Pete Townshend Compares Today’s Pop To The 1960’s


Pete Townshend spoke frankly about the differences between pop music today and the Who's power pop era. Townshend talked with rock writer Ken Sharp for Rock Cellar magazine and while discussing the new deluxe, expanded The Who Sell Out box set, Townshend explained what "power pop" actually was: "I suppose it’s about writing pop songs that have a little more going for them than the usual subject matter. . . I think that power pop was just an attempt to say, 'Listen, y'know, pop songs are not going to be about what they’ve been about anymore and they’re going to have power and energy and color and humor and they’re going to be more important and they’re going to be much more emphasized. They’re going to be more mischievous. They’re going to be more dangerous, possibly.'"

He went on to say, "So tying it into what’s happening right now in the music industry. . . When you stack up 20 songs on Spotify or Apple at the moment, most of them are recorded or could have been recorded on laptops using Ableton Live. What’s interesting is that the lyrics are now completely subordinate to the rhythm of the complete piece."

Townshend contrasted the craft of the golden age of pop with what the form has to deliver today, explaining, "The lyric has to be free. The words have to be tumbling. They have to roll off the tongue. They have to come from the heart and the head and the nether regions. And it’s very strange that there are these two extremes that both rely to a great extent on computers and on beats. But one is taking the vocal and setting it free with rap and allowing it to go f***ing anywhere. . .  So, I think in a sense, the power pop thing of the thing was a recognition of that time in ’67 that the function of the pop song had changed."

Pete Townshend says that he realized very early on that the Who's relationship with their fans differed greatly from the traditional showbiz precedents: ["What we suddenly realized is that we weren't speaking for our audience, our audience were telling us what to say. Now, that's a very, very, different process. And it's one that I discovered when I was very, very young, it's one that I continue to honor today. So what I'm trying to do is, when people say to me, 'Hey Pete, your songs are very personal. How do you think that Roger (Daltrey) can feel about singing them?' Roger can sing them 'cause they're not personal at all. My songs are your songs."] SOUNDCUE (:27 OC: . . . are your songs)

Pete Townshend On His Relationship With His Audience :