As I was considering the purchase, I have to admit that I really didn’t know how much I’d get out of either book. Surely our Duranie community is a completely unique entity. Most of us really believe that Duran fans are among the most loyal (to put it politely) or rabid (to be blunt!). How could Bruce’s fans be even remotely similar?! I tried to keep an open mind and remind myself that in as much that the book Amanda and I are writing is about the Duran Duran fan community – it’s also about fandom in general. We would not be doing ourselves justice if we didn’t at least get a good birds eye view of other fandoms out there, and these two books are among the first I’ve seen written on a specific fan community within rock music. (not counting The Beatles and Elvis)
I cracked open the Springsteen book yesterday. The title is Grace from the Stage by Linda K. Randall, and basically it’s a book written from a thesis paper she completed to earn her Masters degree. To begin with, Randall is indeed a fan – and like many of us in the Duran community – she’s middle-aged. (I hate that term and hereby am wiping it from my vernacular. You should do the same) She was a late “convert” to Bruce, and the thesis, or “big idea” from her book is simply that the fan community is very akin to a religion. I’ll let you take a moment to allow that to sink in. Go ahead. I’ll just wait here and drink my vanilla cream coffee.
Most of you, especially if you’re at all religious or spiritual, are probably ready to shut my blog now. I understand that, but I urge you to continue reading. Make no mistake, Randall is NOT making the grand assertion that Springsteen is a deity – she’s stating that the fans come together for a central cause or interest; they “worship” in a congregation, they help one another out, and they do “good works”. Let me expand a bit.
When we go to church to celebrate – it’s typically as a group, and there’s generally a central interest. Randall is saying the same can be said for when we go to a concert. There’s really no argument that when we attend a show, it’s to see a main act. Ours would be Duran Duran, and Randall’s would be Bruce Springsteen. Simple, yes?
Countless times when I have read the fan message boards, I’ve seen comments about “Worship”. Hell, we even have a very active Church of the Bass God group within our fan community. Guess whom they’re worshipping? Now of course in her book Randall is also saying that there’s a certain amount of gospel being spread – the “gospel” of course being the songs, the lyrics contained within, and the comments made by Bruce. The messages being sent by Bruce Springsteen are most assuredly different than the messages we get from Duran Duran – but in either case they can be uplifting and important. Don’t see it yet? Let me give you two “Durancentric” examples:
“Stay with the music, let it play a little longer, you don’t need anybody, all you need is now.”
-All You Need is Now
“Now the time has come, the music’s between us; though the night seems young, is at an end; only change will bring you out of the darkness; in this moment everything is born again.”
-[Reach Up for the] Sunrise
Congregation is just a fancy word for a group…we can congregate anywhere: a church, a mall, a bar, and yes, even at a concert venue. When we do get together, we absolutely celebrate. Going to a concert can be one of the biggest celebrations in your life if it’s done correctly. Its rare when I have come away from a concert experience feeling sad and depressed (although it’s happened and it is the biggest let down I’ve known!), and we’ve talked many times about the concert “high” that we continue to chase. I have to admit that I’ve never gone to church and come away feeling the same sort of high – but I suppose it’s possible. The point is that we all celebrate.
Finally, Bruce’s fans do the “good works” together. What does that mean?!? At church you might pass around the plate or basket to which you donate money to whatever cause the church is supporting at that moment. Perhaps they’re collecting money to help a group of missionaries, maybe they are collecting food for the local food pantry, or maybe they are trying to send their youth group on a special trip to help build houses for the poor. At Springsteen concerts, apparently Bruce requests that local charities run a food drive. They’ve also organized help amongst themselves for many fellow fans who have hit hard times. The fan community supports one another in the same way that perhaps a church congregation might.
I have not finished the book completely, and I only chose to include the very broadest of topics here, but I’m curious to see what other commonalities are drawn. What I’m more curious about though is what other Duran fans think. Is fandom that similar to a religion? Do you feel that uplifted after a show? Is it really that far fetched of a theory?