Pete as reluctant spiritual leader

L. Bird pkeets at
Sat Aug 7 00:09:44 CDT 2004

>>As an aside, what is it you think the fans are expecting?  Can you define 
>>the yoke?

>I think of ML as one. But not alone. There are many. Many fans are 
The Who of 1971-74 to be the final moment of truth for the band. It was to
date their greatest moment. But it can never be reclaimed. There appears to
be a cynicism that anything produced beyond that period is somehow a
terrible disappointment. "Who on Ice", touring without John, the new songs
all come to mind. I don't begrudge anyone this feeling. But it does become
an unreachable expectation to live up to.

With all due respect to Mark (and anyone else who makes honest criticisms), 
this sounds like a game.  It may be an unconscious, deeply psychological 
game, but it's still a game called "See if you can please me."  As you say, 
Fan X sets an impossible goal, and then demands that Pete/The Who meet it.  
Of course they can't, so Fan X wins.

If you want to dig into the psychological underpinnings of the game, you 
might suspect that that Fan X is actually fixated on some point of their own 
youth, and the reason nothing else is ever quite as good is that they can't 
go back to their own glory years.  As evidence for this, there are groups 
that prefer different periods of The Who, including both "My Generation" and 
"You Better You Bet."

Another possibility is that the powerful, alpha image of the band attracts 
fans that want to measure their own alphaness against Pete's.  This is a 
strange and mystifying tendency, as they've got the wrong guy.  ;)

Also, it's possible that some of these fans have invested a great deal 
emotionally in the band's music and performances, and they're scared to 
death that Pete/The Who might somehow fail to live up to their expectations, 
so they'd rather that the band, like Led Zeppelin, find some glorious excuse 
to hang it up.

(Um, let's have a show of hands.  How many fans here did I hit with these 
three possibilities? ;)

I can imagine that other artists also experience this fixation phenomenon, 
and the only way to escape it is to die at the height of one's powers like 
Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin. (Keith Moon didn't quite make it, but almost.) 
  Then everybody mourns that so-and-so didn't live to produce any more great 

The trick for the artist is to steer a path through all this furor and still 
produce something that expresses their own reflections and desires.  I think 
The Who have done pretty well at this.  I personally think the new songs, 
for example, are working out to be very good additions to The Who's live 
repertoire.  Although I wasn't immediately attracted by the ORW recording, I 
heard it on one of the website files and the intro attracted my ear 
immediately.  It's better than I thought.  Also, I've been thinking FACE 
DANCES deserves another look.  It may just be suffering from poor 

>Marcus has eloquently stated that it was the band themselves the gave him 
>these expectations and they've failed to live up to them.

So there was some kind of implied contract for...what?

This is not unusual.  From the various complaints, I suspect that it has to 
do with a promised rebellion against established authority, materialism, and 
emasculation in it's various forms.  Have The Who failed at this?  I don't 
think so.  They're still primarily artists, and they're currently 
challenging the conventional assumption that rock bands should hang it up at 
50 (which is an improvement over 30, at least).


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