Performer: The Who
Songwriter: Pete Townshend
Original Release: A Quick One
Year: 1967 *
Definitive Version: The Kids Are Alright, 1979. The version on The Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus is the same, of course, but TKAA came out first. Besides, The Stones were going to sit on that show forever, because they were miffed that The Who basically blew them off the stage.
* Released originally in the U.K. in 1966
How does my life resemble Raiders of the Lost Ark and Back to the Future, I mean aside from the treasure-collecting and time travel, of course? When it comes to Indy 500 barbecues: The first one was a classic, the second one was bad and the third one was decent although not as good as the first.
OK, the second of the Indy 500 barbecues that Scott and I held wasn’t bad, but it couldn’t compare with the original. The third one in 1995 ended the trilogy nicely, although we didn’t know at the time it was going to be just a trilogy. Outside forces, however, had a different plan.
So, yeah, Memorial weekend, 1995. By this time, Scott lived in Louisville, and you can’t have a proper Indy 500 celebration unless you’re back home again … Fortunately, Shani still was at Ball State, living in a house off-campus with a big backyard, so we had our destination.
Also in 1995, both the emcees had dates for the first time, so wouldn’t that seem that the dynamic of the event and the day’s pageantry and festivities might be lost? Of course not. Debbie knew how Scott and I were together, and she knew it would be futile to try and restrain that in any way, so she didn’t bother trying.
We ran the BBQ pageantry same as usual, complete with tickets that resembled those at the Speedway, “No Pass Out” signs, “Parking $10” signs and a yellow flag for when someone’s grill got a little too hot or he, say, dropped a brat on the ground.
We still had the winners circle ceremony complete with milk-swilling and hat-swapping, but this time Scott added another twist—a 500 queen. Just as he had with Danny Sullivan years before, Scott got a cardboard cutout of Kathy Ireland, his all-time favorite SI swimsuit model. (For the record, mine was Elle Macpherson.)
As the first one in the circle, resplendent with my Keep Your Hands Off My Buns smock (stolen from Debbie), I Lettermaned it with the faux Ms. Ireland: Leaning in to give the cutout an overly dramatic extended-lips smooch. Yes, everything at our Indy 500 barbecues was done for comedic effect—almost all of it purely for me and Scott’s benefit.
We ended up borrowing a page out of the 1993 event, by accident. Whether it was the pageantry or the refreshments, I don’t know, but the women (Debbie and Shani) ended up crashing inside, just like in 1993, which meant the guys could go out.
Scott wanted to use The Mitt, so we went to a nearby field to have a catch. The Mitt suffered an unfortunate accident when the ball snapped the string that held the thumb to the rest of the fingers. (It was 60-year-old leather after all.) That retired The Mitt to the Baseball Room.
Then we went to the nearby mall to play video games. Scott and I played a T2 shooter game that requires a ton of quarters to get to the end, which we succeeded in doing, only to watch humanity be destroyed when we couldn’t prevent the T-1000 from killing John Connor, alas.
After all that, how could the race itself measure up to the events of the day before? It couldn’t. Debbie went to visit friends in Kokomo while Scott, Shani, Shani’s brother, John, and I went to the race.
That’s the one that Jacques Villeneuve won when Scott Goodyear blew the restart. It also was the last one before Tony George in a fit of xenophobic hubris destroyed what had been The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, which is why there was no 500 Barbecue in 1996—there was no race, or at least one that featured major-league drivers.
Maybe it’s just as well. 1996 might have proven to be me and Scott’s Crystal Skull, and no one wants to see that.
OK, so how does A Quick One fit into this particular miniopera? As is tradition, Scott and I went to the campus record store in Muncie, Ind., to buy new music for the shindig. In 1993, it had been Robert Plant; in 1994, The Allman Brothers Band. For 1995, I picked Voodoo Soup, said to be an attempt (the first on CD) to re-create Jimi Hendrix’s lost fourth album.
I got overruled, however, so the music for most of the BBQ was Blues Traveler. Anyway, at one point, Scott, one of Scott’s friends and I were discussing glorious rock lyrics from history, and, naturally, A Quick One came up. In my estimable opinion, it features the greatest non-sequitor lyric of all time.
If you don’t know the history, at the point when the song kicks into overdrive toward the end, Pete wanted to hit the final part of the miniopera with a huge symphonic flourish. Unfortunately, The Who were flat broke, so they couldn’t afford the string players. In a fit of genius, instead, The Who just sang the parts where they should go, leading to the bridge, “cello, cello, cello, cello, cello, cello, cello, cello, cello.”
For full effect, sing the lines whilst head-banging and pogoing. That magical moment was caught with me a full 2 inches off the ground (hang time, brah!) on camera by Debbie. If you have no idea what’s going on in the picture, you’d think I looked like an idiot.
Then again, you might think that looking at any picture of me.