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Music notes: Extreme fans just a bit scary

Profanity? Death threats over review? Let's be reasonable

The other day I received a phone call asking why the Deseret Morning News didn't review the Utah Symphony's season opener.

I explained that the reviewer's mother passed away the night before and we were unable to replace him at such short notice.

This was the caller's response. "Well, couldn't you just find someone else to cover the concert? I can't believe you ignored it just because someone's mother died."

Needless to say I was taken aback.

I asked the caller if she realized how heartless she sounded. She said, "Yes, but this is bad for the symphony that you decided not to cover the concert."

I can understand and appreciate the dedication of music lovers. But sometimes it scares me a little.

A few years ago, I reviewed the Kelly Clarkson/Clay Aiken concert in what used to be the Delta Center (now the EnergySolutions Arena). I wrote that Clay put on a better show than Kelly.

Oh, man, did that open the floodgates. Kelly Clarkson fans bombarded me with e-mails. Even fans who didn't attend the show took me to task. "I've seen her before and know you are wrong" is an example of the e-mails I received.

But nothing prepared me for the death threats.

Three Kelly Clarkson fans — one from Japan — told me they'd kill me if they met me.

I can understand receiving angry e-mails if I get a song title wrong or a name wrong, but there are times when they go too far. And sometimes fandom can be a little disturbing. Britney Spears fan Chris Crocker, anyone?

However, getting feedback — good and bad — is part of the job.

A couple of weeks ago, a lady called me about an Elvis Presley column. She took issue with this statement: "He was sort of the Michael Jackson of his time."

Unlike some others, she didn't swear or call me names but instead took time to discuss her concerns. We had a nice, conversation. And by the time we hung up, we parted as two diehard Elvis fans who were able to amicably share our views on the man and his music.

I welcome criticism. (And I welcome compliments.) But I tend to take more seriously those that are sparse on cuss words and name-calling. Abusive language is just a way of covering up lack of thought. If someone who is very angry can tell me why he or she feels that way without spewing obscenities or racial slurs, then I can more likely respect that person's views.

I have a collection of angry e-mails that I re-read every now and then. I print all the e-mails I get. And I'm thinking about recording telephone conversations as well. That way I can have a record of the comments by readers on artists, CDs, concerts, reviews, etc. And when I retire, I'll compile them into a little book.

At any rate, I know what it's like to be a fan. It's a personal thing and when one of your favorites is reviewed critically — or not reviewed at all.

I totally understand the frustration. But at the same time, I think it would be nice if some people would step back and think about what they are going to say before they say it.