October 24, 2020

1989-04-30 – Chicago Tribune

1989 04 30 Chicago_Tribune_Sun__Apr_30__1989_ 2

The Who in 1989. Daltry. Townshend and Entwistle at the press

conference last Monday announcing their summer tour.

some of the most explosive
music to come out of the Bn't-
ish Invasion. In the early days,
the band called it’ 5 music
“Maximum R81. B, ” meaning
that they played mostly loudly
amplified black music. Out of
this firestorm came a chunky
sty le of hard rock that was
leavened by a cheeky sense of
humor, with a song like
“Can’t Explain” hitting you
over the head with the narra-
tor’s adolescent confusion, and
“I’m a Boy” making satiric
minoemeat out of a mama’s
boy’ 5 sexual confusion.
Townshend is a scholar of

the pop song, and knows just
what makes for a memorable

“State your message
in hntlsilenflm few bars. Do it mu-
sically or with words. Then get
down to business. Make sure it
moves along quite quickly.
Make sure you can drive to It;
make sure you am dance to it.
Write a verse, but don’t waste

too much time with oomplexi-‘

ties. Then restate your theme,
then go back and am plify it
Then give us a bit of a break,
take us somewhere, but not
for too long, maybe ei ht
bars—we'll call it the mi e
eight. Then come back to the

theme, wrap it up as quickly
as on can, and maybe, oka y.
restate the theme again on e

has happened to
Townshend since his early
songwriting days—for one
thing, he hasn’t died before he
got gold, which is to say, 44
next month. But he’s tasted
mortality in a most ironic
way—the man who became fa-
mous for whipping his aim in
a windmill to produce thun-
derous power chords on his

electric guitar is lasifig his
hearing

For the u coming tour,
Townshend p s to play an
acoustic instrument, which is

why a second guitarist is being
enlisted.

In the beginning, be ignored
thepmn to his ears when he
played loud tar. “I’d play a
show with Who, blow my
brains out on stage, drunk,
and come home an play for
another eight hours with the

headphones on making demos
in my studio.

“I went to an ear specialist
in the mid-’70s with my man-
ager,” Townshend recalls,
“and the doctor said, ’My ad-
vice to Mr. Townshend is to
learn to Iip-read, because at
this rate, he’ll be completely

deafbythetimehe’s40.’

Townshend, who took gran
care during The Who’s ’82
tour to protect his hearin ,

'says that, in recentyeurs, hes
! developed a ease of tinnitus, a

’ ecision for the man who

"Rolling Stones’ u

wrote “Tommy” —an opera
about a deaf, dumb, and blind
boy—was whether to risk fur-
ther damfige to his eats. He
hopes the acoustic guitar, and
carefully modulated stage
sound, will afford him ade-
quate protection.

Townshend’s an astute critic
ofrock’ n’ roll. Askhimwhat
he’ll be looking for in the

pcomingdisc

and he’ll say, “an old Stones

album’ ’—and doesn’t spare ‘

himself.

“We’ ve been looking for the
great old Who album for
yeais,” confesses Townshend,
whose own particular choice
for the last great Who album
is 1972’s “Quadmphenia.”

‘Ithinkthat’soneofthe

reasons we re not

making an album just

now, because it’s easi-

ertopla thantomakeanew

use when we go

out mmund pla y, we can play our
old records.

Consequently, T ownshend
promises a concert
dominated by older songs, but
not just familiar classies like
“Pinball Wizard. ”While solo

songs from “Iron Man” are
planned, Townshend says that,
if late-pe riod Who selections
are included, they’ll probably
“deal with why it seemed so
directionless.”

repertoire

- -— has no hesitation
~ 8 out bein a middle- ed
rock star.“ cm was a 0d

inmy30s,” hesays,“when_l.
could arrange my hair, push
my face arouéitc'la put _01: t?"

propria 339‘” Sin ' ’

wn to at?:?ghtclub, seduce a
17- year-old gIrl, take her back
to the hotel, and it would be
only then that she would say
to me, ’Are you older than
30?’ Now thene’s no possible
way that I could disguise my
age, and I wouldn’t want to.
When you stop associating
looking good with looking
young, ou’ve hit the nail on
the hen ..

“I feel I look and feel a lot
better by not trying to look
young, or to act so damn
young And I think that I an

carry it onto the stage.”
The other ' Townshend
will carry into e Who’s sil-

ver anniversary is the skewered
pop logic that he learned on
his first visit to New York.

“I remember one girl came
out to the airport to meet

some pop star who never ar-
rived,” hela ,“andsheran
up to us an said, ‘Who are

Egg? And we said2 ‘We’ne The
0 And she said, ‘Ate you

pop group up?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’
She said, ‘Risht then—y ou’te
my gu lFtom now on, I’m
you’ re fan. I will follow
you everywhere.’ And I said,
‘But you haven’t even heard us
p mi And she said with a

e, ‘It doesn’ t really matter,
does it ’ ”