18 November 2000 was one of the most important, special, unforgettable days of my life. That was the day I bought my own copy of The Who’s masterpiece Quadrophenia, after having known about it for years from my parents’ small record collection. I’d been so curious about it, but I was too hung up on trying to interpret Jimmy’s story and the lyrics to understand how simple it really was. It’s a story about the pain and frustration of not fitting in and feeling at odds with everyone and everything, no matter what you do. If you can’t relate to Jimmy’s story, your life is too perfect, and I probably don’t like you.
I was so blown away I had to listen to it twice that day. For years I’d been scared of someday hearing “Dr. Jimmy,” because of the line about raping a virgin, but when it finally came time, it didn’t bother me that much. Jimmy has reached the end of his rope at that point. He’s not thinking straight, and is saying he doesn’t care anymore what he does. The real Jimmy isn’t saying he wants to go around raping women! He’s under psychological duress and is severely depressed, and he never actually rapes anyone in the story.
There are so many awesome, killer tracks, it’s hard to pick just one favourite. However, I’ve always been very partial to “Cut My Hair,” “The Punk and the Godfather,” “Helpless Dancer” (Roger’s Theme), “Sea and Sand,” “The Rock,” “The Real Me,” and of course “Love, Reign O’er Me” (Pete’s Theme). There are so many perfect, poignant moments all throughout, the entire album being a total masterpiece, not a wasted note or song. And I love the recurring water motif.
Everything segues together perfectly, particularly in “The Rock,” where the four themes appear separately first, then gradually start blending into one another, first tentatively, then faster and faster, until the breathtaking beauty of “LROM,” starting with the healing sounds of rain and ending with perhaps Keith’s last truly great, most flawless performance.
17 November 2004 was the first time I saw my beautiful Rudy Valentino in motion, in 1922’s Blood and Sand. I still remember how my heart literally skipped a beat at that first moment. He was so beautiful, both inside and out. The next day, I played The Sheik (1921) and The Son of the Sheik (1926). And after that, I had to get all the rest of his surviving films which were commercially available at the time. Some of them were on DVD, others on VHS. I’ve now seen all his surviving films, even the pre-stardom ones from 1918-20.
You can never get back that special, Magickal time when you’re first just getting into a band, an actor, a writer, etc. Everything is so new and exciting, all these special first-time experiences that come only once, excitedly getting to know the songs, films, books, etc. You want to absorb everything you can, one thing after the next, but it’s also important to savour this special time. I imagine it’s a similar feeling with watching your baby’s milestones. I know it’s been really fun to watch my rabbi and rebbetzin’s youngest kids going from newborns to their own little people.
On my tin anniversary with Quad, 18 November 2010, I bit the bullet and went back to Little Ragdoll. I’d carried Adicia’s story around in my head for 16.5 years and never forgotten it. It had really begun to obsess me, where I was even dreaming about this long-hiatused story. Several storylines and the character of Sarah actually came back to me in these dreams. It was just time to reconstruct the story from scratch and memory, and not stop this time. I felt like that real-life girl never would’ve forgiven me if I’d never resumed my imagining of her story, and like I really would’ve regretted it when it came my time to drop the body and pass from the material world.
This was truly a case of a book writing me, instead of me writing a book. I wrote the first draft of 397,000 words in three months, from 18 November 2010-10 February 2011. Everything just came gushing out so naturally, without any blocks, doubts, or breaks. It was a similar experience for The Twelfth Time, the first draft of which is 406,000 words written over five months.
Everything arrives at the right time, to paraphrase a line from “All Things Must Pass.”