15 November 2011

On being a fan

"Make me feel like I'm the one who moves you,
The only one you see"
~ Fans - Kings of Leon

After I wrote the review of the Sydney Darren Hayes concert, and emotionally expressed my joy in meeting him, I received a comment from an anonymous reader expressing concern for my emotional wellbeing. Here is the original comment:

 I enjoy reading your blog Carly... But this is an interesting read. I know you find comfort in Darren's lyrics and music however I feel that you are in a little too deep here... I feel that you are slightly obsessive and almost 'drowning' in what he gives to you. The fact that he is a gay man makes this 'relationship' you feel you have with him even more uncomfortable to read at times :)”
After a number of people went in to bat for me (thank you everyone) the anonymous reader replied:
I'm quite happy to read your opinions on my original post and please let me clarify that I was not alluding to the fact that Carly's love for Darren can not be reciprocated in a traditional sense. I perfectly and honestly respect the love you have for him as a musician... I too believe that he is freakishly talented and I enjoy his lyrics too. My concern and question stems from the fact that Carly has obviously had heartbreak, distress and upheaval relating to her personal relationships and she is very open in discussing this. My post came from a place of concern for her emotional well-being. l just think the level of adoration she has for Darren is somewhat concerning... Gay or not gay has nothing to do with it. I'm only posting anon as I don't have any other sign ins.”
I also replied to the comments, ending with:
Let me have this happiness without criticism or condescension. Maybe one day you'll experience the joys of being a fan too.”
While I wasn't upset by the comments made, I was disappointed that I was criticised for taking joy in meeting my idol and expressing how much he and his music means to me, after having such a shit time recently. Last week was truly the start of me getting back on track and feeling like the old Carly again.And that feels great.

And today I want to tell you about the joy I get from being a fan. Of Savage Garden and Darren Hayes more specifically. Laugh. Diagnose me with some sort of obsession. But also take the time to realise how the music moves me. It really does. And music and fanship moves other people too. I've got some friends' comments about being a fan too. Here goes.
I can recall the very moment I became a fan of Savage Garden. It was August 1996 and I was watching Rage. I saw Darren Hayes on the back of a truck on a Brisbane highway – reddish long hair, sounding a bit like Roxette. Daniel Jones, also on the back of the truck, was playing a guitar. The song was catchy, they band was cute. It was the I Want You video clip. “I am going to be a fan of everything this band does” I told myself. In September 1996 I went to Geelong on a family holiday with a friend. I remember buying the blue I Want You CD single, the one with the garden gnome on it, in a cardboard case that pulled out like a drawer. At the end of that year, I wished I had spent my $5 pocket money a few weeks before on a much coveted red version of the CD single, with a rare b-side. About three years later, a penpal sent me a signed red I Want You CD. Rare. And in November 1996, I remember seeing To the Moon and Back on Hey Hey It's Saturday. The song confirmed Savage Garden would be the band of my life. I bought that CD single too, and every single and album after, even the rare ones from overseas. I think I have around 80 Savage Garden and Darren Hayes CDs. I know people who have more. When my parents' house was under threat by bushfires, Mum asked me if there was anything I'd like saved. “My tower of Savage Garden CDs”, I told her.

Since I became a fan of Savage Garden, and continuing on with Darren Hayes, I've amassed a lot of stuff. Articles, CDs. Posters. Setlists. Merchandise. And memories. Memories are the most precious. I can recall all the concerts I've been to – even what I wore to the Savage Garden one in 1997. And I remember the moments that I've met Darren (I haven't met Daniel).

People laugh at me, and are also critical. Even I take the piss out of this particular love of mine sometimes. But I am a proud, dedicated and committed fan. Why am I a fan? And why Savage Garden and Darren Hayes?

When I was younger, I think it was an obsession. I couldn't stop thinking about how hot Darren was. I'd be inspired by his lyrics. My friends and I would analyse his interviews so much, and dream of what it'd be like to marry him. He had not yet come out. 15 years after I became a fan, my fanship is more realistic and mature. I don't want to marry him. I still think he's incredibly attractive. But my love goes deeper than the superficial. The music gives me incredible joy. It takes me back to a place when my life was simpler – before adulthood, but also provides hope for each day too. It's Darren's lyrics, perspective and experiences that I can relate to, and as he's grown. I've grown too. As I've matured, I've taken some solace (and sadness) knowing that some of the very things I've experienced (isolation, bullying, difference) are some of the things Darren's experienced too.

