I. The Who Broke His Heart

He is the genius of the Rock medium, with a volume of consistently great work that is unequalled. Listening to Pete Townshend's The Genuine Scoop, a compendium of demo recordings ranging from 1964 to 1985, is like reading a virtual road-map or the innermost diary of The Who's creative engine and soul. Here is what I have found in the immensity of it:

1. Pete Townshend possesses God-given stamina and constitution. It's amazing to think of how out of it he has been over the course of his life, and yet never is he unfocused or less than great with the tape rolling.

2. His is the better and stronger voice of The Who.

3. His use of SOUND is visionary. Whether painting with electric guitar, or a synthesized string sound, PT fully expresses a genuine emotion and/or feeling from directly inside his soul. It is usually so well-articulated, it assumes image; you can actually see it in front of you. As much if not more than Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney or Prince, noone in the Rock medium uses sound as beautifully or as powerfully as Pete Townshend.

4. He is a tremendous drummer and bass player, not to mention an inspired pianist. The Who just copied his work from these demos. Yes, Keith Moon and John Entwistle put their stamps on what they were given and made it The Who, but the guts of the thing are always there, fully realized on Pete's demos. This would mean he is The Who. The other three were just parts (albeit brilliant ones) of his body and vision. 

5. Inner Dynamics:

a. Pete Townshend loved Keith Moon, and because of this love, he forgave Moon an almost countless number of transgressions against the music itself. Comparing his demos to the released proper versions from Quadrophenia on, it is painfully clear that the very HEALTH of The Who rested not with Pete Townshend, but with Keith Moon, and thus, every record from Quadrophenia through Who Are You is marred by Moon's failing condition.

b. If Roger Daltrey had ever performed in a similar state as Moon did from 1973 to 1978, Pete Townshend would have sacked him and either gotten another singer, sung it all himself, or disbanded the band. It was out of love for Keith Moon that this greatest of geniuses in the history of Rock forgave him and soldiered on through under-par performances of some of his very greatest compositions. By Who Are You, it's devastating, especially given the comparatively brilliant performances by PT himself on the demos of those amazing songs. Therein lies the dynamic. Pete Townshend hated Roger Daltrey and loved Keith Moon.

c. As a post-script, it's also now clear to me why The Who continued after the passing of Moon. It's the most loving fuck you in all of Rock history. Keith Moon's ridiculous behavior and maverick irresponsibility in his failing years showed no respect for the genius and the gift of Townshend and thus, upon his death, Townshend showed him. So they went on. And that is because Pete Townshend really does love Roger Daltrey as well, albeit for different reasons. Although it's clear that while Daltrey's performances of Townshend's songs are never anything short of heartfelt and committed, they almost never stand up to the original intent laid out on Pete's demos. His genius is so big, it's humbling and blinding. All the rest of them could ever do was try to just keep up. And Moon couldn't after 1973. And that, sadly, is his epitaph. The Who was created around the manic genius of Moon, and then dissipated around his tragic demise.

6. But Pete Townshend, with his incredible constitution of body and soul, soldiered on. Through the demise of Moon, through inner squabbling with his better looking, more conventionally 'manly' counterpart, through mind-numbing depression and addiction, he scaled the sky, searching for God and transcendence. And over and over again, for the whole world to witness and be comforted by, he found it. It is within every note he commits to the air. Every slash of his guitar, every quiet pass on the acoustic, the thunderstrumming, the piano arpeggios, and mostly in his voice. Here is an instrument of such pure emotion and vulnerability, that the soul, upon hearing it, must weep from humility and then ascend into the mind of God to find it's humanity and compassion.

That's why he's a genius. And that's why he's a ROCK STAR.

Somebody Saved Me, it happened again. Somebody saved me. I thank you my friend.

Feb. '04


Stay on that line, Rock and Roll will never die.