The Who, Pinball Wizard

Posted in The Who on October 15th, 2012 by Willie

My pal Jimm D. found this video, and boy do I owe him a thank you. This performance of “Pinball Wizard” by the Who is one of the single greatest rock and roll displays of all time. While I’m pretty sure that the instrumentation is mimed, as was the case in many 60s era television clips, the singing was live, evidenced by a few missed notes by Townshend. Whatever, this performance, whatever it is, shows the Who at their most dynamic, engaging, and most star powered. The best part is the dearly departed Keith Moon miming the words behind Roger Daltry’s back in hilarious English “goon” like insanity. In the fashion department, thumbs up to John Entwistle’s horrible attempt at a Fu Man Chu mustache. Its funny, I never was the greatest fan of this song until I saw this clip, its that unbelievably good, so enough of my hype, (50 years late) and just play this thing and dream about what rock and roll could still be, if only someone was good enough to try.

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The Who, I Can See For Miles, and the Origins of Helter Skelter

Posted in The Who, Youtube Favs on January 29th, 2012 by Willie

So apparently, if it weren’t for this song, Charles Manson never would have heard the Beatles “Helter Skelter” and have murdered all those people.  Legend goes that Paul McCartney read that this song was the “heaviest” ever made, and without even hearing it, took it upon himself to write a metal song, a genre that didn’t really exist yet.  The funny thing is, this song is not that heavy.  It’s a beautiful psychedelic pop song wrapped up in themes of revenge, be them romantic or otherwise.  It’s funny because as I write this, I do recall reading something from Paul McCartney when he finally heard the alleged Who song in question, sort of laughing at the “false” inspiration.  Amazingly, the folks at Wikipedia have the quote for us all to enjoy,

“Umm, that came about just ’cause I’d read a review of a record which said, ‘and this group really got us wild, there’s echo on everything, they’re screaming their heads off.’ And I just remember thinking, ‘Oh, it’d be great to do one. Pity they’ve done it. Must be great — really screaming record.’ And then I heard their record and it was quite straight, and it was very sort of sophisticated. It wasn’t rough and screaming and tape echo at all. So I thought, ‘Oh well, we’ll do one like that, then.’ And I had this song called “Helter Skelter,” which is just a ridiculous song. So we did it like that, ‘cuz I like noise.”

Interesting stuff, but that’s all besides the point.  The point, if you must know, is that “I Can See For Miles” is indeed awesome.  It features some of the best hard rock psychedelic harmonies the Who ever achieved, driving the song with force into the psychedelic expanse.  The video below is also great even though it’s a  mimed performance.  The Who had trouble replicating the overdubs live, contributing to the fact that they never played it much on stage, at least when Keith Moon was living.  Anyway, enjoy this sucker, because its one of the best ever.

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The Who, Who Are You?

Posted in The Who, Youtube Favs on January 27th, 2012 by Willie

Rock and roll.  It’s life, it’s blood, it’s the Who.  This studio performance of “Who Are You” from “The Kids Are Alright” film is one of the best and clearest examples of rock and roll perfection.  The Who were a dynamite live act and an incredible studio machine.  This video captures both looks of the Who at their best in one of their most iconic songs.  There is something both beautiful and intimidating in the way Pete Townshend was able to pack explosive art into every second of this masterpiece.  The beauty part is self evident, but the intimidation element is something to behold.  This band, directed by Pete, is just all muscle.  Each member flexes their power over rock in a furious fashion, a force only contained in the lines of Pete’s brilliant songwriting.  It’s amazing, if you haven’t guessed, so just press play and enjoy.

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The Who, The Seeker

Posted in The Who, Youtube Favs on January 23rd, 2012 by Willie

I was examining the dusty halls of my website, and I realized my section on the Who is seriously lacking.  It’s not for lack of love, merely an oversight soon to be corrected.  “The Seeker” is one of my favorite Who songs.  It’s a hard driving philosophical rock fest that is half serious/half parody.  When I was 17, I was more interested in the serious side; Pete Townshend’s search for the meaning of life and death expressed through Roger Daltry’s howling lungs, Keith Moon’s insane bashing, and John Entwistle’s flute like bass playing.  As a 27 year old, I’m more interested in the parody side.  The song almost seems to be the story of your average rock and roll fan, searching for enlightenment and meaning through the dominant pop culture icons of the age; the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Timothy Leary.  Pete himself must have come across tons of these people asking him for guidance seeing him as another rock and roll prophet.  The whole concept is brilliant, and the raucous music matches the abstract flair.  The music video itself below is also an awesome example of pop art perfection with dramatic closeups of the members and stylized lyrics splashing the screen.  Enjoy.

