Song Of The Day 11/30/2015: The Who – “Blue, Red and Grey”

A Sentimental Education – A couple of years ago my daughter Lucie got a ukulele for Christmas (or maybe her birthday; the two dates are fairly close). She decorated it with Sharpie art: dotted lines on the edges of the body, plus some other flourishes on the surface as well. For awhile I heard her playing and practicing the instrument in her bedroom after lights-out. Not long after she took up the viola for music class. Nowadays she's doing choir after regular school hours. I never hear her practicing any of her stuff lately. Some of this is due to Minecraft. But she's still adamant about making choir practice, if for no other reason that she has friends there. Music's still sort of a sideline, though. The same way cooking is. I think it's because my wife and I both cooked in front her. I did so with R&B music playing. In preschool she played "peeling garlic" with the other kids. When she was eight she wanted to be a restauranteur after a few binge-watchings of Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible. We actually made menus. I'm not sure this daydreaming fit is completely over yet. For right now the machines have taken over.

But back to the ukulele. I still fantasize about us doing a father-daughter duet with her playing, and it's to this song by Pete Townshend, featured on the oft-overlooked album The Who By Numbers. If you cling to the theory that every Who album from Tommy onward was defined by what personal specters Townshend was wringing out in tune form, you could probably best describe The Who By Numbers as "the drinking album." In certain parts of the album it's pretty obvious. "Blue, Red and Grey," though, is my vote for Townshend's most beautiful song. There's a lot in this song that I think about. Hell, there's a few things Townshend says he does that I know I do ("The people on the hill, they say I'm lazy/But when they sleep I sing and dance"). Those moments you don't get outside your own head by choice.

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