Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lazy Sunday # 211: We All Start Out As Fans

Every artist begins by admiring another artist, then imitating them, then breaking away to find their own voice, their own style, their own vision.

There was probably a time when Banksy wanted to be just like Picasso. At some point in his life Aaron Sorkin likely sat in a Broadway Theatre wondering how he could move an audience like Edward Albee or Neil Simon. Kids first sparked by Luke Skywalker or Captain Kirk now write, direct and star in "Game of Thrones", or "Mad Men" or "The Republic of Doyle". 

Sometimes we stay within the genres that were our first love. Sometimes we end up worlds away. But we never lose that connection with those who first showed us the way.


This week, it was announced that Garth Brooks will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame after the most phenomenal career achieved by any artist in that musical genre.

In the eleven years between April of 1989,  when he released his first record, and October of 2000, when he announced his "retirement", Brooks sold more than 100 million albums. And while a lot of artists have laid claim to the "hardest working man in show business" moniker, seeing a Garth Brooks concert would convince anyone that James Brown, Prince, The Rolling Stones and even Bruce Springsteen need to take take a backseat.

His stage presentations are sprawling, theatrical affairs designed to thrill, surprise and utterly overwhelm the audience. And the reason for that is, as a teenager in Tulsa, Oklahoma, surrounded and drowning in Country music, Garth was a fan of KISS.


He bought all their albums, drank in as many live shows as he could get to and even wore KISS make-up. What KISS taught Brooks, and what lingered after he moved from New York City Glam-Rock back to his country roots, was that you had to give 100% from opening curtain to final encore. You had to leave them not wanting more but knowing that nothing more was possible.

I'm told that at every venue he played, Brooks would wander the stadium during the sound check, finding the worst possible seat in the place. And at the climax of each show, while singing his signature closing song, "The Dance", he would direct that moving ballad to whoever was in that seat, providing emotionally for whatever part of the performance they may have been short-changed.

A few years ago, on "The Tonight Show" and at the height of his fame, Brooks got to thank KISS for what they had inspired in him. His performance on that night illustrated not only how far he'd come, but how much he owed to the days when he was just a fan.

Never forget where you come from. And Enjoy Your Sunday.

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