Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fandom Happiness

I've never been a Mountain Goats fan simply because I've never taken the time. I have friends who adore the band and hang on frontman John Darnielle's every word. I suppose I've never bothered because I've only ever been involved with Morrissey. I guess I've felt removed from my younger peers who love the guy so much, too. But I was moved by New York magazine's amazing article on Darnielle's most sensitive and loyal fans.

In Stephen Rodrick's article, "God & Worshipper: A Rock & Roll Love Story, of Sorts", the reader gets to know the charmingly sweet Stephen Wesley, probably the world's most fervent Mountains Goats fan. I like him immediately.

He squeals with such joy when he finally gets to see the Mountain Goats live at the Music Hall of Williamsburg; at Morrissey's March 26th show at Carnegie Hall, my 8th Mozzer gig in 10 years, I screamed like I'd never screamed before as Moz descended the famous stage in a tux. I get this fan-love thing ... I do.

Wesley also did his fan duty by ordering two copies of the limited vinyl release for Satanic Messiah EP last fall. He'd already purchased the digital version, but ordering two separate copies from both 4AD's label site and another indie-record vendor, well that's true love.

When Morrissey issued the first single from his latest LP, Years of Refusal, I was just as fanatical as Wesley. I ordered two different copies for the "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" single so I could have the two B-sides. I also ordered the 12" for the naked sleeve shot, which I blogged about a few months back. When I caught Morrissey at Webster Hall in late March, I also purchased a numbered and signed copy of Years of Refusal. I already own it on CD, too. See? Wesley knows about this.

With all this fandom aside, you learn about the trying life of John Darnielle. He was beaten by his alcoholic step-dad, but learned to love Randy Newman from him as well. He's been writing since 7th grade and is obssesed with Joan Didion's work (just like me). He was raised Catholic. He battled heroin. He worked as a psychiatric nurse after high school. And he's a music geek just like any of us. Honestly, he seems like a decent guy. I like that.

When Wesley finally met Darnielle, you learn that the two have much more in common than you'd like to think a fan and a rock star might have, but it's incredibly endearing. Rodrick guided me into Darnielle's creative world, one that I tried to ignore for so long, and it was Wesley who helped me understand why people appreciate this John Darnielle guy and worship the sound of the Mountain Goats.

I guess it's high time I spent some time with the Mountain Goats.

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