“The Chauffeur” by Duran Duran

Available are quite a few interpretations, or one may even say over-analysis of Durna Duran’s “The Chauffeur” for a number of reasons. One is “The Chauffeur” being a fan favorite. Secondly, the lyrics are painfully poetic. And also, it has been pointed out that the title itself does not appear in the song, which is anomalous as far as Duran Duran’s artistry is concerned. Also invariably in the case of such tracks, the official information available concerning the meaning of the lyrics is woefully limited.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Duran Duran's The Chauffeur at Lyrics.org.

So all things considered, it probably wouldn’t be wise for us to add fuel to the fire. But one reasonable explanation that has been offered concerning the title is that the vocalist himself is taking on the role of said chauffeur. Such an assumption could be supported by the fact that most of the lyrics read as if they are observatory in nature, i.e. as if he is driving around and perhaps in a professional capacity. For instance, in actuality there isn’t anything explicitly stated to suggest that the female character much of wording is dedicated to is a lover or even personal association of the vocalist.

So in closing, what this piece seems to be about, most simply put, is Simon riding around – whether as a driver or passenger – and in the process making a number of observations. 

Some analysts have offered that the lyrics were directly inspired by a book of poetry Le Bon came across. As such, everything he puts forth is also poetic in nature.

The Takeaway

But all of that noted, what the singer primarily appears to be observing and therefore commenting on is this lady in his company. Since nothing being relayed is abundantly clear, it may be that he is the chauffeur driving her, even though in the first verse they are noted as ‘sitting beside’ each other. But if anything, what is clear is him, for lack of a better word, being infatuated by her. As such, even as the vocalist appears to be heavily impressed by the surrounding terrain, she too is preoccupying his thoughts, and her company is making the entire experience most edifying.

Lyrics to Duran Duran's "The Chauffeur"

Music Video

The music video to this track was put together by a visual artist named Ian Emes, with the whole affair being inspired by the works of a famous photographer named Helmut Newton (1920-2004). Said clip was created to be featured on a self-titled video album Duran Duran put out in 1983. The following year the entire project earned a Grammy Award (in the category of Best Long Form Music Video). 

But prior to that, EMI released the track itself on 10 May 1982 as part of the band’s studio full-length “Rio”. And to note, even though The Chauffeur did get its own video treatment and is a fan favorite, it was not issued as a single.

Credits for “The Chauffeur”

Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon is recognized as the primary writer of this song. He reportedly did so while spending some formative time in Israel prior to his Duran Duran days. 

His bandmates – Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger and Andy Taylor – are also credited as writers of “The Chauffeur”. To note, Simon, Nick, John and Andy are still holding down the Duran Duran brand as of this writing.

This track was produced by the late Colin Thurston (1941-2007).  And it is notable for its era for a couple of reasons. One is that it is entirely electronic in nature, with the exception of the utilization of a type of flute known as an ocarina. And second is that it features sampling prior to such technology becoming commonplace. In fact the track uses a machine called the Nicks Fairlight CMI, i.e. “the world’s first commercial sampler”. And said sampling, as far as its voice component goes, is such that to this day no one, not even Duran Duran themselves, knows what’s actually being said. But what is known is that the vocalist is, at least as originally intended, talking about insects.

The Chauffeur

The “Rio” Album

Below are the singles of “Rio”:

As of the writing of this article, “Rio” (the album), has gone 2× Platinum in the United States. Here, it has sold over 2 million copies. Other places where this album went platinum include:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom

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