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“After the Fire”

Posted by purplemary54 on November 18, 2013

I love this song, but the video represents everything that’s wrong with music videos.

Totally ignoring the gratuitous shots of Roger Daltrey shirtless (pretty though they might be), it’s so literal as to be laughable.  Burning trees and school buses.  Ash and embers floating in the wind.  The thing with the match at the beginning (oy vey!).  I’m having trouble believing anyone took this crap seriously.

Frankly, it mars the song a little bit.  It’s synth-heavy 80s production doesn’t do it any favors, either.   “After the Fire” is a wonderfully introspective song, a man looks at himself approaching middle age and wonders what the hell is going on.  (Roger Daltrey performs it; Pete Townshend wrote it.)  He knows there’s still life left, but he’s not sure what any of it means.  His youth–that mythical time of endless passion, conviction, and energy–is gone.  He feels lost: “Now I’m cycling all my videotapes, and I’m crying and I’m joking.  I’ve gotta stop drinking, I’ve gotta stop thinking, I’ve gotta stop smoking.”  It’s the remembrance of things past, “The memories smolder, and the soul always yearns,” that’s got him wondering if there’s anything left for him.

You wouldn’t know this from the bombastic images and production.  To be fair, Pete’s live version from about the same time isn’t much better in terms of production.  I swear I thought I had an acoustic version of this.  It’s begging for an acoustic version.  (If anyone out there has one, I will pay postage and provide the blank CD for you to record it onto.  Or tell me what album it’s on so I can buy it.)  It needs a little peace and quiet.

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