Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Townshend

 

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

Give blood

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.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 33 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Member

    Amen, brother. I love love love “Live at Leeds” and “Quadrophenia” is transcendant. 

     

    • #1
    • February 11, 2019 at 4:49 pm
    • 2 likes
  2. Thatcher

    My favorite also. And also saw him twice in ’69, including the performance when he and Daltrey were arrested. The most exciting rock band I’ve ever seen.

    • #2
    • February 11, 2019 at 4:50 pm
    • 2 likes
  3. Thatcher

    Thanks for the primer on Pete, @franco…Just super! 

    • #3
    • February 11, 2019 at 5:07 pm
    • 2 likes
  4. Thatcher

    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.

    Good way to put it. A very difficult guy to be around but such great music and performances.

    You should read the recently released autobiography by the only “normal” member of The Who, Roger Daltrey’s “Thanks A Lot Mr Kibblewhite” for his perspective on Townshend. They’re still friends, and they are still fighting.

    • #4
    • February 11, 2019 at 5:53 pm
    • 2 likes
  5. Thatcher

    I saw the Who a couple of times. Once when “Magic Bus” was on the charts. The other was a performance of “Tommy.” Loved the experience.

     

    • #5
    • February 11, 2019 at 5:54 pm
    • 2 likes
  6. Member

    “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is a fundamentally conservative song.

    • #6
    • February 11, 2019 at 6:41 pm
    • 7 likes
  7. Contributor

    Loved The Who. Never thought Townsend was a particularly great guitarist, but it didn’t matter. You got the sense he was fighting with the instrument and losing half the time, and the struggle made the music sound more personal. Power chords, yes, none better; solos, you suspected he knew he wasn’t anywhere near as good as the masters.

    This seems as good as time as any to post the Python parody of Townsend + Ken Russell.

    Note: not actually Python. It’s from “Rutland Weekend Television,” which is almost the fourth season of Monty Python, with songs by the marvelous parodist Neil Innes.

    • #7
    • February 11, 2019 at 9:23 pm
    • 3 likes
  8. Contributor

    As long as I’m hijacking the threat, here’s the best Dylan parody, ever. Same source.

    • #8
    • February 11, 2019 at 9:27 pm
    • 3 likes
  9. Thatcher

    He didn’t die, right? Jeez, you scared me here.

    • #9
    • February 11, 2019 at 10:35 pm
    • 3 likes
  10. Member

    Poindexter (View Comment):

    Amen, brother. I love love love “Live at Leeds” and “Quadrophenia” is transcendant.

     

    Agreed. Quadrophrenia is a masterwork. I think the wisest thing I ever heard him say in an interview was “You just can’t perform at 50 like you did at 22! That’s just stupid! Mick Jagger is out there telling all his fans ‘You’re not getting old! You’re not gonna die!’ and I’m telling mine ‘The f— you’re not!” This was after his return from the incident in which he impaled his hand on the tremolo during a show. 

    • #10
    • February 12, 2019 at 12:23 am
    • 2 likes
  11. Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Loved The Who. Never thought Townsend was a particularly great guitarist, but it didn’t matter. You got the sense he was fighting with the instrument and losing half the time, and the struggle made the music sound more personal. Power chords, yes, none better; solos, you suspected he knew he wasn’t anywhere near as good as the masters.

    This seems as good as time as any to post the Python parody of Townsend + Ken Russell.

    Note: not actually Python. It’s from “Rutland Weekend Television,” which is almost the fourth season of Monty Python, with songs by the marvelous parodist Neil Innes.

    He did more than anyone else to transform rhythm guitar into a lead instrument. But a melody player he has never been. It seems to me wise that he recognized this in himself and just developed his talent in the direction it could go. There’s nothing wrong with not being John McLaughlin or Jimi Hendrix if you can be Pete Townsend. 

    • #11
    • February 12, 2019 at 12:26 am
    • 3 likes
  12. Member

    And thanks for reminding me of White City and Iron Man– I bought both the day they were released. 

    • #12
    • February 12, 2019 at 12:27 am
    • 2 likes
  13. Member
    Franco Post author

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    He didn’t die, right? Jeez, you scared me here.

    I have been getting tired of when famous people die and all the tributes. I’m not sure I can articulate why. That’s not why I posted this, but I did think it might elicit that reaction. Sorry for the scare… but he will die someday and why not appreciate him while he’s still alive? 

    • #13
    • February 12, 2019 at 6:15 am
    • 4 likes
  14. Member

    I saw them live three times: twice in 1979-80 in New Haven and at the Capital Center, and in 1975 at the Cap Center.

