50 Years of the Who

Today marks 50 years since the first time I saw the Who in concert.

Herman's Hermits, Who, Blues Magoos handbill

July 22, 1967 — Houston, Texas

It was a triple bill and truthfully, I didn’t really go to see the Who. I went to see the headliner, Herman’s Hermits, my favorite band at the time. This was due at least in part to the fact that one member, Derek Leckenby, actually wore glasses!

I also knew of the Blues Magoos from their debut album Psychedelic Lollipop, since my brother’s garage band played some of their songs, including their hit, “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet.”

The Who? I’d hardly heard of them. “They smash their instruments,” my brother told me. That was hard to believe but I set it aside as probably some element of stage showmanship or something. “Happy Jack” was the only tune of theirs I’d heard at all, and I hadn’t really heard it that much — and paid it even less attention: a nice little ditty but nothing much, really, I remember thinking.

I’d only gone to one other rock & roll concert at that time, the Association (playing their big hits “Cherish” and “Everyone Knows It’s Wendy”), with a couple of local bands opening, so seeing a triple bill of touring acts was big doings. In addition to my brother, Scott, two of his friends and bandmates, David and Jim, were with us, as well as Jim’s younger brother, Tom. We were all too young to drive, so somebody’s folks mud have dropped us off.

Our seats were, predictably, way up and off to one side of the stage. This actually gave us a great vantage point to watch the whole stage as well the stairs leading up the back. Kicking the show off, the Blues Magoos were suitably psychedelic, ending their set with their then-infamous extended version of “Tobacco Road,” showing a psychedelic flair beyond even the recorded version we knew so well.

Then the Who hit the stage and this twelve-year-old never knew what hit him. Even from our bleacher seats, Pete Townshend loomed larger than life, arms windmilling wildly as he strutted the stage, spraying the audience with a wall of non-stop guitar, hitting both rhythm and lead. Roger Daltrey, resplendent in a multi-colored paisley cape he swirled about as he spun, swung his microphone like a cowboy’s lariat, almost losing it each time just before grabbing it again for the next line. Back on the drums, manic Keith Moon was blasting away on his double bass drums and array of snares and tom-toms of assorted sizes, looking like an overactive octopus, arms reaching out everywhere all at once. At one point in a song, he picked up a floor tom and heaved it over his head where it bounced a couple of times before falling of the back edge of the stage. Twirling his drumsticks and tossing them in the air, he not only hit every beat, he accented the melody as he played. The last fellow, John Entwhistle, bass player, simply stood over to the side looking mildly disinterested — until you heard his thundering bass lines playing like another lead player under and around Townshend’s power chords and soaring soloes.

The Who — Then:
Monterey Pop Festival, June ’67, one month prior to my show

And then they launched into “My Generation,” Roger pseudo-stuttering through the lyrics as the band brought the tune to a fever pitch of a crashing crescendo, smoke bombs going off on stage, Daltrey smashing his microphone into the cymbals repeatedly as Moon punched, kicked, beat and damned near destroyed his entire drum set, knocking it away from him. Pete played with his guitar like a cat with a dead bird — tossing it up in the air, spinning it, wielding it overhead like an ax, ramming the neck into the speakers behind him. The feedback roared louder, screeching the music to a grinding halt and Pete, Roger, and Keith exited. Still standing stock still off to the side, John simply removed his bass from around his neck, turned it strings down and dropped it to the stage, thundering the set to a close, smoke still drifting away as crew members scurried to clean up for the headliner.

It took them 30 minutes to clear the stage for Herman’s Hermits.

50 years later, I’m still blown away by the show that day — and still a huge Who fan!

The Who — Now:
The Tonight Show, July 19, 2017

 

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“Only a River Gonna Make Things Right…”

Walking alongside a river, large or small, always revitalizes me in mind, body, and spirit. The water restores my soul, the walking invigorates my body, and I swear sometimes, I can smell life-giving vapors rising off the surface to saturate the air with the sweet kiss of moisture, infusing all around with an additional spark of life.

Our recent relocation away from Austin meant giving up our quick & easy access to the Hike & Bike Trail looping around Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) in the center of town. In just 15 minutes’ walk from our house, I could be strolling the tree-shaded trail, breathing in the rich air. Mind you, to get home involved climbing a steep hill (your choice of 3 different approaches — all steep), so sometimes the strolling got cut short so I still had energy to make the ascent.

That’s why another feature of Cañon City caught our eye as we searched for a new home last fall. The Arkansas River that carved the nearby Royal Gorge (about 10 miles west of town), courses through the narrow walls of the canyon before emerging to pass through town. And a riverside trail stretches along the banks for several miles right here in town, connecting several parks along the way.

Arkansas RiverSo, now a 10 minute walk from our house takes me down to this trail for a stroll. You can head either direction from the access point I use at 9th Street.

Head eastward and you reach Griffin Park, with fitness stations (sit-up/push-up platform, balance beam, parallel bars) and a full challenge course as well as the riverside trail with an abundance of benches.

Head westward and the trail connects both to Veterans’ Park and Centennial Park and continues westward to Tunnel Drive, and even onward to the Pueblo Community College campus.

I’m still new here and exploring all the trail options, but every time I walk by the river, I feel my soul refreshed and my spirit rises, bringing to mind this recent song lyric sung by Bob Weir:

“Only a river gonna make things right…”

 

Happy to have me another river nearby to walk regularly.

