A Man Is A Man

Alan McKendree amck at thenetdr.com
Mon Jun 30 16:01:50 CDT 2008

Any idea if one of Pete's worst lines ever -- "Not afraid of 
appearing insane if he can't break a brick" -- has literary source, 
or is that one all Pete? ;-)

Nice job on the Eliot...I have to admit I've barely read any Burns or 
Eliot, and certainly not enough for much of it to stick.

As long as we're discussing influences, "Pinball Wizard"'s 
introduction is based on Henry Purcell's compositions from the 
1700's, which involved developing chords by changing one note at a 
time from the previous chord.

>  "A Man Is A Man" is so strongly influenced by Scottish poet Robert 
>Burns's 1795 poem "A Man's A Man for A'That" that Pete probably 
>should have given him a co-writing credit, or at least a nod in the 
>liner notes.
>It was not unusual for Pete to make these kinds of references, in 
>song, to the poetry of others. "Baba O'Riley" makes a public 
>reference to the "teenage wasteland," rekindling images of T. S. 
>Eliot's "The Waste Land" (1922). Furthermore, "Uniforms," from 
>CHINESE EYES makes an allusion to Eliot's "The Love Song of J. 
>Alfred Prufrock" (1915) with the line "I am frightened/You are 
>frightened/Should we get our trousers tightened." Eliot's line is "I 
>grow old/I grow old/I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled."
>Of course, these kinds of allusions from Pete to Eliot are an homage 
>to Eliot, who made the same kind of literary allusions in his own 
>poetry (which, at the time, Eliot was criticized for doing; now he's 
>hailed as perhaps the finest American or English poet next to 
>But regarding "A Man's A Man," the similarity in terms of structure, 
>concept and title really insist that Pete make a public nod to 
>Burns, IMHO.
>PS. I dislike the song. If this one of the things Roger hates about 
>IT'S HARD, I'm in agreement with him.

"the average Texan...carries not just a gun but a SHOTGUN."
     --Pete Townshend, 1967

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