“…And you call yourself a fan??”

What constitutes “a fan”?

Is there room for levels of fandom, or does someone have to know the minutiae of a subject to be considered a fan?

I had a conversation with a friend at work this week about the Who. The Who are on tour right now, and will be performing in Toronto on April 26th; my friend was working on getting tickets (I won’t be going). I said, “Ooh, I love the Who! They’re great live! I saw them in 2002!” Later that day as I was leaving, she quizzed me about what album “The Real Me” was on. I thought about it for a minute, and then said quietly, “Umm…I don’t know…” Surprised, she said the Quadrophenia album, and then proceeded to jokingly denounce my supposed fandom of the Who.

Oops! I guess I didn’t know that! I am an embarrassment to my music blogging community on WordPress.

This made me think about it more critically: I know the Who’s repertoire for the most part. But, the truth is, aside from some obvious titles, I don’t know what songs are on what albums. Until I met my husband, I didn’t have any of the Who albums to listen to, I only had some of their hits on mixed tape. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t love their music. I even paid to see them live (Sept 28, 2002)!

who you

Rush is my favourite band. Do I own all their albums, and know what songs are on all those albums? The answer to that is no. I can hear it now: any self-respecting Rush fan worth their weight in Neil Pearts should know these things, right? They should own these things, right?? Forget the fact I have seen them three times in concert…

rushmeme

Then there is my love for Led Zeppelin. When I was a teen, I knew all their albums, remembered all the songs on those albums, OWNED all their albums…bought the t-shirt, bought the box set, bought the poster…you get the point. So does that qualify me as a fan?

ledzep meme

Really, you can look back into my music history, and very often you will find my spotty knowledge of music catalogues shining through. The prohibition of buying albums in my house growing up has something to do with it. However, I listened to the radio and watched music videos, so that’s how I developed my love for certain bands and music in general. And now, I am an adult making my own scratch, and can now buy music of my own freewill, if I so desire. But, after acquiring these albums and raising the bar on my knowledge base, would that finally make me a fan of a band, or is knowing the songs enough?

What I feel makes me a fan is the fact that the bands and music I like make me feel good inside. The music flourishes a desire to listen to more. That said, I don’t necessarily feel I need to know every single thing about a discography or collect everything that has ever been released to consider myself a fan of a band.

All this said, I have come to realize, what I think makes me a fan in my mind, may not be what others think makes me a fan…

What do you think? What does being “a fan” mean to you? Do you think you have to collect or know everything about a subject to be a fan of something? Let me know in the comments!

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27 comments

  1. I don’t think you need to know every album like the back of your hand to be a fan. If it’s not something I grew up listening to, it’s not that uncommon that I need to double check what album a song belongs to. I love Stone Temple Pilots and could tell you which song belongs where. On the other hand, I also love The Black Crowes, but couldn’t tell you what songs are on which album after By Your Side. I think how you listen to music determines how easy it is to pin-point song titles and albums too.

    You dig what you hear? Listening to the albums fill you with good vibes? You consider yourself a fan? Hey, as far as I’m concerned you’re a fan.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To me being a fan of something means you like it. There are different degrees of fandom. One person may not know the names of the band members, or the song titles. They may be a casual fan. One may know a lot about the band, but not what song on what album. I would say is an average fan. Your friend may have scoffed at you because she knew what song was on what album, but there are bigger fans than her out there that probably know what strings Pete Townshend uses, and what Roger Daltry had for breakfast. These uber fans may not consider your friend a fan either.

    I enjoy sports but don’t want to be bogged down in batting averages etc. I enjoy Star Wars movies, but I’m not dressing in character and lining up for a week to see the new movie.

    To me your friend was wrong. You had no reason to feel any shame. You are a fan.
    Besides, in the internet age when anyone can look facts like band songs/albums up in seconds, there is less of a need to know this info.
    If your friend wants to have this knowledge for herself, and maybe do well on a trivia night that is great, but if she wants to use it to try and belittle others, that is not cool.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. OOooh. Tough questions Sarca. I’m afraid my definition of fandom is very strict. Sure, you don’t “need” to own all the Rush albums. But you have to “want” all the Rush albums. I think that makes a fan.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I think that demonstrates the desire that, in the perfect world with unlimited funds and unlimited time, you would own all the Rush. Especially since you own the recent stuff — when fans abandon a band that is still good just because it’s not “the same” anymore, that grinds my gears.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent questions Sarca!
    If you asked me at age 14, I was one of those insufferable people that insisted a true fan would know every song, from every album (as in the pre-google era, that demonstrated devotion). The term “poser” was big at the time (wearing a band t-shirt when you weren’t an “authentic” fan), could there be a greater sin?!

    Now, not a chance! I think that you ought to enjoy what you enjoy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I felt the same way at 14! Know every song, know every lyric. It’s different today.
      My niece at 14 used to wear a Bob Marley tee. I’d ask her, “Besides One Love, what songs do you know of his?” She couldn’t name any. She just liked the t-shirt. Different times, different attitudes. I still think you should at least know some of the hits to wear the t-shirt! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  5. This is a great idea for a post, and I think the answer is simple. If YOU like the music, and YOU listen to it on your own time, you don’t have to prove yourself or your level of knowledge about it to ANYBODY. Honestly, someone who judges you based on what song is on what album is outing themselves as a jerk. Really, who cares? And if that’s how you treat people, that conversation is over. I saw above you said it was all jokes, but was it? They’re trying to prove superiority of knowledge (no matter how inane) over you. Maybe a friendly jerk move, but still a jerk move.

    I noticed at the Iron Maiden concert a couple of week ago, there was an almost protective energy to the crowd. Like we were in a temple or something, and we were waiting around for the G-ds to show up. I got the feeling that if anyone had said anything bad about Maiden in that room, they’d have been handed their ass. I’d wager that more than a few of those people would have been knowledge jerks too.

    It was palpable, maybe I can’t really decribe it right, but it was there. And that level of fandom is sort of scary. I get it, Maiden is great, and we knew the show was gonna be fantastic, but RELAX, dudes! Just enjoy! Some people gotta be on top all the time though, or be holier than thou, and those people are tiring and unnecessary. I say just enjoy what you enjoy. You don’t need to own it all, but it is nice to own it all, of course. Do your thing and ignore the assholes. And THAT makes you a fan. Because you’re listening to it because it pleases YOU.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES! I know exactly what you mean. In no way do I purport to be an expert at anything. I like what I like! The added pressure that I must therefore know all about all is a put-off too. My reactive self thinks, “where do you get off…” Then I step back and reflect about it… and write about it lol

      Like

      1. I think it’s possible to know a lot about a band you like and not be a snob about it. It’s also possible to know enough about a band and not really care about being obsessive and just dig the tunes.

        Stick with your reactive self a bit longer – those people might need to be told! But you’re right, just letting them go on their way is usually best. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I was in a record store a few weeks back and a customer asked the sales person about Jimi Hendrix.
          I did not agree completely with the answer, but I refrained from giving my 2 cents. I might have been right, but: a) I was not asked
          b) the staff member should have a knowledge of music, which he did, and just because his opinion differed from mine did not make it wrong.
          c) they were both guys in their 20’s and I am in my 40’s, so they may be more in common.
          d) I might have come across as a know it all jerk butting into a conversation, and trying to upstage someone else.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yup, don’t do it! That’s some restraint, Bop. I’ve witnessed the elder telling the hipster the truth and next thing you know, as soon as the elder walks away, they’re on “Know Your Meme” creating that “know it all Maiden geezer” meme that sweeps the interwebs…:P

            Liked by 1 person

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