November 15, 2010

waking you up to close the bar


Polly Apfelbaum, Rainbow Park 2, 2006

* From a Melody Maker column written by Pete Townshend, published March 13, 1971:

When Zappa first talked to Keith and I about his film 200 Motels, he said it was "All about how touring makes you crazy." I said I felt the opposite. Touring keeps me sane, I said.

His lady friend laughed and at that point they figured, I suppose, that we'd already gone over the ridge last tour. I can't help feeling, especially at times like this, with the group rehearsing, never appearing before an audience, how important it is to tour.

The WHO go insane when they aren't touring. Maybe that would make a good film. "200 Rehearsals."

As usual everything is a year late, the songs, the script, the energy. The point is that if you're doing gigs, playing halls, facing people, it somehow keeps you in touch with their stand towards you. You can feel their reactions and moods as a mass, and make decisions about your music and how to make it say what people want it to say. I was in the toilet after our return to Leeds University last year, and I overheard this conversation.

"Bloody great weren't they?" "They were all right I suppose, not as good as Deep Purple."

That was when I first got the urge to take another listen to a band I'd always admired as individual musicians, but not really taken much notice of lately. On another occasion. I talked to a load of kids at a gig at Hammersmith at the end of our last tour. They reminded us of songs we used to play years back that we'd forgotten about ourselves. One, "Baby Don't You Do It," a Marvin Gaye number, we play again today. It beats Summertime Blues in the Who nostalgia stakes. Brings tears to my eyes.

Could the Beatles have been saved by touring? I don't know enough background to comment really but I can hazard a guess. I think they would still be together today if they had broken that ice that built up around them, ice that collects around the nose and toes very very quickly in recording studios. Clearly they deserved the long break they took after their heavy American tours, they also needed to allow the heat to die down a bit with regard to audience hysteria.

Maybe they weren't able to foresee that kids wouldn't scream at them forever. I'm not suggesting that was big-headed of them, but at the time it was difficult to hear what any lead singer ever sang at a big show. It wasn't just screaming kids, it was also the fact that a microphone system to get the sound above the new powerful guitar amps was not available.

* "Political conflicts are merely surface manifestations. If conflicts arise you may be sure that certain powers intend to keep this conflict under operation since they hope to profit from the situation. To concern yourself with surface political conflicts is to make the mistake of the bull in the ring, you are charging the cloth. That is what politics is for, to teach you the cloth. Just as the bullfighter teaches the bull, teaches him to follow, obey the cloth." -- William Burroughs

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