    A great live band. Substitute, Can’t Explain, and lots more.

    Some other live favorites are Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and Dave Alvin.

    • #14
    • February 12, 2019 at 6:30 am
    • Like
  15. Thatcher

    If you are a fan of The Who and Townshend watch The Amazing Journey, a documentary on the band featuring recent interviews with Townshend and Daltrey. Townshend, as you would expect, is very direct and insightful. My favorite remark of his is, referring to the band pre-Tommy, “Moon was a genius, John was a genius, I was almost a genius, Roger was a singer.

    • #15
    • February 12, 2019 at 6:35 am
    • 2 likes
  16. Member
    Franco Post author

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Loved The Who. Never thought Townsend was a particularly great guitarist, but it didn’t matter. You got the sense he was fighting with the instrument and losing half the time, and the struggle made the music sound more personal. Power chords, yes, none better; solos, you suspected he knew he wasn’t anywhere near as good as the masters.

    This seems as good as time as any to post the Python parody of Townsend + Ken Russell.

    Note: not actually Python. It’s from “Rutland Weekend Television,” which is almost the fourth season of Monty Python, with songs by the marvelous parodist Neil Innes.

    He did more than anyone else to transform rhythm guitar into a lead instrument. But a melody player he has never been. It seems to me wise that he recognized this in himself and just developed his talent in the direction it could go. There’s nothing wrong with not being John McLaughlin or Jimi Hendrix if you can be Pete Townsend.

    Yeah…. not sure about the notso great guitarist part. He was the only guitar player in The Who and filled the space very well. His rhythm playing was spectacular and it wasn’t just power chords. His ability is well-displayed in the last video here “I’m a Sensation” and the chord progressions in “Rough Boys”.

    I play guitar myself, and I can’t understand how he can be seen as much short of tremendous. Perhaps I could say he wasn’t strong on composing solos, but that would be like saying Adele isn’t such a great dancer. Who cares?( was that another Who album, I forget). But as you say, It didn’t matter.

    His strength is really in his songwriting and simple word crafting that made The Who such an iconic band. Then taking on ambitious projects musicals, operas and writing songs that didn’t fit into the expected mold of pop music.

    • #16
    • February 12, 2019 at 6:37 am
    • 6 likes
  17. Coolidge

    John Park (View Comment):

    I saw them live three times: twice in 1979-80 in New Haven and at the Capital Center, and in 1975 at the Cap Center.

    A great live band. Substitute, Can’t Explain, and lots more.

    Some other live favorites are Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and Dave Alvin.

    Saw a lot of great concerts at the old Cap Centre, but not the Who, unfortunately.

    • #17
    • February 12, 2019 at 7:20 am
    • Like
  18. Member
    Franco Post author

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    If you are a fan of The Who and Townshend watch The Amazing Journey, a documentary on the band featuring recent interviews with Townshend and Daltrey. Townshend, as you would expect, is very direct and insightful. My favorite remark of his is, referring to the band pre-Tommy, “Moon was a genius, John was a genius, I was almost a genius, Roger was a singer.

    Yes! I saw that a while ago. As Rock documentaries go it’s A level! Worth the watch.

    • #18
    • February 12, 2019 at 7:24 am
    • 1 like
  19. Coolidge

    I’ve been a fan of Pete Townshend for many, many years; indeed, he was probably my first musical hero. He seems to be a bundle of contradictions; he’s a thoughtful and sensitive songwriter, and yet he’s best known as the creative force behind one of the loudest bands in the world. I think his success with The Who was almost accidental, and if that band hadn’t made it big he might have had a very different career. As it was, he was able to use the band as the vehicle for his creativity.

    When I was in college, shortly after I’d discovered Townshend (and The Who), I bought a copy Townshend’s Scoop from a cutout bin. I didn’t really know what it was, but it turned out to be a collection of his demo recordings, many of which were of songs that were never otherwise released. I was astounded; before then, I hadn’t realized what it was possible for a single musician, working alone, to accomplish. That album inspired me to begin writing and recording my own songs, a hobby that I pursued actively for decades, and one that still sits on the back burner waiting for me to get back to it.

    • #19
    • February 12, 2019 at 8:03 am
    • 4 likes
  20. Member

    Franco and James: There are no e’s in Klavan, but there is an h in Townshend.

