The Who Mailing List Digest, V11 #220

David Huntington huntington at
Thu Aug 5 10:08:25 CDT 2004

On 8/5/04 8:24 AM, "The Who Mailing List Digest" <thewho-request at>

> Does anyone 
> think he may feel forced into the position of spiritual leader?

In short, yes. The messianic themes in Tommy would appear to come from
Pete's own frustrations at discovering that through his own artistic
expression, he now meant something to his audience that he doubted he could
personally deliver on.

Deprived of all external senses, Tommy was able to make his spiritual
journey through the vibrations around him. (There's that vibration thing
again) Likewise, away from the demands of his fans (the external senses),
Pete was/is also able to more fully follow his muse and write what fulfills

I think this in part may explain Pete's ongoing frustration with The Who. As
an avenue for his music, he may have felt yoked into being what we all
expect of the band. It's all there in WBN.

Now, he seems to be more at ease playing this music, and apparently,
recording with Roger. This could either be a yielding to the inevitable
market success of performing as The Who. Or it could be yielding to the
realization that his music just sounds better this way. At least to most of
us fans. 

To this day though, what The Who has "meant" to fans is still a yoke on what
they might try to do as an aging active band. There were such strong
feelings that were invoked in their presentation earlier in their career and
an incessant desire to not let go of them. And this appears to be the
artist's trap if their art does indeed ignite the emotions of its fans.

Dylan may even be a more naked example of this. His fans have often sought
to understand the man who did this to them. He has been a slippery fish for
them, referring them back to the music itself and begging to be left alone.
(Please accept this as the generalization that it is.)

So as we debate Pete's relative spiritual quest, we are ultimately only left
with interviews and recorded music. Does anyone here claim to have had a
conversation with the man on it?

I personally tried to reach out to Pete once by engaging him with my take on
one of his stories. He ultimately rebuffed me. Alas, he is not a teacher,
mentor, or spiritual guide. He is a man who writes and performs music for a
living. And does a damn good job of it most of the time.

I won't forsake him, rape him or forget him. He hasn't let me down because I
don't expect more than I get. 

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