The story rubbed me the wrong way, and not because it was poorly written (Shepard is a true master of the short story form) and not because it was unbelievable (bassists, besides my beloved Kim Deal, often go unnoticed in the wake of outlandish lead singers and guitarists). “Won’t Get Fooled Again” bugged me because I don’t want to know about the pedestrian neurosis of rock stars.
Part of my love of music has always been about worshipping at the cult of the idol. When I first started liking things, it was because there was something magnetic about the personalities of the stars. I want to know about Hammer of the Gods-style debauchery and shooting up Jack Daniels like Nikki Sixx did. I don’t want to see the inside of the rock star, only the glossy projected surface.
This is why I never want to meet Kim Deal. I bet if I really tried, I could find some way to shake her hand, or maybe even touch her hair or something. I like her best on the covers of my magazines and as the disembodied sexy girlish voice on my iPod. If I met her, my imaginings of her might be crushed. There’s no way she could be as cool as she is in my head. If I actually saw her up close, it might occur to me that she’s real.
The last paragraph of “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” Entwistle laments his lot as the silent member of the Who. “Why did I standthere in the midst of all this mayhem, like a bloody statue?” he asks himself. “It was my way of making my mark and erasing my mark, simultaneously. There’s nothing like it for exaltation and nothing like it for rank, flat-out failure. You’re working as hard as you can to get one fucking song across–to get some livable part of you across–and it’s never really perfect, it’s never really acceptable, it’s never even really right, is it?”
The fact of it is that for a true fan, the rock star can do no wrong.