Was it Halloween on Sunday? I could swear I saw the reanimated corpse of Pete Townsend at the Super Bowl.
I was once a fan of The Who for many reasons: “The Who Sell Out” was an ahead-of-its-time look at the confluence of art and marketing; “Who’s Next” was a collection of songs so breathtaking that I grew up thinking it was a greatest hits collection; Rock opera is an absurd concept on its face, but they went for it anyway; and, not least, they had an attitude so aggressive that they were the only classic rock band the punk movement embraced. But unlike the Stones, who at least make an attempt at relevance by putting out a new cd each time they tour (a terrible cd, to be sure, but new) the Who haven’t been a functioning band since 1982, at best. Trotting out the oldies as a ‘safe’ choice for the entertainment at the halftime show would likely have made young Townsend want to smash something, a guitar probably.
Of course, we’re the morons for even allowing them to call this “The Who”. Why are people so desperate in their nostalgia that they will pay obscene ticket prices to see a few (or a couple) of the musicians from a band they loved when they were kids pretend to play the same old songs, while the musicians in the back carry them? (See Eagles, CSN, Billy Joel, et al.) It would have been GREAT if they had played “My Generation”. By embracing the irony they could have flipped us off, hilariously, something that band was the best at once upon a time. “I hope I die before I get old,” Daltry would have sung, thinking, “Moon and Entwistle DID die, and none of you idiots even noticed. Here we are shoving crap in your ears, letting our kids do the actual playing, and you all cheer because you remember how ‘Teenage Wasteland’ made you feel thirty-five years ago. And that’s NOT EVEN THE NAME OF THE SONG.” Instead, the crowd just sang along to the other hits, unthinkingly, and Pete sold a ton of “Pinball Wizard” downloads on iTunes today. Would “The Who Sell Out” refer to artistic integrity today, or just to the fact that there’s never an empty seat?