It certainly wasn’t my first old-guy moment. It probably won’t be the worst one I’ll ever have; in fact, it wasn’t so much an old-guy moment as it was a case of pop-culture shock.
On my way home from work on a recent Friday, I stopped into a nearby location of the regional pizza franchise PizzaBoli’s to pick up a couple pies I’d phoned in. The young girl at the counter, dead-eyed and slightly confused, says, “What does your shirt mean? I don’t get it.”
“You don’t get it? Oh, it says The Who,” and I point out the lettering which is black on a dark background so I thought maybe she didn’t notice it and just saw the target and arrow up.
“What’s that mean? I don’t get it.”
“It’s the band, THE WHO.”
And she’s saying “Oh I never heard of them” while I was already babbling on about how “it’s kinda hard to see the lettering… or… were you confused by the arrow as if it was supposed to be pointing up at me like Who is this guy?” Like I was trying to let her off the hook for not noticing what it said or something and then I realized that she really had never heard of The Who and probably thought I had on some random shirt of my friend’s band or some other “Never Hearduvums” and so I just had to ask….
“Wait, you’ve never heard of The Who?”
I figured, okay she’s pretty young and so I turned to her PizzaBoli’s Teammate, I wish I’d gotten his name, he was a mousey lookin’ fella, very short reddish hair with a tightly trimmed matching mustache, let’s call him Chet. He certainly wasn’t as old me, but at first glance he had to be at least 30ish, but even if he was only 25 I figured it would balance out the possibly 16-year-old cashier. So I asked him…
“You’ve heard of the The Who, right?” Now I’m kinda point-framing the iconic logo as I leaned over the counter so he could see it. “The classic rock band? The Who?” I asked, certain that he was about to give me the “Oh yea, The Who. What about ’em?”
But he just shook his head sheepishly. “No, sorry…”
“You’ve never heard of THE WHO?”
“I’m really not much of a music guy.”
After a dumbfounded pause, I somehow managed to keep my composure. “Okay, fair enough… uh, you’ve heard of The Beatles, right?”
“Of course, The Who aren’t quite The Beatles, but I just thought you’d…”
…and I just trailed off. I knew I couldn’t go all DFENS on ’em like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, though a part of my brain wanted to. And I’m not even that much of a Who fan!
It’s not like I was wearing my Replacements shirt; The Who aren’t exactly something obscure, I mean I got the shirt at fucking Target! And it’s also a pretty iconic logo. I wasn’t asking them to sing or name songs. I could understand the young girl, but the other dude… They did play the Super Bowl a few years ago, they show up at every 121212 Sandy Relief 911 Concert for NY type event, awards shows, wherever they can get out there and have Roger Daltrey show us his Ken-doll plastic, oddly buff orange chest while Pete Townshend does 20,000 windmill moves to the point of self-parody…. Like ’em or not, and I realize they aren’t quite as well-known as the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin, but….. WHO THE FUCK HAS NEVER HEARD OF THE WHO?
Meanwhile, The Who aren’t even from my generation, pardon the pun. I was born in 1970, after the Beatles broke up, and month before Jimi Hendrix died (yet somehow I’ve heard of them). Told ya this wasn’t really an old-guy incident. Seriously, this isn’t about me being too old. You can stay on my lawn. If I was 70 and some kids never heard of Frank Sinatra, I would just assume they’re too young… but this felt different. It was just odd… it was actually quite shocking on some level.
I love The Who. I’ve often considered writing something about them, and it sucks that it had to happen like this. Even though I was always much more partial to John Bonham and Mitch Mitchell, drummer Keith Moon was an absolute monster. I actually think Tommy and Quadrophenia are a bit bloated and could be intimidating for most listeners. Go crank up Who’s Next and picture feeling that kind of rock’n’roll power putting that record on for the first time way back in 1971. Those intros to “Baba O’Reilly” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” musta blown people’s minds back then!
Anyway, I wish I’d stayed to check if they’d heard of Hendrix, the Stones, Zeppelin and a couple of others. Maybe next time, because I do like PizzaBoli’s, who I’ve now mentioned by name three times in hopes of getting free pizza when this article goes viral.
So I walk out with my pizzas, and echoing through the shopping center is the familiar sound of the Rolling Stones (in the case, the song “Shattered,”) blasting from a speaker outside the Radio Shack. Yes, the Radio Shack. With Mick Jagger imploring me to look at him, he’s in tatters, I’m not even sure what planet I’m on. The economy’s been in the toilet for like 6 years and somehow Radio Shack is still in business selling little fuses and plugs and batteries and bullshit that nobody needs and I just met two people who never heard of The Who.
Reblogged this on phillideethree and commented:
Im just, confused. How do people not know The Who? Check out BUM LOGIC’s experience relating to the same.
I was born 10 years after you and have heard of the Who. However I am a music nut who was born in the wrong generation. At least that’s what I have been told. BTW Roger was on Howard Stern this week. The Who may not be as big as the Beatles, The Stones or Zepp but they are not that far behind.
Shame on them and their parents. My mom saw The Who back in the 60’s and loves to rub it in my face that she sat on the edge of a pool at a local beach club rocking out and watching them break their instruments looking for stuff in the bushes after the show.
Fri, 07 July 1967:
Lido Beach, NY, Malibu Beach and Shore Club
So sad that these people had never even heard of such a legendary, important band. I have a post on my blog titled “I Missed the Mod Boat: Confessions of a Who Fan” that might interest you. :-)
I feel your pain (we’re the same age) , I work with a lot of twenty-somethings and I’m married to a younger woman who at least has some interest in all of this music she has never heard before. I’ve given up on the “you’ve never heard of” angst and moved on to “you need to check out” angst instead. My rule of thumb is if the person was born after the original Star Wars trilogy, forget it there’s little to no hope!
It’s all about cultural literacy, but i guess that’s too much to ask for nowadays. I as born in ’58 but I grew up to know and appreciate Duke Ellington, John Coltrane etc. Nowadays, there’s too much of everything, but too little of value. Good piece.