We like a song because of the feelings it creates in us. But does one song alone endear us to the artist? It may, but in rare cases. What if the artist creates many amazing songs over a few years – would we become fans? Possible, but not necessarily.
After analyzing my own “fanhood”, I have concluded that people become fans of artists not just because of great songs (although that certainly helps!), but because they associate personal memories or experiences with the artist. In many cases, the memory is very specific and does not even involve the artist’s best work. Take my example:
- Kishore Kumar – I can trace my love for Kishore da to a cassette with a dozen or so Kishore da songs. It was a gift from sister for my 15th or 16th birthday. It was a nice enough collection but what made it remarkable was that it was the first cassette I owned. The first song on that cassette – “Phoolon Ke Rang Se” from Prem Pujari – remains one of my favorite Kishore Kumar songs.
- Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik – I appreciated romance for the first time in my life through Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and its beautiful songs. Alka and Udit were the first voices I could relate to as my generation’s.
- Eagles – Till I heard Hotel California in college, I used to dismiss all “English songs” as noisy. Hotel California, with its melody and its amazing guitar riff, opened up a new world of pop/rock music for me. That one song and the fact that it was playing everywhere and all the time in college, made me an Eagles fan.
- Led Zeppelin – I had heard “Stairway to Heaven” many times when I went to a Jimmy Page concert with The Black Crowes. I would have returned home completely satisfied if they had played just that one song. Ninety minutes later, I left the concert under the spell of Page’s understated brilliance and terribly humbled by my ignorance.
- A.R. Rahman – I had always liked A.R. Rahman. Two things made me a fan. First, my marriage to a big Rahman fan. It’s hard not be be influenced when your spouse showers someone else with so much affection! Second, a packed London audience for “Bombay Dreams”, that went “Bravo! Bravo!” after every song. I felt proud to be an Indian.