Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Songs of my Youth: Hungry Like the Wolf

I'm currently reading the Rob Sheffield memoir Talking to Girls About Duran Duran in which each chapter is dedicated to a song he grew up with and the memories that accompany it.  It started stirring up memories of my own and sounded like a fun idea, so I decided to give it a whirl with this first entry to my Songs of my Youth series.

Hungry Like The Wolf: May as well start with Duran Duran, considering the inspiration.  I spent much of the fourth and fifth grade drawing an upright "D" shadowed by a slanting "D" on all of my notebooks.  (I also used alot of no. 2 pencil lead on the flying VH logo because it was just so much fun to draw.) 
Duran Duran is my first new wave memory.  They were such a surreal contrast to anything I'd ever seen walking the streets of suburban Motown.  I loved any song of theirs that I could pick up on the FM radio and memorized as many lyrics, correctly or incorrectly, as I could make out.  (I'm sure I got the "Strut on a line. It's discord and rhyme" all wrong.)  They were men, they wore makeup AND they dyed their hair!  I read an article at the time where the band members stated that "We change our hair color as often as we change our underwear!" Being young enough to confuse analogies, I wondered if that meant they only changed their underwear every 4-6 weeks. 

I remember rushing home to watch the after school video shows on PBS and the other local public access channel (no MTV in my house!) to get my hour's worth of Madonna, Boy George, Prince, Tina, Cyndi, Huey Lewis and of course the boys from Duran Duran.  Every one of their videos was like a mini-movie. "Wild Boys" with its tribal theme and wacky chicken dancing.  The water torture scene sooo artsy cool but probably about five minutes longer than necessary. (Although, it was probably the best hair-washing Simon ever squeezed into that decade.)  In "Union of the Snake" we'd debate whether those women were wearing body paint or just really tight clothing.  (Considering we didn't know what body paint was at the time, the argument went mostly like this, "Is that clothes?! It looks like a blue naked body? What kind of clothing is that?! It almost looks like they just smeared paint on their bodies! Is that her...?  Gasp!")  In "The Reflex", I couldn't believe the technological advances of making it appear that water was actually splashing out from a movie screen! 

And, of course it was the "Hungry Like The Wolf" video that still confounds me to this day. It's senseless to put too much effort into trying to find meaning in any 80's era music video.  But, this video's journey is hard to make sense of.  Are they in India?  Mongolia?  It seems to be an Amazonian woman he's chasing down, but there's an Asian elephant bathing in the river so the geography doesn't add up.  His friends get to make out, but he's getting scratched all over the neck!  He keeps ending up back in the cafe, oops back in the jungle. Cafe, river, jungle, cafe.  Is that little boy his slave?  And, most of all, why oh why does he keep flipping that dang table over? (Are these guys really from Jersey?)

My wolf love was briefly tainted in 1989 thanks to Farrah Fawcett's TV movie Small Sacrifices.  Based on a true story where Farrah's character pulled her car over to the side of the road and shot her three children and herself in the arm (to fake a carjacking.)  One of her daughters survived the attack but was left temporarily mute.  She regains her ability to speak in time to testify against her mother at the trial.  What's this have to do with Duran Duran? Well, the murderous mother chose to play this song on the car radio as she picked off her children one by one.  In the most climatic part of the trial scene, the prosecuting attorney plays a cassette tape of "Hungry Like The Wolf" (Seen at 10:48 in the link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqDuhvTnlSo).  Farrah's pencil tapping and boogie dancing in her chair eventually help convict her of murder. (11:30 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNS6Z0F-ZTA&feature=related and 1:37 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiD-n0PdGTY&feature=related

Ugh! Poor boys!  I'm sure they recorded this with no intention of it one day becoming the soundtrack to a murder, but there it was.  Tainted in our minds for such a long time afterward.  And, it was a very long time before I could hear the tune without picturing Farrah tapping out of rhythm at the defense table.  But, you can't blame the music for sociopathic behavior and eventually my musical palate was cleansed of that bad taste.

The song still stands the test of time.  I know this because it's still playing in my car on a regular basis with my nine-year-old nephew in the back seat singing, "...disco and wine" over the lyrics "mouth is alive, with juices like wine." (He also sings along to the Foo Fighters "There goes my hero! Sodinary!") It's such a fun sing-along to the new generations that the kids gets mad when I change the title animal with every line. "...And, I'm hungry like a Bengal tiger ♫" "Nooo!" "...And, I'm hungry like a red panda!" "Kimmy! It's WOLF" (I also still say "a" instead of "the" in the title line, because that's always how I thought it went!)

Duran Duran.  Feminine manly men.  Hungry wild boys.  Soundtrack to murder.  Juices like wine.  And, nobody wore a pair of Cavaricci's better!

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