Guest post by Don de Leaumont, Editor / Owner of the metal blog The Great Southern Brainfart
I can remember sitting in my poster covered room back in 1985 as I listened to Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry” album. As you may know, that band and album were huge for me and got me through a lot of troubled times. I sat on my bed with my spiral bound notebook and wrote a two page letter (front and back) to Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. In my letter I told him about how I was picked on all the time and how because of his music I gained the courage (or stupidity) to go to school and break the nose of the kid who had bullied me for 3 years.
In these days of the internet and various social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter, it seems that the once unattainable rock stars can now be one of your thousands of friends on Facebook as they converse with you via their “wall” or their “tweets.” As a 38 year old fan of music, I find this to be a pretty amazing thing. I mean, it’s absolutely insane for me to think that I can now be in direct contact with the very artists that seemed to be larger than life. Just a couple of years ago, I wrote an editorial called “Twisted Sister Saved My Life.” I posted it on my blog, I went to Twitter and contacted Dee Snider, and within a few hours I had a direct message from Mr. Snider himself telling me just how much he loved my article.
I couldn’t’ sleep that night from the pure excitement of knowing that one of my childhood heroes had not only read one of my writings but contacted me directly to thank me. While I thought this was such an awesome thing, I also couldn’t help but feel that this made Dee Snider just an ordinary person.Don’t get me wrong though. I know that these rock stars are really just ordinary people with extraordinary careers. It’s just that I can’t help but feel that the days of the larger than life rock god icons are a thing of the past.
These days young people don’t even know of a time where talking to your favorite rock star was a truly magical occasion or in some cases just a dream. I can remember standing in the freezing cold outside of the Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA waiting to meet Skid Row after a sold out show. We waited for almost an hour and gave up because we were freezing. These days, Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan is one of my Facebook friends who have conversed with me a few times. It’s insane for me to think that this is all possible yet there is a whole generation of young people who take this for granted and think that this is how it always was.
The reason I bring this thought up is because even though it’s been amazingly cool to connect and communicate with some of my childhood heroes, I can’t help but wonder how they feel about the dissolving of the rock god icon statuses. I remember reading in interviews back in the day that a lot of these guys would say things like, “I’m just a regular person and I want to be treated like a regular person.” Maybe the rock god icon thing was more of a burden to a lot of these guys that came with a lot of pressure. I mean, people Gene Simmons of KISS and David Lee Roth enjoy being rock gods. They seem to like, love, and crave the adulation and the status of being somewhat untouchable. After all, those guys aren’t my Facebook friends or inviting me out for beers.
Either way, I have to say that it’s a double edged sword for me. One side of me absolutely loves the accessibility that social networking has given me to some of my childhood heroes and other favorite bands. At the same time, a side of me misses that childhood vision that I had of these guys as I looked at their posters on my wall saying, “Someday I’m going to meet you, shake your hand, and thank you for the music you’ve given me. You’ll sign my albums, I’ll get my photo with you, and I will display it proudly.”
I hope that the young people out there reading this realize just how lucky they are to have the accessibility to their favorite bands. Fan letters have now been turned to Facebook posts and tweets which sometimes earn them immediate replies. While this is very exciting a side of me feels bad for them. I feel for them that they don’t know what it’s like to idolize a musician or band so much that they have to use their imagination to think about what they are really like. I feel that they don’t know what it’s like to put a pen to a piece of paper and scrawl out a few pages of words, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and send it off with hopes of getting a reply. Social Media really does seem to have killed the rock god and made them all just normal people with Facebook pages, instant messenger programs, and Twitter accounts. Again, this isn’t a horrible thing. It’s just different and something I never thought I would see.
Speaking of, I guess I better send Rachel Bolan a message on Facebook and ask him if he’ll sign my “Slave To The Grind” 12” UK import that I waited in the cold for hours to get signed. Are you reading this Rachel Bolan? Get ready because I’m going to post on your wall dude.
Don de Leaumont is the Editor / Owner of the metal blog The Great Southern Brainfart