Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lazy Sunday # 104: Who Dat?

Perhaps nothing better exemplifies how out of touch Corporate America and network television executives can get than the selection of entertainment for next week’s Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.

Of course, nobody could’ve predicted that a team vying for the NFL championship would hail from one of the USA’s music capitols, New Orleans.

And, yeah, I know every city has its own musical style. There are the other real famous ones like Detroit and Nashville. But Chicago and Memphis are right up there too. And New York, LA and Austin don’t have anything to apologize for. Heck, I’m sure there are supporters of the other competing team who could rhyme off a list of famous bands and great music that sprang from Indianapolis.

But instead of appealing to an audience already stoked with local fervor, even if they don’t live in New Orleans --- the people who program the Super Bowl Half Time Show this year chose to feature “The Who”, a band who’s first “Final Farewell” concert I witnessed in Toronto in 1982 (more than a quarter century ago).

Have “The Who” reunited, recorded, toured and retired since then. Yes, many times.

Have they had a big hit since 1982? Um. Not really.

Have they been a major influence on music since 1982? What? Are you kidding?

Okay. Are their old hits the theme songs of the three most popular shows broadcast by this year’s Super Bowl network, CBS?  Er…

C’mon, that’s not why they’re playing --- is it?

Of course it is.

If you’re in Las Vegas for the game, take the Sports Book Props option that “Who Are You?”, “Baba O’Reilly” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” will be part of the halftime set.

And oddly enough, the people giving CBS millions of dollars to have their ads sandwiched on either side of The Who’s performance are just happy to be at the Super Bowl with their private jets and celebrity boxes and apparently don’t mind that their brand is being associated with…

pete sex

That’s the warning that a Florida child advocacy group sent to 1500 homes near the stadium where next Sunday’s game will be played.  A local wag in Miami suggested that kids not only be warned to beware of an aging rock star offering them candy and the chance to see some puppies, but not to be tempted by a suggestion they pick up a case of Bud Light or a new set of Bridgestone Tires either.

Okay, technically, Pete Townshend has never been convicted of physically harming a child. And he was only on that Kiddie Porn site to do research and only used his credit card to get, I don’t know, “better” research. And he didn’t call the police to tell them what he’d found because he thought it would get him in trouble.


Perhaps appreciative of his good intentions, police in Britain ultimately didn’t charge Pete, but he did have to provide his fingerprints and a DNA sample and was placed on the sex offender registry for five years.

Some say Pete got off said registry when his sentence expired last year. But others say he’s still there because of a short story about underage sex he published on his website in 2006 that was removed after it outraged European child advocate groups.

There was also the little matter of an “anti-Pedophile” comment he posted on his blog which compared kiddie porn to “a free line of cocaine at a decadent cocktail party: only the strong willed or terminally uncurious can resist."

“Only the strong willed and terminally uncurious can resist”? Oh, Pete… I know that “The Heart wants what it wants” as Woody Allen once said in somewhat similar circumstances. But couldn’t you have just left the spotlight in 1982 and maybe gone off to hang with Gary Glitter?

Because if you had, you might have made room on the Super Bowl stage for a bunch of talented musicians who have flooded New Orleans with songs to celebrate their beloved hometown football team.

The war cry of Saints fans is “Who dat?” which was born in 1983, when Saints players teamed up with Aaron Neville to record a version of “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In” that included the soon to be famous “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?” The original song and a decade later update can be found here.

And in that New Orleans Jazz tradition of taking something old and breathing fresh life into it, local artists Prof. X-Man, BigShott Da Black Rhino, Big Rec, & Kuniqua have released another take on “Who Dat?”

But you won’t see or hear them at the Super Bowl.

And unless they each come up with the $2400 estimated to be the average price of a Super Bowl ticket this year they, like you, will be watching the game on TV and subjected to the dinosaur thinking of CBS and the two still-barely-sucking-oxygen members of a band that should’ve lived up to their first hit anthem and died before they got old.

Here’s “Heart of the City”. Savor the passion and the energy. Hope it soon has a place on television. And Enjoy your Sunday.


rick mcginnis said...

Aww, dude, aren't you being a bit harsh on ol' Pete?

Uh, on second though, no. No you aren't.

Anonymous said...

I think the decision to have "The Who" play is exhibit 1 on the "Corporate America Still Doesn't Get It" indictment.

BTW, if anyone is looking for a good "sampler" of Nawlins musicality, "Louisiana Scrapbook" by the good folks at Rykodisk is a good start:

Irma Thomas could out belt a dozen Beyonces...