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My Generation

I'm glad that my treatment of "My Generation" was well received. I've 
had a long and intimate relationship with that song.

It was first released in 1965, and I still remember the first time I 
heard it. I was driving down Pacific Coast Highway, somewhere near 
LAX, when it came on the radio. I was so blown away by it that I had 
to pull the car over to the shoulder and park until it was over. I 
was an instant Who fan.

The following year I was in my first "real" band, with paying gigs 
and all, and two of my bandmates had some folk musician friends name 
Sandy and Jeannie Darlington, who had been buskers in London and got 
to know Pete Townshend. Pete would sometimes send these folks dubs of 
his home demo tapes, and I got to hear versions of his new material 
before it was released. Imagine the thrill of hearing "I Can See for 
Miles" as recorded by Pete Townshend alone in his livingroom!

In 1968 I had a particular thrill when our band was booked to open 
for the Who in the Boston Music Hall. They weren't particularly "big" 
yet, having just three albums out. They were traveling with only two 
roadies, one of them a short little cockney fellow named "Sweaty" and 
the other a young American lad who made sure we knew he was Jim 
Morrison's brother. Of the band members themselves, Pete and Roger 
Daltrey were quite sociable, while John Entwhistle and Keith Moon 
were aloof. What first broke the ice was that Pete noticed we'd been 
smoking joints and asked to buy our roaches (naturally we gave him 
whatever we had). Then we mentioned the Sandy and Jeannie connection 
and things got even more relaxed. We learned that they were working 
on a new rock opera about a deaf, dumb, and blind boy (they played 
"Pinball Wizard" that night). Also it happened that there was a 
feature story on Pete in the current Rolling Stone, and he paged 
through it making comments about the various photos in the spread 
("pensive," "earnest," that sort of thing). It got quite chummy. We 
even made plans for Pete and Roger  to come out to our band house 
after the concert.

That never happened. They'd been on the road too long, and Keith Moon 
was especially road-crazy. He'd been drinking already and by the time 
they got to their second set he was totally manic. When they reached 
the climactic destructo-rama bit where they'd smash up all the 
instruments, Keith went a few steps beyond theater and REALLY got 
into it. He started throwing his drums into the audience, and this 
incited a near-riot as fans tried to climb up on the stage. Sweaty 
was in the orchestra pit throwing drums back up on the stage and fans 
back into the audience. He had a lot of upper body strength for a 
little guy. Finally Keith staggered off the stage, kicking over our 
drummer's kit on the way, and smashed his hand through a window. He 
cut himself rather badly in the process, and since the band had a gig 
in Central Park in New York the following day, Pete begged off and 
they took care of Keith.

I've seen the Who perform a couple of times since then, once doing 
Tommy in its entirety at the Boston Tea party and another time on a 
double bill with the Grateful Dead, but I never did get chummy with 
them like that night. My own musical career went on from rock to 
electronic music, and then in 1978 I learned of Keith Moon's death. 
My immediate impulse was to make a tape piece out of My Generation, 
accentuating the stuttering effects and highlighting Keith's manic 
drumming. Unfortunately my composition teacher had other ideas of how 
to further my compositional education and I put aside the idea - that 
is until last weekend!

By the way - a few years ago I got ancient enough to join AARP 
(American Association of Retired Persons) and in addition to the 
hotel discounts and other benefits I was privileged (and embarrassed) 
to receive their monthly "Modern Maturity" magazine, which basically 
tells you how groovy it is to be old and in the way. Last year they 
must have figured out that this message wasn't quite coming across to 
the influx of new Boomer members, so they started a new magazine with 
a hipper style and message. The title:  "My Generation"

Richard Zvonar, PhD
(818) 788-2202