I Have No Room for Gatekeepers

There was quite the kerfuffle in my Facebook group a few days ago. By the time it ended, I learned more than I wanted to about yet another Internet personae.

It started innocently enough. One of my members was looking to learn a little more about King Crimson, a definite favorite within our group’s confines. My friend is not as well-versed in the band and its music as he would like to be. Still, he bought a ticket to an upcoming concert because he wanted to see what they were all about. He came to the group to ask what he might expect from the performance.

As far as nearly everyone was concerned, good on him! He was in for a treat and we were only too happy to help him along on his journey. Advice and well-wishes rained in from all over. We are all excited for him.

But there’s always one, isn’t there? That one guy eager to piss in the punchbowl. And he showed up, right on time.

This person not only had nothing positive to offer, but he even took the time to call our neophyte friend a “wannabe,” as if to say buying a concert ticket for a band he was not intimately familiar with made our friend some kind of poseur. He even took things further when after being asked to explain his position, he called our new friend “ignorant” and “lazy” for not achieving some heretofore unknown level of self-discovery before asking questions of the rest of us.

Our neophyte friend took it all with a grain of salt. The rest of us were FURIOUS on his behalf.

Long story short, the offender was offered multiple chances to walk has original statement back and apologize. He refused and was ultimately blocked. Good riddance. I will NOT tolerate toxicity within the confines of my group.

I would come to learn that I had just encountered a “gatekeeper,” a name I’ve heard in the past without any sense of context. Well, I was about to learn.

Gatekeepers, it would seem, are the self-appointed protectors of the entertainment realm. In this case, the Gatekeeper believed his seniority as a fan of King Crimson and its music endowed him with the right to determine who is or is not worthy of becoming a fan of that which he already enjoys. This position was never posted for application. There was no interview. No one told him he had the job. He just started DOING it! And I’m told there are TONS more just like him out there. This is actually a Thing!

It’s also the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard.

From where does ANYONE get the nerve to believe they are worthy of such a position? I have absolutely NO idea. What I DO believe, on the other hand, is that music is almost always an instrument of INCLUSION, not exclusion. Music is a never-ending house party with every room filled with sounds and rhythms just waiting to resonate with the right person on the right wavelength. When the person arrives at said party is irrelevant. That he showed up at all is what matters.

Apparently, gatekeepers don’t grasp this.

I’ve been a King Crimson fan since 1985. But even with all that experience, I’m a relative newbie compared to fans who’ve been there since the beginning in 1969. Hell, my arrival came nearly a year after the group was disbanded for the SECOND time! I’m sure glad none of the original fans looked upon me like some “Johnny Come Lately” unworthy of their time and wisdom. Anyone I met was more than happy to have me onboard. And I pass that joy on to others arriving behind me.

Nothing excites me more than someone asking me about music they’re unfamiliar with. I’ve got all the time in the world for them! I love introducing people to music they may never have heard otherwise. Seeing their faces light up with understanding and having them ask for more information makes it all worthwhile.

There’s no “proper” entry point to make such an inquiry. I can probably count on one hand the number of artists I’ve known about since Day One. And that couldn’t possibly have less to do with anything. If I show up in the middle of a band’s run, that means I have a back catalog to explore. That’s it!

Gatekeepers can’t possibly expect everyone to know everything about every band from its very inception. There’s WAAAYYYY too much music out there to make that even remotely possible. Yet, there they are. How utterly ridiculous.

I can understand the fan’s desire not to hear his favorite music used in ways they might deem “improper,” such as in a television commercial. No one wants to hear a deep and meaningful song bastardized in unseemly fashion. But that’s not really our call either, is it? I freaked out the first time I heard the Beatles “Revolution” used in a shoe commercial. But here’s the thing: the song’s use is not up to me. It’s up to whomever owns the publishing rights. That’s not me.

And it’s CERTAINLY not up to me to determine who is or is not worthy of exploring a band or certain form of music. So don’t expect me to do it here, within a group, or in person. If you want to know about something musical m, if you want to ask me about it, and if I have the answers, both my gate and my arms will always be open in welcome.

#cirdecsongs

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell

If you would like to have your record reviewed, contact me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com

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