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Neil Young interview in Rolling Stone April 30th 1970

20130131-neil-young-x600-1359647512From Rolling Stone

by Elliot Blinder

ROLLING STONE, April 30, 1970

Neil Young strutted out of the swanky Americanese coffee shop at the Fenway Commonwealth Motor Hotel, on Commonwealth Avenue near Fenway Park, where the Boston Red Sox play ball. He had just finished eating lunch instead of breakfast after waking up late from a midnight concert at the Boston Tea Party, which is opposite Fenway Park.

The Tea Party had spent the week before broadcasting and advertising the one-night, one-show performance, and conservative estimates said that 200 people were turned away and another 2,000 or so were sardined in, elbow to elbow and elbow to head.

Young came on after several hours of intermissions and other groups, laboriously tuned three guitars, walked offstage, came back on and played and rapped an acoustic set of old Buffalo Springfield songs, warming everybody up for a beautifully long set with Crazy Horse. Standing ovation, hoots and howls.

Next morning I couldn’t conceive of the pleasure in his smile when we sat down on your average American motel room twin-double and got into the kind of stoning session I might have expected to get into had we been longtime friends living on opposite coasts.

How long have you been playing guitar?

About nine years.

How old are you now?

Twenty-four. I’m gettin’ tired of this too. Really it’s groovy, but I don’t know how much longer I can do it.

Why is that?

I just want to do something else.

Other than music or other than touring?

After this next album I don’t know how much longer it’ll be before I put out another one, of any kind, with anyone. I think I’ll just stop for a while.

Do you lead the kind of life where you’re busy every day with more than one thing?

Yeah, it’s like living two different lives. People who see me and come over and want to talk to me because of Crosby, Stills and Nash are weird compared to the people I know through Crazy Horse; and then there’s the people I know who don’t have anything to do with either one of them, who are a whole other trip, and by the time the day’s over I’m just completely screwed up. I start off real well depending on which one I see first.

Is that a reflection of what was in “Broken Arrow,” of being a rock & roll star?

Yeah, that was when I was living in Hollywood, though, that a whole other number I was into then. I was a Hollywood Indian.

You were?

I guess so, everybody thought I was an Indian. That was when it was cool to be an Indian. I was wearin’ fringe jackets and everything. I really loved these fringe jackets I used to have with the Springfield. I dug wearing them.

What happened to them?

They died with the Springfield. A lot of changes went down in everybody’s heads when the group broke up. When we got together we thought we were gonna be together about fifteen years. We really thought it was gonna last a long time because we knew how good it was. Nobody else did, though.

You must get this question a lot, but it’s a question a lot of people want to know the answer to, so that’s probably why you get it a lot, but how do you feel now about the Springfield and ever playing with those four people again?

I sometimes think about that and I would like to do another couple of concerts with the original Buffalo Springfield, the original. I think if we could get everybody together, I’d like to do that. It’d be fun.

Has anybody tried to get it together?


Do you think it’s on Jim Messina’s mind, and…

Well, I know it’s on Dewey Martin’s mind, and uh, it’s on Messina’s mind probably. Although I don’t know who Stephen [Stills] and I would want to use if we could get Bruce [Palmer]. But you see that brings up a touchy subject of who we could get, or if we could get Jim Fielder too, from Blood, Sweat and Tears…

You could use them all, if you could…

Yeah, but we tried, uh, just a minute… [Young begins searching for something.]

What are you looking for?

I was just looking for another number.

We were just talking about bass players…

Yeah, well, I don’t know what bass player we’d use.

All the while we talked over in one end of the room, Susan Young milled around – as much as one can mill in a motel room – gathering things, and getting ready to go out and see what she could see in the ninety minutes that was left over from touring a nation. Young had spoken earlier to people from Right-a-Wrong (RAW), who were sounding him out on what he might be willing to do to help RAW’s campaign to legalize marijuana. Young said he thought they were doing good things, but it was obvious that he was too far into his four guitars and two bands and one wife and home in Topanga Canyon. One of the RAW people came up to the room and a brief rap on politics and ecology ensued.

Five years they’ll come around, five years. This is just starting. The hassle about pollution isn’t gonna go away. The people aren’t gonna get less uptight about it. So naturally the rate at which people respond is gonna get faster. I think five years is when things are really gonna start being done about it.

