Tag Archives: creativity

A Words Look: Intro to Baba O’Riley

I was just fiddle-farting around at work on a Friday morning a few months ago, listening to John in the Morning on the KEXP stream and organizing the experiments for the day. John Richards played Baba O’Riley from The Who mixed in with the usual eclectic music KEXP is famous for. At KEXP, they run a real-time playlist on the web feed that has a section for DJ notes about the song playing. Most of the time, these notes are information about shows the currently played band is playing in the Pacific Northwest or links to their archived KEXP In-Studio performances. There’s often also an odd song fact or two the DJ gleans from the internet about the song or artists.

KEXP DJ Notes on Baba O’Riley by The Who, John Richards Friday, October 13, 2017:

“Good morning and a very happy Friday. When The Who perform this live, the processed organ is played from a recording, since it would be nearly impossible to replicate on an instrument. The guitar doesn’t come in until 1:40, giving Pete Townshend some time to reflect on his work. “There is this moment of standing there just listening to this music and looking out to the audience and just thinking, ‘I f–king did that. I wrote that,” he told Rolling Stone. “I just hope that on my deathbed I don’t embarrass myself by asking someone, ‘Can you pass me my guitar? And will you run the backing tape of ‘Baba O’Riley’? I just want to do it one more time.”

As a writer, this particular quote from Pete Townshend hits home.

“I f–ing did that. I wrote that.”

By Impm at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There are many times when artists of all ways, shapes, and forms need “I f–ing did that.” as much as they need food or water. It is something creative people need to carry around with them as their weapon of defense when hit by self-doubt and creative panic. We need to step back, take a few deep breaths, and observe what we have created. Look or listen to what we’ve created and take a few moments to appreciate our own work. As creators, we occasionally need to be inspired by the fact we’ve created something wonderful before and use that to gather the artistic confidence to produce a new and wonderful work.

Here is a relatively recent live video of The Who performing Baba O’Riley. I chose this particular video over the dozens of other live performances of this classic song not because it’s any better than the other versions but because it shows the band’s age. It shows that old guys can still rock and roll.

Never stop creating. Step back every once in a while and appreciate what you’ve done. Take this moment to tell yourself, “I f–ing did that.” And then go out and create some more. Believe me, the world needs your work.



Pulling Gold from the Muck

Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, talks with The National Ambassador for Young Peoples Literature and recent John Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo about children’s literature.

Daniel Handler Interviews Kate DiCamillo

DH: So then who were you when you were 25? 20?

KD: Ah, yes. Well. I was someone who wanted to be a writer, but who wasn’t writing. I was someone buying books on writing. I was someone telling people that I was writer. But I was not writing.


I think most creative people can relate to this. Figuring out how to start doing the thing you want to do can be paralyzing. “Paralysis by analysis” is how Coach Dail Smith used to describe it.

It took me years to finish writing anything decent because I lived under the notion you had to create gold in a lightning strike from the very first try on.

It took me years to realize this, live in denial, and finally learn the gold that one produces come only after wading, searching, and slopping through the muck.

First steps are always scary, and dirty and messy. But no matter what they look like or how awkward they feel, the first step is still a first step. And as the Chinese saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Take that first step. Start producing your art or your science. Make mistakes and get dirty. Revel in the muck and persevere to find your own gold.