Monday, June 15, 2009 marks the 365th straight day Cleveland, Ohio JUDAS PRIEST fan Jim Bartek has listened to PRIEST's "Nostradamus" from start to finish. Bartek's one-year listening obsession was completed early on Monday morning at 1:46 a.m. EST.
Bartek's initial listen came on June 16, 2008 when he first obtained a copy of the double-disc concept album, which is based on the mysterious, world-known 16th century French prophet Nostradamus. He has now spent approximately 624 hours (26 days) of his life listening to the set. Bartek, who owns all of the various configurations of "Nostradamus" (vinyl, deluxe CD, regular CD) and has been a dedicated PRIEST fan dating back to 1978, has an extensive collection that includes PRIEST albums, posters, patches, buttons, magazines, etc. "I've spent a lot of money on JUDAS PRIEST over the years," he says, "but it has all been money well spent. It is not hard for anyone to figure out who my favorite band is".
Asked why "Nostradamus"has made such an impact in his life, Bartek responds, "I wish I could answer that! I don't know, it just grabs me and I enjoy listening to it. I honestly wish I could pinpoint and give a rock-solid answer but I can't." Bartek adds "The flow of the record and the way you can just feel what the guy (Nostradamus) was going through from the way PRIEST play and sing it. Rob's [Halford] vocals tell you exactly how the guy is feeling at a particular moment. It all just fits perfectly. I'm not tired of it yet. It's an epic record about a very interesting subject."
Bartek continues, "This is the first album that has ever intrigued me so much both musically and vocally. The subject matter is fascinating as well. I did not know much about the man Nostradamus before the album was released and ended up going to the library to do research to find out more about his life." Bartek names "Pestilence And Plague" as his personal favorite track from the album, with "Prophecy" and "Future Of Mankind" following close behind. He makes it clear though that he loves ALL the songs on the album and enjoys listening to them as a complete set.
Bartek did come close to ending his listening streak once last fall. "I went fishing in a remote area back in September and we did not come in off the lake until after 9 p.m.", he recalls. "By the time I got back to the cabin, it was already after 10 p.m. I started listening to the album and finished just before midnight, with only 15 minutes to spare. That was a close call. At midnight, I started it up again and listened all the way through for the next day! This experience made me run out and buy a MP3 player that I carry with me at all times in case an emergency like this arises again".
JUDAS PRIEST will perform in Cleveland on July 15, 2009 at the Time-Warner Cable Amphitheater. Bartek will attend the show and hopes to be able to finally have a chance to meet and say hello to his heroes. "I have never met the band and would love the opportunity", he says. "I was overseas in the service for many years and PRIEST's music got me through some challenging times". He also wants to personally thank them for all the great music over the years and for creating and releasing a masterpiece like "Nostradamus".
Shortly after the concert was announced, Bartek received a mysterious package in the mail. "A package sent from one of the overnight delivery carriers arrived at my house with one third-row ticket to PRIEST's Cleveland show inside," explains Bartek. "There was no name on the package and I have no idea who sent the ticket. The ticket was worth well over $100. It's a mystery to me but I am very appreciative to whoever sent it. I'm looking forward to the show. I am wondering who will be sitting next to me though."
Bartek is hoping PRIEST will include his all-time favorite song, the non-"Nostradamus" track "The Sinner", in the setlist. "I just love K.K. Downing's guitar playing on that song," he says.
How long will the streak continue? Bartek says he plans on ending it shortly after the band's Cleveland show in July, much to the relief of his concerned friends and family. "It will be close to 400 days when the tour hits Cleveland," states Bartek. "I'll end it at Day 400 or 401. After that, I'll probably go every other day listening to the album!" When the streak does come to an end, expect a big party at one of the local drinking establishments to be hosted by friends, family and Cleveland PRIEST fans. The event will even be attended by Bartek's dog, who has faithfully listened to the album hundreds of times as well. "He has a place on the couch he sits and listens with me," says Bartek. "He knows when it's PRIEST time!".
Bartek has become a popular cult icon in the Cleveland area and can be seen out and about sporting his PRIEST attire. "I never really planned for anything like this to happen," he claims. "It's not about keeping a streak going for me. I genuinely love listening to the album. The local media picked up on it and the rest is history. It has been a fun experience and brings a smile to everyone's face I talk to about it. Life is too short not to enjoy it".
Photo below: Jim Bartek is paid a visit from Nostradamus himself in the early morning hours of Monday, June 15 as he listens to PRIEST's "Nostradamus" album in its entirety for the 365th straight day.