RAW: It might be a lot sooner, man.

I don’t think so. You won’t get these big plants to shut down and change things so…

RAW: Within four or five years there might be a very violent revolution, man, that will stop every wheel turning!

I can dig it. I hope not though, ’cause if it is I’ll be in Big Sur (laugh). I’ll be in Big Sur with my guns.

With his guns…

Yeah, I’ll get a big cannon if they’re gonna have a revolution. I’ll sit up on top of my studio there, with my material gains after the game, and uh, contemplate my future…

You were talking before about not making any more records for a while…

Well, I’m not sure really what I want to do because I think ahead: I’m finishing this tour, then I go home and make a Crazy Horse album, then I go out on the road for thirty or forty days with CSN. It’s getting to be a lot of work. It’s getting to be no privacy at all.

Couldn’t you just say, “No, we’re not playing this week, or next week?”

No, I couldn’t do that. Crosby, Stills and Nash have been resting for two or three months, right; they’re ready to go back on the road, so it’s hard for me to say, “Let’s not go on the road now, let’s wait, because I’ve been on the road playing with Crazy Horse.” That just doesn’t seem like a very good reason to them.

Well, couldn’t they tour as Crosby, Stills and Nash and as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young?

The reason that they asked me to join in the first place is ’cause they couldn’t tour just as Crosby, Stills and Nash, ’cause they haven’t gotten anybody to play the instruments.

What about Dallas Taylor and Greg Reeves?

Well, yeah, bass and drums. So what have you got? Bass and drums, rhythm guitar and Stephen. It’s not enough for that big sound. They want more. Few guitars, organ at the same time as piano, they wanted a big group, I guess.

How do you feel now about what has gone down with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young?

I think, uh, the tours we’ve done have been pretty successful. I don’t know, it’s blowing my mind – a lot of the applause, a lot of the reaction and everything. I don’t know how it got so big – I knew it was gonna be big and everything because when I joined them they had a lot of hype out and everything. They had a good album out, you know, and they had a rapport there… so I mean I knew they were gonna be pretty big, but I didn’t think it was gonna be as big as this. It’s big. Makes a lot of money, and it’s hard to relate to after what I was doin’ before.

I meant musically, though… I’ve not seen the four of you play together, but from what I’ve picked up in the media, you seem to take a backstage role in the group.

Yeah, I don’t really… well the main thing with that group is their singing, the three of them singing, you know, and they sing those three-part harmony things and occasionally I sing a fourth part, but not often. It’s the same sort of general role I played in Buffalo Springfield: I play lead guitar and occasionally I’ll sing a song, and I’m quite happy to do that as long as I can do my own thing, because my songs actually require a different kind of thing than that anyway, so I’m quite happy to do them with Crazy Horse. We do most of them, they’re just different. I couldn’t do Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere with Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Did they ask you to join the group… how was the contact made?

Yeah, Steve came over to the house one day and asked me to join. First they didn’t want to be called Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. They just wanted it to be Crosby, Stills and Nash. They said, “Everybody’ll know who you are, man, don’t worry about that.”

They wanted you to do a George Harrison. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Friends.

No, just Crosby, Stills and Nash… but anyway we got that all straightened out because, you know, the music is good, the music is exciting to me, it’s more pop than Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse is liable to have a bad night, you know, and I think Crosby, Stills and Nash just isn’t liable to have a bad night because the personalities are there. If the music isn’t happening that night, just the fact that those three guys are there makes it cool. You know if you see Clapton having a bad night, you’re still seeing Clapton… and that’s the way the kids feel, there’s still that other trip happening…

People come to see and to hear.

Yeah, but with Crazy Horse, nobody knows who they are really, nobody’s familiar with them, except for maybe Jack (Nitzsche), and now when we go out to play… we’re used to playing at home, playing in the studio.

We have a studio underneath the house, a P.A. system and wood walls and everything, and it’s really groovy, and we play in there and that’s where we get sound… and like we don’t play together very much, ’cause there’s no time. Now we’ve been playin’ together for almost a month, and before that it was six months off, and together for three months before then, and that’s all we’ve played together, so we’re like about as loose as you can get.

