Bryan Adams Fan Kim Shares How the Rock Legend Helped Her Cope with ME & the Impact of His Music
Updated: Sep 20, 2021
"I got sick and housebound not long after I became a fan of his. I was lucky in that I could still listen to music some of the time without it draining me and his music was some of the music that helped me escape my situation even for just a few minutes." - Kim
Hi Kim, Thank-You so much for agreeing to take time to talk with us in the latest edition of ‘Fan Features’. Today, we’re going to be discussing Bryan Adams and the impact he's had on your life. Obviously, there’s a lot to talk about so before we begin, would you mind introducing yourself to our readers?
Hiya! My name is Kim. I am 44 years old and I am a South African Scot – born and grew up in South Africa before coming 'hame' to Scotland with my family in my late twenties. I have had M.E. since I was 14 and I have to use a wheelchair to go out and plan and pace my energy around any outing very carefully.
So let’s start at the very beginning…how long have you been a fan of Bryan Adams and how did you first come to discover his music?
I have been a fan of Bryan since I was about 13-14 years old. It was the early 90's and his career was at its height, it was hard to not hear his music especially when 'Robin Hood Prince of Thieves' was released. I loved his music from the minute I heard it.
Music impacts us all in many different ways...so speaking from a fans point of view, how would you define your love for Bryan? Can you describe the influence he’s had in your life throughout the years?
I would count him as one of my most favourite musicians of all time. I got sick and housebound not long after I became a fan of his. I was lucky in that I could still listen to music some of the time without it draining me and his music was some of the music that helped me escape my situation even for just a few minutes. I could imagine dancing to his songs or any number of different scenarios. I can categorically say that Bryan's music was one of the things that helped me get through those first hard years of being ill and having to accept a different life and future than the one I had had. My twin sister, who is learning disabled, also loves his music so it has given us something to fangirl together over. I also made friends through a shared love of his music.
You spoke a little there about how Bryan's music helped you during your first few years of ill health, out of all his releases is there a certain song that you'd count as your favourite?
Oh wow, that's a hard one! I have so many! I'll have to choose 'Thought I died and gone to heaven' from 'Waking Up the Neighbours'. It's not one of his huge hits, but I just love the song. I'm not sure there is a reason as such, it just encompasses some of my favourite things about Bryan's music – a love song that isn't mushy but has a rock base, a song you can sing along to and one you can dance to.
Generally speaking, why do you think music plays such an important role in our lives and can would you imagine what life would be like without it?
For me music means dance, movement, that is my earliest memory of music – dancing to it as a toddler. I still listen to music from a movement point of view even though I can no longer dance physically, I can dance in my mind. I think music gives something different to everyone, and yet it is an experience that we can all share. It is profoundly personal and communal all at the same time. We can be standing next to someone at a concert listening to the same song and be having completely different experiences from it but equally be sharing a common experience, it satisfies our needs from our human duality of community and individuality.
And what do you think the greatest thing about being a fan is?
I have been and am a fan of many things from all sorts of different areas of life, but I think the thing that they all have is a sense of community and a shared experience. I don't need to know anything about someone, but if I find out they are a Bryan Adams fan I know immediately we have something in common; a common language that we can talk, a common ground that we both know and love well, something we can get excited about, something positive with a clear definition. We all have things in common with each other, but a lot of those things are either not easy to talk about to strangers or aren't particularly positive. Generally, it's just the mundane things we talk to strangers about, the weather and the like, but when you see someone standing ahead of you in the queue at the shop wearing a t-shirt from a concert of one of your favourite musicians you already have something uplifting and easy to talk to them about.
Bryan, like many other classic rock artists of his time, is often described as a legend and rightly so. What do you think it is about Bryan that’s allowed him to remain relevant and ultimately gain that legendary status?
Not sure to be honest. I think he has a very good understanding of music and performing. He has explored his style but never so far away from it that he alienates the people that have always been supporting him which is the best of both worlds – we don't get bored, but we also don't find ourselves getting music from him that isn't our general taste. He writes very good hooks, makes a song very hummable. And on stage he is incredible. He doesn't have dancers or special effects or anything like that, just him, his guitar and his band, which is made of incredibly talented musicians who he clearly respects and who clearly respect him. But even with such a simple staging he owns any stage, you can't take your eyes off him and you can not stop singing and dancing along. A Bryan Adams concert is a party and he knows how to work a crowd. He's a very good musician himself, he is a very good singer and song writer – all these things I think has given him that well deserved legend status.
Bryan had one of the biggest selling songs in UK chart history with ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’ in the early 90s. Obviously I wasn’t around to experience this first hand so I was curious to ask you a little about this. As a fan, how would you describe that moment in music history? What are your memories of this time and how did it feel to see your favourite artist create a record that still stands today?
It was amazing. At the time it was unheard of for someone to have a song on top of the charts for that long. Charting back then was a lot harder and was a far truer and fairer reflection of what music people were really enjoying and listening to. I remember some folk started doing the normal moaning and groaning about it, mostly radio djs because they got bored of having to play it so much because it was what the public wanted to hear, but overall it was a really positive experience as his fan and he deserved it so much.
How have things changed since then? What kind of impact did that particular success have on his career and how he progressed as an artist?
