I saw this man close-up twice at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia in 1969. I was one of the few Americans who heard Tommy live before it was released in the United States. At the time, it was just another experience, but Townshend had a hard edge, and he was a great performer, as were the rest of them.
I almost didn’t go. “All they are going to do is smash their guitars,” I said. “No, they are a great live band,” my buddy told me. We ended up at the foot of the stage. I could have stood up and grabbed his ankle (though he would have kicked me). I didn’t even know enough to be as impressed and moved as I should have been, however, now I know more.
If I was forced to vote for the quintessential “rock idol”, this is my guy. He has an ego, but it’s an artist’s ego. He doesn’t suffer fools. He’s grounded in his world.
I appreciated him telling Abbie Hoffman to get lost at Woodstock, even though at the time I was stupidly amenable to the revolutionary idiocy. Townshend kept me grounded. He refused to let politics trump art. I appreciated that. It stayed with me.
He was a scrappy genius and his artistry is brilliant. This is a song from his album, White City.
The lyrics are rebellion on the ineffectiveness of the begging/giving culture that no one dared criticize. Until Pete tells me otherwise, that’s my interpretation…
But that’s the great thing, it’s art, open to interpretation, just like ‘reality’. What’s real? This is a question we must ask ourselves continually.
This is ‘conservatism’ expressed in a song
But some will say it’s not enough
So give love
And keep blood between brothers
His songs are often quite different from other rock/pop songs while many of his hits land squarely in mainstream rock – so iconic and perfect rock anthems.
Here is a brilliant song in many ways, open to interpretation.
This song is the essence of Rock.
Here is an iconic rock lyric and rightfully so:
If my fist clenches clap it open
before I use it and lose my cool
If I smile tell me some bad news
before I laugh and act like a fool
And if I swallow anything evil
put your finger down my throat
And if I shiver please give me a blanket
keep me warm let me wear your coat.
Civilization is trying to find
a new way to die….
As a palet cleanser Another great Peter Townshend song covered well by other fans:
From Townshend’s other brilliant musical virtually unknown – Iron Man:
Another song from the Broadway play-worthy musical:
Face the face:
Love was an addiction
Now it is analyzed
as though it were fiction
Meet the new boss
I can’t explain
Thank you Peter Townshend
I guess you could call me a fan. Not enough people recognize this genius, a true artist while having lived the rock idol world.