Performer: The Who
Songwriter: Pete Townshend
Original Release: Odds & Sods *
Definitive Version: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970, 1996
* Of course, part of Naked Eye first appeared on Live at Leeds in 1970 as part of the massive My Generation medley.
Thanks to Live at Leeds, which Jin got after we first saw The Kids Are Alright in 1979, I knew at least part of this song, but I can’t say I really heard it for the first time until The Who’s farewell concert that we watched on pay-per-view in December 1982.
As I mentioned, Scott and I had a tape recorder leaned up against the TV speaker, so we could record it, and I listened to that tape a lot after I got back to Wabash for spring semester my freshman season.
My second semester at Wabash was a lot more comfortable experience. I was more familiar with the campus layout and how classes went, and I didn’t have the upheaval of changing classes and living quarters, like I did the first semester.
That’s when I got to be real good friends with my suitemate, Paris Shah, whom we called the P Man. I kept to myself a bit after moving into Wolcott Hall, feeling self-conscious about being the new guy moving into settled territory after my failed fraternity experiment. Paris brought me out of my shell.
Paris was from Da Region, and he was a character. He was friends with everyone at Wolcott, and through him, I got to know everyone else. It was a fairly tight-knit crew led by the seniors on my floor: Marty, Dan and Big Daddy. To a certain extent, it felt like rush at the Fiji House, and Paris was my sponsor. As soon as the three seniors accepted me, I was all good.
So my second semester, I didn’t stay in my room as much, even as I fed my newfound passion: playing Strat-o-Matic baseball. I’d be in the TV room, watching MTV or shooting pool (and watching MTV), shooting the breeze in someone’s room or in the phone booth at the end of the hall talking with Beth.
When I was in my room, if Paris were also in his room, that meant it was Thriller time. P Man bought Thriller as soon as it came out, and that spring semester, he played it all … the … time.
It got so that summer when I was home, Wanna Be Startin’ Something came on the radio, and I moaned, “I’m so sick of this song!” Beth asked, what are you talking about? This is his latest single; it’s brand new. Not to me. P Man would play Thriller start to finish—sometimes not all the way to the end but always, ALWAYS from the beginning, so I must have heard Wanna Be Startin’ Something 500 times if I heard it once.
P Man and I played a lot of racquetball in the funky too-small courts in the Armory. The courts were wedged into a space that made it so the ceiling at the back wall was angled, which led to some really crazy bounces. In the spring, he put together Frisbee football games in the yard between Wolcott and Morris halls.
I remember, one time, during dinner at the Sparks Center, they showed old Abbott and Costello movies, and there was this one where the duo were trying to hide and pulling down the window shades, but the shades would snap up loudly. One would pull down one shade and then the other and each would snap up while the other was pulling his down. They did this like six times, and it cracked me up, which made Paris crack up. OK, so I like slapstick. Sue me.
When I fell into my sophomore living situation, I told Paris we’d have him come out to the house as much as he wanted, but it turned out that when I left for the summer after my freshman year, that was the last time I saw him.
I can’t remember whether it was grades or his parents wouldn’t foot the bill—I don’t think it was because he wanted to transfer—but I found out he left Wabash. I called him at his home, and we talked a bit, and that was it. It ultimately was a short-lived friendship, but Paris came along when I needed a good friend, and I thank him for that, wherever he is.