I really want to know (if this song is truly related to crime scene investigation)

I was performing some website maintenance this afternoon, and decided to add a page dedicated to Bredemarket’s services for identity firms. I was trying to think of an introductory illustration to go with the page, since the town crier can only go so far. So, claiming fair use, I decided that this image made perfect sense.

“Who Are You” by The Who. Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11316153

Now while use of the “Who Are You” album cover on a Bredemarket identity page makes perfect sense to me, it may not make sense to 6.9 billion other people. So I guess I should explain my line of thinking.

The link between human identification and the song “Who Are You” was established nearly two decades ago, when the television show “C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation” started airing on CBS. TV shows have theme songs, and this TV show adopted a (G-rated) excerpt from the Who song “Who Are You” as its theme song. After all, the fictional Las Vegas cops were often tasked with identifying dead bodies or investigating crime scene evidence, so they would be expected to ask the question “who are you” a lot.

Which reminds me of two stories:

  • I actually knew a real Las Vegas crime scene investigator (Rick Workman), but by the time I knew him he was working for the neighboring city of Henderson.
  • CSI spawned a number of spinoffs, including “CSI:Miami.” When I was a Motorola product manager, CSI:Miami contacted us to help with a storyline involving a crime scene palm print. While Motorola software was featured in the episode, the GUI was jazzed up a bit so that it would look good on TV.

So this song (and other Who songs for the CSI spinoffs) is indelibly associated with police crime scene work.

But should it be?

After all, people think that “When a Man Loves a Woman” is a love song based upon its title. But the lyrics show that it’s not a love song at all.

When a man loves a woman
Down deep in his soul
She can bring him such misery
If she is playin’ him for a fool

So are we at fault when we associate Pete Townshend’s 1970s song “Who Are You” with crime scene investigation?

Yes, and no.

While the “who are you” question has nothing to do with figuring out who committed a crime, it DOES involve a policeman.

This song is based on a day in the life of Pete Townshend….

Pete left that bar and passed out in a random doorway in Soho (a part of New York). A policeman recognized him (“A policeman knew my name”) and being kind, woke him and and told him, “You can go sleep at home tonight (instead of a jail cell), if you can get up and walk away.” Pete’s response: “Who the f–k are you?”

Because it was the 1970s, the policeman did not try to identify the drunk Townshend with a mobile fingerprint device linked to a fingerprint identification system, or a camera linked to a facial recognition system.

Instead, the drunk Townshend questioned the authority of the policeman. Which is what you would expect from the guy who wrote the line “I hope I die before I get old.”

Speaking of which, did anybody notice that on the album cover for “Who Are You,” Keith Moon is sitting on a chair that says “Not to Be Taken Away”? Actually, they did…especially since the album was released on August 18, 1978 and Moon died on September 7.

While Moon’s death was investigated, no crime scene investigators were involved.

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