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Pete Townshend likens first novel to running a marathon

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Pete Townshend fans are gearing up for tomorrow’s (November 5th) publication of the Who leader’s first novel, titled The Age Of Anxiety. During a chat with The Sydney Morning Herald he explained why he decided to write the book in the first place, admitting, “I think mainly the feeling that probably I could do it and if I could do it, then I should. It’s a bit like someone of my age deciding to run the marathon. . . I just wanted to start this book with anything goes, y’know, but also then to really look at what happens, having lived through some very dark times.”

With the Who having just wrapped its 2019 dates and releasing its 12th album, titled WHO, on December 6th, Townshend was asked how he feels to be in the Who at age 74: “Although I don’t regret it, it does make me feel less of a man, less of an artist, to just kind of think, ‘Oh well, I’ll go back and do the old s*** because it pays well.’ But for me, the electric guitar gets in my way, y’know. Yagadang, yagadang, it’s all anyone wants me to do.”

Townshend touched upon being, arguably, the spokesman for rock fans globally: “I was not their mouthpiece, but I could actually give them a way to express themselves. So the first three or four Who songs and my subsequent big projects were presented as, ‘Here it is; do what you like with it.’ But if I don’t enjoy going on stage — and I don’t — what is it I enjoy about this? I enjoy writing songs because that craft is not automatically landed in cliche.”

Townshend, clearly one of rock’s most revered elder statesmen, went on to say, “So I can only speak for myself when I say I think I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. And probably because I’m running out of time, nothing matters any more.” He laughed as he recalled looking at his passport recently and it’s marked to last another 13 years — when the guitarist will be 87: “And I’m looking at this little brown thing thinking: will I win, or will you?”


  • The Age Of Anxiety is Pete Townshend‘s third official book — in 1985 he published the series of short stories Horse’s Neck, and most recently, in 2012, his memoir, Who I Am.
  • The Who’s Tommy will return to Broadway in 2021. The musical will once again be directed by Des McAnuff, who directed the original 1993 run.
  • The Broadway version of The Who’s Tommy ran for over two years and won the Tony for McAnuff’s direction and Pete Townshend‘s score, which tied with the score for Kiss Of The Spider Woman.

CHECK IT OUT: Pete Townshend on May 2nd, 1996 performing “Rough Boys” live on The Late Show with David Letterman: