bass playing was a much more effective contraceptive.

Much to my libido's relief, I finally gave up on the bass guitar and it was sold to raise cash during my first year at university. Plus, whilst I love the sound of a bass guitar, solo interpretations of songs on that instrument are not exactly interesting. I don't believe (though I am undoubtedly wrong) that anyone has ever thought "let's go and watch a bass player playing an entire gig on his own - that'll be good".

And I was too shy to try and form a band, as at heart, I knew I wasn't very good or dedicated enough to progress and actually play with someone. My friend Ian (who was equally crap on electric guitar) invited me round for a jam but just shouted at me a lot when I couldn't keep up with him as we tried to master Smoke On The Water. I shudder at this memory - we were awful.

So the bass guitar went. But occasionally, when I look through the window of musical instrument shops and see a bass guitar, my mind wanders and I dream of what might have been...and then I remember my terrible solo version of Save A Prayer and I am grateful for where life has taken me.

Stay safe, and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe (see link below), x

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