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)!
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…
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?
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!