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Pete Townshend Settles Down

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Can you break it down in somebody? If you see it happening in somebody can you break it down?
Sometimes. If you just blatantly snap people out of it and say, "Look man, no need to put on a phony English accent for me," because you know the best thing to say is "It gets me uptight." On the other hand you say to yourself, "Well, okay the guy's putting on a phony English accent, he thinks it's cool, he's on a new trip." He may be pretending, but in a minute it's going to be reality: the conversation is going to be under way and it's going to be no joke and he'll probably drop the accent in a minute and they often do. It's not that every kid that comes up to me tries to talk in an English accent.

It's just one of the things, the unreality you get from a lot of kids. They don't know what you're all about; their first words are test questions. Questions they know the answers to. Questions they've read the answers to a million times in every fucking, god-forsaken paper in the world, they've seen it. "Why do you break the guitar?" They know why. "Do you really break them?" They know. "What were the words to this?" They know the fucking words. "What's your latest record" and they already read it. Test questions to see if you're really interested in knowing anything about them, in telling them anything, in performing any kind of service outside of performing on the stage.

You can very quickly manipulate them down to a very logical, straight-forward conversation until eventually they would be quite demanding, and even take a dominant role. I've often ended up in conversations with people who, if my first words to them were "Fuck off, I don't want to talk to any little creep like you," they would have gone. But in fact, because I sat down and talked to them, they ended up telling me that I'm a fool and an idiot and they're going to go and get a coke. This can happen. It just depends on the way the conversations go or what you talk about or what their main aim is. If they want talk, then you can talk, if you've got the time or the energy.

What kind of people do you like?
The breed of people that I like the most – ignoring the people I don't like the most – people I like the most around me, in music, are the ones from whom I get what I would call – I know this is a weird thing but I've had it before – what I would call a "Positive Assistance vibration," as though you were getting some kind of positive buzz from somebody. It's very negative concept, but it is the difference between someone having a role in what you're doing and being there as an ornament or as an object of the performance or as a result of an engagement or something, rather than people who have a purpose.

There's got to be a purpose behind everything. In pop, the purpose is the whole thing, the whole thing with the people, people in the industry and everything unified and coming together and working together in one form towards one direction and everything. It's got to eliminate all the shit. What I'm trying to avoid saying is the fact that the whole problem with the groupies is that they're supposed to be playing a part in the role of pop music. But they're not. It's not just the group they're riding along with, they're riding along with pop itself.

The audience out there, on the other hand, are playing a part. And we're playing a part because we're the fucking group and you're playing a part because your writing an article about it. But they seem to have no role at all and I can never understand it. How can anyone be content to just act as the parasities of the glory, parasites of the booze, parasites of the grass, parasites of the lust, you know and everything. They're just total parasites and I couldn't dig it. I couldn't get into it. I could never understand them. They're a breed apart from me. Once a fucking groupie gets together and does something constructive, then I'm back with 'em again.

Does everybody have to have a purpose for this meeting and this conversation? Is there no aimlessness?
Oh, shit no. The positive relationships are going to manifest themselves as positive relationships. And the ones which are destined to be fruitless, I'm not going to even embark on that kind. That's the way I go. If I think something isn't going to come together or isn't going to make any kind of buzz, any explosion at all, I don't bother.

I'm not a total believer, to be quite honest, in the "world turns and everything comes together." I think the world turns if you turn it and that if you don't turn it it's going to fucking sit there, and you can wait for eons, you can wait for eons for judgement day and it's never going to come. You've got to get to it yourself. And it's the same thing with relationships. You've got to sort out the ones which are going to be fruitful to you and to the other parties involved, and you got to enjoy them and make the most of them and get something out of them.

There a whole lot of people that just do that. I don't need entertainment. What I need and what I think everybody needs is to be able to forget about the entertainment; for the entertainment to be so choice and so unique and so perfect that one could completely forget about it. Actually get on with the living. To be entertained is just to live, to be entertained is just to look at life around one.

The act of entertainment is a pecular thing. It's certainly not peculiar to life. Life is entertainment and the gesture of entertainment is something which should be realistic and natural, an unnatural forced relationship, of any kind, or any kind of non-productive relationship, one which hasn't got a purpose, becomes non-entertaining to me.

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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