Been spending a lot of time thinking, chatting and arguing about The Who’s performance at the Super Bowl. Doesn’t seem to be much middle ground in the reaction at all. Most folks who weighed in either loved it or hated it. Some really hated it. I was too excited just to see Townshend up there that I hardly paid attention to what it actually sounded like.
My brain just automatically fills in what may not have been there. The Who – and Pete specifically – was such a huge influence on me and my approach to music and I spent so many hours listening to Live at Leeds that just seeing Pete on stage sends me back in time to laying on the living room floor in the dark, my parents out of the house, the big console stereo fucking cranked to window rattling levels…completely and utterly happy.
So now he’s old. So am I. Neither one of us planned or hoped for anything other than dying before this happened. But we didn’t. We’re here. As are all of you.
So what do we do? Put away the toys of our youth? Brush it off our shoulders as something that was silly and a meaningless part of being a kid? Bury the emotions and hopes and dreams that we had then, that the music of our time reflected, fed and became a rallying cry as we strode clenched fist to the front lines in the battle between Us and Them.
Not me. I love my rock n roll. And will til my dying day.
I wonder if what pisses us off, watching The Who or so many of the artists who have survived and continue to do what it is they do…repeating what they did…is that it reminds us, we failed. We lost. We, all of us for the most part, sold our collective soul to the devil we once so vehemently railed against, swore we would never have anything to do with and tried to bring down.
We became THEM. Caught up in an unending struggle of acquisition and endless desire for more more more. We stoked the insatiable engine of the consumer society. We became something far worse than anything we once thought our parents were. My folks never spent beyond their means or even had a credit card until well into their 40’s. And they never ever let the balance ride.
So much for getting back to the land and setting our souls free.
We filled the arenas. We filled the stadiums. We created this monstrosity, this aberration of the art we so deeply loved, we brought life…like Frankenstein…to the horrible, bloated, corruption of something once beautiful and full of purpose.
These bands play arenas and charge $400 a ticket because we pay it. We allow them to gross 100’s of millions of dollars touring. We listen to computer formatted classic rock radio that clogs the airwaves with “Won’t Get Fooled Agin” and “Hotel California” and “Stairway to Heaven” & “Start Me Up”
We asked for it. We got it. And now we want to blame Pete & Mick & Keith & Sting & Bruce & Bono for cranking out formatted spectacles with planned encores because demand still exists.
Don’t want your precious memories fucked up by hearing The Who on CSI? Turn that piece of shit show off and read a fucking book.
Don’t want to see Mick prancing around some stadium looking all the world like a rode-hard-put-up-wet whore? Don’t buy the tickets. Tell your friends not to buy the tickets.
The future of rock n roll is in the past.
Rock n Roll – real rock n roll – takes place in sweaty bars and small theaters and shit-hole nightclubs in bad neighborhoods. It’s not clean or nice or all that pretty.
All these bands that have become more spectacle than rock n roll experiences could still and would, tear the joint apart in a small venue. I know, I’ve seen it done.
There are great rock n roll bands & vibrant music being played in every city, in every town in every country on this planet. But most of us will never see them or hear it…
We won’t get off the couch, turn off the flat screen, get in the car, drive into town to stand at the bar and toss back a few watered down cocktails served in plastic cups while getting our ears blistered by some struggling bunch of kids learning to play their instruments by doing gigs!!
It’s not the musicians who are too old to rock n roll…maybe it’s us.