Sunday, June 20, 2010

a birthday message for John Taylor

That's him.

I fell in love with John Taylor in 1983. He was 23 years old, and I was 13. He went through various reinventions of image. He went from blood-red hair and lipstick (yes, lipstick) and frilly shirts to suave, colorful Anthony Price suits. He popularized the fedora (which has made a comeback) and Capezio's for men. He inspired men and women to dye their bangs blond. Michael Jackson may have had the glittered glove, but JT had sleeker, sexier, red leather gloves.

John Taylor was always the Duran Duran band member who got the most screams, who sold more posters, more pin-ups, more buttons for our denim jackets and pocketbook straps. I had a lot of competition when it came to winning John's heart, but I had always believed myself to have an advantage: I got the music. After all, I was the youngest in a family of musicians. My first words were likely Beatles lyrics. I could sing harmonies, figure them out by myself. I knew what reverb was, what a drum fill was. knew the difference between a demo and a master. I knew how long it took to mix a single song (and that the meal of choice after an all-night recording or mixing session was beer and eggs). I knew that John played an Aria Pro II bass. Surely, at 15, I was going to wow him with this knowledge. Alas, I never got the chance.

At that time, the age gap seemed so wide, so impossibly hard to close. My best friend and I used to imagine ourselves magically aged seven years, magically in the right place at the right time (aka, meeting the band), our hair and faces and bodies magically transformed to irresistible. Of course, they would all fall in love with me, but John would be the lucky one.

Not surprising. We were looking for an escape hatch. At least I was.

There have always been two constants in my life: writing, and Duran Duran. The videos, the pinups, the teenybop crush feeds my sense of nostalgia (and lord knows it's really the only thing I want to remember about my adolescence, or remember with fondness, along with John Hughes movies and those CHOOSE LIFE shirts), but the music has been the real constant. There is a Duran song to suit any mood. (And of course, I don't have to tell you how the song "Ordinary World" inspired me.) The guys grew from pop stars to musicians. And one has to read John's blog posts to know that he's at a place in his life where he's sober, drug-free, happily married, a loving father, and a musician, writer, and artist. He's gone back to his roots. He's a vinyl enthusiast, still a clothes horse, and a reader. And he's good at what he does.

John Taylor is 50 today. And while I may still harbor the teenage fantasy of marrying him someday (hey, a girl can always dream -- and that's why I love novel-writing), I'm more happy that the gap is closed. The adult me doesn't dream marriage as much as of sitting back and having a conversation with him, talking about the things that matter: love, family, writing, and, of course--always--music. The gap has finally closed, and we have more in common than ever before, I think.

Happy 50th Birthday, John. You've given me 27 years of happiness and inspiration, and I am eternally grateful to you.

No comments: