Art and culture

Pete Townshend Says, No Who Farewell Tour: ‘I Was Being Sarcastic’

It turns out that when Pete Townshend recently told the New York Times that he was planning on a final Who farewell tour, he was “being sarcastic,” he told the “Sound Up!” podcast in an interview released today (April 16).

“It feels to me like there’s one thing the Who can do, and that’s a final tour where we play every territory in the world and then crawl off to die,” he told the Times in an interview published last month.

However, when asked about that comment during an interview with Sound Up!’s Mark Goodman and Alan Light, he replied, “I’m not doing a farewell tour,” adding, “I think I was being sarcastic about it.”

He elaborated, “When I was 34, I wrote the song ‘Slit Skirts,’ and I think the line is ‘I’m 34 years old and I’m still wandering in a haze,’” he said of the closing song on his 1982 album “All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes.” “I felt old at 34.”

When asked about that line in relation to his infamous boast — “I hope I die before I get old” — from the Who’s 1965 song “My Generation,” he continued, “That’s a twist, in a sense. ‘Slit Skirts’ was an honest confession of how I didn’t like what I’d become. When I wrote [‘My Generation’], I was celebrating the fact that I was young — I was 18 and surrounded by old people. Now, everybody seems younger. But in those days, everybody seemed older and they all seemed to be messed up, either miserable or poor or working too hard or complaining about something. The song was about, ‘I’m never gonna be like you if I’m old,’ and I don’t think I am like them. I’m happy and I’m struggling still, and I think I’m operating for the greater good — touch wood!” (Hear the full 50-minute interview here.)

As Who fans know well, Townshend, who turns 79 next month, has changed his tune on this topic several times in the past. The Who undertook a “Farewell Tour” in 1982 but regrouped seven years later and have toured regularly ever since, with Townshend and singer/fellow founding member Roger Daltrey accompanied most recently by drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son), guitarist-vocalist Simon Townshend (Pete’s younger brother) and others; last year the group undertook an extensive tour with an orchestra. Founding drummer Keith Moon died in 1978 and bassist John Entwistle in 2002.

However, even his comment to the Times showed a distaste for touring as the Who. Immediately after his statement to the paper above, he said, “I don’t get much of a buzz from performing with the Who. If I’m really honest, I’ve been touring for the money. My idea of an ‘ordinary lifestyle’ is pretty elevated.” As always, time will tell.

“Sound Up!” is hosted by former MTV VJ Mark Goodman and top music journalist Alan Light (both formerly of SiriusXM’s “Crosstalk”), is produced by Roger Coletti and distributed by Revolver Podcasts.

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