Today this blog is dedicated to a few heartbroken friends of mine out there. You know who you are.
There are two distinct emotions that occur when you’re a fan (along with a multitude more) – elation and heartbreak. As Amanda is fond of saying, “The highest of highs and the lowest of lows.” If you haven’t had the lows, I am envious. If you haven’t felt the elation – stick around a bit. The band will tour, and those will be had. After all, that’s why we stay, isn’t it? We keep chasing that stick that is dangled ever so enticingly in front of us with a beautiful orange carrot on the end. Round the track we go, never shall we stop, and once in a while – we might even get a tidbit. We devour. Elation.
Heartbreak is a bit more complicated.There are so many reasons, so many twisted emotions that have the potential to become heartbreak. When I was a child, a mere teenager, just hearing that one of my idols had a girlfriend might have sent me into heartbreak. Maybe later on it was hearing that my favorite band member left the band. Still later, it could have been finding out another had taken his place. Perhaps it was a off-album. Maybe it was a set of shows that had been postponed or canceled. Maybe it was traveling to another country only to find out that the shows you’d traveled for were…you guessed it…canceled. Or, in a final act of ripping ones heart from ones chest in what feels completely and utterly permanent, the band simply decides to stop.
I can’t imagine that there’s a single fan of something out there that hasn’t had that happen. Whether it’s that your sports guy left the sport for retirement, or the celebrity to end all celebrities for you has unfortunately passed on, it happens. I know that as a Duran fan, I’ve wondered when that moment would come – and in some sort of morbid curiosity that only I would be silly enough to admit, I’ve thought long and hard about what my response might include. Would I cry? Would I play their music for hours on end? What about the blog? Would I be openly angry, or reticent? Would I be in denial…and finally…would I still be a fan?
That final question is the most thought provoking for me. It’s not just simply whether or not I’d still listen to their music – I think at this point in my life, it’s pretty obvious (to me) that of course I would. It might take many months before I was able to listen without some feeling of pain or angst, but I have to believe that just as though I eventually came to tell stories about my dad without tears, I would also learn to remember the good feelings that came along with the music. I have so many good memories from Duran Duran, surely smiles would replace the pain – or at least accompany so that the pain was lessened. I guess the real question is whether or not listening to the music is enough. When you’re used to a very three dimensional fandom – listening to the music, hearing the news, going to gigs, maybe even meeting the band and having some laughs – what happens when it becomes solely about the music? In some ways, it’s like cutting the crap and getting back to basics, isn’t it? In other ways, when you know that is all it will ever be again – well, then I’m just not sure.
I think to John Lennon and Beatles fans. I count myself among them, although to be fair, it is a completely different type of fandom than the one I experience with Duran Duran. While I recognize that I’m “old” (so my kids say), I was actually born after The Beatles broke up. I never experienced the insanity of going to see The Beatles live, so it isn’t as though I know what I’m missing. (although if there were ever a band I wished I’d seen – they would be it!) I think about John Lennon, and I clearly remember the day he was murdered. I still have all of John’s solo work on vinyl – it is something I’m proud of taking the time to collect over the years – and I am very reverent of his work. I am a fan, although I never once saw him perform in person or met him. Again, the fandom is entirely different, but it does still exist.
So, I believe I will still be a fan, although the fandom will likely be far different. I don’t want to even consider what the blog would be – could we even continue? Probably not in the same respect to which we’re accustomed. Our books would be written past tense. Our stories would begin with “Remember when?” instead of “I can’t wait to do it again!” It all seems so depressing.
It came with great shock to me on Sunday night when I read that INXS had announced they would no longer tour. I continue to ask, “Who said they could quit?!? Who signed off on that?!?” Their last shows were in Australia just this past weekend – about as far from the US as one can imagine, and yet it was the right place for INXS to finish a successful thirty-five year career. The shows came without much fanfare, in fact I don’t believe anyone really saw it coming, unless of course you are one of the scores of “one time” INXS fans that took the time to tweet to me that you liked the band until Michael died, and then they died for you as well. That said, in hindsight – precious, precious hindsight, I think the signs were there had I chose to actually pay attention. News almost never came from the band these days. Rumors were never addressed or put to rest (and what is important about that is not the rumor – but the fact that no news came from the band AT ALL), old merchandise touted as being “anniversary” was marketed and sold, and old touring equipment turned up on eBay and announced as such by the band. Not one of these things would have or did make me turn my head – but in hindsight? It starts to make sense.
For me, INXS was a second or third “favorite” after Duran Duran. I really got into them during the 1990’s. I won’t exaggerate – I am not such a big fan that I dropped everything to see them (there simply isn’t enough time and money for me to do that for everyone!!), although I have seen them a few times over the years. When Michael passed away, I was truly surprised that they continued on, but the fact is – the music lived on and it thrived. INXS did not die in that hotel room, and I will continue to scream that as loudly as possible for the rest of my life. Yes – it was extremely difficult for me initially when they agreed to find a new singer on Rockstar:INXS, thanks to my friends Jessica and Machelle – I hesitantly watched, and fell in love almost immediately. I was and am very proud that the band had the tenacity to keep going. I am well-aware of just how difficult it really was, and that perhaps they never quite found the magic combination of what they needed. As he hit his first notes on the first night I watched the show, I was a JD fan. I went to two INXS shows to see him, and I have to say – if anyone could have fronted that band, it was him. I know this isn’t a popular position for many other INXS fans out there, but I stand by my assessment. I was sorry to see him go, although I certainly understand the choices the band made. I do regret never having the chance to attend a show with Jessica and Mac, purely because it would have been nice to expand our friendship beyond the reigns of Duran Duran. I am friends with the two of them because they are good people, not because they were ever Duran fans, although this band is what brought us together initially. No, my INXS fandom was something I tended to enjoy with my husband, it was one band we both loved to listen to here at home, and I don’t imagine that will stop.
I’ve spent some time reflecting on how it all might happen with Duran Duran. It’s impossible for me not to think that way – this year alone I’ve had two bands simply “quit”. It’s the age, I presume, and I hate it. I’m not like John, who seems to be able to spin the good out of the bad – this really does suck. I love going to shows, concerts, gigs – whatever you want to call them. I love music. I love being a fan. It is incredibly difficult and even a bit maddening when the choices start to dwindle because your bands start thinking about retirement. I guess I feel as though every band out there should be like The Rolling Stones – and yet I full-well know that’s impossible. I’m a fan. We think in impossible terms. 🙂
It really isn’t very easy seeing something I enjoyed; and even more importantly, seeing something that my close friends enjoy, end. Good things sometimes really do just end. It really doesn’t matter what the reasons might be, how it all could have been handled differently, or how angry and hurt we all might feel. All we can do is sit back, absorb the moment, reflect on the memory, and keep listening. Music never dies, and it doesn’t just quit.
Thanks for some of the most incredible music I have ever known, INXS.