It had a huge impact, gave him an even bigger base of support and fans and it ultimately opened doors and opportunities for him. But he didn't sit back and coast off of it, he kept working and touring and making music and kept trying new things and pushing himself and continues to do that to this day.
The first thing people tend to think of when they hear Bryan Adam’s is hit songs ‘Summer of 69’ & ‘Everything I Do’ but what do we fail to acknowledge about him? What do the public frequently overlook when it comes to Bryan as an artist or a person?
How good a musician he is, how good a singer and performer he is and how good a song writer he is. I think a lot of people tend to think his music is simple rock. But even if it is, that is a incredibly difficult thing to do let alone to do exceptionally well. Watching him in his tour documentaries it is very clear he understands the song writing process very well and is exceptionally talented at it. I also think a lot of people think he just yells when he is an exceptional singer, a true master of his voice. In all the concerts of his I have been to; not one wrong note, not one strained note, note one song not sung perfectly, he has incredible control over his voice. As a person I think most people get that he is a genuinely nice and good person, but he's also has a fun and cheeky side to him, he has a lot of fun on stage with the audience and is really friendly and approachable.
You mentioned that Bryan was the first artist you ever saw in concert. A first concert is such a defining moment in someone’s life, how would you say that particular concert affected you? Do you remember that moment he first walked out on stage?
Hugely. It was overall a thrill, but it also was an eye opener to the issues of going to concerts for wheelchair users. I was 16/17 at the time and the concert venue was not wheelchair friendly in any way. Accessible, barely yes, but not friendly. There were no concert venues in South Africa at that time, things were still just Begin to open up after Apartheid, and the few venues that could hold a concert of that size and type where like the rest of the society at the time – barely wheelchair accessible at best. We couldn't stay for the whole concert as I got too tired and ill, but after finally getting into the venue (it was a velodrome so it required a couple of strong venue staff carrying me and wheelchair down the ramp onto the floor) we got onto the general floor to find there were no designated spaces for wheelchairs, so we had to stay right at the back so I could at least see the stage. It had been an exhausting experience by this stage as it was so I don't really remember the moment he walked on stage, but I do remember feeling the music, it was so loud and the thrill of seeing him, hearing and seeing him sing live. It was amazing and I knew I wanted to see him in concert again and again. I remember when I had to leave because my body just couldn't take anymore I was sad, but I was thrilled I had been there, I was a part of that, I had seen and heard him. It was worth the health implications for the following weeks.
Having seem him live on so many occasions, what it is about Bryan’s concerts that draws you in?
Firstly the music, it is very 'normal people singing' friendly if that makes sense! You can sing along and trust me, everyone does to every song every single lyric. His concerts are a real party atmosphere, you know you're going to have a really grand time. You'll come away exhausted, hoarse, high on adrenaline and beaming from ear to ear. And he is very approachable, you don't feel like you've been a faceless member on the audience, he talks to and with the audience. And you also see and hear exceptional musicians, he and all those he works with are top class artists.
Out of all the times you had the chance to see Bryan perform live, is there one concert that stands out as a particular favourite?
Oh aye, the Bare Bones concert at Glasgow City Hall. It was without a doubt one of the best live performances I have ever seen across the arts. He was mind blowing. It was just him with an acoustic guitar and another man at the piano and that was it. He sand so many of his songs all deconstructed to their 'bare bones' musically and they and he have never sounded better. It was still a party and rocked but it was also intimate and felt particularly personal. It was truly an amazing concert.
It’s been such a strange year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and sadly this has had a major affect on the world of live music. What do you miss the most about live music?
A concert, like all live entertainment, takes you into another world for two to three hours, you can suspend reality for the concert, forget responsibilities, all the real life things you have to do or worry about and just be in the moment the music creates. There is a magic to live entertainment of all kinds. I am unable to go a lot of concerts or live entertainment events the last few years for health and various other reasons and even without a pandemic that would still be the case so I have really appreciated the development of online concerts, but I still look forward to when live events can be held safely again. I do hope the online side is further developed to be able to exist in parallel to live events though, but even then the addition of live audiences will only add to the online side of things, it adds that extra bit of magic that only the energy of a live audience can give to events like concerts.
If you had the chance to meet Bryan what would you like to say to him?
Thank you. And 'I love you'! But I really do want to thank him for all the memories of going to his concerts with my Mum when she was well and my Sister, for the joy and escape his music has given me all these years and still does, for helping me through the early years of my illness, giving me strength and songs that touch me.
And finally, if you recommend a song to someone who isn’t necessarily familiar with Bryan Adams what would it be and why?
Hhmmm, I had to really think about that. Again there are so many. Rock is not everyone's cup of tea and it often makes folk not give his music a chance even though he has a lot of songs that aren't just 'loud rock anthems' so I think I'd go with one of his quieter songs to begin with as though they are slower and quieter they still have a rock element running through them. I think I would suggest the Bare Bones Album version of 'Everything I do' because it shows his most famous song in a new light, shows his versatility and his talent.
I just want to say a huge Thank-You to Kim for continually supporting 'Fan Features' since it's launch...it seriously means a lot! I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story and discussing the impact that Bryan Adams! I think most people will agree; there's just something about the classic rock artists of Bryan's time that will forever hold a treasured place in our hearts. He is a true rock icon in every sense!