Eminence Front (It’s A Put On)

The problem with stepping out with The Who’s ‘Eminence Front’ on one’s iPod is that one easily confuses one’s self with Sonny Crocket.

The off-white coat and aviator glasses contribute, sure, but they can’t be blamed.

No, the blame begins with a beat. It’s that late-80s synth sound. Long before Eddie Van Halen’s discovered it for ‘1984,’ long before Howard Jones, there was The Who. Keith Moon was gone, and Pete Townshend knew well enough not to try to replace him. Instead, he opens the song with a steady snare and high hat.

In the hands, or ears, of one given to persuasion, it’s an invitation to pull on the sunglasses, put on a glare, and walk every sidewalk like you own it. Every block is a scene from ‘Miami Vice,’ and you — you, Dear Reader — are out for vengeance. Your heals glide over cracks in the pavement and strike with deliberate authority. And always in time.

The keyboards enter like a telegraph breaking news. This just in: You are one cool motherfucker.

Drum fill, then guitar. It’s a short, sharp report, crackling like a broadcast from a distant transistor. It echoes like thunder through steel canyons.

“The sun shines, and people forget / Forget they’re hiding.”

You step into a dark room high above the glistening city. It throbs with suit swarming over one another for table scraps. Matt LaBlanc is holding down a table in the corner. Still, you own the room. You’ve come and joined the party dressed to kill.

“Drinks flow, and people forget / Forget they’re hiding.”

You lean in to listen, smile, and hollar over throbbing bass. By 4 a.m., you’re 70 blocks from home, sweating through your sport coat, and dancing with cool abandon. The waitstaff — all black minis and high boots — gyrates in unison on the bar. The patrons are thinning, but you soldier on.

Later, on the street, you search for a white, numbered halo floating over the inky black. There are few halos left tonight, and so you walk on. And you wonder, ‘Well, how did I get here?’

It’s an eminence front.

It’s a put on.

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