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Baba O’Righty

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This entry was posted on 3/19/2007 7:49 PM and is filed under Music, Heroes and Heroines.

  3/20/07: RightWingTrashMan: Pete Townshend, c. 1980
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In the wake of our Howard Devoto write-up, we were sent a copy of the November, 1980 issue of CREEM magazine. There’s a good interview with the guy. He doesn’t declare himself to be a Young Republican, but Devoto’s certainly dismissive of any kind of generic rebellion. We’re also reminded that he used to look like the Tommy Smothers of rock ’n roll.

In the same issue, another UK songwriter is promoting what’s also become a great right-wing pop album. We’ll get to that one later. The issue’s big surprise, however, is Pete Townshend. The legendary rock figure is way too mercurial to embrace on a general level. You never know what the guy is going to say or do next. The article “Pete Townshend: Who’s He?” still shows that Townshend had a fine mindset for the Reagan revolution. Here are two pull quotes from the article (neither of which, curiously, are in the actual text):

I’m for nuclear power, but I haven’t told anyone because I am still hoping to fuck Jane Fonda, like everybody dreams of doing who’s involved in the No Nuke movement.

[On Bob Dylan] I scorn him. I believe that his conversion is an explosive reaction to the facts that he let his life fall apart. When I saw him let go of a nice wife and nice kids, I lost a lot of respect for him. If he does become a good Christian, I will respect him just as I respect other good Christians.

Elsewhere in the article, Townshend matches Devoto as a post-punk figure with little interest in decadence or rock-star adulation. It’s no wonder that he was one of the few aging rock musicians who could command respect from the punks. And the “Backstage” section at the back of the issue has a picture of Townshend with Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Klein, and—well, we think that’s Gary Sandy from WKRP In Cincinnati. We could be wrong.

Make him your own:
This was a good time to be a Pete Townshend fan. We got The Who’s Who Are You in 1978, and 1980’s Empty Glass was a great solo effort. All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes made for a fine follow-up in 1982. Let’s include 1977’s brilliant Rough Mix—where Townshend collaborated with Ronnie Lane—as part of the era. The Who released the underrated Face Dances in 1981, and then It’s Hard in 1982…and that last one had Townshend showing that he could stand to recharge his batteries.

Don’t forget daughter Emma Townshend—who would’ve been about 11 years old during that CREEM interview. She grew up to make the nicely demented Winterland in 1998, which was unfairly ignored as a hybrid of Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, and Bette Davis on the brink.

Also, here’s the CREEM website, which doesn’t have the Townshend article among its archived interviews.


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