Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 330
Tues, Dec 11, 2012

“Baba O’Riley”
The Who


“♫ I don’t
need to fight/
To prove I’m
right I don’t
need to be

This morning I really needed a creative jot to my artistic system. I rediscovered my answer in “The Greater Fool” episode of HBO’s The Newsroom. Thanks to song that was the soundtrack to this whole montage, the one and only – “Baba O’Riley” by The Who. It was this hospital room scene, when Jeff Daniels’ Will McAvoy gets up from his bed quoting Don Quixote, and “Baba O’Riley” that awakened my creative spirit this morning.

I always thought “Baba O’Riley” was Pete Townshend attempting to discover that meaning in William Blake’s immortal quest of finding if the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom? When Roger Daltrey sang, those immortal lines, that Townshend wrote, “♫ Teenage Wasteland/ They’re all wasted, ♫” is Pete’s idea of Blake’s palace of wisdom? “Baba O’Riley” was more than a rock song; it was the dynamic riff spark that sent me on my inner quest.

One of the greatest rock anthems has one of Pete Townshend’s most signature windmill like guitar riffs. Pete’s chords sounded like a revolution of spirit coming alive on vinyl. The Who were poignant and explosive on wax. I know you’ve heard “Baba” in films like American Beauty and TV dramas like The Newsroom but to me “O’Riley” and specifically Who’s Next by The Who was the first record album I ever bought for myself with my own allowance money and it’s one of the most important albums in my life. Although, “Strawberry Fields Forever” opened the door to music, art and not just an alternative way of thinking but songs like “Baba O’Riley” are sparks of inspiration that never get old with riffs you can trust.

Did you know that song title “Baba O’Riley” was an amalgam of two of Pete’s mentors, Meher Baba, Townshend’s spiritual guru. and Terry O’Riley, an minimalist and experimental composer whose dazzling keyboard craft inspired the arrangement of “Baba O’Riley?” More importantly, “Baba O’Riley” was the key theme song component of Townshend’s abandoned Lifehouse project.

The goal of “O’Riley’s” dramatic backing track, Townshend wanted to input the life of his spiritual advisor into his synthesizer and that keys would create music based on Meher’s life-force information. Pete described his intent in Mark Wilkerson’s book Amazing Journey: The Life of Pete Townshend, when he said, “Now this was back in ’72 [actually ‘71], and the synthesizer, even then, was still pretty much an unexplored instrument. What I did do in the end was create the musical equivalent of a found poem—like taking a few lines out of a newspaper and calling it a poem.”

Can you hear it? “Baba O’Riley” is an anthem of inspiration. Townshend’s goal was to create life from “Baba” and it worked because what we hear are keys of inspiration being riffed at us at 33 1/3 RPM’s. The Who’s “O’Riley” was my spark. Those majestic Townshend riffs got my creative juices flowing. When I heard those “Baba” chords I immediately felt resurrected. You must experience this creative resurrection too.

You need to find the unexplored instrument in your life and express yourself. What is the sound of fearless creative exploration to you? I challenge you to discover it. I rediscovered mine while watching my favorite episodes of The Newsroom, “The Greater Fool.” It may be a picture, a film, book or memory like song you just need to find the magic and express it creatively with your voice of strong.

Take the leap, just like Pete Townshend who was brave enough to introduce synthesizers into rock ‘n’ roll. Talk about having the guts, The Newsroom’s Will McAvoy, who, also very Pete like, is not afraid of being the greatest fool. Is Pete Townshend’s “Baba’s” “teenage wasteland” your own palace of wisdom? You just have to find your own trip. Sometimes we need to crank it up during the climaxing take of the ‘Baba O’Riley” journey to discover the palace’s foolish wisdom hiding somewhere deep inside—is you.