March 23, 2016

I'm (Not) With the Band

If you're going to follow a band, someone somewhere is inevitably going to call you a "groupie." The definition varies depending on where you look, but a quick Google search reveals the connotation most people connect to the term as "a particular kind of female fan assumed to be more interested in relationships with rockstars than in their music."

It's a harsh term that doesn't describe me in the slightest, but I have to admit I'm a little intrigued by anyone that would actually fit the description and claim that title. As an avid reader (and scourer of Goodreads recommendations), I've come across the book I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres on multiple occasions. It's an account of one of rock's "original" groupies coming of age during the 60's and into the early 70's, and it tells of her encounters with a slew of rockstars like Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page, just to name a few of the most recognizable on the list. When I found out that Pamela was part of the inspiration behind the notorious Penny Lane in Almost Famous, I was further intrigued. After years of telling myself that it sounded interesting and that I would read it one day, I finally sat down and read her story.

I felt a little more than just morbid curiosity before I opened the pages. Here was a real girl that loved music and grew up idolizing her favorite musicians, and who also loved writing about it. To be completely honest, I think I was a little bit afraid that if you cut out the sordid affairs and some of the pages of star-studded objectification, I might be left holding some warped mirror in my hands. Maybe deep down my hesitancy to read this book comes from a strange jealousy, because I know that if I ever chose to write a book about traveling for a band, there are only so many people that would care to read about my clean, goody-two-shoes idea of a good time on the road. I didn't want to find myself in those pages, but I kind of had to know if there would be some kinship between a girl that follows the music and a girl that follows the musician.

I was a little bit relieved to realize that I didn't find myself going "OMG, me too!" at any point during the book, which falls right in line with my feelings on the fictional Penny Lane. (Like my fellow bloggers Miranda and Danielle have said, I'd choose to be William > Penny Lane any day).

In Penny Lane fashion, she explains early on: "I tried not to think of myself as being cheap or easy or any of those other terms that were used to describe loose, free, peace-loving girls; I just wanted to show my appreciation for their music." (p. 57)

It's not a fear I'll ever have to worry about, but the second half of that sentence is something we can all relate to. The first half is practically a blank waiting to be filled in with whatever crazy behavior you're willing to carry out in the name of music.

"[Insert crazy thing you did here, followed by this excuse]; I just wanted to show my appreciation for their music."

Maybe it's just a matter of your own personal circumstances and values to find out what you might put in that scary little blank. I'm sure I could fill it several times over with my own version of crazy.

"I camped out on a sidewalk all night; I just wanted to show my appreciation for the music."
"I drove for 20 hours without stopping to sleep to get to the show; I just wanted to show my appreciation for the music."

The list could go on for all of us.

By the end of the book, I found that I had grown to respect Miss Pamela more than I expected. Not because of her list of rockstar conquests or for her own growing claim to fame, but for showing no remorse or regret for any of it. If there's one message in this book that I can agree with, it's this: don't ever apologize for doing what you love. As she ends in her prelude: "I'm honored to have spent time with some of the finest and brightest that rock 'n' roll had to offer. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat."

As for other similarities, well...we chose the same blog title font?

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