Monday, February 26, 2018

Always looking for that first fuck

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned an interesting (and wholly persuasive) New York Times article by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz about how songs that we hear, and fall in love with or are haunted by, in our adolescence seem to stick with us with particular force for the rest of our lives; the songs move around us into adulthood like satellites in perpetual orbit. I'm re-reading Dave Marsh's Before I Get Old, and was struck again by this terrific observation made in 1980 by Pete Townshend, rock and roll's Great Articulator. "I think what’s always been my problem is that I've always been fascinated by the period of adolescence," he said.
And by the fact that rock's most frenetic attachments, the deepest connections, seem to happen during adolescence or just post-adolescence. Rock does evolve, and it does change . . . but to you as a listener, someone who needs both the music and the exchange of ideas—you always tend to listen in the same way. You expect—and you feel happiest when you get—an album that does for you what your first few albums did. You're always looking for that first fuck. Of course, you can never have that first fuck, but you're always looking for it. Occasionally, you get very close. Always chasing the same feeling, the same magic. 
I love that Townshend cites his obsession with adolescence as a problem, and yet one that's on him like a tattoo he can never rub off, a paradox that not even a lifetime of tinnitus can erase.

He's also responsible for another of my favorite definitions of rock and roll:
We're not perfectionists. We're idealists. We think that rock & roll is more than just music for kids. Rock music is important to people because in this crazy world it allows you to face up to problem. But at the same time, to sort of dance all over 'em.
I can't explain. Turn it up.

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