The Carl Online


Muh-mmhuh-mmy Kennedy Center Honor by Greg Hunter

Earlier in the week, the Washington Post ran this article – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/12/05/ST2008120502765.html – about Kennedy Center honors for Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, of mod proto-punks-turned-area giants The Who. I’m not hating here, really – in a situation like this, the appropriate response is probably, ‘Eh, why not?’ – but reading about the honor took me by surprise.

Formal, mainstream recognition of The Who is nothing new, nor is the corresponding irony of it all.  (Jackie O reportedly went to see them play after Tommy was a hit.)  And yet there’s still, to me, something a little mystifying about it.  It’s a cliché, sure, that Townshend and Daltrey, who wrote and sang “I hope I die befor I get old,” are now, um, old. For as long as I’ve been a fan, “too old to give a fuck/too young to rest” (from “Dreaming From The Waist Down”) always seemed more appropriate.  But the songs we’ll remember the band for were nonetheless fueled anger, confusion and alienation, even into the concept double album phase.  (Hell, the Sex Pistols covered “Substitute.”)

It’s been a long time since The Who did something new or transgressive, and just as long since they’ve made a good album, but whoever Pete Townshend is now, he was also once a dude who would destroy his guitar while on Quaaludes.  Observe the footage below: Townshend, more punk than most punk was, anticipating Richard Hell, Thurston Moore, Kurt Cobain, and almost every other meaningful figure in alternative music for the next several decades.  I can’t be the only one who still finds it kind of incredible that such (fundamentally) aggressive music can be received so comfortably, by so many peopple, with enough time.

Bonus video!

– Greg Hunter

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