The 60s rock band The Who recorded a number of songs about the energy and insecurity of youth: "Young Man Blues" and "Summertime Blues"—two songs about young guys trying to gain some self-respect and to get a day off work to spend time with a girl, and "Magic Bus," about a nervous guy boarding a bus to go visit his girl.
I like The Who's pedestrian, workaday stories, its lyrics and music, and engagement in the lives of real young people. Not even the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, or Jimi Hendrix did it so well.
Another raucous, 60s Who concert
In the early 70s, an older Pete Townsend--now a husband and a dad--composed lyrics for a new song that befit a more mature perspective, titled "Won't Get Fooled Again." It came out on the Who's Next album.
The song's apocalyptic urgency intrigues me. The first lines read:
We'll be fighting in the street,
with our children at our feet,
and the morals that they worshipped,
will be gone.
The only problem with "Won't get fooled again" is the title. The lyrics make the listener think the "fooling" has already succeeded:
The parting on the left is now the parting on the right. . . .
I tip my hat to the new constitution,
take a bow for the new revolution,
smile and grin at the changes all around,
pick up my guitar and play,
just like yesterday,
then I get on my knees and pray. . . ."
Listen to that shriek! No lyrics, just an imploring scream to the high heavens. No need to pray with words! Townsend and his hostages to fortune.
If the politicians listen to Pete Townsend, maybe they will get the point. We are have grown weary with the career-oriented, my-job-at-all-costs politicos who are supposed to guide us into the future. We need direction and orientation, not sweet-talking weathervanes twirling in the wind.
The Who's vocalist Roger Daltrey sings. "Greet the new boss, same as the old boss." The song's lyrics end there. No one really expects much from the new boss, just the same, old same-old. Fear and frustration remain unabated. We need some relief! Things have come to a head again. Someone needs to resolve our angst about the disunity in our nation and the risk of "fighting in the street."
Otherwise, someone will come along and force a change—resolve the disunity unpeacefully, and we'll be fighting in the street for real! Why should Americans believe that the upheavals that have afflicted every other industrialized nation won't happen here?