We interrupt this week’s baseball posts for: Quadrophenia.
The album was released fifty years ago this week. One of my all time faves, it’s at or near the top of my “Desert Island” list.

Later, of course, the film version was released, and I bought this poster. I found the poster this week, in the same closet-box as all the old baseball memorabilia. Which somehow seems appropriate too.

As I grew into a teen, *music* posters gradually replaced/supplanted most of my boyhood *baseball* posters, symbolic of how the art form also supplanted the sport during those years.

I’ll give Dallas/Richardson natives ONE GUESS as to where I bought this movie poster…ONE GUESS.

IMHO, Quadrophenia —the film and the album— are far superior to Tommy.
At least, they had a far more profound affect on me.

The sound effects of the ocean and rain set the feeling of an actual PLACE…
The introduction of the themes in the opening overture…
The jolting rock of “Can You See the Real Me?”
(It shakes us into the narrative journey. “Buckle up,” it says, “it’s a confusing ride in here”…)

A story unfolding over two records and four sides…
The incredible culmination of “Love Reign Or’ Me.”…
(Actually, the whole last side of the double album, as it drives the narrative and music to culmination in that song)

We’re invited into the head of a troubled teen, at the same time we are challenged by the omnipresence of the ocean and rain as comfort and message…and, somehow, beneath, inside, around it all….love?

To me, it’s the greatest “concept album” of all time, giving the ultimate shape to that format years before Pink Floyd thought about “The Wall.” (I know: your mileage may vary…)
Something about where I was in life in those years, about this cycle of songs around *this specific* common theme.

I had no clue who “Mods and Rockers” were. But I could understand enough to know the record was clearly about teenagers, the conflicting voices inside of a teenaged boys head, and even more enticingly mysterious….some kind of spiritual wrestling.

“Can you see the real me? Can ya?”
No, of course you can’t. That’s the point. Being a teenager is confusing as hell, and always has been.

But also: notice how the song moves…from “doctor,” to “mother” to “preacher.”

No matter that the preacher is apparently clueless…even there it’s just mirroring a 2,000 year old Biblical story of Hannah, begging Eli to help her understand her spiritual yearnings…only to find that he’s clueless as hell.

The point is: Townshend is telling us that the journey deepens as it goes…and ends as a spiritual one.

As I grew into a teen, my brain was trying on all sorts of “me-s” looking for ones that felt real and authentic. I switched from ball players…to guitar players; and the voices battled it out inside my head, just as they did for Jimmy.
And, yes, let’s all be honest with ourselves, they still do.

The ancient greeks gave us the concept of “personas,” and this record named that struggle/concept for 1970s teenagers, everywhere.

Just as those teens chose up “Team Mod” and “Team Rocker”….
Just as we late 1970s kids chose “freak,” or “jock,” or “geek”…and later “preppy.”
Just as adults today choose “Team Red” or “Team Blue” and rarely stop to think about how it’s all the same pattern of choosing personas…

As the prophet Pete would write again years later —in another spiritual opus that is also completely under appreciated— it’s all an “Eminence Front…It’s a put on…”
But, damn, it feels real, yes?
And damn, as we’re learning still in today’s news, we sure are willing to kill for our personas, aren’t we?

I’m not sure why I didn’t become a punk along the way, but that persona just wasn’t my path. But the angry, frustrated, confused teenaged yearning on this record…this was absolutely my journey too.

This record was an early spiritual text for me, and at times maybe more important than the Bible. I would put side four on the turntable, crank it to eleven, and fall asleep to the narrative and music.

And the OCEAN…. At key moments in the narrative, the ocean breaks in…and the rain….Somehow, Pete Townshend wanted to draw our attention to that too….over and over…to remember that it was there for comfort and to remind us that the world as bigger than our little problems.

That ocean breaking in was like God answering Job with, “Where were you when the world was created?”
Nowhere, of course. We’re just muddling through, all of us down here.

And then, the culmination of the narrative …that final, incredible song, with the driving power chords, orchestration, and Daltrey’s iconic scream of spiritual longing:

“Love, reign or’ me….Love….”

Whether it’s an angsty 1970s teenager, an evangelical crying “Come, Lord Jesus,” or George Harrison singing, “I really wanna see you, Lord…”

There is, inside of us all, a similar journey. As St. Augustine said centuries ago, there is inside us all, a God-shaped hole.
And our hearts wrestle, struggle, and strive, to fill it with one thing or another, all of our lives.

This song, in its way, taught me what the Gospel is also trying to teach…

”Only love can make it rain
The way the beach is kissed by the sea
Only love can make it rain
Like the sweat of lovers laying in the fields

Love reign o’er me
Love reign o’er me
Rain on me, rain on me

Only love can bring the rain
That makes you yearn to the sky
Only love can bring the rain
That falls like tears from on high

Love reign o’er me
Love reign o’er me
Rain on me, rain on me

On the dry and dusty road
The nights we spend apart alone
I need to get back home to cool, cool rain
I can’t sleep and I lay and I think
The night is hot and black as ink
Ooh God, I need a drink of of cool, cool rain

Love reign o’er me
Love reign o’er me
Rain on me, rain on me


Desert island record.
Desert island song.
50 Years Ago….this week.

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