I was watching the opening game of the World Series last week when my attention was drawn to the music that was playing in the background as Fox Sports cut away from the pre-game show to a commercial break.
Fox was playing a cut from the album Quadrophenia by The Who. Amazing! I wonder if, in 1973 when the album was released, Pete Townshend or Roger Daltrey ever imagined that their music would one day be providing the soundtrack for the American baseball World Series? Surely not! An English Premier League game, possibly; but never baseball.
Fox Sports continued to use music from Quadrophenia as segues to commercials throughout the remaining games of the World Series and I continued to reminisce about the album, the music it contains, and the times in which I first listened to it so many years ago.
Quadrophenia was The Who’s second rock opera concept album, after Tommy. It was a double album, a two record set which came complete with a book containing photos, all of the lyrics, and a detailed outline of the story told through the music.
I have the original album, including the book, safely stored away in a box with all of the other vinyl album recordings that I collected during my high school and college days; before the advent of the abomination that was 8-track tapes, rapidly replaced by cassette tapes, then CD’s, and now MP3s.
Believe it or not, I distinctly remember the cold, rainy, and overcast day when I purchased Quadrophenia. I was home from my junior year of college on Christmas break and went out to a local shopping center where I bought the album at a K-Mart. This was before the arrival of the big record retailers such as Media Play, Sam Goody, and Virgin Records; all now gone the way of the dinosaur.
By the third game of the World Series, and many enjoyable commercial breaks, I was ready to pop Quadrophenia on the turntable, crank up the volume, and listen to the entire album again. The only problem was that I had taken my last turntable down to the Goodwill store four or five years ago.
Not to be deterred, I made a quick virtual trip over to Amazon.com and in a matter of a few minutes had downloaded the MP3 version of the album. I’ve listened to it several times over the past few days. In fact, I’m listening to it now as I type this post. It’s really good stuff! You ought to give it a listen, but only if you play it all the way through. It’s an opera after all.
Peter Townshend has described Quadrophenia as “The Who’s last great album“. I think it may be their best work, although I never seem to tire of listening to any of their music.
I’ve just learned that Townshend and Daltrey are about to begin a 36 city tour in which they will be performing Quadrophenia in its entirety. Maybe Fox’s use of the music was nothing more than clever subliminal marketing.
Townshend summarized the upcoming tour by saying, “We’ve been anxious to work together before we drop dead.” Sadly bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon are no longer with us, but I’d assume that they will be enjoying the show from a higher vantage point.