The Reflex

Album: Seven And The Ragged Tiger (1983)
Charted: 1 1

Songfacts®:

  • At first, this song seems to have a very deep concept, but really the band just recorded it over a couple of bottles of wine. Simon Le Bon himself said he has no clue what it means. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jenny - Toronto, Canada
  • Duran Duran's 1983 album Seven And The Ragged Tiger had already spawned two hit singles: "Union Of The Snake" and "New Moon on Monday." Nick Rhodes had been convinced that "The Reflex" was purely an album track, though other band members thought it had potential. It wasn't until they invited Nile Rodgers to remix it that they decided to release the transformed version as a single. It became their first American chart-topper, and their second in the UK ("Is There Something I Should Know?" had been #1 in Britain the previous year).
  • The band were asked in an interview with Q magazine (February 2008) whether they were sending themselves up when they recorded the Seven And The Ragged Tiger album, which was recorded at great expense over a period of several months in a French chateau and on the island of Montserrat. Bass player John Taylor replied: "I think so. I hated the procrastination of that album. It was approached like an old-school Dutch painting. Hours spent perfecting a cymbal sound. There was a lot of sitting around and I felt like a caged animal. I was drinking and looking for a way out really." Singer Simon Le Bon added: "The title was supposed to be about us seven (the five band members, plus their two managers) in this fairy tale, with the ragged tiger who was "fate" or "luck." I don't think anyone got it."
  • Duran Duran was living the high life around this time; they were video stars in America and top sellers in their native UK, where the Seven And The Ragged Tiger album went to #1. Their subsequent tour was sponsored by Coke, which was somewhat ironic because cocaine was a big part of it. In his memoir, John Taylor recalls anxiously waiting for the shows to end so he could get high.
  • This features in the British 2015 romcom movie Man Up. It plays during a memorable scene where actress Lake Bell performs an enthusiastic dance routine to the tune.

Comments: 18

  • AnonymousI remember listening and watching a documentary on Duran Duran and it’s about erections
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenLike its creators, I also had no idea what this song meant.
  • Thea from CaliforniaThe Reflex is about card gambling addiction. The Reflex itself is the excited rush a gambler feels. The rest of the lyrics, that some seem to think are nonsense, are the consequences of a gambling addiction; abandoned child, stealing at night, selling your possessions, superstition for luck, dumbfounded when they don't win "answered with a question mark". "Four leaf clover" - Clubs, "Valentine" - Hearts. ....and lots more.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1984 {June 16th} a video of Duran Duran's "The Reflex" was aired on the Dick Clark ABC-TV Saturday-afternoon program, 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time "The Reflex" was at position #2 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, the following week it would peak at #1 {for 2 weeks} and it spent twenty one weeks on the Top 100...
    As noted above, it also reached #1 in the United Kingdom, and in Belgium, Ireland, and the Netherlands...
    Between 1982 and 2004 the British band had twenty one records on the Hot Top 100 chart, eleven made the Top 10 with two* reaching #1, besides the above "The Reflex", their other #1 record was "A View To A Kill", for two weeks on July 7th, 1985...
    * They just missed having two more #1 records when both "The Wild Boys" {1984} and "Notorious" {1987} peaked at #2 on the Hot Top 100 chart...
  • Esskayess from Dallas, Txdick, are you saying that sometimes songwriters don't know what they're writing about? I'd hate to hear some examples.
  • Mandy from London, United Kingdomthis song is about Nick Rhodes, just as My Own Way is about John Taylor. As a lyricist you just can't help writing about the people close to you.
  • Dick from Washington, DcAt some point, even if the songwriter tells you what a song is about (if he knows), it's not interesting.
  • Don from Benton, ArThe song has to be a drug rant. The description above says the song was written over a couple bottles of wine but wine doesn't put someone on a trip like that. The only other option is that Simon had a break from reality. Hope he's feeling better now!
  • Layla from Vancouver, BcI can't remember where I read this but the article quoted Simon calling 'The Reflex' a song about forgetting your lyrics while performing/
  • Blil from Kansas City, KsWhen I saw them in Atlanta in 1984 (just before this song was released as a single), Simon introduced this song by holding up a little stuffed animal tiger and saying "This song is about a little friend of ours...."
  • Dale from Henderson, KyThe song seems to be about oral sex.."The reflex"
    or the "Gag Reflex" of a woman perhaps?
  • Sam from Wilmore, KyThe lyrics seem to have something to do with drugs--"why dontcha use it?" if a syringe is used, "try not to bruise it," and if you have wasted time using it, you need to "buy time (and) don't lose it." Particularly the third verse, he's on a ride ("high" ride), want to get off but he can't slow down (want to stop but can't?) so he needs to sell his Renoir and TV--to do what? to buy drugs? Hopelessly(?) maybe, he doesn't want to "be around when this gets out" (or when it loses it's effect?). Other hints--there is waiting in the park to find treasure in the dark, and what the reflex does leaves a question.
  • Mike from Santa Barbara, CaThe video to this song caused a minor uproar, and those who have seen it know why.
  • Kevin from Tampa, Fli guess if it is about erections, it would give a definate meaning to "high tide is no time for deciding if i should find a helping hand"
  • Patrick from Portland, Or"The Reflex" has at least two levels of meaning. (1) It's about unwanted adolescent erections. (2) It's about a challenging process of psychic, spiritual, magickal, occult awakening that every soul eventually undergoes -- one frequently misunderstood and mistaken for psychopathology.
  • Dean from Potomac Falls, VaIf you read the chorus carefully, you might conclude that The Reflex is Simon LeBon's ode to the penis/male libido. It's clever. I grin every time I here it.
  • Emily from Abingdon, VaSong lyrics are pointless but one must admit there is a significant amount of musicality there.
  • Kendall from Thomasville, Gayeah the lyrics don't really make sense to me either
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Best Band Logos

Best Band LogosSong Writing

Queen, Phish and The Stones are among our picks for the best band logos. Here are their histories and a design analysis from an expert.

Crystal Waters

Crystal WatersSongwriter Interviews

Waters tells the "Gypsy Woman" story, shares some of her songwriting insights, and explains how Dennis Rodman ended up on one of her songs.

Meshell Ndegeocello

Meshell NdegeocelloSongwriter Interviews

Meshell Ndegeocello talks about recording "Wild Night" with John Mellencamp, and explains why she shied away from the spotlight.

Don Felder

Don FelderSongwriter Interviews

Don breaks down "Hotel California" and other songs he wrote as a member of the Eagles. Now we know where the "warm smell of colitas" came from.

Def Leppard Quiz

Def Leppard QuizMusic Quiz

Can you name Def Leppard's only #1 hit in America? Get rocked with this adrenalized quiz.

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song Spoofs

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song SpoofsSong Writing

When singers started spoofing their own songs on Sesame Street, the results were both educational and hilarious - here are the best of them.