ornate line
If the Band Fits, Wear It
Slide Dano.jpgI'm not a J. Crew guy. I'm not a Banana Republic guy. I'm not a multi-colored-button-down-shirt-that-I-just-ironed-tucked-into-a-crisp-pair-of-chinos-with-a-crease-down-the-front-whose-belt-perfectly-matches-his-brand-spanking-new-pair-of-loafers guy.

I'm just not.

It's extremely unlikely I ever will be. It would be like all of a sudden, out of the clear blue sky, Ernest Hemingway deciding that he would only shop at Brooks Brothers--about as likely as a tightly packed snowball surviving a day in the pit of Hades. Pretty slim, I'd wager.

I will dress properly for work or any religious or formal function, but other than that, you'll most likely find me in a well worn pair of jeans and a Beatles T-shirt. I am not a fan of having a corporate logo across my chest. Let me get this straight, I pay you 25 smackers to walk through midtown Manhattan advertising your product? I pay a fee to be a mobile billboard? No, thank you, Mr. Abercrombie. No, thank you.

I'd rather wear a banana hammock to Carnegie Hall.

ben-harper.jpgThere are many that buy the shirts with "Polo" in six-inch letters across the chest because they believe it makes a statement of status. This is the same reason that men like me and my testosterone-charged counterparts insist on sporting a T-shirt with our favorite bands emblazoned across the front. There are some that feel a sense of pride displaying designer labels on their clothing. It's a status symbol. We have a similar feeling, but express it by wearing a Ben Harper or Sex Pistols shirt. Some may roll their eyes at this. But I roll my eyes at those that pay hundreds for a handbag because it says "Prada" on the side. The principle is the same.

M-YourFaveBand_400x400_2_jpg_175x175_crop_q85.jpgTo quote Rob Gordon from the immortal classic film High Fidelity, "Part of what you are like, is what you like. Call me shallow, but it's the f#&%ing truth." The band T-shirt is a bold declaration of taste and lifestyle. Ever wonder why street gangs dress alike, sporting certain colors, sports teams, or brands of clothing? Those chaps are not ashamed to be in a gang. In fact, they are proud of it. There is a sense of camaraderie. "You see, I'm wearing red; I'm with them." For $20 bucks, we have a similar feeling: an association with similar minded people. I have seen people on the subway with a Social Distortion shirt or a Weezer shirt and given them a warm nod. It is always returned. The nonverbal "yeah, man, me too." This really happens. I saw a guy once wearing a shirt that read "Your Favorite Band Sucks." I nearly gave him a high five right there on 14th Street. "Up top brother, I'm with you."

One of the negatives of this practice is that I sneer at the blokes I see wearing a shirt of a band that I think is terrible. I try not to, but I do. "Good Charlotte? Really?" Or, "For crying out loud, you went to a Fall Out Boy concert? Pathetic." Sorry, but I do it. I'm not alone, either. JW Drop in the Park.jpg
That finger is pointing to me. In the center, Who T-shirt proudly displayed.

The first rock show I attended was on September 20, 1992: Pearl Jam's legendary free Drop in The Park concert at Magnuson Park in Seattle. It was a seminal moment in my life. I still regale any that will listen with tales of that day: how we arrived the night before because we were so excited and how Eddie Vedder climbed into the rafters 20 feet above the stage during "Porch." That day I bought two shirts. I still have them. And, writing this, I can't think of a show I have been to when I didn't go home with a shirt from the seedy vendors outside. It serves as a tangible memory that I take with me after the night is over.

You see, the band T-shirt has very little to do with our immaturity or refusal to grow up. (Fine, I do have a slight Peter Pan complex, but that is another kettle of beans.) The reason we wear them is we are proud of who we associate with. For that reason, I have scoured the World Wide Web to find a Tom Waits, or Robert Johnson, or Screamin' Jay Hawkins shirt.

I'm with them.


(Editors Note: While writing this piece, Johnny was wearing an orange Ramones T-shirt.)

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