I like The Who, but I’ve had a curious relationship to their music through the years and there have been stretches where they’ve been in limbo with me.
I can recall hearing The Who’s Tommy, Can You Hear Me? on the radio as a kid – maybe five or six years old. It’s odd to think that my parents would have the car radio tuned in to a station that would play The Who. I had a friend by that name at the time and the song kind of creeped me out.
In ’79, I was a sixth-grader with little interest in music, but I remember hearing the news of the stampede at The Who’s Cincinnati show. I was watching a Purdue basketball game and the commentators broke in about it. And, as we lived across the border and the Cincinnati stations were our network affiliates, we saw plenty of coverage about the event.
Those weren’t the best years for The Who, but as I reached high school, the band was wildly popular with most of my classmates. My friend Bosco tried early to convert us with Face Dances.
I knew their stuff from radio and Athena got a lot of airplay in ’82, but I owned a copy of Townshend’s solo album White City before I owned anything by his band.
I eventually got copies of Who’s Next and Quadrophenia – and even sat through portions of the latter’s film version on cable a time or two. I eventually owned most of their catalog.
There have been brief bursts where I’d focus on their music obsessively, but I also seemed to move on to something else pretty quick.
When It’s Hard and Athena arrived, I was still becoming aware of an interest in music. But the hoopla for that tour, billed as their final, was some of the earliest musical hype I lived through.
The Who have released little new music during my life as a music fan and, when they have resurfaced with a reunion of some kind, I simply haven’t had much interest. For various reasons, it just hasn’t connected with me.
I’ll be watching Sunday, but only because I’ll be watching the game.
Here is a quartet from The Who…
The Who – Baba O’Riley
from Who’s Next
Baba O’Riley was the song by The Who held in highest regard among my classmates in high school (Magic Bus would have been a close second) and it’s always been one of my favorites. In fact, if I put together a selection of jukebox selections as Whiteray is over at Echos In The Wind, Baba O’Riley would be an immediate add.
It’s simply epic.
The Who – Behind Blue Eyes
from Who’s Next
Not only was Who’s Next the first album I ever owned by The Who, but it’s hands down my favorite. There really isn’t a single track which I don’t like.
As for Behind Blue Eyes, the dynamics and tension of the song never fail to draw me in.
The Who – Who Are You
from Who Are You
Who Are You was released when I was just starting to become intrigued by music and, though hardly the group’s biggest hit, the title track got a lot of airplay on the Top 40 stations I had started checking out.
The Who – Eminence Front
from It’s Hard
By the time It’s Hard arrived, my tentative interest in music was quickly becoming an obsession. I dug Athena, but I was more excited to hear Eminence Front on the radio with it’s shimmering, twitchy intro, slinky melody, and Townshend’s barked vocals.