Performer: Pete Townshend
Songwriter: Pete Townshend
Original Release: All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes
Definitive Version: None
When this song was current, I hated it. First, it was on MTV all the time. I might be exaggerating somewhat, but it sure seemed like this video was on every half-hour—for sure every hour—every day. Second, it fit the sound of what I considered to be a neutered Pete Townshend. A lot of his early solo work—and particularly Chinese Eyes—didn’t rock the way the bandleader for The Who should. It was much like The Who’s “final show.” What happened to the fire?
Time of course can change things, and my opinion of this song changed after Pete released his collection of greatest hits in 1996. All of a sudden I loved it because of everything that it recalled in my mind when I heard it.
And that would be my freshman year of Wabash. Few songs crystallize a single vision as much as this one does—of the basement at my dorm when the video was on all the time.
After I left the Fiji house in October, I moved into Wolcott Hall, which was a small and much less depressing dorm than the big Martindale that I wanted no part of. The basement had laundry, a pool table (where I would waste many hours that year) and about 50 armchairs situated in front of the lone TV that hung from the ceiling.
Invariably, anyone watching TV down there had it tuned to one channel: MTV. Usually it would be a few people at a time, with one exception: the final episode of MASH in the spring of 1983. Everyone who lived in the dorm was down there. Every chair was taken, and at the end everyone sang the words to the theme Suicide Is Painless. Pretty funny.
And then we switched it back to MTV … and Slit Skirts was on. Nooooooo!