02 April 2010

Duran Duran: Is There Something I Should Know?

You know, people really don’t give Duran Duran enough credit, i’d argue. Yeah, like many new-wave synthpop bands they were better known for their hair and clothing than their musicianship, but this was a band that could actually perform, and perform well. Unfortunately, their ability to write quality lyrics was a bit more hit-or-miss. Take, for example, their hit “Is There Something I Should Know?”, which aside from ending in a question mark and therefore providing tons of headaches for later writers (should I or should I not have placed a comma after the song name?), is wonderfully catchy but garbled enough to make no sense whatsoever.

And it’s not like this is something the song works into—it starts out pretty intensely, but really rather nonsensically.

Please please tell me now, please please tell me now
Please please tell me now, please please tell me now

You know, Duran Duran, i’d happily tell you, and i’d happily tell you now, in fact, except that you haven’t given me enough context to be able to figure out what in the world i’m supposed to tell you.

Well, unless i’m supposed to take you literally and say “Now”, in which case this is a pretty silly request.

I made a break I run out yesterday
Tried to find my mountain hideaway
Maybe next year maybe no go

So let’s parse this and see if it makes any sense.

So the Misters Duran have escaped from something. It’s gotta be something big—prison, or maybe they’re soldiers behind enemy lines?—since they’ve got to go hide out in the mountains.

But then they decide, oh, never mind, maybe next year. No biggie.

Ah. So that means that the answer to the implied question i started this section of the post with—does this makes any sense?—is no. Glad to get that figured out.

I know you’re watching me every minute of the day yeah

Paranoia’s the destroyer, dudes.

I’ve seen the signs and the looks and the pictures that give your game away yeah

First of all…No, never mind, there is no first of all. There is only vague confusion.

I guess this is the reason for the paranoia in the preceding line. After all, there are very few situations in which one would ever be associated with things like signs and glances and photographs, so obviously the person or people that the Durans are running from are not to be trusted.

There’s a dream that strings the road
With broken glass for us to hold
And I cut so far before I have to say

I’ve tried to come up with something to say about this, i really have, but it’s so completely meaningless that it’s just not possible. I mean, if there were a coherent message embedded in here, even the vaguest bit of narrative coherence, well then i could say something. But if someone comes at you with completely pathological speech, there’s no sensible reaction except maybe to pat their hand and reassure them it’ll all be okay if they calm down.

Please please tell me now is there something I should know

Okay, then, i will. You should know that nobody’s going to believe your little conspiracy theories. Harsh, i know, but it’s true.

Is there something I should say that’ll make you come my way

If they’re chasing you into a mountain hideaway, it sounds like you don’t need to say anything at all—they’re going to come after you whether you say anything or not.

Do you feel the same cause you don’t let it show

No, they’re chasing you, you’re being chased. Believe me, those two roles do feel quite different.

People stare and cross the road from me
And jungle drums they all clear the way for me
Can you read my mind can you see in the snow

Mm-hmm, let’s see…Things are pretty stressful for the Durans, i see. People cross the street to avoid them, there are jungle drums beating, i don’t get why that clears their path but whatever, it does, there’s more paranoia, par for the course, expecting that your pursuers can read your mind, and then…What?!?

Where in the world does can you see in the snow come from??

I think i jut suffered a whiplash injury to the logical reasoning section of my brain. I mean, what in the world does this have to do with anything else in this song?

And fiery demons all dance when you walk through that door

Aha! Snow is a problem because of all those fiery dancing demons.

No, never mind, this still doesn’t work. Sorry.

Don’t say you’re easy on me you're about as easy as a nuclear war

According to the 1983 documentary WarGames, though, global thermonuclear war is easy—it’s tic-tac-toe that’s hard.

And then we get more neediness, with the Durans asking, nay, pleading that we tell them…well, exactly what we’re supposed to tell them i’m not sure, but it’s certainly something, right?

Please please tell me now is there something I should know
Is there something I should say that’ll make you come my way
Please please tell me now can you see what makes me blow
Can you see how much I’d die every time it passes by
Please please tell me now what it takes to make it show
Is there something I should know
Is there something I should know

Well, I guess so. Deuced if i know what it is, though.

(p.s. Is there any way to spin the can you see what makes me blow line into anything other than either a drug or sex reference? I can’t come up with any alternative, but then again, i wasn’t one of the cool kids in the early 80s, so maybe i’m just missing something obvious.)

1 comment:

  1. "Can you see what makes me blow" immediately makes ME think of getting angry because I have a volcano named Mt. Ani just waiting to erupt in my house. However, I'm gonna guess it's either a sex or drugs reference.