Why did it take you so long to tune up last night?

Listen, I’ll tell you… last night didn’t take me nearly as long as the two days before that.

Really, people had waited for hours and hours for you to come on, and waited through bands that were doing a completely different type of thing than what they were waiting for, and then you come on…

downloadOh, you mean when we came out front and tuned up…. We were tryin’ to be careful so it didn’t happen during the show. It did happen during the show anyway, but something’s been happening to my guitars during this trip where they just aren’t staying in tune at all. We were just being ultra-careful, rather than have Crazy Horse come out in the middle of the thing, after I’d done six acoustic songs, and then tune right in the middle of things, it wouldn’t make it, you know what I mean….

Right, but I think it was really interesting ’cause what happened was that you had not wanted to come out and tune in the middle of a show, but that little thing that you did with tuning those four guitars became a show in itself, and everybody really got into it, and then you walked off, everybody sat there in a kind of limbo… like we were talking about people coming to see you as well as to hear… well, we’d just seen you tuning up for fifteen minutes and then you disappeared.

If there had been a curtain there… it happens every time we play a place without a curtain, but I just won’t go out and get everything together right in the middle…. I guess it was kind of weird, though, ’cause I did tune three guitars.

That white one you really had trouble with, people wanted to come up and help you…. About Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, when I asked you before about what had gone down, I meant musically, because Graham Nash particularly does a really different style of music than you do…

Yeah, I know what you mean… well, on the new album, I play on about five songs and sing on three…

Three different from the five or three out of the five?

No, three of the five… and the ones that I play on we mostly recorded live. Like my two songs, “Helpless” and “Country Girl,” I did the lead vocal while I was playing, all at the same time, so the drums and bass, guitar and piano were all going at once, and I was singing the lead, so my things sound different, from overdubbing, you know. I mean, I probably could have played on all of them, ’cause you know, I can make up lines and put ’em down…

Was there any particular reason they were taken live?

Yeah, that’s the way I like to do it, and David likes to do it that way too, ’cause he likes to get off, he really likes to get off. So one of David’s songs, “Almost Cut My Hair” – yeah, that’s the name of the song – there’s gonna be a lot of reaction to that song. It’s really Crosby at what I think is his best. It’s like all live, three guitars, bass, organ and drums, and it’s all live and there are no overdubs, one vocal and the vocal was sung live – we did it in San Francisco at Wally Heider’s – and then there’s the other way of recording, which is the way they recorded their first album. And on this second album there are about five songs that sound sort of like the first album…

To tell you the truth, I didn’t like the first album. I like individual parts of it, but as an album it sounds too much like studio music. It’s the kind of thing that gets into music through the back door; it’s this computer sound that comes out.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you mean. The sound doesn’t really come out of the studio, it comes out of the musicians, it’s true. That’s what I figure is the fault of the first album – as is the fault of my first album. It was overdubbed instead of played. People like to hear these people play together, I think. Playing live is very exciting, especially the guitars really get me off, and everybody playing at once is really groovy; but some bands prefer to do it that way.

Some bands have got to…

The Beatles do it that way and that accounts for the difference between the Beatles and the Stones. The Stones almost always have at least four of five guys playin’ at once… and that’s where that funny feel comes from, ’cause if you ever tried to overdub that you can’t have it, ’cause you’d get everything right…. When somebody makes a mistake, and some other guy does another thing because a guy made a mistake, to make the mistake feel good, and somebody else comes back in, and that is all happening every beat with the Rolling Stones… it’s human you’re hearing it….

It’s great; that’s what was happening last night… but when you first were talking about live, were you talking about playing before an audience?

No, I’m talking about live in the studio, you know, everybody doing it….

Rather than one guy playing it and later having another guy see where it fits.

Yeah, or not even knowing what it is when he played the first one.

And CSN’s first album was done that way….

Yeah, it was all overdubbed, because Steve Stills played the organ and the guitar and the bass and the other guitar and the other organ and the keyboard… because they didn’t have anybody else who could play, I mean there wasn’t anybody in the group who could play any other instruments.

