Can Following The Who Help You?

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In Welcome to the Big Leagues, I briefly mention how I have been a Who fan since the seventh grade. Up until that point it was strictly the laid back sound of the Grateful Dead who appeased me. Despite being at a tender age, I remember how my 11th year was a very difficult one. My parents were divorced, I moved across the country, and was bullied in a new school. I was a somewhat angry child but didn't know it, or even know how to express it, at the time. When my older cousin, John, introduced me to his new Hooligans album, it was as though the trumpets had sounded and the fireworks were set off.

Roger Daltrey sang each song from the heart, where a fair amount of lyrics revealed a cutting rage or bitter anger in his voice. My first thought was that Bobby Weir never sounded like this. I was immediately addicted to Daltrey's voice and the thundering sound of The Who, little did I know they were the loudest rock and roll band of all-time. Since this was before the first Walkman came out, I remember rushing home from school to immerse myself into their music. Listening to The Who became the only daily fix that I ever needed.

It is now more than 30 years later and I am still a huge fan of their work. In fact, I listen solely to Who music while running marathons or exercising each day. Even though I am no longer angry, the sound of their beat motivates me to perform like no other music can. The sophisticated lyrics of Pete Townshend have also weighed heavily on me during my growth into adulthood. I'm definitely not saying the band consisted of world-class role models, but I have always believed that learning what not to do is equally as important ...

Today, I am a good humanitarian and a freethinker who questions and challenges pretty much everything, and who is so nice on the outside but inside keeps ambition. Could The Who possibly be responsible for this? Probably not, but what you are about to read are just a few of the their many influences that have deeply resonated with me.

townshendWho Are YOU? This is the name of a very well known song, as well as Keith Moon's last album. However, answering this question honestly is not as easy as you think. It took The Who several years to develop their identity. What started off as The Detours later evolved to be The High Numbers before molding into The Who. After the band's identity was established and committed to, each individual was able to create their brand and put their stamp on things. Names like Moon the Loon and The Ox or Thunder Fingers validate this point. Daltery was known for swinging his microphone like a helicopter and for having the most recognized scream in rock and roll, while Townshend would leap into the air and make the windmill famous to keep all eyes on him. And if that didn't work, he would write a song like I'm One; which is a tune that I often catch myself singing.

As a new entrant to the business world, you must distinguish yourself. Know who you are as an individual by identifying your core values and letting those beliefs build the brand. Only then will the important choices that you make each day serve a greater purpose and help to get you where you want to be in life. It is your clarity that will fuel passion and ultimately lead you towards greatness. Without knowing who you are as an individual, you will likely make decisions to contradict your true beliefs or find it difficult to pursue things with conviction. In Who words, you may seek an Eminence Front as a put on. Worse still, you could find yourself being thirty-four years old and wandering in a haze.

keith_moonHow Many Friends - This is probably the most relevant song I can think of that will relate to those #millennials who judge their popularity by the number of contacts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all other social media sites. Here are a few extracts that may help to understand why:

How many friends have I really got?
You can count 'em on one hand
How many friends have I really got?
That love me, that want me, that'll take me as I am?

The lyric above sums it all up. At the end of the day, how many are truly there for you and will remain by your side through thick and thin? Many of us are too quick to put the cart before the horse and use the word friend prior to acquaintance; which is likely due to our need to rush into things while blinded by the pursuit of immediate gratification.

There are a few more obscure lines ahead that remind us of how friendship is a mutual contract, and make us question how good we truly are; which is why How Many Friends continues to rank as one of my favorites.

Now I think I've reached the end
I wonder in the dead of night - how do I rate?

But things don't look so good
When you could use a bit of warning
Then you know that no-one will ever speak the truth about you

People know nothing about their own soft gut
So how come they can sum us up
Without suffering all the hype we've known
How come they bum us up

whoruThe Punk and the Godfather - Is just one of many fantastic songs on the Quadrophenia album. It is very difficult for me to hone in on a favorite Who song, but know that "punk meets the godfather" sits right at the top of the list.

The lyrics are sang in anger, while the song makes us question who really controls our destiny. The Punk and the Godfather also provides clarity on why so many teenagers lean towards rebellion (or windup in a wasteland); which is something that the rock opera Tommy does an adequate job of explaining too.

