This I Believe
I believe in love, angst, and music, particularly British rock. I believe in The Who.
For a kid growing up in the 1980s there was the cold war and the feeling that Ronald Reagan had always been President. There was MTV, new wave, and the beginning of the end of Michael Jackson’s blackness. And for me, caught in some kind of rock and roll time warp, there was The Who. Like the ultimate protest to my own generation I clung to these bad boys from across the pond.
I was 8 years old in 1980 when I discovered my older brother’s Who albums. It was the song “Behind Blue Eyes” that started it all. I hear you Roger! I know what it’s like! No one understands this tortured soul! With such feelings at 8 years old, perhaps therapy was in order, but instead I self-medicated with Roger, Pete, John, and Keith. I began to collect every album The Who ever made.
The Who had it all for the angry young girl in suburbia. There was Roger Daltry to fall in love with, Keith Moon to mourn never having seen play live, John Entwistle to teach respect for the quiet but mighty forces that hold things together (still can’t believe he is gone), and Pete Townshend to feed creative ambition.
In 6th grade I wrote my first research paper on The Who. “Pick a topic that you are passionately interested in,” was my teacher’s advice. There is nothing like digging up the dirty laundry of a raucous British rock band from the 1960s to help a 12-year-old girl learn the facts of life. I got an “A”.
Like an R rated version of Marsha Brady and Davey Jones, I dreamed of taking Roger to prom in high school. Oh, to mock the ridiculous tradition and walk in on the arm of a hot rocker 20-some years my senior! And being Roger’s lover, I would naturally meet Pete and he and I would connect on a musical/spiritual level and together we’d create complex compositions to rival Tommy and Quadrophenia. I had much higher aspirations than gaining entry to a competitive four-year college.
In my 20s, out in the real world, The Who no longer ruled my every day consciousness, but they were always there for me. They put my memories into perspective and comforted me when I was lonely. The Who helped me use my anger and frustration to break out and move forward. I did go to college and ironically wound up a professional educator, but I held on to just enough anger to fight for change from within the system.
Now in my mid-30s, I still seek refuge in The Who. When the professional hoop jumping and tedious academia get to me, I crank up The Who and scream with Roger. That is until Pete’s lilting voice comes through at the bridge and makes me cry.
The Who: love and angst wrapped up in rock and roll. This, I believe.
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