FTC DISCLOSURE: I’ve been professionally involved in The Who’s tours since 1981. I have not, however, received any special remuneration for this post.
Just watched a Rock Doc on VH1, Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who.
Minor confession: I didn’t really like The Who when I was a kid. There was a pair of guys from my neighborhood who would get together on the concert grand in the high school’s auditorium and bang out Who songs. They were really bad — then. (One was bluesman Steve Tracy’s brother Dave.) That and what they played on the radio was all I knew about the band. I didn’t like Roger Daltrey’s voice — or, as it turned out, his interpretation of songs — until bits of Tommy, and not really until Who’s Next.
But, when Who’s Next came out, I became an instant convert. And I haven’t really heard anything from the band together or from Daltrey or Townsend solo that I haven’t liked a lot since.I put it down to the maturation of Daltrey’s singing, and how that brought forth the meat of Townsend’s songs.
And, since I was receiving emails regularly from the tour and reading the news and box office reports, I was, of course, keenly aware of John Entwhistle’s death when it happened. The documentary made it clear — however cursorily — that the event had a traumatic effect on the remaining founders of the band — Daltrey and Townsend. It also made clear that the relationship between Pete and Roger deepened a bit and stabilized. Say: matured.
In the empty space where Entwhistle’s bass and Moon’s drums used to be there is silence that allows Daltrey and Townsend to exercise powerful artistry — perhaps less frenetic than in the mod days of yore; more contemplative … deeper; but also more powerful.
It struck me — and I really told you all the above to get to this — that my belief that retirement is a death sentence is really true. These guys are OLD by rock-and-roll terms (as Liam Gallagher tried to say in the doc), but they’re still out there, working the art, performing, stretching, doing new things, keeping their chops up, and providing the depth-of-field view that maturity supplies. Other acts have given up, lost members, broken up and reconstituted, with less dedication to their art, and in the end, they are… dust.
No matter what you do, do it. Don’t expect you’re ever going to get to stop, except to do something new. Because, when you stop … you stop.
Really deep, Alger.
You’re too young, yet, Dolly. You’ll get this some day.