As I’ve noted, I really enjoyed the Pete Townshend autobiography, Who I Am. It was a warts-and-all look at his family and other relationships, his music, and especially his not-always-appropriate behavior.
I’d previously noted my favorite songs by the Who. Here’s just a few Townsend solo songs, mostly from two albums, though I own at least eight of them, mostly on vinyl.
6. Give Blood, from White City – A Novel. As a long-time blood donor, I approve of the title, though that’s not what it’s about. In fact, the song’s construction was quite peculiar. From my second-favorite Townsend album.
5. Heart to Hang Onto, from Rough Mix. This is from the album Pete did with Ronnie Lane in 1976. During the recording of it, Lane was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; he suffering from the disease for 21 years, before dying in 1997 at the age of 51.
4. Empty Glass, from Empty Glass. Back in the days when my friend Fred Hembeck was living in Rensselaer County, across the river from Albany County, I once took a bus to visit him. On the way there, I walked by some department store, and went inside, for some reason. (I THINK it was raining.) I found the Empty Glass album as a cutout. (If you’ve never seen a cutout album, it has a slit into the cardboard in the upper right corner.) In any case, I LOVED that album, and still do.
3. A Little Is Enough, from Empty Glass (#72 in US Billboard). Townsend himself prefers this song to the larger hit from this album (see below). Pete tells this story: “Meher Baba’s secretary Adi Irani made a visit to London around this time, I tried to get his advice. ‘My wife doesn’t love me anymore,’ I said. ‘What should I do?’ ‘She doesn’t love you at all?’ he wobbled his head as he spoke. ‘She said she loved me a little.’ ‘Ah!’ Adi clapped his hands and smiled. ‘A little! That’s good. Love is universal. Limitless. So even a little is enough.'”
2. Face the Face, from White City (#26 in the US). This is a loud, bodacious song, especially the percussion near the beginning, with a big band feel. Townshend’s daughter Emma Townshend sings some parts.
1. Let My Love Open the Door, from Empty Glass (#46 in the UK, #9 US). I got annoyed with Townsend for being such a scold with his public for thinking this was a romantic love song. He claimed that was a spiritual treatise, and that “Jesus sings” on the track. Incidentally, there was a remake of this song – the E cola mix – and like most of these musical makeovers, I think it’s a lesser effort, though it’s twice as long.