 (If you look closely you can see me in the background. Darren took my camera and took this photo himself!)
 I think Savage Garden and Darren Hayes helped to shape my identity. The music gave me something to believe in. It was there through my headphones when I've had needles, and posters on my wall when I've been sick in bed. I made many friends because of my fanship – penpals and face to face friends. I'm still friends with many of these people today. And just last week, at the Darren Hayes concert in Melbourne, I befriended a girl who was also there by herself. She read my review and couldn't believe how much she could relate to the way I feel as a fan. 

The music has also been a friend – for during the many times I've felt lonely or rejected or love-lost, or even so overwhelmed with love, I can immerse myself in it and it's like receiving a reassuring and loving hug. However, despite me and my fanship maturing, I can still be reduced to a puddle of tears (rather than screaming with awe) when faced with Darren Hayes in person.

The thrill of being a fan is what brings joy too. The race to stand at the front of the stage (and the standing that often accompanies it). The breath held as he walks out on stage. The rush through my veins as he sings live. The special moments when he's looked at me during a concert – and the kisses and hugs he's given me from the stage. And the wait outside the venue, hoping to meet him. And when the meet happens – wow. The shaking and immense happiness afterward.

Darren Hayes is a fan too. He's spoke at length about being a fan of Michael Jackson (and was very affected by his death - to the point of writing Glorious about Michael), Bono and Madonna. He has mentioned the excitement when he's met his idols, and his experience seems very similar to mine.

It's not only Savage Garden and Darren Hayes that I am a fan of. I love so many other bands, though not to the extent of getting super knowledgable about them. Probably the closest would be Angus and Julia Stone, Bob Evans and Genevieve Maynard. Back when I was young (and possibly dumb in one case) I was a super fan of Southern Sons (it was the long haired boys that caught my eye) and then cricketer Shane Warne (the dumb phase for me, pre-text messaging phase for him). I must say, I liked the look of Warnie when he looked more natural – bleached hair and tubby. I've actually met some wonderful friends through being a fan of other bands – Bob Evans in particular (I've met some great girls out at his gigs and online), and even become an online friend of one of my favourites – Genevieve Maynard. Genevieve has commented on some of my blog entries and has told me she's a fan of me too! And this means so very much, being a fan of her!

My Dad is a huge fan too. I think I get my dedication to the cause from him. He loves Liverpool Football Club, and I have not known him to miss a game. Before Albury received SBS on TV, we'd travel to Melbourne to watch big games. He'd listen in for the football scores on his shortwave radio at 7.55 am every night. Now he uses the internet to find the scores, and watches most games live on pay TV. It was Dad who encouraged me to go see Savage Garden live when I was 15 – I thought the idea of going to a live concert in Melbourne was pretty out there, but I am so glad I did.When Savage Garden broke up, a Brisbane radio station dedicated an hour of airtime to them. At this time, we only had dial-up internet so streaming radio stations online was a very slow option. So Dad encouraged me to call the Brisbane radio station and ask to be put on hold, so I could listen to the tribute. I did. Dad encouraged me to call the radio station, because that's what he'd do to hear information about Liverpool, back in his youth.
Before I was born, and when I was very young, Dad was out of work for some time. He used to do a program on community radio. This radio show saw him wrongly pronounce INXS as 'inksess'. He is not from Australia. Anyway, Dad was telling me about a man who also used to have a show on the same community radio station. This man was so committed to his passion he'd source rare music from rare record shops in Melbourne, and play the types of music he truly loved – cutting edge punk in the early 80s. He'd do fill in shifts. He loved his music, and he was dedicated to the cause. I admire that commitment and passion. I think it can give people something to live for.
So that's my story. I could write forever about being a fan. As mentioned above, I've got some more stories from friends about their fanship.When I read Edenland's blog about meeting Bono, I cried. Not because I am a huge fan of Bono, but because I could relate to the joy, and was so happy she got to meet her idol. I love reading/hearing other fan-meets-idol moments.
This one is my favourite, from Carmen, who I met at Bob Evans last year. She's a fan of Josh Pyke, and when I read on her Facebook that she met him, I was so excited for her, as I know what a great feeling it is to meet an idol.

I am a fan of Josh Pyke. Haha. I love his music more than any other and it satisfies me in some way I cannot define.
It was like it was familiar to me even before I had ever heard it. A big part of it is that it provides me with an escape from the mundane and his voice & lyrics comfort me. I know that would probably sound ridiculous to a non fan.
He has songs that suit my best and worst days. Seeing him live is the ultimate and the times I have met him are like treasures I carry in my heart. I know it's soppy but if I can't say it here where can I? 

