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Moon and Monday

Duran Duran – New Moon On Monday

I light my torch and wave it for the
New moon on Monday
And a fire dance through the night
I stayed the cold day
With a lonely satellite
#NewMoonOnMonday #DuranDuran

On January 23, 1984, now forty years ago, one of the strangest and most bizarre songs of the ’80s was released. But if you think that the authors were an equally bizarre group, you are wrong, because we are talking about the absolute symbols of the 80s in Europe: Duran Duran.

After the enormous success of their second album with songs like Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf or Save a Prayer, and after the success of the single Is There Something I Should Know? which had been released outside of any album in March 1983, the five boys from Birmingham were ready for the release of their third album, which will impose them on the whole world as the absolute protagonists of the decade both in terms of music and look, very important things in the 80s.

As always, the albums were preceded by a single, and so in October 1983 they released The Union of the Snake, one month before the album Seven and the Ragged Tiger, an authentic manifesto of the group (the five boys plus the two producers) launched to conquer success (the tiger). In January 1984 they released the second single from that album, New Moon on Monday, one of the strangest songs of their entire production.

Why do I think it’s a strange (but still beautiful) song? The text is certainly hermetic from the first verses. “Shake up the picture, the lizard mixture with your dance in the eventide” could perhaps be the lyrics of a Japanese haiku about summer, or perhaps the claim of a subtle advertising campaign, but it certainly was a rather mysterious song beginning.

And in fact the whole text develops into a series of enigmatic images, they talk about clues left on purpose, warning sirens, and it is really difficult to find the main topic of the song. We could very remotely think of two people, one of whom is waiting for a nod of complicity from the other, who however does not seem so convinced.

However, the story is probably completely different. In many interviews during all these years, Simon Le Bon cleared that he actually did not use to write lyrics thinking about stories, but simply looked for intriguing words and phrases that sounded well with the rhythm of the song. The fact that obviously the meaning of the song was not so understandable or evident was absolutely of secondary importance for Simon, indeed, perhaps it added a further touch of charm to the song.

A word appears in Spanish or Italian in the text, since “la luna” (the moon) remains the same in both languages. Looking at Simon Le Bon’s texts as a whole, in fact, in addition to English he used only French words up to that point; he even gave a song a French title, even if the title is never mentioned in the song, and I’m obviously talking about the beautiful The Chauffeur (Sing Blue Silver). It is also realistic than in this case Simon started from the French translation, but for reasons of syllables and metrics he preferred to use the words “la luna”.

The video is very beautiful but it also has a strange story. Duran Duran have always mentioned it as the video they hate most, to the point that they wouldn’t be able to stay and watch it if someone showed it in their presence. It’s not a bad video, on the contrary, but it was born in rather strange circumstances. First, Duran Duran would have liked to shoot the video with their favorite director, the first great video director of the 80s, Russell Mulcahy, but at the time he was busy filming in another part of the world.

The production, however, could not wait, because the single had to be released in January, and therefore the video also had to be ready for channels like MTV, and so the producers turned to director Brian Grant, who was in any case a partner of Mulcahy and David Mallet, and had directed other great videos in his career, such as Pop Muzik by M (born Robin Scott), Physical by Olivia Newton-John, the beautiful and awkward video for Shock the Monkey by Peter Gabriel, and others. For Duran Duran, he had already directed the video for Hungry Like the Wolf.

Grant tried to put together a real mini-film, a bit like what John Landis had just done for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and had to create a story, because the story couldn’t be understood from the text. And so he imagined a story inspired by the clandestine resistance groups in France during the Second World War and the German occupation.

In the video we see many soldiers with black uniforms, and Duran Duran are recruited by this organization which, as we read on the flyers they distribute, is called “La Luna”, and this probably is the only connection between text and video.

If you have the impression that Duran Duran weren’t particularly inspired in the video, you’re right. To stay on time, the video was practically shot in a hurry in the month of December, which did not make Duran Duran particularly happy, who had to change their plans and go to the French village of Noyers, near Auxerre, halfway between Paris and Switzerland. Duran Duran took Grant’s video as an additional annoying task.

Thus rather grotesque scenes were born, such as Duran Duran’s dance at the end of the video, a scene that they still deny today, and perhaps the only one in which Nick Rhodes is seen sketching out dance moves. Furthermore, they all look a little bloated and overweight, but perhaps it is also the effect of the makeup.

The female protagonist approaches Simon Le Bon right from the opening scenes and then naturally turns out to be part of the resistance. She was a French model who had won the Miss France competition in 1980, Patricia Barzyk, who later became a fairly well-known actress in France.

In short, Brian Grant finally shot a minifilm lasting over seventeen minutes, plus some shorter versions for television. However, even the shortest video was over five minutes long, with an intro before the actual song, so channels like MTV forced him to cut the video down to around three minutes, and overall the video for New Moon on Monday certainly received less exposure of others throughout Europe.

In short, the new moon perhaps did not bring Duran Duran the success they were looking for, but it cannot be said that it brought bad luck either, because it opened the doors to their next single, The Reflex, which will break all the records of their previous songs. And anyway, at the end of the video, they also managed to free the French village from the invaders dressed in black!

Duran Duran on Wikipedia

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