My album was mastered at Capitol Records, just down the hallway where Frank Sinatra originally recorded several of the songs that I do on my CD. Indeed, outside the door of the mastering studio where my “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” recording was being finished, I saw Sinatra’s gold record, awarded for his “Capitol Collectors Series” album. Around the bend — there aren’t corners at Capitol; the building is cylindrical, like a record album — I saw two platinum records, given for his “Duets” recordings. And there were elegant black-and-white portraits of others who had worked on the same floor: Dean Martin, Nat Cole, Barbra Streisand. Being there made me giddy.
Only now am I beginning to understand fanatical fans. I have a pal who follows Bruce Springsteen around the country; for him, attending live Boss concerts is like going to church. After my Capitol Records experience, I can see now how people who start out merely liking Star Trek gradually morph into Trekkies. You want to solidify your connection to an artist or a work of art (or a pop culture phenomenon that speaks deeply to obsessive people who attend conventions in costume) by doing something other than listening to (or watching reruns of) the object of your affection.
Loving a book, or a movie, or a 1970s television show, means your love will always be unrequited. Going to the place where your love interest was created, however, feels like one of the few ways a real fan can refresh his vows of devotion and experience anew the joy and pleasure he felt when he first discovered his favorite book/movie/pop song. This spatial communion — if it can be called that û between creator and consumer makes non-art feel even more “real” than it supposedly already is. Plus, it’s fun to see if the “real” thing — the street, the building, the sidewalk — is how you imagined it to be, or if the eye and mind of your beloved artist had somehow painted an aural picture of an “unreal” place you didn’t envision.
Great art transports us on its own merits. But it’s exciting to be reminded that great art — or even pop culture detritus — is made by real people.