Well, why couldn’t they put down the basics and then add to it…

They did in some cases, but a basic putdown is like bass and drums, and Dallas plays drums and Steve plays bass and sometimes they’d do it that way. It’s just a different way of making records, that’s the way they do it. I don’t know how to really explain it, ’cause it isn’t my way. I did one album that way and, although in a lot of cases I was happy with what happened, especially in the new pressing of that first album, it just doesn’t get off, doesn’t get off.

Except for one song, which is great: “I’ve Been Waiting For You.”

Yeah, yeah, that’s the only one that sounds like it got off, but you know all those things were played at different days, every instrument. On that cut, isn’t it incredible… you see that’s how it can work, every once in a while. Because when I put on the lead guitar I was really into it that day, you know, and all the moods I was in at all the times that I put those things on. See, what I do is… in the beginning, we put down acoustic guitar and bass and drums, that’s the smallest track that I ever did, one guitar, bass and drums… and then the acoustic guitar had a bad sound and the bass wasn’t playin’ the right notes and was a little out of tune, so we did both of these over again; so then we have only one original thing that I’d done before and Jimmy Messina, who played the bass on it, played the bass part over, and then he made up a different bass part so we took off the first one completely and played a whole new one… and then we dropped the acoustic guitar, ’cause it didn’t fit with the other things that I put on… so then there was nothing left except for the drums. The pipe organ was put on…. Part of these things were done in different cities….

What about the vocal? The vocal seems to be the thing that really holds it together.

The vocal was done at a different studio…. It does stick together though. It’s very rare. It’d take you a long time to get a whole album of records like that, it’s just not easy to do.

Were you not satisfied with the album as a whole, when it came out?

The first album? I was satisfied with what I’d done, as much as I could be. But then when the mastering job came out on it, it blew my mind, because I couldn’t hear what I’d done… but now it’s been remastered and you can almost hear it. It was badly mixed.

Young got up to get a glass of water, as our throats were apparently parched. I got up and noticed a pile of variously sized, colored and assorted pills. My vitamins, said Young.

“What do you eat?”

When I’m on the road I eat anything. I eat meat, anything. The guys, Crazy Horse, they don’t eat meat, most of them…. They’re really down, I don’t know if you can tell by lookin’ at ’em, but they’re not your usual bunch of rock & roll guys… they’re just not that way. They’re very funky, I think they’re great. I don’t know if you have to live with them to know how great they are or what. I don’t know if the people are really hearing what I hear, you know.

How did you meet Crazy Horse?

I met all of them during the first six months that I was in L.A., when the Buffalo Springfield was just getting together, and they didn’t know how to play at that time, not very well… they were just hangin’ out, and I was starting to work with the Springfield, and I met Jack Nitzsche shortly after that and then he joined…. They were called the Rockets.

When is your new album coming out?

Which one, with Crazy Horse? It’ll be out in about two months. It’s really gonna be funky, it’s really gonna be a dirty album. We’re gonna do some things on it, some really old things, but we’re gonna do them right. Like I think I might do this one country song that I learned in high school, when I was goin’ through church dancing, junior high, I guess. I just remember the song; I don’t remember who wrote it or anything.

There was this one record they played, sounds like an old Hank Williams song, we might do that one. And then there are some other songs, some songs that I wrote that are gonna be sort of… I don’t know how to explain it. I’m trying to make records of the quality of the records that were made in the late Fifties and the Sixties, like Everly Brothers records and Roy Orbison records and things like that. They were all done with a sort of quality to them. They were done at once. They were done in Nashville….

It doesn’t matter where you do it. Nashville, it happened to be done there. Could be done anywhere. It’s just a quality about them, the singer is into the song and the musicians were playing with the singer and it was an entity, you know. It was something special that used to hit me all the time, that all these people were thinking the same thing, and they’re all playing at the same time.

Like the early Beatles.

Yeah, yeah, right. That’s what I’m tryin’ to get. That’s what I want to get, on this next album. I started approaching getting it on the last album, on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. It happens on a few cuts, you can hear it. It’s there all the time….

Which cuts would you say?

Uh, I think “Cinnamon Girl,” uh, “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere,” and, uh, “Round And Round” has that feeling of togetherness, although it was just Danny [Whitten] and me and Robin Lane.

I thought that one was really a little bit too long.

Well, it depends on where you’re at, you know. A lot of people like that better than anything else on the album. I do things like that.

