The Who, the bad boys of rock n’ roll. I can hear some of you saying You’re kidding, right Frank?! You think there is any redeeming quality to any of the music these artists have produced? Well, if you ask me, my answer is a resounding Yes! Keep in mind, the beautiful thing about art is it is subject to personal interpretation. So I can truthfully say that some of the hit songs of this particular band have always struck me as spiritual.
Don’t try to explain to me that Pete Townsend and company are a bunch of sinners up to their neck in filth, etc. I’m not saying they are perfect. I’m not saying that they are Catholics, and I’m not saying that all their songs, especially their most recent stuff, pass muster for the faithful. But hey, here’s an idea, let’s pray for them!
Then, bear with me as I present you with a few of their tunes that I always feel inspired by. Because as Webster said once, “being Catholic is like walking around with a blazing torch in your hand, one that illuminates everything you encounter, at least for me. So everything is a good subject for YIM Catholic, because Jesus Christ is everywhere, all the time.” Indeed, is that not what Allison wrote about yesterday? As Our Lord said in the Gospel reading yesterday, “who do you say that I am?” So let’s see what good I can find from the work of this famous rock n’ roll band with the name from Our Lord’s query.
First up, from their 1967 Album “The Who Sell Out,” I Can See For Miles. Sure, on the surface it’s a love story gone wrong. But from a different perspective, one gained standing on the foundation of Scripture coupled with riding on the shoulders of the writings of the Early Church Fathers, I feel this way when confronting “the deceiver” day to day.
I’m Free, from the rock-opera Tommy. Maybe I’m just an eternal optimist, but this is how I feel when I let go of the tiller and hand myself over to Our Lord. Sure, it’s hard not to try and grab the wheel back from time to time. But I notice that whenever I do the driving, I don’t get this feeling. This version of the song is from Tommy, the movie and rich in symbolism.
If I told you what it takes
to reach the highest high,
You’d laugh and say ‘nothing’s that simple’
But you’ve been told many times before
Messiahs pointed to the door
And no one had the guts to leave the temple!
See Me, Feel Me. From the closing scene of the movie Tommy as well. Have you ever felt like this as you contemplate Our Lord and Savior? Maybe Roger Daltrey is singing about the sun, but when I sing it, it’s about The Son. This scene reminds me a bit of Psalm 121 and I think of Mary the sister of Lazarus when hearing these words,
Listening to you, I get the music
Gazing at you, I get the heat
Following you, I climb the mountain
I get excitement at your feet
Have a look:
If you have an hour(and change) to kill, you can watch the entire rock-opera Tommy as performed live in Los Angeles at the Universal Amphitheater in 1989 at the link here. Low resolution video, and lots of guest stars too(Stevie Wynwood, Billy Idol,Patti Labelle, Phil Collins, and Elton John). Be advised, some ‘R’ rated lyrics when Billy Idol comes aboard.
The Seeker. Recorded after Tommy, and it seems to be another unintentional spiritual hit, with me anyway. According to the link (see title), Pete Townsend says “it sounded great in the mosquito-ridden swamp I made it up in, Florida at three in the morning, drunk out of my brain.” He didn’t like it much, it seems. Which goes to show that it doesn’t always matter what the artist thinks, but how one percieves the art. Well, their agent must have liked it! There God goes again, writing straight with crooked lines.
From the rock-opera Quadrophenia (1973), Love Reign o’er Me. This album was also made into a movie in 1979 and stars a bunch of unknowns and one Gordon Sumner, aka, Sting. I never saw the movie, never had the time. But this song became a hit, and I would venture to put forth that the reason it did so well is that it strikes a chord with listeners, universally. Another catholic hit with a small ‘c.’
Can bring the rain,
That makes you yearn to the sky.
Can bring the rain,
That falls like tears from on high.
Won’t Get Fooled Again (1971). We don’t waste much time and energy on politics here at YIM Catholic. This classic song pretty much sums up why. Vote, don’t throw in the towel, but also don’t forget to “get down on your knees and pray”too. For as the Psalmist says,
I put no trust in princes, in mere mortals powerless to save. (Psalm 146:3)
From their latest album (2006) Endless Wire. So Pete Townsend saw Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ and was inspired to write a few songs. Maybe not in a good way. This one is called Two Thousand Years. Remember what I said earlier about their later stuff? It’s definitely not orthodox as Pete is still struggling with the concept of organized religion. Like you haven’t, right? That’s why I said pray for them.
From the same album, It’s Not Enough. Because He requires all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, which for some may seem to be asking too much. But like Our Lord says in yesterday’s Gospel reading,“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
I hope you enjoyed these selections. Pax Christi and see you next Monday.