Forgotten series: Pete Townshend – Empty Glass (1980)

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OK, I didn’t really ‘forget’ it. It’s just that the attached memories were so intense and bittersweet that, at the time, I didn’t have the strength to revisit them.

During my first year of college, I discovered that a friend of mine (who was still in her last year at our high school) had developed an interest in me beyond ‘just friends.’ This kinda thing has always whacked me upside the head a little. Really? She does? Wow.

So, me and Shelley had one of those romances that can only happen when you’re young and, well, full of being young. We reveled in in being young, in music and in each other. One particular night, I remember picking up a bunch of food and heading over to her house. (This was back when I was in my gonna-be-chef phase). I cooked us a sort of Japanese-beef-on-the-grill thing. After that, we spent the rest of the night blasting records and becoming more and more horizontal (don’t ask me where her parents were … off on a trip somewhere, I think).

I can’t quite express what a match we were. Back then, I was as much of a music geek as I am now. The fact that some of her favorite records were The Who’s The Kids Are Alright and Who Are You just added to the seeming perfectness of the situation. So, on that one night we played Pete Townshend’s Empty Glass over and over and over. The ‘mystery’ of some of that album’s lyrics were all over the rock press. “Rough Boys,” “And I Moved” … what the heck was he talking about? This made no difference to me because the memories of that evening were chemically bonded to Townshend’s music and words. What he was getting at was irrelevant as those sweet and perfect recollections took precedence.

The next year, Shelley began attending my university and we continued on.

But then something happened. To this day, I’m not really sure what it was. The final straw involved me making an emergency trip to her dorm room after a frantic call from her roommate. There was a mostly empty vodka bottle and a lot of confusion. After that we went out separate ways.

For years and years, Empty Glass remained on the shelf. I had no interest in revisiting that time period. When “Let My Love Open The Door” came on the radio, I had to change the station. Then, around the time of my (gulp) 20th high school reunion, I somehow managed to get back in contact with Shelley via email. We had a nice ‘what the heck happened’ discussion. We came to the conclusion that we were both young and foolish and ended up treating each other the way we did for all sorts of reasons that were more or less out of our control. Then we got to really reminiscing. Now that was fun. Interesting the stuff you can remember from so long ago. We’ve both been through so much stuff over this time gap but some things remain fresh.

Years after that reunion of sorts, I am finally able to listen to Empty Glass without the pain … and a fine record it is.

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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