Like “The Last Trip To Tulsa,” in my opinion, after I did it, I didn’t like it and I didn’t want it. After the album came out that’s the one I really didn’t like, you know, and I still don’t, but a lot of people really dug that better than anything else on that whole album. See, it’s strange. Just because it doesn’t happen to be my favorite part, and I know a lot of people really didn’t like it, you know, and I can dig why. Because it sounds overdone. It just sounds like it’s a mistake to me, and luckily it’s cool. It’s the same thing with “Round And Round” on the second album. The acoustic live thing bores a lot of people.

Is that what that was, “Round And Round”?

Yeah, because the sound of that record, if you get into the sound of it and you know what’s happening, thinking of the fact that there were three people sitting like you and me, and then another, and six microphone booms coming down, absolutely stoned out of our minds in the studio, singing a song with the guitars, three guitars goin’ at once. If you listen to it, “Round And Round” is one of my favorites on the second album, because of some of the things – I guess you sort of have to listen to them, ’cause I didn’t bring them out very much – but the echo from the acoustic guitar on the right echoes back on the left, and the echo from the guitar on the left comes back on the right and it makes the guitars go like this… one line starts goin’ like da-da-daow… and then you can hear like one voice comes in and out, and that’s ’cause Danny was rockin’ back and forth…. Those things are not featured, they’re just in it, you know, and that’s what I’m trying to get at. I think they last longer that way. Doing it live and singing and playing all at once just makes it sound more real.

Do you remember “Cinnamon Girl” last night, you did it second to last, or so?

Oh, yeah, I remember that.

I thought that was a really great version, better than the album version.

Yeah, it probably was. The album versions weren’t that hot. We’d only been together for eight weeks when we cut that album. Really literally, we’d only been together for six or seven days when “Down By The River” was cut.

Was there any reason that you did it that soon, instead of waiting?

I just wanted to go ahead and do it, I just wanted to catch it… because there is something on those records that was recorded… like it was when we were really feeling each other out, you know, and we didn’t know each other, but we were turned on to what was happening. So I wanted to record that, because that never gets recorded. And that’s what that album is, it’s just the bare beginnings. And the change between that album and the next album is really gonna blow a lot of minds.

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Neil Young Interview In Rolling Stone April 30th 1970 | | Leave a comment

Bruce Springsteen High Hopes (2014)


Bruce Springsteen’s 18th studio album is a portrait of the artist at the top of his 21st-century game: rock-soul dynamite and finely drawn pathos bound by familiar, urgent themes (national crisis, private struggle, the daily striving for more perfect union) and the certain-victor’s force in Springsteen’s singing.

High Hopes is also a deep look back over Springsteen’s past decade, his best onstage and record since the first, with a keen eye turned forward. The cumulative effect of this mass of old, borrowed, blue and renewed – covers, recent outtakes and redefining takes on two classics – is retrospect with a cutting edge, running like one of the singer’s epic look-ma-no-set-list gigs: full of surprises, all with a reason for being there.

Much of High Hopes comes from the what-was-he-thinking shelf: unreleased songs cut for albums going back to 2002’s The Rising, revived with freshening parts. It’s hard to see how “Frankie Fell in Love,” a frat-rock riot, and the letter from rock bottom “Down in the Hole” (“My Hometown” with less light) ever got the chop. But Springsteen effectively recasts this material with the folk-soul-gospel-army might of his current E Street big band.

The background-vocal choir puts a literal finishing touch on the warrior-hymn charge of “Heaven’s Wall.” In the gangsters convention “Harry’s Place,” recent E Street recruit Tom Morello fires chain-saw bursts of guitar across meaty peals of sax originally laid down by the late Clarence Clemons. And that’s Danny Federici, who died in 2008, playing organ on “The Wall,” a requiem for one of Springsteen’s Jersey-bar-band mentors, underscoring the singer’s belief in the unbroken chains running through his band.

