10 Great Quotes from “Stay Fanatic!!! Vol. 1” by Henry Rollins

I recently read Stay Fanatic!!! Vol. 1: Hectic Expectorations for the Music Obsessive by Henry Rollins, originally published in 2019. I have long been a fan of Henry Rollins. I find his music obession and communicative energy nothing short of inspiring. The book itself is a fascinating extensive journal where he shares his close relationship with music and his record collection, ranging from facts to personal experiences. Here are ten quotes from the book that particularly stood out to me.

“Hours ago, I was walking around. I found a supermarket where I bought some water, and I got that feeling that often arrives when I’m out in the world. It’s as close as I get to happiness. It’s a rare feeling but it sometimes hits me when I’m alone, on the streets, just walking around. I feel free. When I was walking through the heat, the sweat rolling down my sides, I knew I was right. I was right to come out here. Right to be on my own. Right to be a total Fanatic and music obsessive.”

“Without awe, life is flatline.”

“Alone in cities all over the world. My secret happiness. No one recognizes me. I walk invisibly amongst the species. I wish this night would last forever or that I could live forever in it. It’s all I need. In these dark hours, I command time and live life, it’s not living me. Fanatic.”

“Reality has always bored me senseless. It drains my energy. Many years ago, I realized I was going to process life though a music purification system. It worked, too. When I listen to music, read or write about music, think about music, everything gets better. Music allows me to travel in my mind. We spend a good part of our lives in places we don’t want to be in and with people we don’t want to be around. I’m trying to keep all that to a minimum.”

“My records are good friends. They’re an army. Standing straight, in rows, ready to go. Prepared to neutralize sadness and the sometimes crushing pointlessness of almost every pursuit. My heart will not break because my records have built a wall around it.”

“As you conform, depression can get you. Music is the literal soundtrack of emancipation from the depressing straightjacket of normality.”

“Nothing stays the same. Experience has a way of turning on you. You see and feel so much and then at a certain point, life starts to repeat. This is the start of wisdom and having “seen it all before.” This is when the true beauty/cruelty of life makes its presence known. This is when you go from being a film you don’t know the ending of, to being the star, director and screenwriter. I think there’s a danger to that. It’s why I try to keep at least some aspects of my life unplanned. You only get so many years before you become too good at what you do, to be all that good at it. It’s what happens when all the lights get turned on.”

“Young adulthood afforded me a lot of time on my own. Sometimes on a night off from work, I would park my car in a supermarket lot and just sit there, listening to tapes on my battery powered, one speaker Norelco. That sounds lonely but it was really cool, actually. It was all I needed. I pretty much do the same thing now but with slightly better playback.”

“It’s the person who tells you they listen to a lot of different music with an almost resigned sigh of futility that you want to pay attention to because they know that at best, they’ll only hear a small part of a tiny drop in the great ocean of music.”

“I met a woman around the corner from the hotel who owns a bar on Essex. We talked for awhile. She used to see Johnny Thunders play whenever she could. She said that sometimes he was too messed up to do the show and the venue would kick him out. She and her friends would sit with him outside and he would play for them. Can you imagine?! That’s a quintessential NYC experience. It’s what makes this city so great.”

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