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Pete Townshend Settles Down

Page 5 of 6

What is going to happen to rock and roll?
I'm looking to a couple of people. I've heard some of the Rolling Stones' tracks and although I dig them I don't think they're anything more than what they are which is incredible, delicious and wonderful rock and roll and well overdue from them. The Rolling Stones should always be a nonprogressive group. I don't think that the Rolling Stones should be concerned with what they're doing in pop. That's what I dig about them.

Dylan for example, could create a new thing. I think if he made his next record with the Big Pink that could be interesting. That might create some new things in rock and roll. Dylan's thing about writing the lyric and then picking the guitar up and just pumping out the song as it comes out, is a direct guide to what will happen in music.

People are going to want music to be more realistic, more honest, and more of a gift from the heart rather than a gift from the lungs, as it were. Instead of wanting to go and watch Ginger Baker run six miles before your very eyes, you'd rather dig what he's doing. I think this is what's happening.

It's going to be the case that the Stones are going to groove along. A lot of other groups are going to groove along and make good music, in a transitional period, but they're going to be part of the transition and the transition is going to be very delicate. It's going to be, believe it or not, into a kind of a broad, unified thing. Rock and Roll is going to embody itself.

Explain that.
It's so hard to explain. I'm trying to talk about a change, knowing that there isn't going to be a change, trying to describe how I feel a change is going to come about. There's go-going to be no visible change, the structure of the music will change. I don't think the way the people perform is going to change. The lyrics won't change or anything, but rock and roll is going to change. It might be that new artists come along; anything can happen. But it's going to be something noticeable, something big. It's going to be something which comes within terms of pop now.

In the past things have changed. There has got to be a landmark, a milestone before one could get anything together. Something will emerge out of what already exists in music. In other words, instead of having to say "Well, we're going to have to competely scrap what we've got and get a completely new bag together," rock and roll gives us the ingredients for the next major musical crisis, to encounter the next musical crisis or musical starvation or whatever is happening.

Rock and roll is going to be the answer to the musical situation that exists and this is apart from any kind of clever lyricism or any kind of clever stage presentation or anything like that. Music is going to swing, is going to be simple, is going to be impulsive. People are far more concerned now with honesty, with quite simply someone playing what they dig and with playing impulsively and realistically, than with people's hang-ups and people's image, with people's so-called talent or genius. So okay, poor Eric is going to be a god again.

But he was born to be a god and he always will be and he plays like one, but his thing is on the way out. That thing of worshipping Elvis Presley, worshipping Eric Clapton--it's gonna go.

What's going to happen is it's going to be "pick up the guitar Sally and play a rock and roll song." Rock and roll is going to become down home, it's gonna become realistic. It's going to become the answer to the day's problems. It's going to become part of everybody's life from now on. You can't switch it off, you can't change what it is so far. You can't change the old classics, you can't stop the classics being born.

You can say the way you're going to receive the new stuff. You say "This is how I want my music from now on – I don't want any bullshit about you being a god and I won't want any bullshit about you being a genius and I don't want any bullshit about 'Opera,' Townshend, or any of that bullshit or spirituality. I don't want to be preached to I've got my own bag. I'm a Methodist, and go every Sunday. I don't want to be told about my sex life. I don't want to be glittered at. I don't want a guitar smashed over my fingers. I don't want any of that shit. What I want is music and you're going to give it to me. If you don't give it me then fuck off."

This is what everybody is beginning to demand. You're amazed by the amount of absurdity that groups can start with: gimmick after gimmick after gimmick after gimmick. By gimmick I don't mean what most people mean by gimmick; I don't mean a plastic nose or guitar smashing; I mean ideas, an impetus, power and enthusiasm. How could all these groups all be so enthusiastic? How can they all be so hung up in their own bags? How can a group honestly say "We have a new thing"? This is what people are getting fed up with, fed up with having to acknowledge everyone that comes along and say "Oh yeah, you've got a new thing, too, and you're more significant than they are." It's getting like a catalogue.

What's going to happen now is that while all this bullshit is going on, they're going to turn around and they're going to say "Hey man, have you heard Buck Owens?"

"Oh, you're an incredible significant group."

"Yeah, he just plays the guitar and he just plunks away."

"Oh, he's a gas, oh yeah. Most significant group I've ever heard, since you know."

In the meantime, they're going to be listening to Country and Western records or whatever. But they're going to be listening to Chuck Berry or something.

What are the modern classics? What are the classic rock and roll songs since the Beatles?
"Wild Thing," "I've Got You Babe," "Satisfaction," ''My Generation." There's lots more, lots more. I'm just trying to think. "Eleanor Rigby," "Reachout I'll Be There" I thought was incredible. It's difficult to say, because everything is so fucking good. There are a lot of classics and there is a lot of good rock and roll and it is one of the reasons it's going to have enough impetus to carry it through to the next transition.

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