Springsteen revisits two older songs with dramatic results: the acoustic title track from 1995’s The Ghost of Tom Joad, and “American Skin (41 Shots),” his response to the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo by New York City police. Morello previously electrified “Tom Joad” with Rage Against the Machine; he is a key trigger in this heaving-Phil Spector detonation as well. Springsteen gives him a verse to sing, adding a younger, strident tension to his own fury, while Morello’s soloing – scouring and elegiac – puts a new exclamation point on the pledge of righteous vengeance, the way Jimi Hendrix forever altered the Armageddon in “All Along the Watchtower.” Morello is on “American Skin” too, but this version is Springsteen’s triumph as a bandleader – sculpting that live force with rich studio textures – and a topical lyricist, mining new headlines (Trayvon Martin, NSA surveillance, the numbing cycle of school shootings) reverberating in there now.

High Hopes starts and ends with covers, a first on a Springsteen studio album. But the title song, a 1990 rebel-folk gallop by the Havalinas, and Suicide’s closing mantra, “Dream Baby Dream,” are fighters’ promises, and they fit Springsteen and this record like weathered boxing gloves. “Give me help/Give me strength/Give a soul a night of fearless sleep,” he demands in the former, in a crusty, arcing howl, like a guy who’s been doing this for a long time and is real tired of asking nice.

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Bruce Springsteen High Hopes | | Leave a comment

Pete Townshend interview in Rolling Stone May 14th 1970

PeteLoRes copyFrom Rolling Stone May 14th 1970

Rolling Stone #58 – Thursday, May 14, 1970
Pete Townshend Interview by Jonathan Cott

Pete Townshend’s quiet and unassuming 18th century house stands on the Thames Embankment in Twickenham facing Eel Pie Island where, eight years ago, the Stones, Aynsley Dunbar, Acker Bilk, et al., first used to blast music out of the island’s club where the floors bounced in all directions. “Free were on the other night,” Townshend told us. “I opened the double frame windows and listened and they sounded good.”

The gardener was pruning the roses in front of the house when Jan Hodenfield and I arrived. Boats were grounded in the low tide riverbed, scores of gulls resting on them. “When spring comes, the birds fly to the sea,” he told us as we waited for Townshend to return home. It was one of those lazy afternoons when spring promises and river scents set you in the mood for an 18th century English gardener to say something like “Sir, I for my part shall almost answer your hopes, but for this gentleman that you desire to see has stretched his legs up to town.”

Pete Townshend soon stretched his legs back down to the house, invited us into the living room where, hanging just above scores of little wooden animal figurines on the mantel, Meher Baba’s smile floated off the wall out through the windows across the river and into the island. Townshend made tea and then we talked about his plans and ideas since exhausting the performance possibilities of Tommy.

Afterwards, we went down the hall to Townshend’s home studio where he played us tapes: “A Normal Day for Brian, A Man Who Died Everyday,” which Townshend wrote and recorded after Brian Jones’s death:

I used to play my guitar as a kid wishing that I could be like him but today I changed my mind I decided that I don’t want to die But it was a normal day for Brian Rock and roll’s that way. It was a normal day for Brian A man who died every day

“Accidents,” a song from the forthcoming Thunderclap Newman album which Townshend produced and on which he plays bass, about “little kids having terrible accidents, falling down holes and being run over by cars”; “There’s a Fortune in Those Hills,” a slow wailing country song; “I Don’t Even Know Myself,” a dazzling song which begins with riffs out of “Gimme Shelter,” shifting into a gentle mountain music chorus and brilliant instrumental solos. These last two songs will appear, re-orchestrated and including the other members of the Who, on the second of the Who’s forthcoming two LPs, the first being The Who Live at Leeds.

Townshend explained how he recorded those songs in his studio: “This is just a two-track tape recorder, but it’s got self-syncing on it. I can put something on one track and then put something on the other directly parallel to it. Then I can get those two tracks, which were in this case voice and acoustic on one track and drums on the other, mix them together adding a bass guitar and put it onto one track of another tape recorder. Then on the other recorder I’ve got guitar, voice, drums, and bass together and I put a piano on the next track of that recorder. And then I mix those two tracks down onto the other recorder again in stereo, adding a guitar.” Which is how Townshend becomes his own one man band.

When we left, Townshend presented us with a privately released Meher Baba birthday LP featuring Alien Cohen, Ron Geesin and Pete Townshend singing solo: “The Seeker,” “Day of Silence,” “The Love Man,” and, if you can believe it, Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine.”

What kind of songs will you be playing on your next tour?