You declared you would be three inches taller
You only became what we made you
Thought you were chasing a destiny calling
You only earned what we gave you

You fell and cried as our people were starving
Now you know that we blame you
You tried to walk on the trail we were carving
Now you know that we framed you

We tried to speak between lines of oration
You could only repeat what we told you
Your ax belongs to a dying nation
They don't know that we own you

You're watching movies trying to find the feelers
You're only see what we show you
We're the slaves of the phony leaders
Breathe the air we have blown you

I'm the guy in the sky, flying high, flashing eyes
No surprise I told lies, I'm the punk in the gutter, ooh
I'm the new president and I grew and I bent
Don't you know? Don't it show? I'm the punk with the stutter

who1It's Hard - Probably not the album or song that the most hardcore Who fans expect to see listed here, but the meaning behind these lyrics of both do pack a punch. Especially today where the majority of people are either struggling or suffering (I'll say it again), not to mention a world where so many are out just for themselves. This often escalates our pressures far beyond just Another Tricky Day.

There is no denying that life is incredibly hard. Many of us cannot handle the pressure, much less hold ourselves to the highest standard. It is extremely difficult for us to do the right thing on a sustained basis or to become an expert at anything. Achieving greatness is hard, very very very very hard. The commitment never ends and is what separates the champion from the pack of ordinary. Here are just a few lyrics to present a taste of the song:

Any tough can fight - few can play
Any fool can fall - few can lay
Any stud can reproduce - few can please
Anyone can pay - few can lease

Any man can claim - few can find
Any girl can blink - few can lie
Anyone can promise - few can raise
Anyone can try - but a few can stay

Any brain can hide - few can stand
Any kid can fly - few can land
Any gang can scatter - few can form
Any kid can chatter - few can inform

Anyone can do anything if they hold the right card
So I'm thinking about my life now
I'm thinking very hard
Deal me another hand Lord, this one's very hard

This would be the perfect segue into another great Who song, However Much I Booze ..."there ain't no way out", or possibly one of Pete's solos like Somebody Saved Me, both of which have kept me in tune on the straight and narrow. But since The Who has released hundreds of incredibly meaningful songs that I identify with, including Behind Blue Eyes, I must draw the line in the sand somewhere and end the list here.

who9Fifty years of sustained excellence - That's right! For the past five decades The Who has been jamming Maximum R&B tunes. Talk'in 'bout an Amazing Journey that spans across several g-g-g-generations, but what can we learn from it?

1. Love what you do - When you love what you do the challenges become easy and often build the character needed to grow. Always focus on building your strengths and improving your talents before committing to something you hate. We get one chance at life. Remember that this opportunity is too precious to waste.

2. Strive for perfection - Each of the four members of the band were brilliant in their own way, with an unyielding dedication towards perfect practice and becoming an expert. The Who always understood the fact that they were only as good as their next performance and how quality was everything. Since the band's formation, Pete placed a very high bar on himself to produce brilliant material, while Roger did all that was necessary to discover and protect the integrity of his voice.

3. Act for the greater good of the team - The Who didn't always get it right. Throughout the years, drugs, big egos and a host of other things challenged and tormented each member of the band. However, it was their sustained commitment towards putting The Who first that built a legendary brand that will shine for many years to come.

thewho5

4. Learn from your mistakes - If The Who didn't evolve in a superior way, the band would have never survived. They wouldn't have been able to afford to proceed. Smashing perfectly good instruments never made much business sense, but even beyond that no person or business can thrive for a long period without doing things the right way ... Controlling expenses, negotiating contracts, divorces, living lavishly, lawsuits, high taxes and the thousands of other obstacles would surely catch up with them. The more mistakes you can avoid making in life the better off you will be.

Think and act smart to avoid being 'so Dangerous to yourself'.

5. Give something back - Pete and Roger both became good humanitarians, who have given much to charity and helped plenty of friends in need. In addition to donating to many worthy causes throughout the years like hunger in Ethiopia and movements to help end apartheid in South Africa, The Who became intimately involved with The Teenage Cancer Trust. You don't have to be a legendary rock star to give love and keep blood between brothers.

It's no coincidence that I published this article on September 12, 2014, the day after the 13th anniversary of 9/11/2001. As many in this great nation are tightly bonded by the fact that we will Never Forget, I am also one to remember ... one evening ... one month later ... which was the first time I cheered after experiencing the horrific events of that tragic day ...

It was the night of October 20th, 2001 ... The night where The Who was honored to be in New York to support the fearless first responders of the NYC Fire and Police Departments ... The legendary night where The Who shook Madison Square Garden and played their hearts out during The Concert for New York.

This was a climatic first step that helped us all begin the healing process. Please enjoy the must see concert footage below and understand that The Who intended for it to be played really loud.

God Bless America and may Love Reign O'er us all!

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1 Response

  1. Hi Carmine, This sure is a very interesting way to look at the music and lyrics. I was a teenager in Germany when they came out and since English was only what I had learned in school, I didn't pay much notice to the words (with some songs that can be a blessing). Thank you for sharing this in depth post. Cheers, Yorinda

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