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Who I Am

de Pete Townshend

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3892049,507 (3.67)11
The legendary lead guitarist and principal songwriter for The Who, one of the most influential rock-and-roll bands of all time, pens his own story.
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    Chronicles: Volume One de Bob Dylan (br77rino)
    br77rino: Both of these autobiographies are surprisingly honest, and great reads. Dylan's especially breaks away from a lot of the conventional (i.e., media-concocted) descriptions of these guys.
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Es mostren 1-5 de 20 (següent | mostra-les totes)
I listened to part this on audio and just couldn't get past the narration. Townsend narrated himself; not a bad thing necessarily, but he kept laughing at what he was saying. He was so amused with himself and his anecdotes that I found it annoying and distracting.
  JustZelma | Dec 20, 2020 |
As I am getting ready to go see "The Who" on their "Movin' On" tour in a week, there is particular relevance to reading this now. Also, Pete Townshend and The Who has meant a lot me, since picking up the Who's Missing cassette back in 1984, when I was a teen, and delving full on into this band as my first and favorite classic rock band. Naturally I went on to enjoy my own era of music, but when you are young, you fall into some categories, and I was quite deliberate how I would approach listening to music in my life. Starting with history, and classic rock. Townshend's style of guitar playing vastly influenced mine as I developed it as well. So yes, it was probably essential reading for me to pick this up.

That being said, this is an honest memoir from a person who knew at a certain point in his young life, that rock and roll music would be his future, even if he had to destroy it.

From a musical family, we get early glimpses of things in his life that find their way into a lot of Who music, most relevantly Tommy. The writing is blunt and simple in the delivery and you can see that he has always lived with the darkness of abuse and addiction that has haunted him throughout his life and career. Even in a recent Instagram post, he is emotionally torn to perform parts of Tommy on the new tour.

There is some great Who beginnings history too, however, and it is just amazing to hear about his relationships with Keith, John and particularly Roger. Knowing each other since kids, they are like family, sometimes estranged, other times close, and even other times business partners.

He talks about his family, marriage, kids, sexuality, his troubles, addictions, spirituality and music highlights.

Some events in the book where I thought there would be some extrapolated emotional voyage, he seems surprisingly detached; the '79 Cincinnati show and Keith Moon's death for examples. Those moments are addressed, just differently than I imagined, perhaps more honest to his point of view at the time.

The book is a journey for himself as much as anyone who follows The Who, Pete Townshend, or even that heightened and amazing era of rock and roll music. From rock punk to rock "god", pauper to strangely wealthy, Townshend puts it all out there. It's a fucked up history, but a necessary tale to tell.

As a fan, I get a sincerely intimate portrait of him. I really believe that. I've seen this guy's face in my life for so long now, he feels like an Uncle. (He is in his 70s now). This portrayal, this memoir, deepens my understanding of who he may be. ( )
  noblechicken | May 6, 2019 |

I have to admit that I am not a fan of The Who at all and know very little of their music. But there is no harm in exploring celebrity culture, even of celebrities who I’m not all that familiar with. In fact, I found this a really interesting book; Townshend has clearly given his life and his art a lot of thought, and I was frankly impressed by his account of working up the electronic synthesis of The Who’s music recordings, and later his own. He is clear about his struggles with addiction and dependency on alcohol, drugs and sex, and explained both how he overcame those problems but also how he failed to do so. He is also clear about the burdens that come with earning and having stupidly large amounts of money, starting at a comparatively young age, and does not seek readers’ sympathy on this point. He is less clear on a couple of points that surprised me. There is no character sketch of any of the other three members of The Who, who sometimes seem just to be incidental to Townshend’s creative process (though he rates them strongly as performers). Also his mother is not named, even in the index; it’s clear that there is a lot going on there, including unspeakable abuse to which Townshend was subjected while in the care of his grandmother. This in turn motivated him to commendable social action, using his wealth to help other survivors.

What I found most interesting was the continuity of creativity that Townshend sees himself in. The Who’s music was of its time, and he respects other music and art that was of different times. He is thrilled at an early stage to receive a complimentary note from Sir William Walton (who was godfather to one of his associates) and has a blast collaborating with Ted Hughes on The Iron Giant. At the other end, he is encouraging of newer musicians, and writes enthusiastically of the next generation. (He also writes enthusiastically but less comprehensibly about his faith in the Indian guru Meher Baba.)

I enjoyed this more than I had expected. ( )
  nwhyte | Nov 25, 2018 |
It took me a while to finish reading this book.

