Monday, August 31, 2009

Won't Get Fooled Again

Who guitarist Pete Townshend is writing a musical about aging Baby Boomers called Floss (it's not about dental floss).

"I am writing a new musical," Townshend announced. "Floss is an ambitious new project for me, in the style of Tommy and Quadrophenia. In this case the songs are interspersed with surround-sound 'soundscapes' featuring complex sound effects and musical montages."

Townshend hopes for a 2011 production of the musical. Meanwhile plans are to release some of the musical's more "conventional" songs on a new Who album next year.

Townshend's hero is a pub rock musician called Walter who makes a fortune when one of his songs is used in an advertisement (inspired by Nick Lowe?). "When he tries to return to music after a 15-year hiatus, he finds that what he hears and what he composes evoke the ecologically rooted, apocalyptic mindset of his generation," said Townshend. "Shaken by this and torn by personal difficulties, he and (his wife) Floss become estranged."

Townshend recognized the connection to his classic Boomer tribute "My Generation," which he called "the most explicitly ageist song in rock." (What about the Beatles' "When I'm 64?") Without irony Townshend continued: "At 64 I now want to take on ageing and mortality, using the powerfully angry context of rock'n'roll."

The Who's most recent release is actually the expanded material on the Woodstock soundtrack, a truncated and very, very powerful rendition of Tommy. The Who will never sound better than they did right at that moment -- Keith Moon was at the absolute height of his powers, and Townshend was awesome carrying most of the musical weight. Townshend has been writing really well about getting old ever since The Who By Numbers. It should be interesting to see what he comes up with here.

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