As a record collector you probably know Meher Baba through the Who’s Tommy, on which he is credited as “avatar”. In fact, Meher Baba did claim to be the avatar of our age (The reincarnation of the same soul that once occupied bodies belonging to Christ, Buddha, and Krishna, to name a few). He also took a vow of silence that lasted nearly half a century and coined the phrase “Don’t worry, be happy.”
And Meher Baba was a spiritual leader whose writing and ashram in India attracted people from all over the world. If this is all new to you, and you are thinking of the Simpsons’ short-lived spiritual guru, the Leader, I don’t blame you. To his credit, however, Meher Baba did not profit from his fame or the work of his followers. In fact, there is really no scandalous underside to his story, except that he never broke his vow of silence as promised, ushering in a new era. I guess we are stuck in the old one.
This album is In His Love, released on the Meher Creations label.
Meher inspired a wide variety of western celebrities, from Talulah Bankhead and Boris Karloff in the 30s to Pete Townshend in the 60s. Townshend’s first solo projects were homages to his new spiritual leader. While Happy Birthday, I Am has become a rare collector’s item, Who Came First? is pretty easy to find in record shops – Hymie’s has a copy in the browser right now.
Townshend’s most famous tribute to Meher Baba is a classic rock radio standard, although it was never issued as a single. “Baba O’Riley” also pays tribute to minimalist composer Terry Reilly, whose work inspired the modal backing track over which the band plays. Unfortunately, we can’t listen to that great album right now (Who’s Next?). Instead we’re going to play another track from the Baba record.
I actually bought this album at Hymie’s some time ago. Of all the records I bought in the shop that I was to one day own and move five blocks, this was the very worst.
That one started out pretty good, didn’t it? Just as you let your guard down and start to enjoy it (“Maybe they included a few instrumentals…”) they start singing.
There is a really compelling memoir about growing up in Meher Baba’s ashram in India by Rachel Manijay Brown. It’s called All the Fishes Come Home to Roost and I can’t recommend this book enough – Its hilarious and shocking and you will have trouble putting it down to go to sleep once you start reading. This record, on the other hand, we could all probably do without.
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