Short Essays on Favorite Songs, Inspired by Nick Hornby’s Songbook
To celebrate the release of Nick Hornby’s Songbook, several authors wrote in about their favorite songs.
Duran Duran’s “The Chauffeur.”
I was a geek. Let’s get that out in the open right now. After the initial Duran Duran excitement wore off and all the songs that made it big on the radio became kind of lame, like “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio,” I still loved Duran Duran. I loved Duran Duran enough to buy a giant button of guitarist John Taylor at Spencer’s Gifts at the Capital Mall and wear it proudly on my Toughskins acid-wash jean jacket. I’m not gay but I loved John Taylor. No, I’m not gay.
“The Chauffeur” is classic Duran Duran. “Out on the tar plains, the glides are moving / All looking for a new place to drive.” My neighborhood friends (Geordie Romer, Geordie’s younger brother Keith, Dario de la Rosa) and I listened to it again and again and again while staring up at the Duran Duran poster that hung over my blue painted desk. It was the poster of them all standing around with a big tiger sitting at their feet. The tiger was menacing. The Duran Duran members were not wearing Toughskins acid-wash jean jackets. They were not geeks. They were gods.
And what better way to prove to the gods our love for them than to start our own neighborhood tribute band? “Way down the lane away, living for another day / The aphids swarm up in the drifting haze.” Down the lane I teamed up with my pals and started hashing out who was going to do what. Dario volunteered to be our percussionist. This involved beating a rock against a bigger rock. Geordie played the cello, and we figured if, say, Nick Rhodes had been so inclined, he would have played the cello also instead of the keyboards. Keith Romer, uh, I don’t remember what he did. Backup vocals? Tiger handler? I’m not sure. I was lead vocalist simply because I knew all the words to all the songs that Duran Duran had ever sung ever. I’m a geek.
As the aphids swarmed we thought we should come up with a name for our newly minted band, something that proved to one and all that we were serious about our Duran Duran tribute band and, further, serious about being rock stars. We listened to “The Chauffeur” again and it came to all of us like a flash. The Limousines. That was us. We were the Limousines and our first album, the album that would put us on top of the charts, would be called Out of the Garage. SWEET! Eat your heart out, Simon Le Bon!
The band was, therefore, formed and we practiced in my backyard, recording ourselves on my dad’s tape deck. We would have practiced at Dario’s place but they had a Lhasa apso puppy farm going on there that could very well have been illegal in many states. “Sweating dew drops glisten, freshing your side.” We were sweating. The summer was hot, and we were hot, and so, to take advantage of our newfound coolness, we took publicity shots for our upcoming album. Me sitting on the fence looking manly. Geordie popping a wheelie on his blue Schwinn bicycle. Keith and Dario, back to back, looking out from blackberry bushes. Yes! Yes! Give me more of that. Speak to the camera. Yes!
I don’t know what happened to those pictures. I don’t know what happened to the tape of me singing “Girls on Film” with Dario blasting away on a rock in the background. Something I do know? I’m not gay.
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