09 February 2010

Dol on the Dial - Icons & Irony

by guest columnist Dolores Dagenais.  Follow her on Twitter.

A pudgy Roger Daltrey dressed just a little bit like a lounge singer in a stripey jacket and scarf? Tie? Ascot? What the hell was that thing anyway and for God sake why? Pete Townshend apparently beat up Elvis Costello and stole his clothing, he left him his glasses though opting for dark shades, because he’s a nice guy after all and if you’re going to hit a man with glasses the least you should do is let him keep them once they’re broken.

Watching The Who’s mash up on the SuperBowl half time show,  I know I’m suppose to feel reverence and awe that these rock legends are still able to turn out a show.  But beyond the fireworks, smoke and lights, what I’m really feeling is something akin to sadness. Watching Daltrey strain for pitchy vocals and Townshend sounding decidedly out of breath on backgrounds doing what I suspect were painful rotator cuff endangering windmills... I can’t seem to get into it.

Maybe it’s the distraction of knowing the man who sang  Teenage Wasteland and My Generation (“I hope I die before I get old”) is a senior citizen, but I just can’t connect.  Maybe it seems more ironic than iconic at this point.

I have the utmost respect for people who have survived the industry - many haven’t, many burned out, many faded away - but this performance made me feel like I was watching an old dog chasing a rabbit it was never going to catch. There’s something just a little unsavoury about it. That is going to sound somewhat hypocritical from a woman who is well past the age of majority, but I don’t think it has as much to do with their ages as the material that they’re beating to death.

I know, I know...the SuperBowl isn’t the cradle of great art and yes, most of the people in the stands probably expected the Who’s greatest hits medley and weren’t disappointed.  I’m probably unreasonable to expect more from artists, particularly artists who’ve become legendary.  In some part at least my beef isn’t about events like this where the golden oldies are trotted out and put on display so people can ‘remember when’ - it’s about the absolute lack of growth.

I already know what these guys thought when they were in their 20’s and wrote these songs...I’d like to know what they think about things NOW.  Creativity doesn’t dry up and blow away when you hit 40.   Sure, maybe if they wrote something new it wouldn’t have the same passion or fire as these oldies, because they’re not ‘angry young men’ anymore... but maybe it would hold some insight that could be equally meaningful, maybe it would have more depth because of the journey. I’m coming at this I realize from my own particular stand point as a songwriter; I write to communicate, I write a lot and move on fairly rapidly in that respect...to me what is the point of performing at all if you’re not communicating something relevant?

Maybe it’s just me.

I don’t live in the past, and I’ve never been one of those performers who can play the same 20 songs over and over night after night indefinitely. I don’t understand that. Do these types of iconic bands really have anything to prove to anyone at this point? They’ve made their millions and their place in music history - going back over the same material now isn’t just akin to greed and ‘resting on laurels’ it’s frankly depressing to watch...but hey, at least we weren’t subjected to any ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ exposing us to Daltreys flabby old man chest.

No one wants to see that.

I digress.... Sing something new for me and my attention is immediately captured, say something new, tell me about the NOW, hell write a song about your hip replacement if you can do it well. Better that then watching legendary performers turn into weak cover band parodies of themselves.  Maybe it’s better to do a graceful fade if you have nothing new to say.

Life doesn’t end at 50 and neither should growth and creativity....maybe the question is not Who.....but WHY bother?

Dolores Dagenais' songs are a blend of insightful, poetic lyrics and sweetly crafted Blues/Folk/Rock fusion. They cover every topic, often straying into the realms of her childhood, exploring relationships, spirituality, politics and even delving into the lives of her friends and family, she takes her inspiration where she finds it and it finds her often. She has collected a catalogue of over 200 finished songs and always has a new idea brewing on the back burner. Dolores has connected with audiences at countless venues in Nova Scotia, Toronto, Barrie and Northern Ontario including Northern Lights Festival Boreal, Brampton Folk Festival,  Sudbury SummerFest, Tall Grass Festival, and New Glasgow Jubilee, OCFF, CBC Radio, CKLU and CKEC. Her fans span all ages and social stratas and live as far away as China, Germany and the UK.


Tyler Weaver said...

Agreed completely.

I swear I could hear the creaking. I thought it was that someone was playing a ratchet, but it was Townshend's arm "windmilling."

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