Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Who Song | Lefsetz Letter

All This Music Must Fade Spotify
All This Music Must Fade YouTube

What kind of crazy, fucked-up world do we live in where the Who come back from nostalgia to release a track superior to anything on the Active Rock chart?

One in which you no longer have to have a great voice and you can get away with uttering platitudes, getting a facelift to look young and hip when you’re not.

The amazing thing is there’s no 808, none of those synthetic handclaps, it sounds exactly like the Who. Remember when all the bands were unique? Come on, who sounded exactly like the Who? The key was to go down your own path.

But somewhere during the nineties, when radio still ruled, when MTV went all hip-hop and pop, it was determined by the gatekeepers that no one wanted to hear the music of the old farts. I realized this when Danny Buch told me that programmers rejected Robert Plant’s “29 Palms.” Sometimes people return to form, Neil Young is a perfect example. Suddenly Plant releases a near masterpiece, “Fate Of Nations,” and no one cares anymore.
As for the twenty first century… Most oldsters have given up putting out new music, believing it’s going to go straight into the dumper, that no one cares and it’s hard to get motivated when no one is listening. But somehow Pete Townshend maintains his edge, the edge of the blade.

I don’t care
I know you’re gonna hate this song

Yup, it’s like Townshend is living in 2019, reflecting on the world we live in, where if you play new music the audience gets up for a bathroom break and haters online will tell you it sucks.

It’s not new, not diverse
It won’t light up your parade
It’s just simple verse

The oldsters and the critics retain the concept of the holy grail, they remark that the new music sucks, which in truth it does, of course there’s good stuff out there, too much of which goes unrecognized, but nothing approaches the tracks of the classic acts. And it’s easy for the cognoscenti to be haters, you’ve got to be cool, incomprehensible by the masses, out there.

But now no one cares about that stuff either.

All this music will fade
Just like the edge of a blade

Townshend’s right. The Beatles will be remembered for a while, but almost everything else will fall by the wayside. Remember Steve Jobs? Ask someone under fifteen, they might not know his name. Furthermore, get old enough, having lived through the trials and tribulations, and you realize…it’s all b.s., we’re here and then we’re gone, if you’re trying to leave your mark you’re on the wrong path.

I don’t mind
Other guys ripping off my song
I’d be lying
If I said I never done no wrong
All this sound that we share
Has already been played
And it hangs in the air

We’re all in it together. How sad is it that fifty years later greedy attorneys are convincing broke heirs to sue the classics, costing everybody money. As for the new music, everybody’s scared, where there’s a hit there’s a writ.

Yours is yours and what’s mine is mine
And what’s mine is mine and what’s mine is yours

Yup, listen to the end and Pete utters that profanity. He’s lived long enough to have seen truth, it’s about the music more than commerce, he doesn’t take the music that seriously, it’s only rock and roll, right?

And I like it.

Now “All This Music Must Fade” is not as great as “Baba O’Riley” or “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” but it’s in the same league, and anybody creative will tell you if you get motivated and keep at it that’s when genius emerges, and it’s best when it’s singular, one person…hell, most of the Beatle songs were written by either Paul or John, even though they both got credit, today songs have so many writers and are worked over by executives to the point where their essence is lost.

And I love Pete’s solo stuff.

But what puts “All This Music Must Fade” over the top is Roger’s vocal. This is definitely a Who song.

And being a Who song, it’s got Pete’s slashing guitar, and the tinkling synths in the background, it’s powerful, but it’s not noise.

“All This Music Must Fade” is not a bathroom song, you want to hang with the crowd and listen.

And if you still have a big rig, if your stereo still has power, if you’re not limited to AirPods, you can’t help but turn it up and become enveloped in the sound. That’s the power of rock and roll, it squeezes everything out.

It’s like we’re lost in the desert, like we’ve lost the formula, all those new rock acts, they’re retreads, bombastic, with little sense of dynamics, never mind melody.

It may sound like I’m overstating the case. But it’s like being in a cave with no light and stumbling upon a beacon which illuminates your world and makes you optimistic, a believer once again.

Pete may be telling us it’s all gonna fade…

But it’s everything to us.

This is not nostalgia, it’s brand new, and the key point is listening to it doesn’t make you think you’re fifteen, you’re old and craggy, but your music still matters, Pete and Roger are still on your wavelength, they’re delivering for you.

Oh, what a glorious sound.

And it is all about the sound.

And the power.

It could move mountains, change society. It could not be denied back then…

And suddenly it can’t once again!


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