PETE TOWNSHEND: The TVD Interview

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Jennifer Carney writes:

The way I see it, there was rock music before Pete Townshend got hold of it, and rock music after he got hold of it, smashed it to pieces, rebuilt it, and smashed it again.

Townshend spent his musical life wresting respectability from critics, pushing the boundaries of convention, and simultaneously giving too many fucks and not giving any fucks at all. I think that’s where his greatness resides, in that duality of trying not to care too much while at the same time caring more than anyone else. Newly 70, he still moves the bar and lives to contradict. He remains both brutally honest and colorfully vague. So hard to pin down. (Our interview was no exception.)

How else could the man write such perfect two-minute-fifty pop songs and nine-minute-plus suites? Pen the most memorable, gritty proto-punk and masterful latter-day operas? Be lauded as an electronic music pioneer and perform with his four-piece rock band, entirely without irony, in front of audiences at the Met?

And now, he and partner Rachel Fuller have reimagined The Who’s finest work (no arguments, please; you are wrong) into a classical piece worthy of being immortalized alongside the original album. This isn’t a let’s-add-some-strings-to-a-rock-arrangement thing; it’s wholly respectful of its source material, and it’s damned impressive.

While Quadrophenia is entirely Townshend’s (it’s the only Who album written by him alone), what Keith .....

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