Tuesday, June 14, 2005

"Who Are You"

After blogging The Clash yesterday, I happened to listen to The Who and realised that here, possibly, were the roots of punk. Four guys with serious attitude -- and The Who were about nothing if not attitude in their youth -- and a catalogue of dizzyingly varied songs. Listen to "Pictures of Lily", "I'm a Boy", "My Generation" and you get a complete picture of angst-ridden teenage confusion and alienation. To see them in their time would have been as electrifying as to have been at the 100 Club to see the Sex Pistols in 1976.
Skip forward twenty years and The Who have gone from sulky teenagers to grumpy old men, a whole lot wiser but still angry, still brash. This track proves it. There's an menace to Pete Townshend's guitar, as there always has been, and Roger Daltrey summons up a hard-edged roar that hasn't been heard since he was stuttering on "My Generation". And the lyric... maybe the preoccupations have changed with time, but the alienation, the rage is still there: "I stretched back and I hiccupped/And looked back on my busy day/Eleven hours in the Tin Pan/God, there's got to be another way/I spit out like a sewer hole/Yet still recieve your kiss/How can I measure up to anyone now/After such a love as this?" This is snarling, spitting, swearing, proper vitriol, which just goes to show that we don't always grow old - we just pick our fights better.

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