Listen: I’m A Boy / The Who
I was very down on The Who after they played Syracuse back in early ’68. Pete Townshend chose to refuse my friends and I autographs. My pals were a bit more upset than me. You see I wasn’t really feeling ‘I Can See For Miles’, which had been released the previous autumn, but instead was desperate to impress my first girlfriend Mary Ann with their signatures.
No escaping it, ‘I Can See For Miles’ just didn’t hit the way ‘Substitute’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’, ‘Pictures Of Lily’ or ‘Anyway Anyhow Anywhere’ had previously. The Englishness had been polished off ever so slightly, but enough for me to notice without question.
Our crowd were the only ones buying those non-hits off the little racks in the back of Walt’s Records or at Smith’s Records; both usually stocking five or so copies at the most of US non-hits from UK bands. So when Pete Townshend got into the awaiting station wagon, hung himself out the window, gave us the finger with both his hands and shouted “You got a show for your $6 pricks”, we were speechless. Calm down dog, all we wanted were autographs. I do remember the other band members, who had obliged, looked seriously perturbed.
Fast forward to the first weekend of April 2012. Out of late night boredom, mixed with insomnia from being alone for the night, I Netflix’d up AMAZING JOURNEY – THE STORY OF THE WHO. Honestly, I’d floated along all these decades in arrogant denial at how powerfully great this band was. That documentary certainly sobered me. You must watch it, all three hours. The film will speak for itself. And if you’re in a band, learn a lesson to always treat your fans with respect.
I’ve been playing their first seven or so singles non stop since then, loaded them on the iTouch too. ‘I’m A Boy’ being just one that deserved airplay in the US during it’s day. Funny how all those programmers back then were wrong to keep them off their airwaves at the time. Even funnier how they’ll rewrite history to imply they hadn’t.