Things aren’t that much different now than they were in the 1980′s. The cars are still on the ground, there are no colonies on the moon – although if Newt Gingrich has something to do with it, we may be exploring that reality soon – and our clothes, while not like they were in the 1980′s – thank God – aren’t futuristic looking at all.
Two of the things that remain exactly the same for me as they were in the 1980′s are my love for the New York Yankees and my love for the music of Duran Duran.
As a young child in the late 1970′s, I watched some baseball with my father – mostly day games because I had an early bedtime. But my bedroom happened to be right next to the living room and I clearly remember hearing night games from that era of Yankee baseball.
I heard all about Reggie Jackson, Bucky Dent and Graig Nettles. I could hear the excitement through the TV when someone would hit a HR or when Mickey Rivers would steal a base. I also could hear my dad get angry if someone struck out or if the Yankees couldn’t score with a man on third and less than two outs – which is funny because I do the same exact thing now.
The location of my early childhood bedroom helped me fall in love with the game of baseball and more specifically, with New York Yankees baseball.
You know you’re something special and you look like you’re the best…
My love for Duran Duran developed a little later as they didn’t arrive in the United States until late 1982. I remember hearing songs like “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “Rio” and “Is There Something I Should Know?” because my best friend’s half sister was in college at the time. She had tapes recorded off her college radio station that we would listen to when she was visting. I remember liking Duran Duran right away. How could I not? They made some fun songs.
The two became intertwined from the moment I discovered my undying love for them. The year was 1983 and that was when my life changed. That was the year I was able to finally attend my first Yankee games in person and it was also the year I saw Simon Le Bon’s face on TV for the first time.
Other children of the 1980′s will remember the days of yore when MTV actually showed music videos – it’s what the M in MTV stands for. During those early days of MTV, Duran Duran ruled the TV screen. Their videos were mini movies that had pretty girls and the band members themselves weren’t bad to look at. It was a win-win combination and they exploded onto the American music scene.
Let’s go Yankees! *clap clap clap clap clap*
Around the same time, on August 8, 1983, I attended my first games at Yankee Stadium – it was a doubleheader against Toronto and I was sitting the first row of left field with my dad and three of my friends from school – all boys. I recall being ecstatic that my father was finally taking me to see live baseball. I even wore my favorite outfit of the summer that day – a white shorts outfit with pink, aqua blue and yellow color blocks on the corners of the shorts and near the top of my tank top by each strap.
The Yankees won both games, my dad talked with Dave Winfield who played left field in both games and I was hooked on seeing live baseball. I wanted to go all the time and luckily from 1983-1986, I was able to attend quite a few games. I usually went alone with my dad but occasionally we’d go as an entire family. My favorite player in 1983 was Dave Righetti and by the time 1986 rolled around, I was in full on love with Don Mattingly – I think everyone, male and female alike, was.
A lot of people have a misconception about the New York Yankees of the 1980′s. They weren’t really terrible, they just didn’t make the playoffs. Those teams actually won the most games during that decade but with there only being two Divisions in each league, it wasn’t as easy to make the playoff as it is now. I actually had a pretty long personal winning streak – the Yankees won the first ten games I attended starting with that doubleheader. The streak ended on a day when I developed a fever mid-game and had to leave the Stadium early during the 1984 season. I was so sick that I don’t even remember who they were playing but I do remember that we were sitting in the loge above third base.
During that same time, Duran Duran was on MTV so much that I could time my run from the elementary school bus into the house so I could catch one of their videos on TV. For some reason, in the Spring of 1984, they’d play “The Reflex” at the same time everyday – or so it seemed. If I didn’t catch it from the beginning, I’d get really mad and sit there waiting for it to come on again.
Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years…
My love for both the team and the band, never went away, though the intensity changed throughout the years. Both the Yankees and Duran Duran went through lean years around the same time – from 1989 – 1992 – which also happened to be the years I attended high school. And oddly enough they both began to make comebacks starting around 1993.
For the Yankees, their comeback began when they traded for Paul O’Neill in 1993 and their return to being a baseball powerhouse probably would have been even sooner if not for a strike in late summer of 1994. Duran Duran’s comeback was also derailed in 1994 by Simon Le Bon’s voice issues – they were riding of wave of a resurgence thanks to the songs “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone” which hit the radio airwaves in 1993. Le Bon’s voice problems delayed their big comeback tour but I was finally able to see them play Radio City Hall in April 1994. It would be my first of 20 – so far – Duran Duran concerts.
That’s right, during Duran Duran’s heyday in the 1980′s, I was unable to attend a single concert because my mom wouldn’t take me to see them. Along those same lines, I missed going to Game Six of the 1996 World Series because my mom didn’t tell me that my dad had an extra ticket waiting for me – I was upstate in college at the time. And no, I still haven’t forgiven her.
Going up and crashing down
During the rest of the 1990′s, their paths went in opposite directions. The Yankees ascended to the top of the baseball mountain once again by winning championships in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 and making the playoffs every year from 1995-2000.
Meanwhile, poor Duran Duran was floundering during those same years. They couldn’t take advantage of their mid 90′s comeback and by the year 2000, the only original members left were Le Bon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes. Of course, that didn’t stop me from seeing them three times in concert that year.
In 2003, the Yankees were still at the top of baseball, though they had lost the World Series in 2001 and were knocked out of the playoffs to the eventual World Champion Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2002, they were still the American League East powerhouse. They were always at the top of the list to make the playoffs and perennial World Series favorites.
Duran Duran had also returned to form, i.e. the original five members (Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and all three Taylors, John, Roger and Andy) had reunited for a series of shows and were recording a new album together for the first time since 1983.
In August of that same year, more specifically during the week of my 29th birthday, I was able to see the Yankees play and win a game from ten rows behind the dugout and two nights later, saw the five original members of Duran Duran play live for the first time. I was in heaven and my full on obsession with Duran Duran was reignited and has never wavered during the past nine years.
And the Yankees are back on top…
As for my Yankees, they were able to return to the summit of baseball’s mountain top once again in 2009 – a year removed from missing the playoffs for the first time in thirteen seasons in 2008. They rolled through the playoffs and were able to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in six games to win the World Series and all was right again in Stacey’s baseball world.
Duran Duran was also able to make a successful comeback after a particularly low point. Their low was a heavily panned collaboration with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake called Red Carpet Massacre which was released in 2007. (Look it up, it ain’t pretty). Again, that didn’t stop me from seeing Duran Duran three times in that year – three times during one week in November which was a new personal record. Ironically, earlier that same year, I took some time off from work and saw the Yankees play three games in one week during a long June homestand.
In late 2010, Duran Duran released their album “All You Need Is Now.” It was a return to form for the boys from Birmingham. They received the most positive reviews of their career and they have been touring for the past year to support the album. I was lucky enough to add two more shows to my Duran Duran concert tally with show #19 in April 2011 up in Boston of all places and show #20 in October at Madison Square Garden. As you can see, I have made up for lost time as an adult.
It is a little odd how similar the paths for both the New York Yankees and Duran Duran have been in some ways for the past 30 years considering one is a musical group and one is a sports franchise. But both groups – sports teams and bands – tend to go through similar events: lineup changes, losing fans and gaining them back again; the joys of winning, the agony of defeat or in Duran Duran’s case, successful tours and albums and dealing with unsuccessful tours and albums.
My affection for the New York Yankees and for Duran Duran will more than likely remain with me until I am an old lady in a nursing home, showing off her interlocking NY tattoo to everyone whether they want to see it or not. Hopefully by then, I will have a Duran Duran related tattoo as well so I can scare everyone twice.