Pete Townshend Reflects On His Generation And How They Misused Their Power
Pete Townshend in an interview with Gordon Smart - Radio X / Youtube
Pete Townshend of The Who thinks his generation (hippies) had acquired a form of social power, but proceeded to dismiss and waste it altogether. Townshend adds that he fears all of it might happen again in the near future. He called the youth from his era “disenfranchised”, eventually finding their own brand of expression but squandered most of the energy they gathered before they could use it.
In an interview with The Big Issue, Townshend said, “My generation felt disenfranchised. That is a complex word for feeling like we had nothing to live for. It made us not so much angry as loose. We were loose-living. And when psychedelic drugs and, more importantly, the pill came along, away we went. Then we took power.”
He goes on to add, “We misused the power to a great extent. The hippie era could have turned into something much better than it did. We are seeing something not dissimilar now – Glastonbury was great this year, with Stormzy, who has not even turned 30, singing about politics and emancipation. But we could make the same mistake again.”
He also looks back at his and Keith Moons’ reputations as hotel and stage wreckers, “I would look at Keith Moon and go, ‘What a fucking prat. What a waste of time.’ … Two or three times I did the same thing, and I would think, ‘What a fucking prat. … Getting into auto-destruction was straight out of art college. People still say that I should never have smashed instruments. Fuck off. It is how I got you to listen to me.”
Townshend attributes this to the fact that their generation was a spillover from the postwar era, creating a disconnect between them and the previous generation. “We were carrying a frustration that we couldn’t be a part of the victory, we couldn’t be a part of the celebrations, but also couldn’t console our elders to whom we were incredibly grateful,” Townshend opined.