Pete Townshend Had A Song He Regret Writing For The Who
Pete Townshend - Beat-Club / Youtube
Pete Townshend’s songwriting and skill with stringed instruments, particularly guitar, have been important to the development of the rock music genre. The guitarist gained notoriety in the ‘60s and ‘70s thanks to his work with The Who and penned the lyrics for most of their songs.
Because of his distinctive approach to writing, he quickly rose to prominence during the making of the Who’s rock opera album Tommy (1969), which detailed the post-traumatic existence of protagonist Tommy Walker. The record’s songs were successful because of the emotional connection listeners had to its content. Townshend was applauded for these songs, but there was one he deeply regretted writing in the album.
From a philosophical standpoint, Tommy’s songs all discuss the trials and tribulations the protagonist through in the wake of a traumatic occurrence, and how he ultimately overcame them. At one point, Tommy begins to acquire an interest in pinball as a means of dealing with the trauma he has experienced, and this passion is reflected in the title track of the soundtrack, “Pinball Wizard.” The song was well-received by listeners, but Townshend had doubts about it.
Townshend has remarked that this song is the worst he has ever written and that he is embarrassed by it. The musician claimed that he took the finished demo to the studio and found that, to his surprise, everyone there liked it better than he did.
“The most clumsy piece of writing I’ve ever done. I’m embarrassed. This sounds like a Music Hall song. ‘Sure plays a mean pinball.’ I scribbled it out, and all the verses were the same length, and there was no kind of middle eight. It was going to be a complete dud, but I carried on. I attempted the same mock baroque guitar beginning that’s on ‘I’m a Boy,’ and then a bit of vigorous kind of flamenco guitar. I was grabbing at ideas, I knocked a demo together and took it to the studio, and everyone loved it.”
You can listen to the song below.