Pete Townshend is writing a memoir. It's due out in 2012. In the meantime I can't help wondering what he has left to tell us that he hasn't already told us in song.
In case you don't know who he is, Pete Townshend is the guy who wrote all the songs for The Who.
You know, The Who. Arguably the world's most influential rock band.
Townshend penned such memorable lyrics as "I hope I die before I get old" "Let my love open the door" and "Teenage wasteland."
He also smashed the hell out of a lot of guitars. I mean a lot. In fact, after every musical performance he would smash his guitar, kick the drum kit and generally bash the hell out of whatever was set-up on stage around him.
Despite his obvious anger management problems Townshend was known for writing from the heart. He wrote angry, bitter, heart felt and heart-wrenching lyrics that touched the souls of people who enjoyed his music halfway around the world.He was a rock musician, sure, but he was a writer first.
He was a bit of a wild man, as were just about all the rockers from his generation. Townshend was no better and certainly no worse. He fought and cursed and spat and much much worse; bedding his share of women (and men, given his admittance that Mick Jagger made him first want to fuck a man) and he threw his angry chip-covered shoulders around a room like a primadonna.
But the fact was, Townshend could write. He could play guitar and he had musical talent, of course, but in the end, in his most primal incarnation, he was a writer. He used his pen to pour out his heart in his songs, airing his dirty laundry on the line he drew across the stage.
This is not to downplay the importance of the other members of his band. Roger Daltry, John Entwistle and Keith Moon formed the group that rocked more stadiums and crowds than any other previous group--by sheer volume if nothing else.
Townshend lost most of his hearing from playing in front of the massive speakers they dragged on stage with them wherever they played. (This fact is disputed by some who say it was likely caused when he was standing too close to Moon's drum kit as it blew up during a failed special effects stunt on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.)
Anyway, next year he is putting out his memoir and some eager fans have already started placing their orders. But not me. If I want to learn something meaningful about Pete Townshend I'll listen to one of his albums. Everything we really need to know about him he has already told us, in song.