[a:Pete Townshend|282494|Pete Townshend|]'s autobiography didn't suffer from the lack of focus that I felt [a:Eric Clapton|134964|Eric Clapton|]'s did. While at times it did feel as if the book was written as a way to deal with his addictions and traumatizing childhood by the end of the book I didn't quite feel this was the case. This was just Pete talking about what was important to him, and what were the largest forces within his life.

This book has been criticized by the press, and I can understand why. There is not a lot of new material brought to the table in terms of a 'behind the scenes' look at The Who and the songwriting process. Many of the stories told have been told elsewhere, and at times in a more accurate fashion. Still, this is the story through Townshend's eyes and one largely gets what one would expect from the fellow.

I'm curious as to what was cut from the book, as he said more than half of what was originally written was discarded in the end. I'm wondering whether or not there were more stories there, and a more in depth look at the developmental years than what was received. Whatever the case may be, this autobiography was well written, insightful, and all in all a very well done retrospective of a showbiz life. Nevertheless [a:Pete Townshend|282494|Pete Townshend|] is [a:Pete Townshend|282494|Pete Townshend|] and is a narrator one will either love or hate.

This book is certainly not for everyone, but for those who can take what is written with a grain of salt it is the life of one of the best rock musicians and lyricist of our time. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
I had planned to finish up my 2017 Reading Challenge with Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon, by Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton, but it was stolen, along with the lunch bag it was in, a foldable spork, and some reading glasses, from my workplace. I was more than a little PO’d because I was just getting into it, and I truly cannot see what any of the homeless people, the probable thieves, would want with a book about the American space program. Not only that, the eyeglasses case was one shaped like a video game controller and hard to replace.

So, for a last minute substitute, I pulled in Who I Am the autobiography of Who guitarist Pete Townsend, one of the more erudite and philosophical personalities of the 1960s. This was actually a Kindle edition I purchased because I had tried twice to read a library copy of the book, and failed. Something about the immense pain on his face on the cover pic made me afraid to open it, and I was not sure of what I would find.

I’d actually been interested in the Who and their music for a couple of years now. The group’s Tommy rock opera was one of my earliest exposures to rock music at the age of 5, the album being an obsession of my older brother’s. My favorite songs were Pinball Wizard and Go to the Mirror. The metaphysical aspects, though, went over my head until I could read well enough to understand the lyric sheet, and in retrospect it was a influence on some of my own early fiction. Townsend’s book, happily, goes into great detail about Tommy’s genesis, recording, and legacy. In fact all of the material dealing with the 1960s is great, to me at least, because I’m always interested in artists and their influences. Also of interest was Townsend’s journey as a recording studio pioneer, especially of the small in-home studios many rock stars of his age began to employ. In today’s era of cheap, sophisticated, digital tools, it’s hard to remember how much sheer experimentation and invention it took to achieve unique sounds.

The other members of the Who, and the group itself, did not receive as much attention; those interested in a bio of the early Who will have to look elsewhere, such as Tony Fletcher’s Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend. (I’d read that bio before this one, so didn’t feel shortshrifted at what Townsend left out.)

Though the early sections of the book were interesting, the middle was largely a slog. It became too diary-like in a “I did this, then I did that” way and although as erudite and well-written as the previous chapters, it lacked a story arc, for want of a better term, such as going from addiction to sobriety, or discomfort with celebrity to acceptance of it. In the final third, with Townsend investing more in his sobriety and realizing some truths about his past, things get interesting again, leading up to the infamous incident where he was busted and fined for visiting a child pornography site, and it’s not what you think. He also had some interesting insights about digital media devaluing itself — when everything is freely available, all the time, anywhere, it becomes harder than ever to find the good amidst the bad, or even determine what makes a piece of media good at all.

In sum: I’m glad I read this, and as a person I’d rather hang out with Townsend than many of the other rock stars I’ve read bios of. ( )
  Cobalt-Jade | Dec 31, 2017 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 20 (següent | mostra-les totes)
In 1967 Pete Townshend heard the voice of God. Confirming his reputation for working in mysterious ways, the deity chose to introduce himself to the Who guitarist at the Rolling Meadows, Illinois branch of Holiday Inn. "Suddenly it became clear that I longed for a transcendent connection with the universe itself, and with its maker," writes Townshend, adding, in a deadpan segue, that the band's drummer Keith Moon had other priorities on that tour. "While I made progress with my search for meaning, Keith was causing havoc with a birthday cake, a car, a swimming pool, a lamp and a young fan's bloody head."...
afegit per marq | editaThe Guardian, Dorian Lynskey (Oct 9, 2012)
afegit per doomjesse | editaRolling Stone (Sep 28, 2012)
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The legendary lead guitarist and principal songwriter for The Who, one of the most influential rock-and-roll bands of all time, pens his own story.

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