I think it would be fair to say that everyone has that one masterpiece that they hold near and dear as a constant source of inspiration. It does not matter the medium, whether painting, sculpture, music, theatre, opera, dance or literary works, but we all have that one masterpiece that at some point was a game changer. It is that one piece of art that reaches out, grabs you, won’t let go and resonates on a level that defies words. Yet, my challenge today is to try to find those words anyway!
To me, that unique piece is the 1985 album, “So Red the Rose” by Arcadia, a project by Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor, better known as three fifths of the musical group Duran Duran.
Also contributing to “So Red the Rose”, were Sting, Herbie Hancock, Grace Jones, David Gilmour, Carlos Alomar, Mark Egan, Rafael De Jesus, David Van Tiegham and Masami Tsuchiya, all gifted artists spanning the music spectrum. Then with Alex Sadkin’s masterful hand as producer, this brilliant cornucopia of talent converges into a truly remarkable work of art.
For pop music at that time, it was experimental, it was pioneering and it extended beyond traditional pop boundaries. As a devoted Duran Duran fan, this project was a huge gift. From a creative perspective, it was like a good friend taking me somewhere I had never been before, and I savoured every moment of the journey down that very different road.
While each song is a very unique creation, vastly different from the others, there still seems to be a cohesiveness to the album overall, a puzzle I am still trying to figure out 30 years later.
Starved for that creative spark as I was just starting to find my own voice as an artist, the first few times I listened to the album, it blew my mind. It was an awakening!
I remember from the years that followed, a regular ritual of lighting candles, putting “So Red the Rose” on the record player and letting the music waft over me like a gentle breeze. It was a meditation that awoke me spiritually and creatively, in allowing Nick’s layers of ethereal synthesizer riffs flow around and through me while listening to Simon’s enigmatic lyrics speak to me on a different plane.
Once the album finished playing, I would get up, open my journal or my typewriter and just let the words flow. The “raconteur” voice in my head would take over and whisper words and phrases to me in a seemingly more sophisticated fashion, coming from a far more passionate place. I believe it was the point at which I discovered the two hemispheres of the brain and the strong contrast in my writing from left brain to right brain. It was a life lesson in inspiration.
Adding further to the inspiration were the brilliant music videos produced in support of “So Red the Rose”. Bearing in mind that music videos were still just a few years old, the team outdid itself in creating new worlds through imagery and music. Again, each video was a masterpiece in its own right and a feast for the senses given the meticulous attention to detail.
The magic of “So Red the Rose” has endured. Even this past week, one night I was listening to it which seemingly opened up my subconscious and released new elements and potential plot twists to incorporate into certain stories I have in development. It was like “popcorn of ideas”, a bizarre yet wonderful effect that album still has on me.
In this 30th anniversary year of “So Red the Rose” and Arcadia, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Simon, Nick, Roger, the producers and the collaborators for the creation of the timeless spirit in “So Red The Rose”, a musical spirit that will live on for years as my creative muse.
How about you? What works of art inspire you?
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Have a great day,