Monday, January 3, 2011

A new year's resolution that pays dividends

(Published Dec. 27, 2010 by

Standing on the Staples Center floor during Roger Waters’ first of five sold-out Southern California performances of The Wall this month, I marveled at how much music has changed since I first became a fan.

To call myself anything short of obsessive as a teenager would be an understatement – but I wasn’t alone, that was how music made a lot of us feel. It wasn’t enough to know everything about the bands we loved, we also wanted to know everything about the bands they loved. We wanted to know why they wore the shirts they wore, and who inspired the lyrics they wrote.

When Anthrax covered a Joe Jackson song, I had to go out and buy the album it was from. When Lars Ulrich talked about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, I needed to know the bands he was championing. And when I discovered industrial music, I needed to also discover early innovators like Einstürzende Neubauten.

It was my responsibility as a fan, and I took that responsibility seriously. I went to record stores to find new music, read magazines to learn about inspiration and influence, and listened to the radio for news and information. The word fan is derived from the word fanatic for a reason – being a fan took effort, and our efforts were rewarded in kind.

Music wasn’t background noise then, it was the soundtrack to our lives. It meant something, because we needed it to mean something. Our favorite bands helped shape our identity, and that identity couldn’t be researched for free on the internet, bought for .99 on iTunes, and adorned for $19.99 at Hot Topic.

Today, there is no effort required...

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