The girl I love
Is a perfect dresser
Wears every fashion
Gets it to the tee.
I bought “Quadrophenia” the night I saw “Billy Jack.” I stopped first at Korvette’s, I put the paper bag beneath the seat of my ’63 Chevy and went into the almost empty theatre in New Haven to see the movie that was not yet a cultural icon, but would soon become one.
And then I went home, after midnight, and dropped the needle on this double album while my parents slept upstairs. The first track that resonated was “Sea And Sand.”
Crushes…I guess they’re in our DNA. Yes, we all loved Claudia Schiffer, there have been two-dimensional icons since the advent of mass media. But usually it’s someone in class, at work, that makes our heart jump. I don’t know about you, but I’ve avoided going to places for fear of running into my crush. I just wouldn’t know what to say, it would all be too painful.
Oftentimes it’s someone just for you. Not that cheerleader or the class president. You invest all your hopes and dreams within them. Without even having exchanged a word. And even if they turn out to be someone different, you still love them.
“Sea And Sand” is rocking along, and then all of a sudden, it pulls back, it’s almost a completely different song… We hear the lyrics above.
Then the song goes back to rocking. And then it gets wistful again…
I see her dancing
Across the ballroom
U V light makin’ starshine
Of her smile.
I am the face,
She has to know me,
I’m dressed up better than anyone
Within a mile
But the other guys look much better. He sleeps on the beach. It’s worse than unrequited love, it’s the cold loneliness. That’s what we love about rock and roll, it gives us hope.
And at this late date “Quadrophenia” is seen as a masterpiece. But unlike “Tommy,” it didn’t have “Pinball Wizard” to sell it. It had to marinate in the public consciousness for decades before everyone testified to its greatness. And then there was the movie, the best rock film ever made, with the remixed soundtrack which had much more punch, that sounded so much better.
And, unfortunately, Pete Townshend’s “Deep End Live!” is not on Spotify. With the exquisite rendition of “I’m One.” But this demo is almost as good.
Every year is the same
And I feel it again
I’m a loser – no chance to win
Leaves start falling
Come down is calling
Loneliness starts sinking in.
Life is hard. Even if you’re a winner. Because victory doesn’t last long. You don’t make partner, you get sick, your spouse leaves you. And then you’re alone, you feel like a loser.
But this was back when rock was an outsider’s game. When a gawky guy with a big nose could be a hero. Before everybody wanted to be a member of the group, play nice to be included.
Where do you get
Those blue blue jeans?
Faded patched secret so tight.
Where do you get
That walk oh so lean?
Your shoes and your shirts
All just right.
Feeling inadequate. Despite the self-esteem movement, I think it’s part of the human condition. Feeling you’re just not good enough. Despite your best efforts. Pete nails it here better than anybody else.
I got a Gibson
Without a case
But I can’t get that even tanned look on my face
Ill fitting clothes
I blend in the crowd
Fingers so clumsy
Voice too loud.
Music used to be our way out. If we weren’t good-looking enough, not popular enough, we could practice, we could get recognition, we could become the one. Before everybody wanted to be a beautiful nitwit without depth on reality TV. Music at its best is an outsider’s game, because that’s what we all truly are. It’s the nature of being alive.
But I’m one.
I am one.
And I can see
That this is me,
And I will be,
You’ll all see
I’m the one.
Don’t give up. Take antidepressants if you must. Ride it out to the other side. Because it does get better. If you stay at it. If you realize life is a long game. But the adolescents listening to the Who didn’t know this. Ergo those nights at loose ends.
I didn’t even know these demos had come out. And in the old days I’m not sure I would have plunked down twenty bucks for them, already owning two double albums of Pete’s demos and only listening to them once.
Then again, you’ve got to hear them. At least that one time. You’ve got to get closer. Because this is the essence of life.
P.S. If only Pete would post “Empty Glass” on Spotify so I could write about “A Little Is Enough”…