365 DotU, Day 86: Fandom and Musical Myopia

I admit it: there’s some weird bit of me that is deeply attached to my inner proto-hipster — you know, the part of yourself that only likes the obscure stuff, and doesn’t want to share when other people discover it. This is almost certainly why I never really joined the established fandoms for any of the media properties with which I have been obsessed over the years. Oh, I had no problem with engaging in the very most basic elements of fannish behavior — that’s just what it is to really like a band/book/movie/television show/etc. What I couldn’t grok was the social bits of fandom. I never was any good at finding my place among the communities of other fans, and I did (once upon a time) tend to sneer at some of the behaviors that were expressive of membership in such communities. I never wrote fan letters or fan fiction, I never, ever blogged/livejournaled/fanwanked online about my faves. I didn’t tend to keep posters or other relics around (and if I had relics, I hid them — they were for me, not for others). I lurked, briefly, in some online fan communities, but I seldom (if ever) contributed to the discussion. I never did the con thing.

I always felt, I think, as if my little obsessions were best kept personal and private, so that I could adore them in peace. It gave me great relief to imagine, sometimes, that I was the only person who loved the things I loved. Sometimes it even felt true. I couldn’t quite mock other people’s obsessiveness, because I too was obsessed, but at least I was decent about it and kept it to myself. Really, I think I felt about my fannishness just about the way I tend to feel about religion: keep it secret, keep it safe.*

Evidence: The massive critical volume I wrote about The X-Files, which will never, ever see the light of day. I think maybe one person, ever, other than me as seen it. She seemed…impressed?

Perhaps appalled might be a better word.

I’m getting better at sharing as I get older, but I’m now discovering (as I compare my taste with that of other people) that my inner proto-hipster has guided me in some curious directions. Now, it’s not so much that I resist or cannot find communities — it’s that the communities in question really don’t exist where I am.

Today’s 365 DotU is a fine example of this. The song is a-ha’s “Stay on These Roads,” off of their third album.

Yes. Suck it up — I am, again, inflicting a-ha on you. You’ll live.

In the US, a-ha is a one-hit wonder — all anyone knows or cares for is “Take On Me,” which still gets radio airplay. By the time that third album came out, they were…well, let’s just say that the US was not a burgeoning market for their particular brand of Norwegian Europop at the time (or at any time thereafter). I was a teenager then, and I remember scraping together (effectively) a bucket of freakin’ change to buy that tape. I was, you see, obsessed. For a very long time, I was hooked on that particular tape. Something in it just spoke to me. It doesn’t affect me that way anymore, but I can remember, at the time, just being utterly fascinated by it.

I am the only person I know who can say that.

Of course, if I lived in Brazil or in the UK, I might not be alone in saying so — one-hit wonder impressions in the US don’t match the band’s reception world-wide, which supported them in a long, profitable, and respectable career (they broke up after a grand final tour in 2010). I don’t know if I would have liked them so much if I had lived where they had remained popular, though — inner proto-hipsters can be hell on one’s obsessions, too, cutting off possibly cool things as well as defending ironic and uncool ones.

I never went to any show they ever played. I couldn’t — my love for them, when I was a shy, obsessive weirdo teenager with an inner proto-hipster and relatively unsophisticated tastes, was more secret than not, and I never felt like sharing. I own all of their stuff though, purchased again on CD when tapes went the way of the dinosaur. What can I say?

Well, I can sing, anyway.

I seem to be doing all of my a-ha covers on the ukulele lately. This is mostly because I just can’t imagine emulating the original synth-heavy arrangements in any way. The uke, however, lets me take it all down to something simple and sweet. It’s also easier for me to play the ukulele in the keys in which most of their stuff seems to have been written. 
Yeah, I know. Not your thing. I don’t care, though. That’s probably why I like it. I’m contrary that way.
*A clue to another obsession of mine…
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About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15 years or so), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've just finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. Otherwise, I labor to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
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