October 2008

October 20, 2008

“Why would I want to do that?” I answered in my most annoying snot-box tone.

“Well, I know you like the Who,” he countered.

“I love the Who. I saw them when they were f**king powerful.”

“So, um, that means you’ll never watch them again?” he asked with a few hints of suspicion and indignity in his voice.

For me, there were so many conceptual tendrils to the question that I froze for a few seconds as the following thoughts zinged across my brain:

[1] I don’t want my profound memories of the Who—the band that actually seduced me to pick up a guitar (the Beatles having instilled the desire, but not the guts to act)— sullied by some phony “event” concocted by VH-1 to sell advertising and reap fodder for its relentless “interview” shows.

[2] I’m disappointed that Pete Townshend— one of rock’s seminal thinkers and rebels—supported this overt promo-fest developed by one of the “new bosses” of the commercial music industry.

[3] I could care less about hearing Pearl Jam, the Flaming Lips, and the Foo Fighters “do” Who songs, because the original versions have thrilled me solid over the years, and I doubt any artist could bring something significantly deep and different to what Pete, Roger, John, and Keith delivered.

[4] I don’t mind seeing the Who of 2008 perform tributes to the band’s hits, but it’s not the same experience as being totally blissed out by clicking my iPod to Live at Leeds, Tommy, orQuadrophenia.

So, as my brain gymnastics prove, I’m not down with the current fashion of presenting classic rock music in the media. But what am I going to do—sacrifice the musical principles I’ve spent years absorbing into my psyche just to impress a younger player that I might still be hip? Screw that. I come from an era when rock music aspired to be much more than soundtracks for ads and reality TV episodes, and I can’t shake that belief out of my cultural DNA. So how should I finish this conversation with my friend? Give me some guidance at the GP Forum (guitarplayer.com), or e-mail me at mmolenda@musicplayer.com. Help!

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