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All the best '80s memories have Pete Townshend eyes

21

June

Usually every Sunday evening, I sit down with YouTube and my Chromecast and dive deep into an artist's catalog and let nostalgia just get the better of me. This weekend, it was the songs of The Who in the '80s and their solo work. I knew my old friend Dr. Dim was high on The Who, so I fed him Facebook messages as I wistfully went through the night. The next day, I got this blog item from Dim. Remember and rejoice.

I was chatting with Spearsy today and he mentioned he was watching videos by The Who and Pete Townshend nonstop. Talk about a man after my own heart! A few song titles were mentioned and Townshend's solo song Slit Skirts came up. As coincidence would have it, the album from which that song comes - All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes - was released 34 years ago this month.

Without going into too much detail, The Who and Pete Townshend mean a lot to me. They've had a great deal of influence on my life. Pete Townshend is my favorite songwriter. Period. And he was way back then in late 1983 when I received this album as a Christmas gift.

All the Best Cowboys... was Townshend's follow-up to his immensely successful Empty Glass from 1980. However, this album had a few songs that weren't as immediately likeable as the ones on Empty Glass. But I was a Pete Townshend fan and I was determined to give every song a chance. I came to enjoy the more challenging melodies of songs such as The Sea Refuses No River and Exquisitely Bored.

Slit Skirts was one of the tougher songs. It was a song about how expectations of a relationship change over time. I did come to like the song, but it wasn't one of my favorites.

Time passed and that album got pushed back in the stack in favor of newer music. I'd pull it out once in a while, but less and less over the years. Then came the spring of 1996 and Townshend released a "best of" album. Of course, I bought it. It had a couple previously unreleased songs on it.

I grabbed a beer, popped the CD into the stereo and cranked the headphones. I was enjoying the experience listening to those familiar tunes. Then Slit Skirts played.

"I was just 34 years-old and I was still wandering in a haze..." went the opening line. I nearly fell out of my chair. Something had happened in the years between my first listening to the album in 1983 and hearing that song again in 1996.

I had reached 31 years of age and, although I wasn't married or ever been in a significant relationship by that age, somehow the song's lyric had gotten deeper for me. I felt it. "Can't pretend that growing older never hurts" made sense to me at 31 in a way it never could when I was 19.

This is a huge part of the reason why I love Pete Townshend's music so much. Townshend never attempted to be the forever adolescent pop star the way some of his contemporaries did. He grew older and his songs reflected that.

It was as if the song itself was telling the 19-year-old me, "It's OK if you don't quite get it now, kid, I'll still be here after you've kicked around a bit longer."

Slit Skirts is now one of my all-time favorite Pete Townshend songs. Here are the full lyrics:

I was just thirty-four years old
And I was still wandering in a haze
I was wondering why everyone I met
Seemed like they were lost in a maze

I don't know why I thought I should have
Some kind of divine right to the blues
It's sympathy not tears people need
When they're the front page sad news

The incense burned away
And the stench began to rise
Lovers now estranged
Avoided catching each others' eyes

And girls who lost their children
Cursed the men who fit the coil
And men not fit for marriage
Took their refuge in the oil

No one respects the flame
Quite like the fool who's badly burned
From all this you'd imagine
That there must be something learned

Slit skirts, Jeanie never wears those slit skirts
I don't ever wear no ripped shirts
Can't pretend that growing older never hurts

Knee pants, Jeanie never wears no knee pants
Have to be so drunk to try a new dance
So afraid of every new romance

Slit skirts, slit skirts
Jeanie isn't wearing those slit skirts, slit skirts
She wouldn't dare in those slit skirts, slit skirts
Wouldn't be seen dead in no slit skirts

Romance, romance, why aren't we thinking up romance?
Why can't we drink it up true heart romance
Just need a brief new romance

Let me tell you some more about myself
You know I'm sitting at home, just now
The big events of the day are passed
And the late TV shows have come around

I'm number one in the home team
But I still feel unfulfilled
A silent voice in her broken heart
Complaining that I'm unskilled

And I know that when she thinks of me
She thinks of me as him
But unlike me, she don't work off her frustration in the gym

Recriminations fester
And the past can never change
A woman's expectations
Run from both ends of the range

Once she walked with
Untamed lovers' faced between her legs
Now he's cooled and stifled
And it's she who has to beg

Slit skirts, Jeanie never wears those slit skirts
And I don't ever wear no ripped shirts
Can't pretend that growing older never hurts

Knee pants, Jeanie never wears no knee pants
We have to be so drunk to try a new dance
So afraid of every new romance

Slit skirts, slit skirts
Jeanie isn't wearing those slit skirts, slit skirts
She wouldn't dare in those slit skirts, slit skirts
Wouldn't be seen dead in no slit skirts

Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn't wearing those slit skirts, slit skirts
She wouldn't dare in those slit skirts, slit skirts
Wouldn't be seen dead in no slit skirts

Romance, romance, why aren't we thinking up romance?
Why can't we drink it up true heart romance
Just need a brief new romance

 

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 8:40am]

    

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