I also like the thrill of the hunt in finding him after a show and talking to him, it is never easy. I am very shy and it takes a lot for me to approach him but I do it as the rewards are great.
If I didn't find him to be as warm and sweet as I have done, he wouldn't be quite as special to me as he is.

I certainly don't think I am lacking anything in my life. My love for Josh is just an added extra.

Social media has had a big impact (mainly Twitter for me) as it has provided me with direct contact with him.

I could really relate to your latest Darren story as last time I met Josh he held out both his arms to me and pulled me in close and cuddled me. It was one of the best moments of my life. You have to be a fan to understand the thrill of that. It has nothing to do with him being 'known'. It is just him. Sorry if I sould completely mad, just had to get it out!”

Dane, a guy I work with, loves musicals. 
I've had people comment that I'm crazy for seeing musicals all the time. If someone finds solace, comfort or escapism in someone's art, talent or interactions - no matter how deeply they feel it - it shouldn't be denied”.

Ellie K loves Bob Evans. Lucky Elly gets to have him sing at her house! 
“You will not be surprised to hear that I am a Bob Evans fan. I became a groupie at the ripe old age of 35! His music simply makes my life better. I can't explain it and people think I'm nutso but I don't care. There is just something about his music that satisfies my soul. I enjoy being enthusiastic and passionate about something so joyful. And my friends get pleasure and amusement from my joy. I had an amazing response of support (both financial and emotional) when I bid for Bob in the EMI auction. And because of them I won! In 15 days he will be in my house...And as an added bonus, through my fandom I have met some gorgeous fellow fans on-line including your lovely self.”

Joel, a guy I met at Steve Poltz earlier this year, and presenter on the Stibbard-Me-Timbers Radio Show, said this:
"For me, I grew up with Australian and New Zealand Rock, I really love the songwriting of Richard Clapton and Tim Finn. To me they represent a time when I was a young tacker growing up in the late 70's into the 80's so add in there Split Enz. Noel Crombie from the band also designed and sewed their costumes, creativity like that I regard highly.
I also really love the late 70's to early 80's underground British music - Simple Minds and anything experimental. Also punk but more The Clash style than Sex Pistols.

Moving into the 90's, I took a liking to a band from Sydney called 'The Clouds', Jodi Phillis and Patricia Young were a great songwriting combination and they played my hometown of Hobart on Hobart's second warmest day recorded at 40.8 degrees in December 1994.

Also Nirvana, I loved the fact that they totally transformed the music scene in 6 months then moving onto 'Foo Fighters'. I probably don't say I'm a fan of anyone too much but Dave Grohl for me is a total legend!”

And I think this is something that sums it all up for me. Tim, from the Stibbard-Me-Timbers Radio Show said: 
 “David Francey, he's a true folk singer and very creative, he worked in construction for years then developed a career in music. Sings about working class, poverty, cause he has been there and done it. His songs have timeless youngness about them. I can kind of relate or at least dream that I can inspire somebody in the same way, I think that what makes you like someone. If they write the song you feel you should've written or want to sing”.

I feel exactly that about Darren Hayes. He writes the songs I feel I should have written or want to sing. Especially this song. The Siren's Call. I recorded it in Sydney.

Who are you a fan of? And what joy does being a fan bring for you?


  1. Carly, I have always loved INXS (or 'inksess' as your Dad called them lol). I have all their albums, have seen them live several times. I had tickets to their concert just before Michael died, I was heartbroken when he died. I saw them again in January this year at A Day on the Green at the Hunter Valley. I was slightly obsessed with Jon Farris for many years, but alas did not get to meet him :(
    My peak of love was probably in my teenage years, but they still hold a special place in my heart after all these years!

  2. I always enjoy reading about your adventures in being a fan:)

    I can't help but wonder if there is some sexism involved in the belittling of women being fans of music.

    Like you said, your Dad is a football fan and I also know of many obsessive male and female sports fans. It seems like when it's music, arts or actors it becomes something to deride and make fun of. Just a girly thing.

  3. I really used to LOVE your blog, but the way you now use comments people have made into blog entries has really turned me off. I dont understand why, if you dont want thses types of comments on your blog, why do you approve them to be put on there? I knwo with my own blog, anything i dont find constructive to myself or the blogs nature in general, i dont approve the comment to be shown. Get back to the real you, dont worry about what people think, and write about what YOU enjoy writing about ! :-) dont waste time responding and explaining yourself each day in response to comments. Dont approve them, its so easy ! I really dont like the way you use anything you see as a 'negative' as a way of writing a blog entry about them, and trying to gain support to then gang up on that person.

