Symbols of the world's religions



Pete Townshend

So many children had lived through terrible trauma in the immediate postwar years in Britain that it was quite common to come across deeply confused young people. Shame led to secrecy; secrecy led to alienation. For me these feelings coalesced in a conviction that the collateral damage done to all of us who had grown up amid the aftermath of war had to be confronted and expressed in all popular art — not just literature, poetry or Picasso's Guernica. Music too. All good art cannot help but confront denial on its way to the truth.

With The Who I felt I had a chance to make music that would become a part of people's lives. Even more than the way we dressed, our music would give voice to what we all needed to express — as a group, as a gang, as a fellowship, as a secret society, as subversives.

I saw pop artists as mirrors of their audience, developing ways to reflect and speak truth without fear.

Still, I was more certain then of the medium than the message. Surely, God help us all, we weren't just going to write songs about falling in love, or hopeless longing? What was it, then, that needed to be said?

I had found a new sound. Now I needed the words.


WHO I AM, pp. 64-65
2012 © Pete Townshend


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