I never meant to infer that I was (quoting Forrest here) "...second-guess[ing] an artist's opinion of his or her own work." if that's what some folks here think I was stating. My point is that while an artist, obviously, has every right to evaluate his/her work from his/her own perspective (as does the fan of that artist), it's ungracious (IMHO) of an artist to reply in a way that deflects or minimizes the compliment. It's not about allowing the artist to be human, here quoting Mike who wrote "...[the artist] must not ever offer genuine opinions or interact with listeners like a human being." There's being a "human being" and being a dick. If someone came up to me and said "Bill, Wind and Wire was AWESOME." but didn't say anything about my subsequent work at Zone Music Reporter or Retailing Insight, I'd STILL say "Gee, thanks a lot. I appreciate it. Really glad you liked it. Say, have you caught some of my newer stuff? I'd be curious how you think it compares." Because that is EXACTLY what I would want to know. And if they said, "Yeah, your reviews are still okay but Wind and Wire was the bomb." I'd still be polite. It's not about my "reaction" because, sure, I'd be disappointed that this fan didn't care for what I was doing now, but so what? Truthfully, I might ask "What do you see is the main difference? I'd really like to know. Is it the music I review now or are my reviews not as well written as before?" If Robert thinks Rainforest is not that good, maybe he could ask "What was it/is it about that disc that moved you so much?" OTOH, maybe he just didn't care, which is fine too.
I met Robert at a show here in Minneapolis and he is a shy and reserved person, IMO. In the situation recalled here in this thread, I don't think he was wrong or being a dick, but I do think what he said was a little insensitive...no big deal - just a little insenstive. It's not that I think fans' opinions outweigh an artist's...but an artist should be, IMO, appreciative when a fan says anything nice. Just because an artist thinks his/her earlier stuff is of lesser quality, that's no reason to not accept the compliment with grace and humility. As my Wind and Wire example stated above showed, merely engage the fan in a conversation, if time allows, and find out what he/she thinks of your newer stuff. And if he/she (fan) doesn't like it, well, that's just the way it is. There is no right or wrong in this issue, except that politeness would dictate, IMO, that the artist receives the compliment graciously without the need to deflect the praise or infer, even subtly, that the praise is unwarranted when compared to other work.