We only caught the last 15 mins. or so of this past Sunday’s Super Bowl, so we missed The Who’s half-time performance. (We're not football fans but were rooting for the New Orleans Saints for obvious sentimental reasons.) By all accounts it was not up to par, and supposedly was not even close to the intensity they showed at the MSG Sept. 11th concert, shortly after the WTC tragedy.
But we have to take issue with the comments by former music industry shill turned contrarian, grumpy old man Bob Lefsetz, who goes off on The Who’s performance and then on classic rock in general; lumping Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey with Paul McCartney, , and The Stones in calling them all has-beens. (This is a new low for the trash-talking Lefsetz; if artists that can haul out 50,000 people to see them perform are has beens, who are the big stars? ? Please.) Aside from ragging on the physical age of these rockers—I don't hear anyone using that argument against Willie Nelson or Sonny Rollins, for instance—his biggest beef is that “[t]his music hasn’t mattered for a very long time. It’s truly classic. But it’s aged.” Well, yes. But that’s not the problem per se.
We don’t listen to classic rock radio unless were driving around with someone in their car. And whenever we do listen to classic rock radio, it’s the same tunes over and over: for example, instead of, say, “The Song is Over” or one of their other great deep album cuts, it’s one of The Who’s CSI songs; has 3 official studio albums plus Band of Gypsys and plenty of posthumous releases, yet “Purple Haze” is on regular rotation. Of course these songs have lost much of their potency—they’ve been overplayed to death!
But there’s more to these artists than the 3 or 4 songs classic rock radio is stuck on. After all, the main reason why these artists are legendary and tens of thousands still show up to see them perform every night is quite obvious: a lengthy catalog of seminal tunes that will be around long after you, we, Bob Lefsetz and whatever nonsense the hipsters like this week have all departed from God’s green Earth.