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Column: Drop the fan club form and step away

Whether you listen to the radio on the way to work or class, or read Rolling Stone and Billboard with a zealous fervor, it’s difficult to not be encountered with some form of beat and lyric in your daily life.

But for some, the mere enjoyment of popular harmony isn’t nearly enough. They are the uber-fans, those who take popular music appreciation to a whole new (and somewhat disturbing) level. These are their stories.

He is a popular student, a senior majoring in chemical engineering. He is president of his fraternity, and a pretty good basketball player. Nick Hay is also the reigning USF “Big Man On Campus” pageant winner.

He won that award largely on the basis of his acoustic solo performance of songs by his honored deity, Dave Matthews. To say that the Dave Matthews Band plays a large role in Nick’s life is like saying Michael Jackson has had a nip and tuck here and there.

The shrine that is his room would make the most ravenous Grateful Deadhead question his commitment. The walls adorned in posters, pictures, lyrics, guitars, CDs, and DVDs of his liege. We won’t even get into the guitar he owns which is exactly like the one Dave uses. It’s worth more than my car.

Dave has created exactly 86 songs. Nick can play them all and quote every lyric word for word.

I don’t know about you, but I like a little variety in the music I choose. I love Pearl Jam, Jay-Z, Sinatra and The Beatles with equal vigor.

With the exception of a James Taylor DVD, I couldn’t find a thing in his apartment that musically related to anyone but his idol.She is a 46-year-old self-employed creative designer. She is divorced, has a child, and spends most of her days creating and crafting away in her in home workshop.

Judith Whitaker also spends a large portion of her free time and income on her musical muse, Elton John. She has seen the British rock star over 50 times in concert at venues across America.

Of course she owns every album he has ever made, has autographs on various memorabilia, and has even attended tennis tournaments where Elton is playing, despite knowing next to nothing about tennis. He sees her in a crowd at the stage and makes it a point to wave.

The notice of international rock stars to fans doesn’t come easily, so his realizing who she is should be some indication of her commitment. I know of her commitment because Judith is my mother.

Some media outlets have capitalized on this trend of obsessed fans by creating shows such as MTV’s Becoming and VH1’s Fanatic.

They are like a horrifying train wreck from which you can’t pull your eyes away. You painfully wince as uber-fans tell stories which make you say everything from, “Jeez, what a freaking loser,” to, “I really feel for his parents.”

Of course I love my mother, and Nick is a good friend. So I beg you both and others like you everywhere … please drop the Web ring bookmarks and fan club membership cards, and slowly back away. Go outside, smell a flower. Do a good deed. Remember, artists are human, too. Enjoy the music, don’t become the music.

  • Collin Sherwin is a senior majoring in political science.