It’s all I’m living for

Admittedly it wasn’t a stellar idea.  But then not many things conceived by an average teenage mind are.  The McGillicuddy brothers and I were standing in line outside Boston Garden to see The Who in concert and I had opted to hide my two 16 ounce bottles of Haffenreffer (aka “the Green Phantom”) in the slightly baggy leather sleeves of my football jacket. Just past the ticket takers there was a security pat down.

And I may have gotten away with it if the guy hadn’t asked me to raise my arms. As soon as I did both bottles came shooting through the space around my armpits and “Smash!” “Smash!” onto the concrete floor.  Luckily the crowd behind me continued to press on.  The security guy shook his head, pushed the mess aside with his foot and told me to “get outta’ here.”  Tuesday, March 9th, 1976 was just that kind of evening.

It seemed to take forever for The Who to reach the stage and when they finally did Keith Moon collapsed behind his drums after only the second song. “Viral influenza” was the plausible reason given in the next day’s “Globe” and the concert was rescheduled for April 1st.

Somehow we’d ended up with better seats for this one. Moon was fit as a fiddle, Entwistle did his placid Entwistle thing and Daltrey’s voice was transcendent.  But it was Townshend, the creative force behind it all, that my friends and I mainly wanted to see.  As some reading this will attest, we were big fans.

We certainly knew the backstory about Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend, who was born into a musical West London family in 1945, and how he and his school chum, John Entwistle formed a Dixieland duet when they were 16 (Townshend on banjo, Entwistle on horns) and then moved on to a Skiffle band called the Detours, which was fronted by another schoolmate, Roger Daltrey.  We knew that the band began to make a name for itself after gravitating to R&B and Rock n’ Roll and that the lads were advised that if they wanted to land a recording contract they needed to write their own songs…and replace their drummer.

It was 1964 and the band changed its name to The Who.  Initially influenced by what Ray Davies of the Kinks was coming up with, Townshend became the group’s primary songwriter. Soon after they hired Moon “the Loon” to take over on drums.  Yes they called themselves the High Numbers for a while, but quickly came to their senses and reverted to The Who before their breakthrough single “I Can’t Explain” became a Top Ten hit in the UK.

Of course we knew ALL about Townshend’s signature moves (the leaps, the windmill guitar strokes) and stage antics, especially the smashed guitars, while Moon took great delight in blowing up his drum kits. With an astonishing array of mega-albums, and rock operas, and iconic music festival and movie appearances through the years, and especially in light of  their kinetic live performances, by the the late ’60s “Rolling Stone” Magazine had placed them in the “holy trinity” (along with the Beatles and the Stones) of British Rock.

Oh, we were big fans, but we were just catching the end of the group in its prime.  That 1976 tour would prove to be Keith Moon’s last.  Infamously, he would OD on prescription drugs in Harry Nilsson’s London apartment (where Cass Elliott had also died). Although the group continued to tour (I caught them again in the late ’80s in Toronto) they were no longer on an ascendent path. Years later, John Entwistle would die of a heart attack.

Awesomely, with musical careers now spanning half a century, Daltrey and Townshend (with a whole bunch of session musicians) still continue to tour as The Who on occasion.  Certainly the old stage antics have diminished greatly but Pete Townshend can rest on the laurels of the hundreds of songs he has written, most of them included on The Who’s eleven studio albums, with others presented as solo efforts.

Which at long last brings us to today’s (Love themed) selection, featured on “Empty Glass” Townshend’s first solo album in 1980.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Friday 21 September

Let My Love Open the Door

 When people keep repeating

That you’ll never fall in love

When everybody keeps retreating

But you can’t seem to get enough

Let my love open the door

Let my love open the door

Let my love open the door

To your heart

 When everything feels all over

When everybody seems unkind

I’ll give you a four-leaf clover

Take all the worry out of your mind

Let my love open the door

Let my love open the door

Let my love open the door

To your heart

 I have the only key to your heart

I can stop you falling apart

Try today, you’ll find this way

Come on and give me a chance to say

Let my love open the door

It’s all I’m living for

Release yourself from misery

Only one thing’s gonna set you free

That’s my love

That’s my love

 Let my love open the door

Let my love open the door

Let my love open the door

Let my love open the door

 When tragedy befalls you

Don’t let them bring you down

Love can cure your problem

You’re so lucky I’m around

Let my love open the door

Let my love open the door

Let my love open the door

To your heart

 

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