Cops, firefighters greet Who with a mean 'wasteland'

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Thu Dec 11 06:32:33 PST 2008

>From The Daily News:

Cops, firefighters greet Who with a mean 'wasteland'
by Michael Daly
Wednesday, December 10th 2008,  9:54 PM

Pop music history took an unlikely turn when 90 uniformed New York cops and firefighters sang for The Who at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

"Teenage wasteland, it's only teenage wasteland," sang 90 members of the Port Authority Police and the NYPD along with 30 members of the FDNY.

Some of the first responders had never heard of the band when an invitation came to sing at last Sunday's awards ceremony honoring performers like Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.

"When they said, The Who, I said, 'Who?'" recalled one of the cops, John Ryan.

Townshend and Daltrey were on the way to parting at the time of 9/11, when The Who played at the Concert for New York.

That concert was a tribute to the first responders, whose spirit had risen as pure, selfless good in the face of monstrous evil. Lore has it Townshend and Daltrey were so inspired they resolved their differences.

So, when time came to honor the two, the Kennedy Center invited first responders to perform for The Who, just as The Who had once performed for them.

The Kennedy people did overestimate the musical knowledge of your basic New York first responder when they invited each department to send 30 people.

"They asked how many people were baritones," Ryan reported.

Ryan's musical experience consisted of singing along with Irish music on the radio. His son, Connor, 9, and daughter, Kennedy, 11, invariably protested.

"My daughter will make a face and say, 'You don't really like this stuff, do you?'" Ryan said.

He said they were as unfamiliar with the band as he: "When I said The Who, they immediately thought of the 'Grinch in Whoville' ...Christmas special."

But they had heard him sing.

"They were mortified ... that their father would be on the stage, singing," Ryan said.

Nevertheless, he was aboard one of the three buses that rolled up to the Kennedy Center just after noon on Sunday.

All participants were issued security passes denoting their function. The passes issued the cops and firefighters were marked "TALENT."

"Clearly, they had not spoken to my son and daughter," Ryan said.

What the first responders lacked in talent, they made up for with spirit as they rehearsed singing backup to rocker Rob Thomas in "Baba O'Riley."

When the time came, the first responders took the stage in their dress uniforms. They indeed gave it their all, right to the last line: "They're all WASTED!"

Their unwasted spirit was as strong as it was after 9/11 - and hearing them was a reminder of what terrorists can never defeat.

The event will be televised by CBS on Dec. 30, which gives Ryan considerable leverage. Basically, he can tell them: If you don't do your homework or clean your rooms, I'll telleverybody I'm going to be on TV.

The prospect caused Kennedy to turn to her mother.

"He's not really going to sing, is he?" Kennedy asked. "We'll have to move."

 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!


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