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Friday, July 31, 2015

SEEING QUADROPHENIA THE FIRST TIME ON A BLUE MOON

judy
 
It is the night of the Blue Moon, a very early Elvis Presley song on the Sun label. It was in this time, and his recordings in 1956, that got him the name, the King. Colonel Parker latched onto his million-dollar baby, Hollywood next and the end of Elvis for me. From then on, he was a glittery spectacle of his fame. I digress. The Blue Moon made a good song. I've seen facebook posts about the Blue Moon like it's something cosmic, a once-in-a-lifetime event in the sky. It hasn't happened since three years ago. Wow. Cosmic. It is the Blue Moon, not because it's blue, but it is the second full moon in one calendar month. July had a full moon on the first and again on the thirty-first. That's it, the significance of the Blue Moon. It is not about the moon. It's about the calendar. The moon came first. The calendar we go by is not the original astrological calendar, but an overlay created by the human mind and collectively agreed upon. It's one of many, has no more significance than being the calendar we go by. It so happened this year two full moons occurred in the same month.
 
view from the deck
 
My friends, Lucas and Judy, are here. They like movies as much as I do and largely the same kinds. We watch movies together in the evenings when they visit the mountains. Both are retired now, this their first stay of a full week. They checked out several movies from the Emory library to bring along, plus my netflix movies and two they brought. Last night we put on Quadrophenia, the Who's second rock opera. We put it on not knowing what to expect. They had seen a stage performance of Tommy in New York and loved it. I had seen the film of Tommy and never connected with it. I had the album in its day, liked it, but it was a disappointment from the Who I wanted to listen to, like the Live at Leeds Who, the Who that rocked my world. None of us knew anything about Quadrophenia, except rock opera, which is no attraction for any of us. We put it on with an attitude it will probably be ok. If we don't like it, we have no lack of something else to see. It took charge of all three of us in the first minute, didn't let us go until the final scene and the credits. We sat gaping while the credits rolled wanting it not to be over.
 
 
view from the deck
 
My appreciation of Peter Townsend the artist skyrocketed while watching the story unfold. He conceived it, wrote the story, created the characters, composed the music and performed it. In my way of seeing, Townsend's is a Woody Allen kind of talent. The story involved teenage boys in London, Mods and Rockers, gangs that fought each other. The time was the Sixties, the Who playing on the radio. The soundtrack was a potpourri of Fifties and Sixties hits, like Da Doo Ron Ron Ron Da Doo Ron Ron, Louie Louie, Green Onions, the Kinks, as wide a variety as was played on the radio over the first decade of rock n roll. The characters in the story did not listen to American psychedelic rock, but bands like the Who that rock a song start to finish. The scene was pre-punk, just before punk broke loose. In the crowd of Mods, I thought I spotted Billy Idol in the role of the Bell Boy. He was ten years older than the scene, though didn't seem so, a Mod. Billy Idol was, himself, a Mod before the punk scene happened. His punk style was Mod. By the time of making the film, 1979, Billy Idol had been through the short-lived punk scene and was in New York and LA making hits, an injection of new London attitudes into American rock.
 
lucas gazes skyward
 
Not  many rock n roll movies are much as films, but this one made a dynamic rock n roll movie with a great soundtrack that was good to hear all the way through. I noticed a few humor moments, like the kid in the story had a photograph of Pete Townsend on a wall in his room, and a wall collage of nude women, and a poster of the Who. In the beginning, I was seeing one thing, a bunch of high school kids hanging out, doing what the young do. They rode about on motor scooters with a seat on the back for girlfriends. The girls were as much fun as the guys. One short girl with short blond hair could dance like she was born to dance. Others jerked about, while she was in flight. Eventually, I noticed the boys our friend whose story we're following ran with, Mods, one of them favored Roger Daltry, vocals with the Who. The one we're following favors Townsend. Another favored Entwistle, the bass player. And the fourth, Keith Moon, was characterized as their black drug dealer. Soon after I got it that these four guys were based in the guys in the band, a scene came up with the four of them gathered round talking. I wanted to give Peter Townsend a thumb-up, good story, great movie. I'd like to see it again before too long.
 
sparkles in the trees
photos by tj worthington
 
 
 
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