Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tales from the Psychobabble Search Engine Terms: the munsters and petetownshend

Have you ever wondered what search engine terms lead the dedicated few to accessing Psychobabble? Me neither! However, some of these terms are so oddly intriguing, so intriguingly odd, that I’ve decided to explore them in a new feature called Tales from the Psychobabble Search Engine Terms!

the munsters and pete townshend

Date Searched
January 11, 2011

Possible Purpose
This bizarro search seems to be a perfect spot to launch this feature since it incorporates both sides of Psychobabble’s schizoid persona: the retro horror of America’s fave family of freaks, The Munsters, and the retro rock appeal of The Who’s resident arm swinging, axe smashing, rock opera writing, intellectual thug, Pete Townshend.

Our quest to uncover why anyone would enter these five words together in a search engine begins with, appropriately enough, entering these five words into a search engine. As well-versed as I am in Pete Townshend and monster-TV lore, I cannot readily conjure a connection between them aside from them both being products of the 1960s.

So, what does our Google search reveal? The first item, fascinatingly enough, leads us to an overview of Bob Mould performances from the early ‘90s in which the former Hüsker Dü frontman briefly teased the “Munsters” theme song. At a later date on his solo acoustic tour, Mould was reportedly being stalked by his idol, Pete Townshend. Did the two men meet? This page does not reveal. But on a slightly related note, I saw Mould’s band Sugar at NYC’s Roseland in 1994, but left before the group played The Who’s “Armenia City in the Sky” (not written by Townshend, by the way) because I was really only there to see the opening acts, Velocity Girl and Magnapop. I’ve always slightly regretted missing that performance, though, because I gather it was my one and only chance to see a band play the opening cut from my favorite Who album, Sell Out. Alas, this live recording will have to suffice:

See how many interesting things we’ve already learned in this new feature, faithful reader? See how it isn’t a tremendous waste of your and my time? Yes! But we are not finished yet, for “the munsters and pete Townshend” has more mysteries to unveil. Let us carry on…

The next item in our google search leads us to an interview with Alice Cooper from late 2009 in which The Coop praises Rob Zombie for having as much reverence for Bela Lugosi as he has for “The Munsters”. Further down the interviewer compares Cooper’s “School’s Out” to Townshend’s “My Generation” as dual teen rock anthems. Hmm.

The Coop sez: "I loves you, Rob Zombie!"

OK, two items in and I’m beginning to suss that there is no significant connection between Pete Townshend and “The Munsters”. So why oh why would someone have conducted such a fruitless search? Here’s my one and only explanation. On March 15, 1966, The Who recorded a performance for the BBC program “Saturday Club”, in which they played a rare Moon/Townshend/Entwistle composition—a one-off instrumental called “You Rang” similar to other Who instrumentals such as “The Ox” and “Sodding About”. The number features Entwistle breaking out his patented “Boris the Spider” growl to intone the title phrase, which of course, is not attributable to any member of the Munster clan, but should be familiar to fans of The Munsters’ rival horror family, as it was the catchphrase of butler Lurch of “The Addams Family”.

“You Rang” was not the only time The Who paid tribute to a popular American television show. Also in 1966, they cut a buzzsaw version of Neal Hefti’s “Batman” theme. 40 years later, Townshend name-dropped the composer behind the themes of such programs as “Hillstreet Blues”, “The A Team”, and “NewsRadio” in “Mike Post Theme”, one of the stand-out tracks on The Who's reunion record, Endless Wire. However, we’ll have to wait until Townshend’s next disc to discover whether or not he will finally sings the praises of Herman, Lily, Grandpa, and the rest of the Munster family.

Mike Post: Unlikely Townshend idol or unlikeliest Townshend idol?

The Verdict
File this mystery under : unsolved

Additional Trivia
Though The Who never appeared on "The Munsters", a notable '60s band did star in the "Far Out Munsters" episode. A year before releasing their classic nugget, "Dirty Water", The Standells performed a goofy number called "Come On and Ringo" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on "The Munsters". Here's the "Come On and Ringo" clip from the episode dubbed in Spanish, which is really the only way to watch "The Munsters":

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