Patricia McGuire
University president

Patricia McGuire

President of Trinity Washington University.


Who are you?

Q: The Who were on center stage -- again -- during the Super Bowl's half-time show. Why are some performers able to sustain their success for decades while others lose their appeal? What are the qualities and skills needed to stay revved up and relevant?

Who are you? Halftime at the Super Bowl featured a couple of old guys croaking out a mashup of songs vaguely reminiscent of TV show themes. The Who? Impossible! They were my generation, not my gramp's!

Ooops! This is my generation. Where have all the young boys gone? What happened to Roger Daltry's magnificent long curls and unabashed celebration of his pectorals? As I watched a grizzled Pete Townsend doing that windmill action on his guitar I was afraid he would fall over. They're so old that their drummer is Ringo Starr's son, Zak Starkey!

Perspective: Frank Sinatra, hearthrob of the World War II generation, was only 50 years old in 1965 when The Who was emerging; my generation thought Sinatra was old. But Daltry and Townsend are now 64 and 65 respectively, giving new meaning to "People try to put us d-down, just because we g-g-get around."

Generation Daughtry views Generation Daltry as relics of a byegone era -- Woodstock and all that, how quaint! What the heck is a pinball machine anyway? But before relegating these Legends of Rock to the "oldies" list forever (good heavens, they won Kennedy Center honors, the ultimate distinction for music-only-parents-can-love!), the American Idol generation can learn a few things from the once-countercultural artists whose best work was in vinyl.

After getting over the shock of seeing my generation in the mirror of age, I marveled at these specimens of endurance and vitality, men well into years that once meant certain retirement. Like Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, Daltry and Townsend have kept their brand strong by paying close attention not only to their craft of music but also to their business of entertainment.

Not always the friendliest of partners, they recognized and leveraged each other's talents and were resilient enough to survive fights (some with fists), drugs, ear-shattering stunts, death (Keith Moon, John Entwistle) and the ravages of years of concert tours to create a body of work that is hailed as among the best of rock.

And with the rock opera Tommy, they were trailblazers for the trend to music video well before Michael Jackson ever danced to Thriller. Their later work capitalized on the integration of rock music in theater, film and television; their lyrics and melodies became an integral part of modern pop culture.

Townsend's days of smashing guitars may be long gone, and Daltry-as-Tommy may only climb that mountain singing "See me, feel me" on DVDs and You Tube clips. But their presence at the Super Bowl was a marvelous example of the merits of persistence and re-invention through all life stages. I think they still absolutely mean it when they sing, "I hope I die before I get old."

By Patricia McGuire  |  February 11, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Sustaining success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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This band and all their mid 60's songs still rock on!!!

Posted by: leoferams | February 14, 2010 9:45 PM
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The Who need to move on. We all do.

Posted by: Hawk58 | February 14, 2010 6:20 PM
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Who knows? They didn't do that number, did they?

Posted by: mnjam | February 14, 2010 12:45 AM
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