Sunday, January 28, 2024

Who I Am by Pete Townshend


A complex character. Rushed to read this after reading the infamous DEAR BOY autobiography of Keith Moon, who was certainly the heart and blood of The Who. But the astonishing songs, the soul of the band, are almost all Townshend's - and cover such a range from 1963 to 1978 as to almost beggar belief.

All these guys also grew up - and were navigating the end of the 1960s and early 1970s in their early 30s at best, barely matured in one sense, and having seen it all (and more) in another.

And what a band! The Who have been accurately described as a band with four lead soloists - and Moon's idiosyncratic wild and powerful drumming leads the way, along with Townshend's amazing melodic and rhythmic guitar, Entwhistle's foundational (and extremely melodic) bass playing ("Thunderfingers"), and Daltrey's central, powerful roaring voice.

Townshend's voice is strange - defensive, arrogant, slightly delusional (he invented the Internet, power chords, rock opera, among other things) - and his spiritual pursuits are foregrounded while his sexual mishaps are glossed over.

Still, an extraordinary musician and mind - the Beatles had three great songwriters, the Stones had two, but The Who had one, and they still stand in the same ring as those other greats of the pantheon. Dylan is different - he stands apart from any one band. The 1960s singles, The Who Sell Out, Tommy, Who's Next, and Quadrophenia are all five star albums. The Who played and stayed live in a way the Beatles never did.

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