The Who: “I’m One”
The Who are a group that really don’t need much of an introduction — and thankfully so, because I’m having a bit of a too-busy time of it today, so I almost contemplated skipping today’s post. But I figured better to at least get a short one in and a song that you all can enjoy without much need for explanation. And who better than The Who? They’re one of my all-time favorite bands, up there near to the Beatles in terms of bands I like so much that I feel little need to put them on the stereo as much as other music, since they’re sort of a given for me. Do you know what I mean? It’s almost like taking them for granted, except that I don’t. Pete Townshend is pure rock genius, and Moon and Entwistle were incredible. Daltrey is my least essential of the four — not that I don’t appreciate his vocal talents, but I enjoy Townshend’s singing so much that I think I could have been as happy with him singing all their songs. (Although he could never have pulled off that yell in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” the way that Daltrey did!) Nonetheless, I give Daltrey props for being one of the most gracefully aging rock stars around — he looks good and healthy, and he’s one level-headed guy…always gives a great interview.
The song I’m featuring today is off of their 1973 album, Quadrophenia, in my opinion the last solidly great album they released (although their next, The Who by Numbers, was pretty close to being one). “I’m One” is a Pete Townshend tour de force, blending his first vulnerable and then tough vocals with both his quiet acoustic and then hard-edged rock sides — a little bit of everything that he does so well. It’s a song that’s about accepting yourself despite your faults and blemishes, a song of empowerment for anyone who has ever felt out of place or different than people around him or her. I’m glad Townshend chose to sing it — Daltrey never comes off quite as believable when trying to show an insecure side; Townshend, on the other hand, however much of a rock god he may be perceived as, has always come off as the most human of rock gods, complete with imperfections and human frailties, just like the rest of us. And this is his anthem.