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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, August 19, 2003
    The Who sell out
     
    Have The Who sold out?
      "People try to put us down" - well, thousands will pay forty quid for a ticket to see then at the Albert Hall, so they're hardly unpopular;
      "Just because we get around" - they don't get around much these days; the odd charity gig, and on stage they don't get around like they used to;
      "Talkin' 'bout my generation" - this is an old criticism, a cheap jibe, but what generation precisely, granddads?
    The bit which grated most in a recent Who charity gig I'd taped and watched tonight, was them singing "Hope I die before I get old". The charity is the Teenage Cancer Trust. Young people denied the luxury of making such a grand statement, old sods whose 'hope' had faded too. (John Entwistle himself died a year ago. He was 57.)

    Have the Who sold out? It's a non-question because life's too precious to quibble about such things. The Who Sell Out - they acknowledged / lampooned the process of 'selling out' on their 1967 album of that name.

    What counts is that after all this time there's still great power in the music. It's sung by granddads but it is still young people's music, songs for people searching for identity ("Who are you?"), battling for integrity ("Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"), yearning for genuine emotions, meaningful relations ("See me, feel me, touch me, heal me").

    Bone-tired of spending my days soaking in the griefs and anxieties of others, of acting 'together' whilst feeling as ripped-up and inadequate as everyone else, I welcomed The Who tonight, blasting through We Won't Get Fooled Again. Like they think there'll be no tomorrow. As there may well not be, for the young people for whom they're raising funds ......
      Listening to you I get the music.
      Gazing at you I get the heat.
      Following you I climb the 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.
      Listening to you I get the music.
      Gazing at you I get the heat.
      Following you I climb the mountain.
      I get excitement at your feet!