Most of the time, I am not someone who is a fan of musicians before they hit the mainstream. From time to time it happens, when I hear a song on the radio by an obscure band and have to find out more about them and then become a fan, as was the case with Finish Ticket . More often, though, I don’t even hear of a band until they are hitting the charts and other people are talking about them. Sometimes, though, I find an artist or band before they have hit the mainstream. Such was the case with Ricky Martin. Although it may not be cool to admit so, I was a fan of Ricky Martin before he came to the mainstream with Livin’ La Vida Loca, and even before his Copa De La Vida. It came about because my mother and I were fans of a Spanish-language telenovela that used his song “Vuelve” as a theme, and from there I became a fan of that excellent album (and its two good preceding ones–“A Medio Vivir” is still a solid tune, as is “Maria,” even now).
I was reminded of this in a conversation with a friend, as we discussed the sort of pride that one got from being a fan of someone before they got big. I don’t consider myself a hipster, really, in that I dislike what is popular because of its popularity. Although I am at least a mildly eccentric person in terms of my likes and habits, I don’t consider myself directly hostile to the sorts of things that lead something to become popular. I like catchy hooks, and pleasing harmonies and melodies, and from those things enduring pop songs are made. When it comes to country songs, I like a good story and sympathetic framing, and I’m fond of both acoustic as well as electronic music, so my tastes are fairly ecumenical. It is not hard to make music that I find to be pleasing, and as a result I do not tend to have to look very hard to find music I like–at the very least I can look back to previous decades for songs and artists I appreciate. Other people with less historical perspective and more picky tastes must search further afield for something that they appreciate.
Perhaps typically, though, I find consistent themes in the songs I find popular. Let us take, for example, my favorite English and Spanish songs by Ricky Martin, “Private Emotion” and “Muchas Gracias Por Pensar En Mi .” Despite their different languages, these two songs happen to share a few qualities, namely that they are deeply concerned about the question of trust and communication between two people who are at least somewhat estranged. In one song, someone feels betrayed by another who was not thinking of them, and in the other someone reaches out between the silence hoping that the other will see the love that is returned. The references to silence in both songs is a powerful connection–in one song someone looks at the singer/narrator in silence and in the other the silence falls between him and another person–and as someone who knows more than I ought to know about silence both in terms of my own and that of other people, it is a connection that I find of deep importance.
We live in a day and age where private emotions are not that common. To be sure, we may not always be very public about the details of our thoughts and feelings, but the rough outlines of what we think and feel are generally all too obvious and impossible to hide. We know when people wish to befriend us, for whatever reason, and we know when people are going out of their way to ignore us or not pay attention to us or avoid communication with us. Often our communication issues themselves become public because we are asked to relay messages to someone because we cannot communicate with them directly, and that makes public what we may wish to be private. Even if someone does not spill their guts out online to the extent that I do, for example, our feelings are often evident in what we show of ourselves in public, and there are many people whose lives are far more public than many of us would wish them to be. Such is the life we live and the times we live in.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: