Simon Le Bon was always well aware that the term boyband might befall Duran Duran. He couldn’t care less about it. Irreverent joy is more than enough to make music worthwhile, and that notion of dancing all over your cares is one that he blazoned to the forefront of the band; stating: “We want to be the band to dance to when the bombs drop.”
As for the perks that went with that, well, he was happy to lap them up too. As the singer famously declared, “That was the whole point in forming a band. Girls. Absolutely gorgeous girls.” It’s certainly not Bob Dylan bit as great as he is, who would want to live in a world of purely Bob Dylan’s? What’s more, it shows that he was more honest than most on that front.
One of the first to illuminate the sheer unbridled joy of music and how individualism can cause connections was the one and only David Bowie. As Le Bon once said, “Music is a healing force. Music makes people feel they’re not alone in the world.” Bowie changed Le Bon’s life. As he recalled: “I found the song ‘Drive-In Saturday’ absolutely compulsive. This modern, clean, young fresh world he painted, this utopia. Bowie inspired this feeling of optimism in me and it made me tingle. It’s very different from the feeling at the moment. There’s not a lot of optimism around, is there? I miss it.”
However, as Le Bon states, “this was before punk,” and that youthful revolution would have a bearing on him too. “The one I was kind of in love with was David Bowie. The one who made me think ‘I could do that’ would probably be Johnny Rotten. The one who made me realize that words were a great way to make up for the fact you weren’t good at any instruments was Jim Morrison. And Patti Smith: Wow. Patti Smith. Words, f–king words,” he recalled.
With punk, Le Bon realised that you didn’t have to be a master of an instrument to make music worthwhile, you simply had to have something to say. Beyond the commercial edge they offered, Duran Duran had a message too: “Music is not supposed to be nationalist. It is supposed to surpass language barriers. It is about generations communicating with each other.”
Thus, it is not surprising that Le Bon’s favourite songs straddle the eras. Perhaps even more notably, they seem to catch moments where music defined the zeitgeist. Patti Smith heralded punk, Simple Minds moved new wave on, Happy Mondays swaggered Madchester into motion, and The Killers are a touchstone to classic indie. Yes, Le Bon has always been a man with his finger to pulse and his favourite music proves that.
And we’ve wrapped it up in a pretty banging playlist at the bottom of the piece for you too.
Simon Le Bon’s favourite songs of all time:
‘House of Bamboo’ – Andy Williams
‘Rebel Rebel’ – David Bowie
‘Gloria’ – Patti Smith
‘Changeling’ – Simple Minds
‘Need You Tonight’ – INXS
‘Kinky Afro’ – Happy Mondays
‘Connected’ – Stereo MCs
‘I Live to Move It’ – Reel 2 Reel
‘Somebody Told Me’ – The Killers
‘Heatwaves’ – Glass Animals
Courtesy Far Out Magazine UK