Putrid Modern Hell #10

by HST UK on May 26, 2011

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Joining a Fan Club

Call it a moment of serendipity, but I’ve received an injection of sunrise serotonin through the power of music. Certain songs can pull me out of a rut, like a fireman might pull a concussed body from twisted metal wreckage. In this most recent case Jellyfish’s epic power pop tune ‘Joining a Fan Club’. A song which I literally can’t stop listening to, I must have heard the track over a hundred times in the last 48 hours. Few songs have this effect on me; I remember one being the Cars joint ‘Just What I Needed’, and the other being Student Rick’s ‘Falling For You’. I have no idea why bubble gum fluff revitalizes my cold dark heart, but it does.

When I used to write about music, as a pseudo music journalist, pseudo because I didn’t make a penny from reviewing, although I did get to see a few gigs for free and received a ton of free music; I over time grew to hate almost everything I listened to. Being critical about anything, seems to take away the enjoyment. See, I love the feeling when you hear a track on the radio, and a catchy chorus stops you in your tracks giving you the urge to shamelessly sing along at the top of your lungs. Occasionally it still happens when I’m in the car driving to work.

Some of my favourite writers have written about music. Lester Bangs and Nick Kent immediately spring to mind. Both also lived and interacted with who they wrote about. I was always touching from a distance. I wasn’t Paul Morley lurking through Manchester in a grey trench coat scribbling in his notepad whilst nicking quotations from JG Ballard. No, I was listening to legal downloads, paraphrasing press releases and typing from the comfort of a bungalow in Norwich. When I did go to gigs, I daren’t speak to the performers, instead I skulked in the shadows, typing notes into my mobile phone.

I know almost nothing other then what Wikipedia tells me about Jellyfish, I have almost no desire to listen to another one of their songs, because doing so might mean that I can no longer appreciate the majesty of ‘Joining a Fan Club’. I remember after seeing the music video for Student Rick’s ‘Falling For You’ on some obscure punk rock orientated cable channel, and then purchasing their album Soundtrack for a Generation soon after that. The share amount of pish on the album decidedly spoilt my adoration of ‘Falling For You’. No, this time around with Jellyfish I outright refuse to listen to any more of their songs.

‘Joining a Fan Club’ takes me back to my days as an impressionable, insecure teen who worshipped Weezer’s first two albums. Because Weezer in those days, played impassioned yet gloriously corny pop rock. I remember the share pleasure I would get from playing those records over and over. Certain moments of my life, throwaway moments like singing the Blue Album in its entirety with a work colleague in the Car Park of a well-known DIY retailer where I worked as a student as we pushed trolleys under a cool watery summer sun; such moments are still locked away in my mind, thanks to the music.

The lyrics of ‘Joining a Fan Club’ can be read as an ode to the glory days, when becoming obsessed with a band, occupied a bulk of your time. Eventually your heroes would inevitably let you down, or you’d grow up and forget about them, but for a few years, everything seems timeless. I remember frequenting Weezer message boards where songs would be finely picked over, and rare bootlegs were sought, and having heated debates with pals whilst stoned about how those first two Weezer albums stood up to the great albums in music history. Sadly, Weezer became shells of their former selves, and released some crimes absolute against music. ***Cough*** Beverly Hills ***Cough***.

If I attempt to decipher the meaning of ‘Joining a Fan Club’, and attempt to put together a cleverer, more nuanced understanding of the song then I’d suggest that maybe the lyrics talk about getting caught up in some kind of religious fervour, and how this is akin to becoming obsessed with the heroes that adorned the posters on your bedroom wall. When you think about it, Jesus Christ was arguably the first rock star, whether he existed or not.

“You’ve paid your money, now watch that money grow. / Joining a fan club, best be warned. / He turns me on when he wears that lampshade crown of thorns.”

Then again the song closes with “I wished I’d loved him, / Before fate crashed his car. / Say a prayer for the fallen star”. Which might suggest that the song is perhaps about Marc Bolan, who died in a car crash, This might tie in with Jellyfish’s musical grandiosity, and Bolan’s own messianic stage presence, which meant he was not only adored by his fans, but worshipped.

What am I doing?

It’s only a song, a song I’m in love with. If I think about why I love this song, then I may quickly grow to hate it; and I really don’t want that to happen.

-RJW

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