  4. Hello Anon at 3.20.

    Thanks for your comment. I completely understand where you're coming from, and can see how using a blog comment used as the basis of a blog entry can be seen as generating support for myself through other readers. This is not my intention at all and I'm sorry you see it this way.

    These sort of comments like I received on my Darren Hayes review and previously - not negative, just challenging I guess - are food for thought for me. They get me thinking about my actions and how my mind works and what drives me, and how others think and react. They make me want to write, and I guess, justify things. So I also see these comments as a positive.

    And it's a lot like sourcing inspiration from things that have been verbally said to me too. I have taken a lot of conversations and events and made them into blog entries. We all draw from experience for our writing.

    I don't want to disallow comments or moderate them because I believe we are all entitled to free speech and don't want to stifle that when I am saying whatever I want on my blog. The comments aren't hateful or malicious - those sort are the only ones I've deleted (and there have only been about three). Although those comments re Darren Hayes were questioning my emotional stability, which was quite a personal reaction.

    You will notice that this post you've commented on is not so much about the initial comments copied and pasted from the previous post, but the way being a fan makes me and others feel. I have been thinking about this since those initial comments and also took the time to do some research and gather my thoughts. (And I'm enjoying reading the other fans' stories.) Using the comments here simply provides context around my post, but this particular one would probably be ok without it.

    What's your blog, Anon? Would love to read it! Thanks for your feedback, and the encouragement to be myself :)

  5. Carly. I don't think I've ever commented on your blog before, though I read it all the time. This one just really begged for a comment though.

    It was so lovely to read your thoughts on being a fan, and what it means to you, as well as to others. I can definitely relate.
    And that you took someone's comment, one that could have been taken quite negatively, and instead of hitting back you wrote such a thoughtful and interesting blog post? That is to be commended.

    I myself am a fan of many people. You already know I flew across the country to see Bob Evans last year. I have contemplated doing this for other bands, but seldom have the money to do it.
    Kav from Eskimo Joe makes my knees weak and my heart race, both with his music and his presence. I have met him twice and could hardly speak either time. One day I hope to meet him properly, and tell him how much his music means to me.
    I am also a huge fan of lots of comedians and other performers. When I met the members of the comedy trio Tripod for the first time, I was 15. I could hardly talk to them, I was so overwhelmed. Now I've seen them so many times they approach me after shows instead of the other way around. It's a great feeling knowing they actually enjoy having fans be so supportive, and are friendly with them, when they could just as easily ignore everyone.

    So many performers are such nice people, it makes the experience of being a fan all the more special.

    Once again, thanks for posting about this. I had wondered when and how your love for Savage Garden and Darren Hayes started, so this was really interesting to me. It was a great, uplifting read.

  6. I can relate in some way, but it was my fandom towards a Sydney band named Skulker that put things into perspective for me.
    It may seem strange to other people looking from afar just how dedicated you may seem towards a band/singer, but it´s not until you look at it from their point of view that you understand where they´re at in their life.

    I used to be a huge fan of Skulker to the point where I´d follow them around Sydney and the country, almost to the point where I felt obliged (yet also weirded out) to visit them outside gigs. Then after some time I realised they´re just normal people following their dream and living their life the same way that I might want to, so I stepped back and considered it from their point of view, and it was then I realised I shouldn´t be putting them on a pedestal as some type of demi-god, but as a peer and someone that I could potentially be some day.

    There was a time I was taken aback and overwhelmed meeting members of Jebediah, but now I can have a normal conversation with them if I ever meet them as I realise they´re laidback casual regular people too, and should be treated that way.

    So I guess what I´m saying is until you experience a certain level of fandom towards someone, you don´t realise what it means to some people, and you never consider it to be a massive obsession that could possibly go any further than enjoying their work, but their work really affects you in some way and you just want to show a level of appreciation.
    It´s only if you take it to a level of following them around and trying to access them outside their work outside their comfort zone that it starts to cross the line.

  7. I'm a huge fan of Tool and A Perfect Circle. So much so that I've got their band signs tattooed on me.
    I've seen them every time they tour, lined up for hours so I'm at the front of the stage when they come out and I've spent a fortune on special edition items from the band.
    It's like a religion for me. Tool especially. Us fans are so passionate about them. Their music moves something inside me. I live for the music.