    • #20
    • February 12, 2019 at 11:17 am
    • 3 likes
  21. Member

    Great post! The Who are my second favorite rock band, right behind the Stones, and I’ve seen where Townshend has said the Stones were the greatest. Of course we know his great Who songs but let me put out that his Empty Glass solo album is as good as anything by the Who. It’s an absolute masterpiece. Also I see people have missed what I think is the greatest song in all of Rock, Who Are You.

    The lyrics of the verses should be included here.

    I woke up in a Soho doorway
    A policeman knew my name
    He said you can go sleep at home tonight
    If you can get up and walk away

    I staggered back to the underground
    And the breeze blew back my hair
    I remember throwin’ punches around
    And preachin’ from my chair

    Who are you…

    I took the tube back out of town
    Back to the rollin’ pin
    I felt a little like a dying clown
    With a streak of rin tin tin

    I stretched back and I hiccupped
    And looked back on my busy day
    Eleven hours in the tin pan
    God, there’s got to be another way

    Who are you…

    I know there’s a place you walked
    Where love falls from the trees
    My heart is like a broken cup
    I only feel right on my knees

    I spit out like a sewer hole
    Yet still receive your kiss
    How can I measure up to anyone now
    After such a love as this?

    Who are you…

    • #21
    • February 12, 2019 at 6:13 pm
    • 1 like
  22. Member
    Franco Post author

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    Franco and James: There are no e’s in Klavan, but there is an h in Townshend.

    Thanks I changed it. 

    • #22
    • February 12, 2019 at 6:16 pm
    • 1 like
  23. Member

    One other thing, the Who I think do something other bands rarely do. They frequently use the bass as the lead guitar around Townshend’s rhythm guitar. Keith Moon is typically acknowledged as the greatest rock drummer, but I would say that Entwistle is the greatest bass player in rock.

    • #23
    • February 12, 2019 at 6:18 pm
    • 3 likes
  24. Thatcher

    The Who playing “My Generation” on The Smothers Brothers is one of the best five minutes of live TV I have ever seen.

    • #24
    • February 12, 2019 at 6:28 pm
    • 3 likes
  25. Member

    Face Dances is an underrated album. Can’t listen to it more than once a year or it loses its specialness, like Christmas. 

    Daultrey has a conservative streak in him, too, whether he knows it or not: It’s his gratitude for being the voice for an all-time great songwriter, even one who could be a condescending jerk to him from time to time.

    Great post, Franco. Brought back a late-eighties outdoor concert in Cleveland Stadium that I hadn’t thought about in years. Thx.

    • #25
    • February 12, 2019 at 6:33 pm
    • 2 likes
  26. Coolidge
    ST

    comment removed by ST

    • #26
    • February 12, 2019 at 7:09 pm
    • Like
  27. Member
    Franco Post author
    • #27
    • February 13, 2019 at 1:17 am
    • 2 likes
  28. Member

    Pete Townsend changed the way I think about music. I heard an interview with him where he said the reason why the Who played so loud was because the overtones from the extreme volume made the band sound bigger. When the Who went back to touring because of hearing damage they had to lower the volume on stage. Because of the lower volume he toured with a bigger band to replicate the overtones that the original foursome created. When I play (badly for the most part) I always try to listen to the overtones. That’s where the magic lays.

     

    • #28
    • February 13, 2019 at 4:57 am
    • 3 likes
  29. Member
    Franco Post author

     

    thelonious (View Comment):

    Pete Townsend changed the way I think about music. I heard an interview with him where he said the reason why the Who played so loud was because the overtones from the extreme volume made the band sound bigger. When the Who went back to touring because of hearing damage they had to lower the volume on stage. Because of the lower volume he toured with a bigger band to replicate the overtones that the original foursome created. When I play (badly for the most part) I always try to listen to the overtones. That’s where the magic lays.

    It was Entwistle getting harmonics and overtones Pete went on and on about it. May have been the same interview I saw.

     

    • #29
    • February 13, 2019 at 7:24 am
    • 1 like
  30. Coolidge

    I’m kind of weird. I’ve never been a fan of The Who’s live act, particularly in the old days when they just performed as a trio; I much prefer the sophistication and sonic variety of their studio albums. I also like Townshend’s voice better than Daltrey’s.

    My favorite Townshend compositions are some of the ones that most people would probably consider most un-Who-like. “Blue, Red and Grey” from The Who By Numbers, for example, or “Street In The City” from the excellent Townshend/Land album Rough Mix.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7SliN-82P0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K3HhFDEFlQ

    • #30
    • February 13, 2019 at 7:30 am
    • Like
  1. 1
  2. 2