Pete Townshend Settles Down

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The performers that you mentioned and that we have touched on from time to time all have tremendous sensuality: Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, The Who. All of them are tremendously physical, tremendously sensual, tremendously involved with very sexual things. Does this characterize rock and roll?
It must! It must, I mean, it does. Period. It embodies it, it's part of its life. Life revolves, if not around it, within it, if not within it, without it, but definitely along with it. Something about rock and roll has to do with sex and everything to do with sex like becoming together and the parting and this kind of thing. The whole thing about pulling a chick and then waving goodbye and about. The whole process of sex is embodied in just the rock and roll rhythm – like gospel music or like native chants or something. Just banging the table is like it's the demand and it's also the satiation as well. You bang on the table and in the same process you masturbate, you know. At the end of the show you're finished, you know, you've had it. You've come your lot and the show's over.

"Rock me baby until my back ain't got no bone." That is the line. Man it's such a funny line, I can never believe it. I imagine some very skinny, wizened, old Negro blues singer singing that in a very frail old voice: "Rock me baby, 'til my back ain't got no bone."

Did you read the thing in Rolling Stone with Booker T. & the M.G.'s?
Fantastic. It was in such a relaxing and realistic manner. It was very nice. Being such a huge fan of Steve Cropper, I expected the first article about him that I ever saw to be incredible: "It's going to be incredible; here he's been all your life, folks, on your Otis Redding albums, on your Booker T. specials. Here he's been, Steve Cropper, hiding from you, the most incredible guitarist in history.

The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: Pete Townshend

This is how I imagined the thing was going to go. And of course it goes, "When I first played the guitar I used to use quite heavy strings . . . " and it's kind of very basic interview about how they got the ideas together for "Knock On Wood."

This is how they were when I met them. They were straight and they were beautiful. I went up to Booker T. – I'd really like to see this in print – I went up to Booker T., who was my absolute idol, my absolute (he was my top man, the group, no music gives me as much pleasure as listening to Booker T., like "Green Onions" is my ultimate record of all time, practically and the guitar work is so tasteful; it's everything that I want to do); I went up to Booker T. and I said, "Hey, I'm a big fan of yours, it's really good to meet you" and he said, "Oh thank you. What is your name?" and I said "Pete Townshend" and he said "Pete Townshend," and he put his finger in a kind of a slanted position and made a very thoughtful face and said "I must remember that," and just walked off.

And I thought "he will remember my name." I laughed like a little teeny bopper. I couldn't believe it and I suddenly figured later on, that I was running round that guy like a child and he just treated me like, the way I treat a teeny bopper fan and yet I heard at a later date that they just never, never, never got that kind of treatment. They never had anyone run up to them and freak out in front of them, let alone a 22-year old man come up and start frothing all over them. They just didn't know what was happening. And of course he took it absolutely, perfectly straight. He was soulful and very gentlemanly about it and that was the whole situation. This was a most peculiar situation and he was approaching it sanely, steadily, cooly and politely.

They're so soulful without knowing it. It's the truth, it's the truth. They are playing exactly the right things. They are playing them straight and they are playing them off-the-cuff, as they come, the sounds which appeal to them and the sounds which go down with them, things which they groove to, things which they think other people will groove to, too.

They just happen to be totally right.

They don't know this, because nobody expects to be totally right. We're not as straight as they are – we try, but we're not half as right as they are. And they're so straight and they communicate. They know that they're in a group to blow people's minds and everybody wants to get through to people, to do things for them. But they don't realize they're doing it because they can't see it in their own music, but they're always trying.

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