The last few weeks have been very exciting for an old gal like me — there have been three significant events all revolving around music I love, and the thrill of them all have taken me back to days when I tape recorded my favorite bands being interviewed on the radio or poured over music magazines on the floor of Tower Records.
I’ve never been able to play an instrument, but I sure have spent hours obsessing and idolizing those who can. I’ve pondered over the possible meaning of liner notes printed on the inside of a cassette tape, I’ve memorized discographies and argued over release dates. I’ve crushed on guitar players, tried to copy the style of lead singers and choked when I’ve had the opportunity to meet them in person. I’ve seen big bands play small venues, small bands play big festivals and I plan weekends around live video feeds from Coachella (Viva COUCHella!).
So after Couchella 2015 came to a close, Record Store Day came and went, and I stood in line for 2 hours just to buy merch from the Third Man Rolling Record Store, I was about as high as I thought I could get. And then like she was completely reading my mind, I saw an Instagram post by one of my idols, Carrie Brownstein, talking about the beauty of being a fan. Her post was so charming and I just couldn’t stop going back to it. And after about the 14th time I realized where she just summed it all up perfectly — “Fandom keeps me hopeful and engaged, a participant.”
I wanted to post what is one of the nerdiest, most all-out dork pictures I’ve taken in a long while. This is me in Atlanta, GA last night meeting one of my music idols, Cindy Wilson from The B-52’s. The look on my face is one of pure glee and excitement. In high school, a friend of mine made me a mix tape of the first three B-52’s albums: s/t, Wild Planet and Whammy. I immediately became obsessed…
… I saw the band on their Cosmic Thing tour. That night, at age 15, I pressed to the front of the stage, sang at the top of my lungs, and went home with bruises on my ribs and a heart filled-up and transformed, like it was pumping a whole new kind of blood into my veins. This is what it is to be a fan: curious, open, desiring for connection, to feel like art has chosen you, claimed you as its witness. To this day I still am a fan, of many, many things. Fandom keeps me hopeful and engaged, a participant. And I was a fan last night in front of Cindy, rattling off a whole bunch of incoherent, half-strung together thoughts about her songs, her voice, her band, her brother. And it felt, well, awesome.
This year thanks to Couchella, I am a newly obsessed fan of Brittany Howard — the Alabama Shakes set was magical (and I’m pretty sure I’ll never get over her voice). Waking up at 5:00am to get down to Fingerprints Music on Record Store Day was something I had to do. (Not only was I trying to get my hands on a re-issue of Elvis’ first recording, thanks to Jack White — I also needed the White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan double-LP, on red and white vinyl especially for Record Store Day.) As I stood there, probably 100th in the line going down the street and curving around the block, I felt connected to other music fans, giddy over the prospects I was looking to score and most of all — alive, just from the thrill of the hunt! (I did get my hands on that White Stripes wax that morning, but no Elvis, unfortunately.)So thanks Carrie Brownstein, for putting into words what I didn’t know how to say. I’m proud to be a fangirl and I hope I’ll always stay that way.