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Townshend: Hope I write my memoirs before I get old

- November 23rd, 2012

Who guitarist -songwriter Pete Townshend, 67, told me in Toronto this week, he first began writing his memoirs – now titled Who I Am – in 1996 before they were shelved.
He began writing again in 2005 and resumed finally in August of 2011 and finished in March 2012.
“It was quite a sleigh ride,” he admitted but with a benchmark birthday approaching he wanted to get it done: “It might not get published until I was 70. I just couldn’t see myself sitting, writing about rock ‘n’ roll as an old professor.”
Townshend also said he’s not that surprised by the high number of rock autobiographies this year with books from Rod Stewart, Neil Young and others.
“I think we all are coming of age at roughly the same time and we’re probably all thinking the same thing, which is, ‘I don’t want to be writing this book when I’m really too old to be writing it.’ It’s funny that we can imagine that we can stand on a stage and perform but possibly have a picture of ourselves as this is what professors do.”
So does that mean The Who’s touring days might be coming to an end as well. The band was wrapping up the first leg of its Canadian shows at the Air Canada Centre on Nov. 23.
“I think it’s for each artist to decide,” said Townshend. “The difficulty for me has always been this sense that The Who has been a very, very high-energy band so we need to be fit and healthy. I think the thing about being older now, it doesn’t matter as much. But what does matter is that what we’re seen to be doing is relevant.”
Townshend’s book, which isn’t an easy read as it details his abuse as a young boy, battles with booze, drugs and manic depression, says the autobiographical material has always been reflected in the songs of The Who.
“Some of the songs that have touched The Who’s audience most deeply and have become most successful are songs about being damaged,” said Townshend. “It’s possible in the modern world to generalize and say that most people will admit, if they’re really pushed, to moments in their childhood when they were vulnerable and afraid and lonely however lovingly they were brought up. And moments in their teens when they were completely and totally tortured and lost. This is something that makes the rock industry in its current form, particularly The Who’s role in that, successful. That’s been our currency.”

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