I cannot remember a time in my life that I did not enjoy the music of the sixties. Most of it has to do with my upbringing. I’ve mentioned before how much Motown influenced my life growing up near the epicenter of it. But there has always been another type of music that has influenced me so throughout my life.
The British Invasion.
It’s no secret that I am 100% an Anglophile. I love anything and everything British. So me liking the music of the British Invasion doesn’t come as much of a surprise. What may be surprising is that I didn’t always feel that way about it. When I was younger I out right thought that the British were weird with funny accents and bad teeth. I refused to even listen to the Spice Girls, because they were British. (And B*Witched existed so I was good on the girl pop groups)
I guess the funniest part of my childhood dislike for the Brits, was that unbeknownst to me, I actually loved them! I loved them, because I loved the music of the British Invasion. I remember specifically one of my favorite songs when I was little was Bus Stop by The Hollies. And even though I had no idea then who they were, I loved every Beatles song that I had ever heard. (Except Birthday. I hate that song… but that’s a story for another time.)
It wasn’t until the turn of Youtube that I became comfortable with the fact that “Hey yeah, I like British people. I like their culture and it’s actually kind of cool.” What I said about them when I was younger is still a very true statement. They are weird, have funny accents and most of them do have bad teeth, but now those are what I love about them. And once I was able to admit that to myself, my love for British music took off.
I think it all started with the Beatles, as it probably does for most people. It was my senior year and for my fashion and fabrics class we had to make a bag. So when I came across a pattern to make one from a t-shirt I immediately went to Targets men’s section to pick one out. As I searched nothing caught my eye, until I noticed this black shirt with four very brightly colored heads. Upon closer inspection I noticed it was the Beatles. Well I thought it would be a cool looking bag and maybe I’d get a little bit of recognition for it. So I made the bag from it.
Little did I know in that moment that I was basically selling my soul to these four men. Over the next year I had become a mega fan. I had all of their music on cd, I owned two of their movies. I had t-shirts and posters and I had even picked up George Harrison’s autobiography. I was slowly giving into Beatle mania, which you wouldn’t expect to still be around in 2011.
But what was it that I loved so much? Sure they are arguably the greatest band in existence, but that wasn’t it for me. It was the music, it was always the music. It was this feeling of being able to put my headphones in, closing my eyes and escaping my reality, which was not exactly the most pleasant at the time. (not that it was particularly bad either though) And for a long time I’ve thought that the Beatles were the only ones to give me that.
In the past week I’ve realized that they aren’t. I’ve been getting into The Who and I may be realizing that maybe the title of “greatest band ever” is really the most meaningless thing ever. Sure the Beatles are fantastic. Lennon/McCartney are amazing songwriters. George Harrison is one of the greatest guitarists ever. But they didn’t write Baba O’Riley or Behind Blue Eyes, they didn’t write a rock opera. And as much as I love George, he’s no Pete Townshend.
I never thought I could love another band the way that I love the Beatles, but I do love The Who like that.
The Who. How do I talk about The Who? Well the simple answer is that they’re just like The Beatles, but with harder songs, a longer career, and better dancing. (Okay maybe not BETTER dancing. But George Harrison never played while jumping on one foot.) But to properly explain The Who is something that maybe I’m not qualified to do yet. They are, in my mind at least, one of the greatest rock bands ever. They’re talented in everything they do to the point that it’s crazy to think that they aren’t more popular than they are. Their songs are some of the greatest rock songs to have ever been written, with lyrics that hit you in the soul, even if you don’t understand them you seem to.
For someone who has their entire life considered herself pretty knowledgeable in rock music, I am bewildered by The Who. They’re just four English boys who started like everyone else in the British Invasion. But what they went on to achieve, is unbelievable.
This post doesn’t have a nice neat ending that I can tie a pretty little bow onto. This isn’t the end of this story. Frankly I don’t think there ever will be one. My life is far from over and there is so much I still have to discover. Maybe one day I will discover a band that I feel surpasses The Who, as they have with The Beatles. But the one thing I can pull from this is that there is more music for me to enjoy.
To end this post I will leave you with this thought.
The other day I was sitting in my class waiting and listening to Baba O’Riley. As I sat there another person sat down and I worried that my volume might be too loud and that they could hear it. Then I thought about what they would hear if they did. Would they also hear this wonderful master piece of rock that I heard in my head? I realized that no one in existence could ever hear what I heard, because what I heard was in my head and no one will ever be in my head. No one will ever hear a Who song they way I do. No one will ever feel the emotions Let It Be gives me. No one will ever see this world through my eyes. We all hear and see and feel everything differently, but that doesn’t make any of it better or worse.