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We can’t forget the classics

| Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sitting in class one day last week, I found myself focusing on just about everything but what my professor was saying — the dust in my keyboard, the squeaking of pencils moving hastily across notebooks, the late morning glare coming in from the window. No matter how hard I tried to make myself listen, the words coming from her mouth simply didn’t make it to my ears. And then she said, “Now, I know this will date me a little bit, but how many of you have heard of The Who?”

A smile crossed my face, and suddenly listening to my professor had become substantially less difficult. I nodded and watched her scan the room, a sad bit of mirth in her expression as she saw that only a few heads were nodding. “Just as I thought,” my professor said quietly.

In the span of about 20 seconds, she tried to explain the significance of a band that inspired the musicians who fueled my parents’ teenage angst. She did an admirably good job. Despite the blank looks on most of the class’ faces, she persisted with her reference to The Who, humming the first few lines of “Who Are You?”

As she related the gist of the iconic song to the philosopher she had apparently been discussing, I remained interested in the lecture. After a minute, I managed to catch up and understand what the professor had been explaining before making the analogy that had really gotten my attention. Thanks to The Who, the philosophy of Descartes is far less daunting. Maybe it was the timing of the reference; maybe it was the repetition of the words “Who are you? / I really wanna know.” Either way, I’m not sure I would have been able to follow the lecture without it.

Even now as I search for The Who, my search engine insists that I must be more interested in “the Whole30 diet,” which I most certainly am not. The world will have to pry the vanilla latte from my hands as I listen to “Behind Blue Eyes” for the third time today. In an age where even my own computer tells me there are things more relevant than The Who, I refuse to listen. The lecture from last week only strengthens my resolve.

Despite my disdain for The Who being seemingly forgotten by today’s world, I wouldn’t be doing the band justice if I didn’t learn something from their songs. They suggested to previous generations, “Why don’t you all fade away,” and while I won’t say that for fear of forgetting the icons which they are among, I’ll defend my own generation. “This is my generation, baby,” Roger Daltrey insisted in 1965, a sentiment I now echo.

But we can’t forget the classics.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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