I really didn’t expect much from John Taylor’s memoir. Maybe it was because Andy Taylor had already dished all the dirt in his tell-all, a couple of years ago. Maybe it was because having been a long time, fairly well plugged-in stan, I didn’t think there was much John could tell me that I hadn’t already heard. Maybe it was because I’m still mad at him for not coming to sign me out of 9th grade Algebra, saving me from the fate of Mrs. Potts and all that x+y=wtf tosh she was trying to stuff into my head.
I can tell you exactly what I expected from In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death & Duran Duran. I expected to read about John’s childhood, with some minor foreshadowing of what would turn him to drug use, then abuse. I expected him to talk about the fun of the band (Duran Duran, in case you were born post-1990), the excesses of the band, and how much for granted he took their success. I expected him to talk about hitting rock bottom, finding The Process, trusting it, and then getting a second chance at the brass ring. I expected him to talk about deferred gratitude and his current, happy life.
I was exactly right. He covered all that, and no more. But, I had expected it to be only moderately readable, full of navel gazing and platitudes. I was exactly wrong there. It was an easy, enjoyable read and turned out to be introspective, and interesting. I did not expect the book to be so thoughtful, sweet, and kind.
Where Andy’s book was lighting people on fire and daring them to stop, drop, and roll, John’s book was gentle with the lives that touched his. Where Andy’s book was about how awesome he was, John’s book was about how hard he worked, and how fortunate he was to connect with wonderful, like-minded workers. Where Andy’s book blamed the world, John’s book accepted responsibility for his own behavior.
I told a friend, after reading the first few chapters, that it was “a lovely book.” It really is. It is a book that his daughter should be proud to read, that his various exes can read without worry, that his current wife can read with delight, that his coworkers and friends can read and smile, and that a longtime fan can read and enjoy as though they were finally getting that sit-down with the Bass God that they’d always wanted.
What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in lyrical quality. It isn’t about facts and figures, so much as it is about overall impressions. John gives you a feeling for the times, writes you into the atmosphere of the clubs, the craziness, and the driving work. When he has to talk about people, he finds their best.
Like I said, it is a kind work. My favorite things about the book are the way he gives insight into the mind of a success. No room for failure, only plans to succeed. I enjoyed reading about how he approached relationships (if you’d like a peek into the mind of how men look at romance…) and I loved how respectfully he treated his daughter’s mother.
I would liked to have read more about the lean years between Medazzaland and Astronaut. I’d like to have read about his foray into film and television. I’d like to have read more about his time as a solo artist, the process that went into writing his solo albums and how that changed him as a group-based artist.
As a memoir for Duran Duran fans, it is a great, nostalgic read. I couldn’t help thinking, “Oh, that was the year Jamie and I were junior counselors.” “Hey, Karen bought me that for Christmas one year!” “I still remember the first time I heard that on the radio.”
As a memoir for John Taylor fans, I feel like it could have been twice as long. I’d like to have read more about the sober artist, feeling his way around himself and the world, finding ways to create and contribute, and be relevant as an adult, than the Tiger Beat, Brummie born boy with burgundy bangs. I am especially interested in that now, having read how sweetly he wrote this book.
If Andy’s book was a Screamo song, shouted at the Duranies, John’s is a lullabye sung to us.
4 out of 5 stars if you’re a Duranie
3 out of 5 if you’re not