Let's get together
Before we get much older
--Teenage Wasteland (Baba O’Riley),
If you gotta play at garden parties,
I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang,
I rather drive a truck
--Garden Party, Ricky Nelson
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
--The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,
Or: Exiles from the retirement home.
Ranger does not watch pro sports, and does not give a rat's ass about the Super Bowl, but The Who's 11-minute half time show deserves a comment.
The Who, a 46-year old rock band, played a medley of their hits, to include Teenage Wasteland about adolescent angst. So strange, as Daltrey and Townshend, like Ranger, are pushing their mid-sixties and such memories are a blur to a blurry mind. These rock geezers as The New York Times calls them are not aging gracefully.
To compare them with one of their peers, at least the Beatles possessed some self-deprecating humor. When asked if they were Mods or Rockers, the ever-cheeky Lennon replied, "We're neither; we're Mockers." Now that's a stance that can take you into old age, and Lennon's last album showed evolution. "I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round" shows some humility and self-understanding.
But the half-time Who refused to age. It is bizarre to watch a group (of which 50% are dead) trying so hard to remain teenage misfits, Daltrey in full Fleet Street regalia, dyed blonde locks cascading past a weathered face; Townshend hiding behind shav boy watch cap and glasses, trying to look very Slim Shady, but sadly just looking shady.
Does our society demand the perpetual boy? Once emblematic of an era, is a person or group disallowed from maturation? Or is it a reluctance on the part of the one who felt that glory to relinquish it? Or is it simply the venue, The Superbowl which, in itself is a wasteland: A place of gridiron "warriors" through whom the nacho-eating set vicariously fight their battles.
A couple of groups in Florida protested Townshend's appearance on the basis of his 2003 arrest for accessing kiddie porn online (he plead guilty to the charge, and though cleared in a later investigation, was placed on a sex offender's watch list in England for five years.) He claims childhood sexual abuse led him to the curiosity, so who is to know if his arrested maturation is somehow tied up in his claim.
But there comes a time when a man must realize that he is no longer young, no matter how many roadblocks to his maturation he may claim, or how hard he tries to obscure the fact. There ain't no teenage angst when you're 65. Teenage angst does not hang well on a grizzled 65-year-old body.
The Who wrote 40 years ago in "My Generation": Hope I die before I get old, sharing with The Stones the fashionable "trust no one over 30" card. The Beatles had a more balanced view. In their "When I'm 64," they posed the plaintive question, "Will you still need me?" knowing that age was inevitable, and continuing desirability not promised.
Well, for the eternally juvenile Who, two out of four ain't bad.
--Lisa and Jim
Labels: The Who half time show