I don't even remember how this whole thing started. I wish I had a cool story to tell, like those guys who say that their dad took them to a KISS concert when they were 6 or that they had an epiphany while watching Michael Jackson on MTV, but the truth is, it didn't happen like that for me at all; I can't single out a turning point.
Sure, it was amazing hearing Led Zeppelin for the first time when I was 12. And Queen and AC/DC and even the Police, that was sort of the standard party playlist at the time (everyone's record collection included about two albums, and everyone brought their two albums along so we could have 30 or 40 albums for the party). But it's a vast, vast distance from a healthy interest in a sound new to one's ears, which was the case back then, to an obsession not simply verging on the absurd, but being so much over and above the absurd that it approaches dead seriousness from the opposite side:
That's not me, of course. There's no way you'll catch ME making a fool of myself on YouTube. And I'm really glad that no such thing as YouTube or cell phones with built-in video cameras existed back in 1991, when I was in the front row of a Deborah Harry concert yelling "I LOVE YOU!" at the top of my lungs during every single pause between songs, yelling "I LOVE YOU!" about 20 times from the beginning of the show until the encore when Debbie, hoping to shut me up I guess, put her hands under her miniskirt, took off her white cotton panties and threw them at me.
So, what is it that makes grown men behave like total idiots? What is it that makes someone spend a small fortune on an awful-sounding bootleg album that includes the same songs performed by the same guys as three other albums he already owns? And how do you make it stop?
What got me thinking about music fandom was this video I saw. It's a live performance, where country singer Martina McBride shares the stage for one of her songs with the heroine of her teenage years, Pat Benatar. The song, "Independence Day", is actually pretty cool, but that's beside the point. What gets me is this: Martina, who has nine albums with an RIAA certification of "Gold" or higher and has sold over 18 million albums worldwide, and who was 37 years old at the time of this video, is so excited just to be standing next to Pat, that during the whole song she looks like she's a teenage girl about to burst into tears. Just look at Martina's face when Pat belts out the chorus: It doesn't matter that it's Martina's show, and that it's Martina's hit; at that very moment she is no longer Martina the pop star, she's just Martina the Pat Benatar fan.
I could say that music is my life. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that music ruined my life. But of course, there's an upside to being an idiotic, obsessive-compulsive music fan: You have good stories to tell. And some white cotton panties to show.