“They don’t even know what it is to be a fan, y’know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.” – Sapphire, “Almost Famous”
I suppose you can call me a rock late bloomer. It was 2005—I was 18—when I first listened to Nirvana, which means Kurt Cobain had been dead for over a decade before I listened to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
It wasn’t even intentional. One day a college friend noticed that we liked the same stuff playing on the radio while we were wallclimbing, so she offered to lend me something from her brother’s CD collection. She lent me Nevermind, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I re-watched one of my favorite movies of all time, “Almost Famous,” with my boyfriend Marck yesterday, and as always the movie mesmerized me. When 15-year-old William Miller (Patrick Fugit) first played The Who’s “Sparks,” I remembered the first time I played Nevermind in our basement and felt the hunger to listen to more.
I saw myself in the obsessive Led Zeppelin fan, because I am an obsessive Led Zeppelin fan. In fact, my favorite scene in the movie is that of Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) shouting “I am a golden god!” from the roof, because Robert Plant allegedly shouted the same line from the terrace of the Hyatt Hotel (Riot Hotel to musicians at the time) in March 1975. The scene was supposedly based on that.
Despite my love for the movie, I never really felt the desire to become a rock journalist like Miller. I want to experience the music, not write notes so I can dissect the song later. I just want to be a fan, not “the enemy.”
It’s been a while since I loved a band “so much that it hurts,” to quote Sapphire. It happened with Led Zeppelin. It happened with The Who, Pearl Jam, and the White Stripes to some degree. The latest band I fell absolutely in love with was The Strokes, although admittedly their good looks may have been a factor in that.
I miss the feeling. I hate to sound so old school, but most new bands these days just don’t rock and roll the way the greats did.
Happy 67th birthday, Jimmy Page!