Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey packed the house with baby boomers at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre last week. The “boys” of The Who were backed up by an orchestra, which made the renditions of music from “Tommy” and from “Quadrophenia” something for mere human ears to behold.
I liked the T-shirts worn by some of the aging boomers: “I May Be Old, But I Got To See All The Best Bands!” Eat your heart out (again), Millennials. We have Daltrey, Plant, McCartney, Jagger. Who do you have? Ed Sheeran?
It is true that Daltrey looks a lot more like Tony Bennett now than the Rock God who once had locks flowing down to his shoulders. Townshend admitted at the concert that his voice “seems to have left for another planet.” His vocal chords produced echoes of Jimmy Durante.
Nevertheless, The Who did belt out a few of their anthems for a generation – like “Only Love,” “Pinball Wizard” and “Teenage Wasteland.” And the boomers were out in the aisles dancing to the anthems. I’m sure some boomer hips were dislocated, if not fractured.
The Who anthem that I will always treasure from my wayward youth is “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” It was the kind of angry protest song that had to reduce gentle, dissident souls like Peter, Paul & Mary to whimpering plaintively in the lair of Puff the Magic Dragon.
We won’t get fooled again. That’s what a lot of my generation thought when we sang The Who’s anthem. We will end the Vietnam War and we will never get fooled into another useless foreign war again. We will drive out Lyndon Johnson for his lies about the war in Asia and we will never get fooled by another venal President again.
Of course, it hasn’t quite worked out that way for us, has it? Richard Nixon came along and promised us “peace with honor” and then expanded the war with his secret bombing of Cambodia. He was driven from office, but within a couple decades, George W. Bush came along.
Eager to hold onto his power, Bush went to war with Iraq when Dick Cheney whispered in his ear that a “cakewalk war” with Saddam Hussein would insure his reelection. We were told lies about WMD in Iraq. We got fooled again.
Our current President took his party colleague, W, to task for “his stupid war in the Middle East” – and defeated his brother, “low-energy Jeb,” in his party’s primary. He then defeated Hillary Clinton, whom he slammed for voting to approve Bush’s misguided war in Iraq.
Now the current President is mired in subpoenas and investigations, and his reelection could be tough. His war secretary, John Bolton, is whispering in his ear about war with Iran. Troops and battle ships are being put into position.
Returning to the wisdom of The Who, they were cynical enough to know we would, in fact, be fooled again. They ended their anthem with a snarl: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”