Appropriately, I think, this is one of the songs that our own kid happens to love.
The promo film that The Who made for it is a hoot - love those wires and PAs, lip-synchers! - and even more so when you notice the rowers in the water wondering what exactly is going on behind them. It doesn't take away, though, from one of my favourite Sixties songs - the title of which, of course, was lent to the 1979 documentary on The Who and its history.
From 1982, when The Who did their farewell tour ... of that year, that is. Eminence Front was the strongest track on It's Hard, and has a pretty decent after-life, being sampled for TV shows and sports arena sounders. (Never mind the irony that the song is about fakery, delusion and drug abuse.) It's also one of the songs that songwriter Pete Townshend sings himself, with Roger Daltrey playing backup.
One of the best memories I have of a visit to San Francisco 15 years ago was seeing a touring production of Tommy at the city's historic opera house. I came across this video today that brought back that memory: a flashmob that formed in August in Union Square to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Who playing Tommy at the Woodstock festival. The event was sponsored by Wolfgang's Vault, which is full to the rim with great concerts and such.
In the late Seventies, there was a flood of new music going on ... and I was into it. A lot. And while Elvis Costello and Talking Heads and the Police and all that was exciting, I'll cop to being more than a passing fan of bands that had supposedly passed their prime years earlier.
Indeed, my 14-year-old self thought all of these guys were ancient. Ancient. I realize, of course, that I'm a fair bit older now than all of them were then. At that point, Ray Davies was 35; Pete Townshend 34; Robert Plant 31. In any event, Doors nostalgia kicked in a little while later, the "classic rock" radio formula was pretty much invented (and, to its shame, scarcely changed since), and the geezer bands knocked one compilation out after another.
At the time, though, I bought these records, and played them continually.
Led Zeppelin: Hot Dog. In Through the Out Door seems, in retrospect, like the soundtrack of the fall of '79. Didn't think this would be the end of the road. Looking back, with just seven tracks, it doesn't seem like much, but I love running through it, and Hot Dog is still a hoot.
The Kinks: (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman. The disco groove sounds more obvious with distance, but Superman is not too dated. (The opening riff also sounds like it got nicked a few years later by Survivor for Eye of the Tiger.) More tuneful than anything punk was dishing out, but just as immersed in Seventies malaise.
The Who: Won't Get Fooled Again (Live). From The Kids Are Alright, which I played enough for my parents (at least once) to ask for something else on the stereo I had put together in my room. Punk may have been bitting at bloated rockers, but the Who - and at this point they were arguably at their most bloated - could cut through it in style. Besides, that stuff about "Meet the news boss, same as the old boss" turned out to apply to that trend, too, didn't it?
The Rolling Stones: Shattered. I didn't realize until a few years later (when, to borrow a phrase, the Stones were sucking in the Eighties) that Some Girls is quite a good record, with nods to the discos and to the edgy punks telling them to piss off. Shattered is my favourite Stones tune from the period.
Paul McCartney & Wings: Arrow Through Me. To be truthful, I didn't and still don't much like Back to the Egg, although I can hum along to Arrow Through Me. I read a piece a month or so ago about Wings, and how Back to the Egg was to have been a relaunch of the band, with the musicians filling up on new wave and reggae as recording began, expecting that would be Macca's direction. None of that, of course, wound up on record; pity. Makes you wonder.
A five-song playlist is filed to this blog each Saturday. Click below to see others.
On March 1, 1944, Roger Daltrey was born. I suspect that not too many people in their 60s are still living like a rock star; indeed, Daltrey himself has toned it down. That said, the Who are still taking it on the road ... nearly 24 years after their first farewell tour.
Pete Townshend has been serializing a new bit of literature called The Boy Who Heard Music online, and has been evidently getting a little annoyed with the loyal fanbase. For instance, a companion blog has been overrun with comments from fans ... a few of whom seem to want the Who of days of yore.
Stop telling me what to do. Stop preaching to me about the music I actually helped to create. Stop worrying too - as long as I am healthy I'll do stage work and probably do it with my best buddy Roger. We are tied together now. What we want, if we ever release a new CD, is that it is great. Anything less will just disappear down the cracks.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.