After the first time I saw the Who live, I said that my life would be complete and fulfilled if I could go hear the Who play "Won't Get Fooled Again" in concert once a month for the rest of my life. I came to this conclusion because the song embodies all the rage and pain of trying to navigate this big world, in which the majority of the world's wealth is in the possession of the top 1% of the population. It's all rebellion, revolution, and anger. It's the very essence of rock and roll.
Before we get to far into this, I should mention that I do not really play the guitar. There are guitars in my house because my wife, Liesel, is learning and plays with my step-son Ivan and recently with her brother, Mike, who was visiting after a teaching stint in Iraq. I do own my own guitar, and I have had lessons, so I can play a few chords (can't everyone?), but I am not really musically inclined. I am simply posing with the guitar because it is here and makes a nice prop that logically goes with one of the greatest guitarists and bands with guitars in rock and roll history: Pete Townsend and the Who.
The Who was the second BIG band that I came to love in the earliest days of my musical exploration (the first being Pink Floyd).
Recently, I had breakfast with my friend Chris Dilley, and I was reminded of how much I love the Who and "Won't Get Fooled Again" in particular as Chris mentioned listening to the band's great 1971 album Who's Next, which ends, epically, with "Won't Get Fooled Again" but also features one of Chris' favorites "The Song is Over." Having forgotten that song, Chris' interest caused me to "dig" it out, though in this modern era digging out a song is as easy as typing a search in iTunes or using YouTube to find a live version.
"Who's Next" would be the best album for a lesser band. And though with the Who it is surely one of the band's best, a band with many classics must log it just as another classic among many. The Who has given us the rock operas Quadrophenia and Tommy, as well as early classics like My Generation and A Quick One, one of the best live albums in rock music, The Who Live at Leeds (1970), and the amazing soundtrack album for The Kids Are All Right movie (which is a great introduction to the band and my first Who album).
One listen to "The Song is Over" brings back memories of why it's such a great song (Thanks, Chris Dilley!) and why the whole Who's Next album is so great. The cover art (See image to the right) is also one of my favorites in all rock music and is a perfect companion to the music, especially "Won't Get Fooled Again" and the song people often mis-title as "Teenage Wasteland," which is actually called "Baba O'Riley," named for the song's musical influences Meher Baba and Terry Riley.
Interesting sidenote: Last night, I took the kids to the Klassic Arcade in Gobles (my first time), and I was playing tunes in the car to get us pumped up to play video and pinball games. I was scrolling the iPod to the Who because I wanted to play "Won't Get Fooled Again," having earlier in the day decided to make this today's blog entry. I was not even thinking of the Who's most appropriate song for our outing, but when I saw it, I played it: "Pinball Wizard." Serendipity. Synchronicity.
The sidenote is another synchronicity that takes place in our world all the time. We put out energy into the universe, and the universe returns it to us a thousand fold. Factors converge. The important thing is to be open to what the universe will return and to put out good, strong, positive energy to get back all that is good and wonderful about our world rather than the dark and negative.
In part, this blog (the whole thing not just this entry) explores LOVE. And I am trying to elevate this idea beyond narcissism for the things I love but rather sending out love, transmitting it into the universe, great waves of powerful and transformative love and remaining open for what I will get back, what we all get back.
I could list all the reasons I love the Who. I could write a love letter about the Who. I could write about the deaths of two of the band's original foursome: Keith Moon (to drunkeness) and John Entwistle (to cancer), and the sadness and loss therein. I could go into depth about how the Who, one of the best Mod bands of the UK's 1960s seminal rock and roll period, would go on to inspire one of my other favorite bands: the Jam (expect a future T-shirt entry on that great band). But after yesterday's enormously long entry, I want to keep this one on the shorter side (which for me is still kinda long). And those are subjects that I can explain in some fashion later, though this is my one and only Who shirt, and one, due to its collar and style, that I considered one of my "dressy" T-shirts.
Yeah, it's a thing.
I love this shirt. Its design has the mod flair. The target symbol--which is actually an appropriated version of the Royal Air Force Roundel logo--is THE mod symbol. If you don't know what I am talking about with mods, the Who's QUADROPHENIA is all about mods and rockers in England as well as drugs and the whole scene in the 1960s that gave birth to the Who. It's a great movie (see Sting as a young punk), and it is one of the best rock and roll albums ever recorded. It's also considered a "rock opera" like the much more well known and more popular "Tommy." (After all, there has not been a Quadrophenia musical on Broadway.) For more on Mods, check out Mod(subculture)1960s and Mod(revival)1970s.
But for now, I will leave those topics to your own exploration. I want to add a bit about resistance and protest, the very heart and soul of the Who and a song like "Won't Get Fooled Again."
I just finished reading Homeland by Cory Doctorow. The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" could be the theme song, the soundtrack, to this book. I reviewed it on Goodreads, which also posts to Facebook. And since this always comes up when I talk about Cory Doctorow: no, he is not related to the author E.L. Doctorow.
Here's my review. I gave it 4 stars in Goodreads. Read on for why I did not give it five.
Homeland is a great book. Make no mistake. This is another one of those situations in which the star system in Goodreads is not sufficient to my purposes. I want to give this more like a 4.75. I did not like it as well as his first book with these characters, Little Brother, and I probably enjoyed Makers more. I have not yet read more of his books, but they are on my list if not already in a stack.
Homeland is much more ambitious than Little Brother as Doctorow delves into all sorts of tech-related privacy and surveillance issues and drills deep into our culture. He starts and ends the book at Burning Man. He pens a large sequence inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests; his is set in San Francisco. He brings together his take on WikiLeaks, Paranoid Android, Linux, Virtual Machines, camera-laden quad copters and drones, police state tactics, Internet censorship, hackerspace, Anonymous, and many other great aspects our our modern society. But it's all a little bit more than he can chew in one mouthful. I happen to like everything-and-the-kitchen-sink type books. I enjoyed this book immensely. But if I am going to make one criticism that's it: "whoa, Cory! This is a lot of stuff for one book." He makes it work. But I imagine it all may have worked better with a bit less. Still, it's an important book for our digital age and well worth reading if anything in the list of subjects interests you (and I left some out, like the math that inspired Gleick's The Information). As a painful and poignant final note, Doctorow has an afterword by Internet activist and Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz, which was written shortly before Swartz committed suicide earlier this year (2013). The book makes no mention of Swartz's death, but those who know, can put the entire book and its story in a new context and that context is frightening and deadly.
For more Cory, check out the blog on which he writes regularly (and one of the Net's best sites)
or Cory's own personal site
Fox Shuts Down Cory Doctorow’s Homeland Book In Overzealous DMCA takedown
Cory on the content in Homeland: Liberty, technology, kids, and surveillance
Homeland Review: Wired: Geek Dad
Homeland Review: Functional Nerds
Homeland Reviews: Goodreads: average rating is 3.91
Excerpt of Aaron Swartz's Afterword in Homeland
RIP Aaron Swartz by Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing