Monday, December 17, 2012

No. 535 – Doctor Jimmy / The Rock

Performer: The Who
Songwriter: Pete Townshend
Original Release: Quadrophenia
Year: 1973
Definitive Version: None

Another two-part song where 50 percent of where the song ranks is due to the first half and 50 percent of what’s keeping it back from a higher ranking is the second half. I could break it up, but you tell me where one ends and the other begins.

I really was looking forward to Christmas break 1984. My first semester junior year at Wabash had been busy like none other at Wabash, between football in the fall, basketball at the end and the courseload along the way. Paper week and finals were particularly dicey that semester.

But the activity kept me focused. I ripped through papers week, eating at the Scarlett Inn as necessary and getting everything done on time, including a massive 20-pager on Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, which became my favorite novel.

Finally … everything was done. Wabash was playing two holiday basketball tournaments out west. The radio station was fine with footing the bill to cover similar events in Ohio the year before but not this time. So I’d have the whole break off for some much needed R & R, and, of course, I couldn’t wait to get home and see Beth.

But one final detail remained. A week or so before finals, a note appeared on the school bulletin board outside the dean’s office that a student needed a ride to and from the Columbus area. Because I just happened to live in the Columbus area, I agreed to do it.

His name was Manesh Mehta, and he was something of a student prodigy. If I remember correctly, he was like 17 and a sophomore kicking butt in chemistry and biology. His family recently had moved to Gahanna, on the other side of town from where I lived. Close enough. I called him up and we set up the departure time for after his last final. I had to wait an extra day.

It was no big deal, and Manesh, I learned, was cool enough, so our conversation made the drive go fast. It went so fast, in fact, that I didn’t stop at all—not to fill up, which I had done before we left, not to eat and certainly not to go to the bathroom. When we got to his parents’ home in Gahanna, I had to go like never before. The result was Austin Powers-like—if Austin Powers never stopped during that scene.

Then came the longest part for me—the final drive home. It was only a half-hour, but I was so giddy to be done with everything and eager to be home that the seconds felt like hours. I was going to go home first and meet up with Beth after she was done with work. (She had a Christmas-time temp job, as I recall.)

Before I left Wabash, Scott told me he got Who’s Last, ostensibly The Who’s final album, which marked their “farewell tour” of 1982. Scott said the version of Doctor Jimmy was particularly excellent.

Well, he couldn’t wait for me to hear it, so as soon as I got home, he put it on in his bedroom, which, of course, used to be my bedroom. I was greeted by Roger belting out: “Laugh and say I’m green, I’ve seen things you’ve never seen …” as I entered the room. We air-guitared around the room for a few minutes, and I truly was elated to be done with the semester. It had been quite a ride.

I was even more elated later that week when I got my report card—three A’s and one A-minus, a 3.875 GPA. It turns out that as busy as it had been, it was the best semester I ever had at college.

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