Spin Doctor, Celia

Spin Doctor, Celia

Celia Farber. oh, that girl. She did what I consider one of the best interviews ever with Pete Townshend. My friend in Austin, Texas, Alan McKendree, sent me a photocopy from the Tenth Anniversary Issue of' Spin magazine. As I read her interview, I was shaking my head in awe that the person writing this was fucking well alive, electric, and telling us all that Quadrophenia is our favorite album (she was talking about herself as well as us fans) and that we can't get over how incredible the album is. Then she had the audacity to put in brackets after "Townshend's fans" the phrase ("and we know who we are!") I was sitting reading this, and I thought, "God Almighty! This is unreal. This is passionate writing as writing should be. She's not neutral at all. She's a Who fan and she wants the world to know." Even before I got to the part in which she and Pete discussed how I would speak to him in the Goldhawk dressing room about I Can't Explain, I had made my mind up there and then that I was going to seek out this girl, Celia Farber. You see; she touched on something very few previous interviewers had. I'm not very good at explaining it, but I know she grasped exactly how The Who's music made me feel. She said that Townshend's fans carry tribal convictions rooted in the fractured ideology of underdog heroica. And I think I saw exactly that in the early days of the band.

I have to admit I was quite dumbfounded to read what she said. I'd spent so much time trying to hold politically correct neutral observations about my idol that I'd quite forgotten what it was like to have an unwashed hero.

During the course of the interview which takes place in New York, Townshend explained how his analytical process as a writer is permanently based on a control group of Mods, five boys and a girl, from Shepherd's Bush. Pete said these six fans used to talk to him in the dressing room at the old Goldhawk Social Club, encouraging him to write what they themselves were unable to express. "To this day," he told her, "My work is 80 percent what I think that Mod delegation wants me to say and 20 percent whatever froths up."

Goldhawk Social  Club
Goldhawk Social Club (c. '85) from "London Rock Roots" By John Platt

So very few other writers in rock write as the reflection of the fan in the unique way Townshend does. He's never adopted any other stance: His songs reflect the inadequacies and insecurities of the kid on the street, as if he too shares the same hang-ups and has the same doubts. Essentially, he's never stopped writing for that same kid. That kid who has long left the old Goldhawk behind, somehow managed to survive, maybe even mature to some degree, and get through his thirties, forties, and so on.. In a tour program Townshend summarized the idea by saying: "I have always felt a part of, and written for a Social Group, a bunch of people from a small neighbourhood in a big city. I am always trying to tell their continuing stories."

So after reading this fantastic interview, and re-reading with a very special interest Pete's comments about the early fans, my memory was catapulted back to the Goldhawk dressing room and the stuff I used to say to Pete. "You're writing about who we are," I told him, adding, "What I'm trying to say is that I Can't Explain is exactly what we can't explain. If you see what I mean." He did. Not long after, he added on cream with Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere. From that point on, us mods were truly rooted in the fractured ideology of underdog heroica. It wasn't exactly my conversations with Pete all those years ago, however, that lit up the darkness in the vault of my memory. Rather, it was his unexpected reference to those five boys and a girl. It was as if he had somehow managed to pull a special memory out of the bag. I can still remember her. Nowadays I call her The Queen of Quadrophenia. And you know, I would never have thought of it if I hadn't read that Spin interview.

I have never moved so fast in my life. I quite literally put the magazine down and immediately moved to my typewriter. I have rarely felt so inspired to write anything. She was there, ready and waiting for me: Jeanette. All I had to do was think back to those dressing room sessions. Pete got the numbers a little confused in the interview. There hadn't been five boys but four: Martin and Lee Gaish, one other called, Peter Campbell, and myself. The four of us were The Miming Who - four Goldhawk Mods who used mime to I Can't Explain at the Hammersmith Palais. But I changed the number of boys back to five for very special reason: we regarded Pete as a member of our little Mod set. At the Goldhawk Pete would come down to dance with us during band intervals. Then he would go back up on stage where, having stolen our steps, he would perfect them with a Rickenbacker slung around his neck. He didn't allow his role as a musician to imply that he was different to us. If anything, he wanted to fit in…. bad. He ached to fit in. He was one of us. Jeanette provided the implied stamp of approval by hinting to us that she was giving Pete the same "opened legs" attention she was giving us. She had four selfless interchanging boyfriends -- who hung out together -- and each one of us screwed her in rotation. Five boys and a girl. "I have always felt a part of, and written for a Social Group, a bunch of people from a small neighbourhood in a big city. I am always trying to tell their continuing stories." Isn't that what he'd said?

A popular Mod hangout. From "London Rock Roots" By John Platt

I get the greatest kick out of reading The Queen of Quadrophenia to people. The interesting thing about Jeanette and her claims on Pete is that it is one of those beautiful situations where the accuracy of her claim is not important. What really matters is that she knew Pete back in the those early days and considered him to be a member of our small Social Group.

© Irish Jack Lyons

Capturado por MemoWeb a partir de http://www.thewho.net/irishjack/celia.html  el 16/08/2001