When I first got my driver’s license in the late seventies, I used my new-found freedom to drive my 1972 Ford Elite with the vinyl landau top to a run-down theater across town to watch “The Kids Are All Right” over and over. Note the “over and over” part. At first, I enlisted friends to go with me, but being non-Who obsessed so-called “normal” teens, they eventually abandoned me to my folly and I wound up sitting alone in the theater, a teenage girl, week after week, absorbing The Who in all their Who-ish glory. The theater surely couldn’t have shown the movie for more than a couple of months (could they?), but in my memory, it was playing all that year, and by the time it ended, I was changed from your every day, average geeky band geek to a self-assured, “I’m a Who fan, that’s who I am” kind of geeky band geek.
Mine was silver with a maroon landau. I wish I still had this car.
There was something about that attitude, that strut, that powerful siren call of rebellion and stickin’-it-to-‘em-ness that just reeled me in, creating a life-long member of the Who army, as is evidenced by the framed Quadrophenia poster on my wall and the Who mug, purchased at their concert in Nashville last summer, from which I drink my morning coffee.
Immediately upon watching the “Kids Are All Right”, I started using my allowance money (what I had left from buying movie tickets) to collect all of the Who albums (naturally), one of which being Quadrophenia. I would stare at the pages of the booklet that came with the album as I listened to the musical story of teenage angst and disillusionment (ummm…just a little apropos). Slowly, a “look” started to form in my mind based on just a few pictures from the booklet, and then it got stronger when I saw the “Quadrophenia” movie.
Keep in mind that there was no internet, no ready source of information, and recall from my earlier posts that I was deep in the bowels of the deep, swampy south, so I didn’t know that the “Look” had a name, or that there had been a huge following of the Look in the past decade, or that the Look was still hanging around stubbornly and continued to have adherents, or that The Who was pretty much the cornerstone of the whole thing. When I visited England a year later, the Look was everywhere, all around me, but back home in Mississippi, I was still surrounded by, and myself wore, the standard seventies uniform of bell bottom jeans and concert tees.
But I set out on a mission that fall when I came back from England – I had to have the Look. I searched everywhere for the straight, skinny-legged pants, the Ray-Bans, the smooth, tailored clothing, and I cut my long, hippie-fied hair into a short bob. I still didn’t know there was a name for what I was doing, but I finally achieved the Look that would express my essential Who-iality to the world.
But alas, you know what happened, don’t you? Yep. Pretty soon, as in almost instantaneously, the bell-bottoms were out and everyone was wearing the skinny-legged pants and everyone was bobbing their hippie hair and everyone was wearing Ray-Bans. My “statement” was lost among the throngs of conventional fashion-wearers. Thus, I had to go back to being a hippie. Well, I flirted with the punk thing too.
The point is, no way would I be conventional in those days, even if it meant giving up the Look. I remember thinking something along the lines of “I bet those plebeians don’t even like The Who” as I resentfully pulled my bell bottoms out of the back of my closet. It wasn’t until years later, when internet finally came to the swamp, that I put the term “Mod” together with that period of my life or the fashion that I had attempted to emulate. It was a light bulb moment for me.
Now, as I sit here in my elastic-waist jeans, no fashion at all, and not caring in the least, I raise my Who mug in the direction of my Quadrophenia poster, and I salute the guys – Pete, Roger, John, and Keith, who somehow broadened my tiny world in that crummy theater years ago, helped me to find an identity for myself besides band geek, and found the words for me when I “couldn’t explain”. Like Adam Sandler once said about Pete, “behind his blue eyes there’s a big ole’ brain.”
Enjoy this video and the Mod-ness of it all. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever come across on Youtube.
Here’s Adam Sandler doing his Who tribute song at the VH1 Rock Honors. It appears that Adam’s a fellow member of the Who army. I should’ve guessed that years ago, though. It’s a fitting tribute – nice job, Mr. Sandler.
Lastly, I highly recommend Pete’s autobiography, “Who I Am”. It’s outstanding – piercingly honest and well-written, of course.
Thoughts? Observations? Fellow fan? Successful Mod? Fellow failed Mod? Please share!