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Rock Musicians And The Worshippers by Iman Lababedi

The relationship between musicians and their fans are not what they seem.


It appears to one of product/consumer on one level, God/practioners of faith on the other.


Not all relationships are symbiotic but the relationship between musicians and their fans are.By this I mean it is based upon the trading of needs to the exclusion of any personal reasonal reason for the relationship. Unlike, say, a mother and her son or best friends.


Joe Strummer tried to break the symbiosm. Strummer’s great gift as a person, something even the sainted John Lennon never came close, and nobody, with the possible acception of a Patrick Stickles here and there, has even attempted.


The punk rock ethos in the UK, the POINT behind three chord rock, was any one could do it. As a reaction to the cloistered lifestyle of increasingly distracted rock royalty, was an all inclusive format whose simplicity allowed everybody into the previously secret world of rock. Which means everybody would be the God and the Worshipper AT THE SAME TIME!!


It couldn’t last of course. For every X-Ray Specs there was 200 Slaughter And The Dogs and so a pecking order came about with the Sex Pistols at the top, everybody else on a downward trail, and the fans at the bottom.


Except not with Strummer.


Strummer through broke through the relationship between fan and band, by putting the fan on an equal footing: by forcing the fans to deal with him as a fellow traveller, and always being willing to share himself with the people who loved him.


That is beyond rare and if you want a great reason to hate Bono, hate Bono because he talks Strummer’s talk but he doesn’t walk Strummer’s walk.


Bono sees U2’s huge audience as a lifeforce to to tapped into the push agenda’s that “make the world a better place”. (“Do you want to change the world? It can’t be done” the Tao says.) The essence of symbioism.


Then you have a whole level under that as well, and that level are journeyman rock pros trying to guess what their audience wants. Caring about this audience is something like caring who goes into your deli store: it is client/provider all the way .


But, and here is where I have been reaching towards, if there is no real relationship between musician and fan, where does the relationship really blossom? What is going on?


What is going on is a secret society and you and I are not invited.


I wrote long ago that Bruce Springsteen has more in common with Liberace than the person who fixes your car. Conor Oberst, Cursive, M. Ward, Rilo Kiley -all those Saddlecreek players, they are members of the Secret Seven, joined by music but longterm friends, childhood friends and therefore nothing like their relationship with their fans. This is why Conor can’t stop tripping over his own feet: he is like a member of the armed forces who is doing it for his fellow soldiers FIRST.


Here is the secret world of rock. In an interview with Rock NYC, Joe Steinhardt mentioned that all bands on Don Giovanni Records are best friends, that they all play on each others records and support each other.


Step back to CBGB’s at New York Punk, sideways to Seattle grunge, over to Brooklyn, on to Chapel Hill, over to LA: everybody gives the love you expect to belong to the fans over to each other.


Fans lavish their love on musicians who exclude them from the true depth of what is going on. Fans think they are in a relationship with the bands but they aren’t -they are in a symbiotic relationship with the bands. The bands are in a relationship with other musicians and fucking the musicians won’t do it and worshipping em won’t do. The only way to deal yourself in is by playing music with em.

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