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The Beatles, All You Need is Love

Posted in The Beatles, Youtube Favs on June 26th, 2011 by Willie

At last we’ve arrived at part 100 of my youtube favorites countdown.  This is the final part of the countdown, and boy has it been a magical journey through some of my favorite songs and videos of all time.  I had to end the countdown on the Beatles because it hurts my eyes when they don’t fall on #1 in any list predominantly about rock and roll.  “All You Need is Love,” is a mysterious song.  It was written specifically for the historic first worldwide satellite TV broadcast, “Our World,” and was watched by over 400 million people globally.  The song is a mystery because there aren’t too many quotes from John Lennon about the inspiration and writing of the song, and the other Beatles and George Martin can’t seem to remember exactly where the song came from.  The song wasn’t made for any album, and the recording of the track (save some overdubs) was mostly done in the live recording you see below.  So you don’t have a bunch of takes and jam sessions in the vault that might give further insight into its creation.  I have yet to hear a demo of John on his guitar or piano plunking out the song for the first time, which would simply be a marvelous thing if it exists somewhere.  Anyway, this song is a Masterpiece, (note the capital M.)  It’s one of the greatest slogans ever set to music and fantastic slice of artistic genius.  It’s also just further evidence of the insane alien amount of productivity the Beatles were capable of.  They had just finished Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, their timeless masterwork, and then a few weeks later, they unleash this masterstroke.  They were an unstoppable force of magic, churning out record after record, with smash #1 singles (that weren’t on the LPs) dotting those releases.  What’s further amazing is that nothing in their tumultuous personal lives slowed them down a bit.  In 1967, John was a full blown drug addict; snorting cocaine, dropping acid every weekend, smoking pot everyday, and probably drinking heavily.  His marriage was falling apart, he was having a massive identity crisis, he was jealous of Paul McCartney, and he was suffering a dark depression.  None of that seemed to stop him from writing a song like, “All You Need is Love,” and then following it up with another track like the brilliant “I am the Walrus,” a few weeks after.  No force, personal or global, could really stop the momentum the Beatles had built for themselves, and it all culminated in them being considered the greatest musicians of the 20th century.  So the countdown ends, but the website doesn’t of course.  From here on out, I’ll be focusing on writing more ambitious “proper essays” and articles on everything from music, politics, culture, and philosophy.  So keep checking back, as I intend to make this one of the best websites you’ll ever read.  Thank you so much.

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The Top Ten Most Played Songs on my iPod

Posted in Willie Simpson's Original Music on May 18th, 2011 by Willie

Did you know that when you plug your iPod into your computer, iTunes can arrange your iPod’s mp3s by plays, from most played to least? It’s pretty fascinating to see what you’ve been listening to exclusively, and how many thousands (yes thousands of times) you’ve clicked play on certain songs. Well, I’d thought it’d be interesting to share the top ten most played songs on my iPod in a new awesome mega post. So, without further ado, here is the list, starting with #10!

#10- The Police- Can’t Stand Losing You, 255 plays. My countdown kicks off with the Police’s catchy little reggae punk tune known as “Can’t Stand Losing You.”  From Outlandos d’Amour, this song isn’t skipped much for a bunch of reasons.  First, its supremely catchy, with its syncopated guitars, tight harmonies, and perfect drumming.  Second, Sting’s lyrics are so raw and real, that its one of the greatest breakup songs ever.  I’m just addicted to the way that chorus fades into oblivion.

#9-  The Beatles- Eleanor Rigby, 509 plays. Ahh, the Beatles, of course, you’ll be seeing a few songs by the fab four pepper my top ten I’m not ashamed to say. “Eleanor Rigby,” from Revolver, is just a brilliant song to play on a crowded depressed subway during rush hour.  The song swoops in with George Martin’s brilliant string arrangement, and you look around the train and see “all the lonely people,” wondering “where do they all belong.”  Then you wonder if you yourself is one of those lonely people who is gonna die alone while you are arranging your socks in your dingy apartment. Read more »

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The Who, I Can't Explain

Posted in The Who, Youtube Favs on March 10th, 2011 by Willie

I open part 17 of my youtube countdown with a very serious question, what the hell was going on in England in the 1960s?  The ratio of incredible music and cool bands to the rest of universal history makes one wonder about the nature of quarks, quasar radiation, and folded cosmic fabrics.  What the heck am I talking about?  All I’m saying is that it was an anomaly.  A freak of the space time continuum that allowed for the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and yes, the Who to flourish all at once.  “I Can’t Explain,” the first single released by the Who, using the name the Who, (previously the High Numbers, also a cool name), utterly owns.  Its an epic surging pulse of proto-power punk pop.  That’s right,5 P’s!  Its one of those perfect anthems of teen angst, and that’s it, and I can’t explain it any further.  And this video?  An incredible mishmash of early Who performances in all their mod glory.  English rock at its finest, enjoy.

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