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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

Who are you? (Who, who? Who, who?)

Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2010, at 4:10 AM

I absolutely love The Who. Of the great bands who emerged from Britain in the 1960s, they are in my top five -- ranking behind The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, but ahead of the Kinks.

It's even argued by some they invented hard rock, which is a pretty important development to me.

But I have a real problem with them playing the Super Bowl this Sunday. It's not as if the music doesn't fit. Like football, it's loud and hard and aggressive. Like the Super Bowl, it's bombastic and overblown at times.

While so many high school football players are listening to AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" before taking the field, they could be just as well served listening to "Baba O'Reilly" or "Won't Get Fooled Again."

It's thinking man's ear-bleeding music.

I guess I really have three problems with Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey taking to the 50-yardline on Sunday.

The first is that they still call themselves "The Who." Now, I understand Keith Moon has been dead for more than 31 years and John Entwistle for over seven, but they were still half of The Who. It seems to me that if Townsend and Daltrey want to play together, that's fine. But are they really still The Who?

The singer and guitarist of a band are usually the most recognizable elements to casual fans, but a rhythm section as great as Moon and Entwistle (and a character as singular as Moon) cannot be replaced. To me, the band taking the stage will simply not be The Who.

I have to say that's something I really respect from Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. When they get back together, they are Page and Plant, not Led Zeppelin. If they ever want to get back together with John Paul Jones, perhaps I'll accept them as Led Zeppelin. (There's something about having a majority.)

But I think my bigger issue is with having a British band play the Super Bowl. I don't want to appear xenophobic or anything. Honestly, while Americans may have invented rock and roll, Brits have taken it to heights not reached by we Yankees. That's just the way it is.

It's just that there's something quintessentially American about not only football, but also the Super Bowl itself. In the rest of the world, football doesn't even mean the same game.

What do you think (American) football really means to Pete Townsend as compared to, say, Bruce Springsteen? I'd wager not very much. I guess it's always just rung hollow to me when someone like The Who or Paul McCartney or U2 have played football events.

And, finally, I'm just sick of how every NFL-related commercial has a Who song attached to it lately. They're really sucking the joy out of some music I genuinely love. It's like I'm watching a CSI marathon.

Do you think it's too late to book Morris Day and the Time for Sunday's halftime show?



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...and the beat goes on...
Jared Jernagan
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.
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