White City as the breakup of The Who

Marcus Surrealius bushchoked at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 4 11:06:13 CDT 2004

>From the first time I heard White City, Pete's first
post-breakup solo album, I felt it was Pete commenting
on the breakup of the band. A lot of what I read into
it was echoed by Pete's comments in interviews and
released statements. Scott asked me my reasoning for
it, so here I go...

Give Blood. 
Pete often spoke of his personal sacrifices to keep
the band together. Here are some lines from the song
which seem to amplify on this concept:
"Give blood/But you may find that blood is not
The first image that leapt to MY mind was the famous
picture of Pete with blood running down his arm from
playing guitar. Of course, he always felt the demands
from management and the fans to keep going.
"Give blood/But don't expect to ever see reward..."
Well, we know he's never felt properly appreciated.
"Give blood/You can give it all and still you're asked
for more..."
The sort of thing you could find in any Pete Townshend
pre-breakup interview.

Brilliant Blues.
For my purposes, the "brilliant blues" means The Who.
In which case:
"Say goodbye to the brilliant blues..." Goodbye to the
"It's time to live..."
Pete felt being in the band was holding him back. This
line is especially telling:
"The brilliant blues/have faded into sadness and
pain/And now it's time to say...it's time..."
Time to be out of The Who.
"You and me are going to finally sail away/We'll get
far away from the mist and the rain..."
More freedom imagery.
"The brilliant Blues/I don't want to be frozen/I spend
my mornings in the sunshine cafe..."
Frozen as in stuck in the Who format, which had to
seem more or less an oldies sort of thing by then. Now
free of the Who burden, he feels set free...he spends
his mornings in the sunshine.

Hiding Out.
This one's easy. He's resisting the pressure to be in
the band:
"I look over chequered fields/And the towering web of
steel/Young and old will sit and judge unfeeling/When
the empty churches bells are pealing..."
Chequered as in a "chequered past," but also I see
this as being the audience. The towering web of steel
could be the stage, the equipment on the stage. The
"young and old" are us, folks, judging the breakup
without understanding how HE feels, and the empty
churches the venues they used to play, now empty and
"I am safe/Hidden here..."
Safe away from the band, free at last, but only by
keeping a low profile.

Crashing By Design.
Yeah, THIS one is about how he felt and now feels in
regard to the band and what happened therein:
"But when you look back you must realize/That nothing
in your life's divine/And everything that's ever
befallen you/Happened simply cause it crossed your

I Am Secure.
This line is telling, about his peace from the turmoil
of The Who:
"I see the panic of the people in motion/I can stand
here and look out on an ocean..."

White City Fighting.
Like Brilliant Blues, another term used to describe
The Who:
"It's a joke of a name..."
Yet he's able to look back and appreciate what
"I couldn't wait to get out/But I love to go home..."
This is quite telling, regarding critics and Rock
"Now it analyzed/As though it was fiction/That battles
were won/And battles were blown/At the height of the
White City fighting..."
Sounds like he's talking about the Marsh book, to me.
And as Pete always said The Who were carrying the
torch of Rock music:
"We were defenders/We were the free..."

There's more, but I'll leave it here...for now.

BTW, that's Tony Butler on bass...for an idea of what
it might have been like...

"They know who I am, and I believe they're comfortable
with the fact that they know I'm not going to shift
principles or shift positions..."
   George "unable to change my mind" Bush

Cheers         ML

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