I Salute You, Pete Townshend

26 05 2008

If someone asked me who I considered a hero that was not a related family member, nine times out of ten I would say Pete Townshend. Ever since my highly impressionable middle-school years, this guitar god and solid songwriter (both solo and with The Who) has been one of many important figures in my life. On the musician end of things, he has inspired me to play certain model guitars (I’ve gone through my Telecaster phase and now I’m in my SG phase), to attempt the windmill playing technique (VERY tough, by the way), and even contemplate smashing unruly musical instruments (I have yet to do this…I can’t afford to just SMASH instruments all the time, you know!). On a personal level, his songs and approach towards life (“Be kind, be real, or get out of my face” is one such quote from PT) has helped me in the very best of times and the very worst of times. He never pushed me to the extreme of worshiping his idol, spiritual leader Meher Baba, but Townshend has played a big role in shaping my views on life.

To me, he’s such an interesting figure; this tall, lanky London punk with the noisy guitar and a singing voice that sounds almost as fragile as glass. It’s his voice, especially, that draws me to the Roger Daltry-less tracks within The Who’s massive catalog, like “However Much I Booze” and “A Legal Matter.” It almost acts as a nervous counterpoint to the mayhem that he, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon often create. In addition, while The Beatles dabbled in psychedelic imagery in their later years and The Rolling Stones flirted with Satan for a bit, The Who and Townshend’s songwriting seemed relatively down to earth (Tommy wasn’t THAT crazy), focusing on quirky songs like “Happy Jack” and “Dreaming From The Waist” which always attracted me since over-the-top bombastic numbers can be tiresome after a while. And his solo stuff? It’s just as great! You cannot deny the lyrical and musical power behind “Rough Boys” and “The Sea Refuses No River,” two songs that are among my personal Top Twenty Best Songs (that’s a WHOLE other blog entry, folks). Overall, his songwriting and approach towards crafting sound is just untouchable, in my opinion.

It’s impressive how someone that I don’t even know can be so revered in my life. It goes to show the power that music, as well as the arts as a whole, can have over the mainstream.

I salute you, Pete Townshend.

Pete Townshend – Rough Boys