  8. Carly, I really have been enjoying your blog posts. I can understand how a singer / band can be a soundtrack to a period of someone's life, for me it is more scenes or styles. I think you have a very well balanced perspective as a fan!

    Keep up the great posts!

  9. The stuff about helping shape your identity, and being a friend that's always there for you. that's how I feel about Harry Potter. I re-read the books every year or so and every time I slowly work my way into that world that feels like another, better home.

    Also, as I told you the other week, I once flew to Brisbane for a night to see a Powderfinger show. Totally worth it.

  10. Great piece about fan-dom. Having had fans and also been/being one I do understand completely the effect that watching or meeting your idol can have.

    As for you Anon, it is very easy to create a log in. It's too easy to hide behind a made up name, or Anon, and comment on other people's thoughts.

    In part that is why I'm one of Carly's fans. Because not only does she write about such diverse subjects as crazy Asian food snacks and Darren Hayes fandom - she speaks from her heart, from her own personal experience, and she puts her name to it. And being blessed with a unique physical appearance she can't really get away with hiding behind averageness as many of us do.

    I enjoy reading Carly's thoughts. I enjoy the way she challenges me. And I enjoy the lighter side of her writing and her sense of humour.

    Sending hugs.

  11. Carly, I've only just come across your blog and suffer from chronic illness myself.
    I honestly do not see anything wrong with your fandom I have been a fan of many musicians/performers over the years and if you get joy out of their work just as I do the there is nothing wrong with that.

    If you think about it from the musicians standpoint that's why they perform not only because they thoroughly enjoy it but to share their work with others.
    I always get more into it when you can tell that the performer on stage is really enjoying themselves.


  12. Oh wow! Thank you for sharing your stories! I love reading about fans! I'm starting an exciting project with another blogger - and want to share your stories more widely. Will be in touch.

  13. Carly, if you’ve not read this blog post by Amanda Palmer, you must do:


    It’s an amazing unabashed fan letter to her love Robert Smith.

    When I first read it, it made me cry. Lots.


  14. Hopefully the comment will work this time & not get lost in cyberspace :)

    When I first read this post, I didn't understand it, probably because I've never felt this way about a band. It wasn't until last night when I realised I'm a raving fan of The Bill (TV Show). Saturday nights just aren't the same without it, so I've been buying up DVDs! I'm bugging the ABC shop to get the next series (they only have 1-4 of 27 series, and the final 2 episodes currently available!)

  15. Sorry it's so delayed, but I absolutely adore this post. Perfect.

    Apart from my love for Darren/Savage Garden, I mostly get a lot of crap for my love for The Offspring who I started loving when I was 11 years old (15 years ago). But that band genuinely saved my life. They got me through three major 5+ hour operations and many other smaller ones during high school, plus helped me cope with all the teasing and such at school long before I told anyone what was happening. I met the band members when I was almost 16, less than a year after my face operation, which I credit me getting through to my mum and The Offspring. I have a tattoo of a lyric from one of their songs on my back and will never regret it for what they did for me and continues to do for me via their music. No one making fun of me or telling me negative things about that band makes an ounce of difference to how I feel about them.

  16. Hi there, I just discovered your blog. It's fantastic. I hope you continue for as long as you have it in you.
    This is a great post and I get the fan thing. I never thought I would, but James Taylor came into my life at a rough time about 20 odd yrs ago (I'm 40 now)and his songs just made me see I wasn't the only one to be feeling as I did back then, to see that after the dark, there is the light..and so much more. I adore the man and his music and unashamedly say this to all I encounter.
    20 plus yrs down the track my love is still as strong. I FINALLY got to see him in concert and I was quite week in the knees. My husband thought it was the cutest thing ever..cute 40yr old..hmm???
    You know you're hearts desire, you know what you love and need and some random naysayer can just leave that well alone.
    All best :-D

  17. I am a massive fan of Powderfinger. Slightly obsessed with Cogsy.. I admit it.. I love him .. I am not ashamed of this.I traveled to a few different states when they did their final tour. I bawled like a baby at their last gig. The next day i found myself drinking at the same pub as them, i was so overwhelmed i did not have the balls to even go up to them and say hello. I just stood there drooling like a 2 year old! This is a great post Carly,and i totally understand where you are coming from. And can i just add, the smile on your face in these pictures of you and Darren is just gleaming. Stunning xoxox


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