Random unsolicited email today:
"My 6-year old son Evan has a habit of asking questions that are pretty
tough to answer. Examples from this week include:
What's your favorite cemetery where you have relatives that are buried?
Can a fish swim faster than a bird can fly?
And I'm writing you to share one that's pretty tough:
If the two dead members of The Who, and the two dead members of the
Beatles formed a band...
and the two living members of The Who, and the two living members of the
Beatles formed a band...
Which band would be better?
I can see it either way. Keith Moon, John Entwhistle, John Lennon and
George Harrison, OR Pete Townshend, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and
If it wasn't for Pete, the choice would be easy. What do you think?"
I live for emails like this. But don't unwisely invest too much in Pete's living. In my opinion, I don't particularly have much care for Daltrey or Entwistle. And Ringo gets unfairly bagged on (the fill on the Anthology version of "Strawberry Fields" alone make this man a visionary) . I feel like everyone else would very quickly choose the dead guys and for some reason that makes me want to pick apart the question even more. Now that I think about it, I'm very clear that I would much rather see Townsend/McCartney together than any other combo of those two bands. Paul is such a badass on bass...shit like "Taxman" or "Dear Prudence" or "Tomorrow Never Knows" are all undeniable. And Pete on guitar on "Pictures of Lily" or "My Generation" are ALL you need in my book. But then, do you take on Daltrey's voice as a liability? Because he's the only one there who doesn't play an instrument. You're left with a power trio and one in which both Pete and Paul can sing (in my opinion) better. With my rules, Daltrey can shake a tambourine and not have to sing. Do with that what you may.
If we were to slightly alter the challenge and took the two dead Beatles with the living members of the Who (Lennon, Harrison, Townsend, Daltrey) against Moon, Entwistle, McCartney and Ringo I would, on theory, select dead Who/living Beatles (while some may claim the three guitar vs. double drum/double bass argument is malarkey, I'm viewing it on far more intrinsic levels). Take into account the songs Pete/Paul/Ringo/Daltrey wrote vs. the songs Lennon/Harrison/Entwistle/Moon wrote. Or if you wanna ignore a lot of the crap, Pete and Paul vs. Harrison and Lennon. To me, that is CLEARLY Paul and Townsend...you get the punk and the melody. with Harrison/Lennon, you just get the melody. And if we view this above-board and pull the ever-bloody straight up Beatles vs. the Who, I'm left having to pick the Beatles if only for their consistency and paving the way for acts like the Who.
With that in mind, if we view this mathematically, Paul and Ringo would be the trump here. If we approach dead vs. living as a stalemate, equal, on-par, whatever...Paul and Ringo would be the winners in the two other categories (Beatles vs. Who and dead Beatles w/living Who vs. dead Who w/living Beatles) and Paul/Pete wrote the better songs vs Harrison and Lennon. So really, in this case, it is Paul who's living is the deal-breaker. Whatever team he's on, I'm joining. And so it is settled (in my mind) that the living members of the Who and the Beatles would be a better band than the dead members of the Who and the Beatles. Especially since dead people can't even play instruments. But if you're explaining it to the youth, you always choose the power trio over the four piece with two guitars.