 

 

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Two Minds

Brain doodle #3: I am of 2 minds

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Cars, Houses, Healthcare, and Horses circa 1900

G.M.C. "Cade" Massey

G.M.C. “Cade” Massey

Guest blogger G.M.C. Massey, my grandfather, grants us a great gift with these short scraps from his memoir manuscripts: the ability to look into the past and experience how his life was lived around the turn of the 20th Century in rural east Texas.

In the fall of 1900 I was in Dallas at the State Fair and saw my first automobile. There were only two automobiles in the city of Dallas and I saw both. At that time I never dreamed that I would ever own one or drive one. Now if there are as big strides in the ways and means of travel in the next 75 years as there has been in the last 75 years I would hate to have to risk a guess what we would experience or see in the way of conveyance.

On the next day after the Infair (editor: wedding-related housewarming-gathering), Carrie and I went to Winnsboro to get our housekeeping outfit. Of course my mother and Carrie’s mother had given us a few things and we took that under consideration. But we only spent $35.00 and got all that we just had to have. We were living in the country and had none of the modern equipment or conveniences. We had to move right after we got our crop gathered to my school back up to Yantis, Texas and the more we had the more we had to move. Now at this age and stage of attainments, a young couple would not think of starting out without spending at least $1,000.00 and then would be spending more and more each time they went to town.

When our first baby was born we had no hospital to go to nor did we have that kind of money and we only had to get up $10.00 for the Dr. or if we had to depend upon a mid-wife, we only had to get up $5.00. And we have had 9 children born in the home and that was the way all along till the 3 or 4 last babies that cost us from $25 to $35 and that was aplenty.

When I was living on the farm, and was trading as a sideline, buying, selling, and raising stock, and teaching as a profession I remember very well some times I would get to the place that I was a foot as far as having something to hitch up to the buggy to go somewhere is concerned. I remember one time I only had one horse and he was a colt that I had raised from a yearling colt and only had him trained to the buggy and to ride. A young man struck me just as I went into town and he wanted my horse, and he did not want to wait till I could get something that was broke to the buggy. You see I was at that time teaching school at one of our nearby schools and it was about three miles and I was driving (editor: the horse & buggy) to it.

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Casa Dexter: Little Home of Big Ideas

Casa Dexter, the Little Home of BIG Ideas

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4th of July circa late 1800’s, E. Texas

Early Massey Family household circa 1980s

G.M.C. Massey (standing, middle left) with family, East Texas circa 1890s

Once again, our guest blogger, my grandfather, G.M.C. Massey, supplies us with memories of by-gone days in rural East Texas in the late 1800’s: this time, a holiday remembrance.

We, on the farm, looked to the Fourth of July as a great day for we never worked on that day. We usually went picnicking, fishing, and hunting as a diversion and as a relief from work – a day of pleasure – for children as well as the older folks of the community and usually, we were run in in the afternoon with a rain.

We always tried to have our cotton run around the last time and when the 4th was past we just run the middles out and that was “IT.” We had it layed by. In other words, we were through working the cotton except probably going over it with the hoe to get a few weeds that we had missed before.

Sometimes on the Fourth, we had a picnic Communitywide and a speaking by the candidates if it happened to be an election year. One Fourth of July I well remember that we had a big day at Yantis, Texas. Dick Hubbard was running for governor. We had heard so much of his height (6 feet 4 or 6) and weight that most of the people had never seen the man and were desirous to seeing him. Truly, he was a sight to see and a great experience to hear, too. For when he was talking naturally along as in a speech, his voice seemed as the voice of a lion. And he seemed to be anointed. It seemed to be so strong that you could hear the shingles of the housetop rattle. Well, he tipped the scales at 400 pounds and when he walked across the floor, you could hear as well as feel the floor give under his weight.

That was a real experience for me and it gave us children to think as well as talk about. He was elected, but I was so young that I do not remember just how good a governor he made, but history gave him a good report. That Fourth of July was long remembered and went down with the children of the community as a great day.

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Happy 4th of July!

Celebrate our country’s birthday with some American tunes today!

The obvious starting point is our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” — except that the tune itself is so difficult to sing that only rarely do we hear an outstanding live performance. Maybe that’s why one of my favorite renditions is this instrumental version from Jimi Hendrix…

 

 

For an interesting twist on the song, musician Case Holfelder transposed it into a minor key, lending it a hauntingly different tone…

 

Many Americans wonder if this tune — “America the Beautiful,” rendered lovingly here by Beyoncé — might serve better as our national anthem, celebrating our land’s great natural beauty rather than a long-ago military battle…

 

Singers and songwriters celebrate America in their own way as well, giving us memorable melodies and lyrics that sing of a love for our country, like this one from Paul Simon…

“We come in the age’s most uncertain hours
And sing an American tune…”

 

Even rebellious rock and rollers like the Grateful Dead celebrate the U.S. in song with this perennial summertime favorite…

“I’m Uncle Sam — that’s who I am:
Been hiding out in a rock & roll band!”

 

Strictly on sing-along value alone, I nominate this modern standard by Woody Guthrie, our archetypal American poet-minstrel, for our anthem.

“This land is your land — this land is my land,
From California to the New York island,
From the redwood forest, to the Gulf stream waters:
This land was made for you and me.”

 

Happy 4th of July, folks!

 

 

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