August 14, 2016
Forty-five years ago today, just a few weeks before my 20th birthday, The Who released “Who’s Next.” It’s certainly their finest studio effort, beautifully put together, a powerful blend of angst, anger, yearning, a touch of gritty humor, a moment of deep romantic connection when love begins and the blood sings and another of heartache when it ends, and a Byronic fuck-all defiance. Think of it as rock ‘n’ roll for English majors.
“Who’s Next” rose from the ashes of “Lifehouse,” a rock opera project that was intended to follow “Tommy,” and this phoenix has glorious plumage. “Who Are You?” released almost exactly eight years later, comes close, but “Who’s Next” is still the pinnacle.
It was a late-night disc jockey’s delight when I was building sets around themes or styles. There’s a great segue, for example (do jocks segue anymore?), from “Goin’ Mobile” into “Drivin’ Sister” from Mott the Hoople, a band of Who soul brothers if there ever was one. The Waitresses’ “Redland” is an interesting seg into “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
The fact The Who gave us this on the same day as Bob Gibson threw his no-hitter made August 14, 1971, most memorable.
Too many bands copied the pounding crescendos without paying attention to the substance, the intelligence that are the real power driving this masterpiece. “Baba O’Riely” and “Won’t Be Fooled Again” are the best-known tracks, but listen all the way through. There’s a lot to be mined here.
August 14, 2016
Bob Gibson wasn’t having a great year in 1971. When he took the mound against the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium, he was 10-10. The Cardinals were 4 1/2 games behind the Pirates, who were marching to their World Series championship.
But that evening, Gibson was awesome. It was his only no-hitter. Though he walked three, he struck out 10, including Willie Stargell to end it. His teammates, who often failed to give their greatest pitcher adequate run support, banged out 16 hits and 11 runs against four Pirate pitchers.
August 6, 2016
After years of work to extend the basic right to vote to black Americans, the event that probably kicked the effort to pass the Act occurred five months earlier, when voting rights marchers were attacked by state troopers and local police at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Congressman John Lewis was one of those beaten. It was nothing new for peaceful activists to be met with violence; many had died in the effort to ensure every American could vote. But “Bloody Sunday,” as it came to be known, was broadcast over national television, putting the violence into millions of American living rooms. President Johnson called for a Voting Rights Act 8 days later.
The Act passed the Senate over a filibuster, 77-19. It passed in the House 333-85. Can you imagine what would happen if this bill came before the current Congress?
In fact, voting rights have been under assault since the Supreme Court inflicted us with the Shelby County decision, with Chief Justice Roberts essentially saying the Act was no longer needed. States then scrambled to pass voter suppression laws, but the current Court has recently struck down several of those. What a difference a Justice, or lack of one, makes.
August 2, 2016
In honor and happy remembrance of a great artist whose work gave me so much pleasure.
Thank you, sir, Love and Peace, and God Bless.
June 10, 2016
His “London Sessions” is one of my favorite albums. Listen to the whole thing, and pay particular attention to “Little Red Rooster.”