015b-Time for Serious Levity Quatrieme Fois.point.cinq
Here’s what I propose: click, then listen, attend, recognize, & record your responses. Suffice it to say that I’ve been a big fan of the The Who since I was in high school. I modeled some of my guitar playing after Pete Townsend. I crafted most of my songs, even the quiet ones (!), to express the drive & intensity I have always found in their music. That’s a brief overview.
Today, I plan to reflect on this particular song and share some of what it has meant and what it means to me now.
I saw the King (Elvis!) on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 when I was in grade school. My grandma was horrified the way he gyrated.Then, while in high school, the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. I was one of 73 million viewers. And I saw The Who in concert in 1966 (with Herman’s Hermits!!!). I was a good kid, so I didn’t get the full impact of “My Generation.” I loved to dance to rock ‘n roll. I wanted to be a drummer, but the cost, our small house, eight kids, and all the racket… wasn’t going to happen. I learned to play guitar like I’d play the drums.
The rock opera, “Tommy,” became my favorite. I tried to play guitar like Pete Townsend, to capture his intensity, pulse, and power. I can look back to ask “Why?” Insecurity, a sense of unworthiness, alienation, all that stuff that many high school guys go through. And Roger Daltrey’s voice nails all this. (For me, he is the quintessential rock singer.)
Even back when, I knew that Daltrey’s plea, “See me… Feel me… Touch me… Heal me…” had a lot to say to me. I just couldn’t quite get it then. Or, to be honest, for a heckuva long time. When I heard it in the fall of 2013, I heard the almost muffled cry of his first plea. The second was kinda the same. But the third took on more of a demand such that his fourth plea was a command: “See me… dammit!!!” And I recognized the desperation and pain. I felt how longing and angry demand can be one and the same.
It’s the archetypal human cry to be seen (yet want to hide), to beg for another to really know my inner plight (yet remain distant), to demand another prove compassion is out there by reaching across the divide (while remaining tentative), and to command the Other to heal my alienation (while remaining inert, unwilling to reach out).
Then the key change fueled by John Entwistle’s bass run up to those majestic power chords… Keith Moon all over the drums! It’s transcendent! We’re into some other space of relationship:
“Listening to you, I get the music; gazing at you, I get the heat / Following you, I climb a mountain; I get excitement at your feet.” /// “Right behind you, I see the millions; On you, I see the glory / From you, I get opinions; From you, I get the story.”
Word is that Townsend wrote this in honor of his guru. Others talk about it as some combination of anti-religion yet higher power kinda thing. I really don’t know. I find a connection with the Trinitarian God, whom I know only a bit, really.
Final word: In this song, I was able to feel some of that alienation that characterized much of my life for so long. Over the years, I got to taste the longing, anger, demand, and search for ‘someone more’ – without being able to name these! Now when I hear it, sing it, and play air guitar on it (!!!) I know myself and rejoice in the freedom to stand before God with a bit less pretense. How cool is that!
What do you hear from your own life with this great song? Get after it! –roc,sj