THE RINGING in my ears seemed to be coming from deep inside my head,
a piercing sound interrupted only by percussive thunderclaps of pure
pain. Ring. Bang! Ring. Bang! Ring. Bang!
Trying to shield myself, I shoved balled-up fists into both ears,
but it didn’t help. Pete Townshend, wielding his cherry-red Gibson
SG like a tommy gun, loomed above me, windmilling power chords from
The Real Me. I winced at the stack of Hiwatt amps pointed right at
my head and strained to watch his bloody fingers attack the strings.
But what was that annoying ringing? Feedback?
The ringing suddenly stopped, but the pounding continued until Pete
paused and looked down at me. “Look, mate, it’s simple.” Bang! Bang-Bang!
“C minor, B-fl at, F. Down the neck. Bloody easy. Sounds hard, but
John and Moonie are doing all the work, see.”
A grin spanned his mug; tears of pain ran down my own.
“It’s this chord, man,” he insisted, showing me his twisted version
of a C minor. “You play it like you mean it, you turn it inside out
and shake it, and the birds’ll come rushing up, right? And the joint’ll
be packed, and everyone’ll think you’re the Ace Face. It’ll be just
like the Marquee in ’64, mate.”
I tried to speak. I tried to tell Pete that I didn’t believe, like
he did, in the Universal Chord, the harmonizing combination of notes,
pure and easy, that would connect us to everyone else. Or maybe I did. I wasn’t sure. But I knew I believed
in the other angle, the dark corner of the quadrophenic personality
that we shared. Can you seen the real me? Can you? Can you?
Pete rubbed his big geezer nose and shook his head. “C’mon. You’ll
suss it, mate, just like the Who always did. Just bang these chords.
And then John does his bass run and Roger comes in. Like this.”
Once again his arm swept around in an arc, and I cowered.
And then the ringing started again. I jerked away and my eyes popped
Shit, the phone.