Well I’m still on a kind of a Self with a capital S trip, you know. It’s a bit difficult, writing heavy when you really want to write light or when you really want to write devotional, you know? It’s like a period which I know lots of other people have already gone through. I know the Beatles went through it, and quite possibly the Stones for a while. I’ve just done a thing of getting out of that trip, Tommy got it out of my system. I’m getting a balance now between “straight head” and “clear head,” getting back to the point now where I realize that if you want to get anything done you’ve got to actually Do it, you know, with a capital D, and not wait. So the kind of stuff we’re doing at the moment — have you heard “The Seeker”? It’s a bit like back-to-the-womb Who, not particularly very good, but it’s a nice side, it’s good because it’s probably the only kind of thing we could do after something like Tommy, something which talks a little bit about spiritual ethics, blah blah blah, but at the same time is recapturing the basic gist of the thing.

The first thing I associate with self and quiet in terms of rock are groups like the Incredible String Band or Donovan. That’s where the tone of the thing equals the con-tent, right? Whereas the Who is a rock and roll sound basically.

Yeah, but it’s roughly the same thing, it’s just that I’m saying it in a different way. I’ve written something quite similar called “I Don’t Know Myself,” which is kind of blaming the world because you’re fucked-up. It’s very much like “The Seeker” in a way. I kind of dig that, I think that, you know, the world is responsible. You can blame a lot on society, and you can blame a lot on yourself in society, and that’s good, but I rather think of myself as something tender which has got to be sorted out and be found. I think that the self is an enemy that’s got to be kicked out the fucking way so that you can really get down to it. Most of the songs that I’m writing now are a bit like that — “Don’t pretend that you know me because I don’t even know myself.” Things like, “don’t send me to war because I’m too busy fighting a battle with me,” that kind of thing.

Well, that can be an excuse, too. It’s a half put-down of yourself, isn’t it?

Well, it’s a half put-down, but it’s only a half put-down of one bit.

There are some people who think you really can get what you’re after. The idea of asking the Beatles and Timothy Leary for guidance because they’re “stars” might seem to some people just like reading a lot of newspapers. How do you feel about that guy in the “Seeker” song?

He’s just like a whirling dervish. It started off as being very much me, and then stopped being very much me. It’s very personal, but then the whole thing is that, as soon as you discover that songs are personal, you reject them. It’s what happened with “I Can See for Miles.” I wrote it as a personal song at first, and as soon as I sussed out that that was what was going on, I completely pushed it away.

Quite loosely, “The Seeker” was just a thing about what I call Divine Desperation, or just Desperation. And what it does to people. It just kind of covers a whole area where the guy’s being fantastically tough and ruthless and nasty and he’s being incredibly selfish and he’s hurting people, wrecking people’s homes, abusing his heroes, he’s accusing everyone of doing nothing for him and yet at the same time he’s making a fairly valid statement, he’s getting nowhere, he’s doing nothing and the only thing he really can be sure of is his death, and that at least dead, he’s going to get what he wants. He thinks!

I wrote it when I was drunk in Florida. We were in the middle of an American tour and me and the production manager went out to Tom Wright’s father’s pad in the middle of the jungle to get some sun, and because we were only there for like five days, this guy was a very good friend of mine, he got in lots of steaks and lots of booze, and he like overdid everything and it ended up with us, him and the production manager getting completely stoned every night and me being the only person that could stand up, playing, and we were just standing amid the sand spurs one day, I was just covered in sand spurs, I kept falling and they stick in your skin and you can’t get them out, screaming with pain and singing this song and it just came out, “I’m looking for me, you’re looking for you, we’re looking at each other and we don’t know what to do.”

Sometimes there’s three of you in a room, it happens very rarely, three or four people maybe, and you get to a certain state, you might all be on completely different trips but what you really want to do is like hug one another. But you know it wouldn’t do any good, all you want to say is, “You know, I think you’re really a great guy.” You know that drunken thing that you might go through when it makes that come out. Makes a stranger your friend. It just was a good way of expressing it. Tom Wright was going, “It’s gotta be your next single.” It is. And they carried on to do the rest of the verses. By some miracle I remembered it all.

Was “The Seeker” done here or in—?

I did a version of “The Seeker” which appears on an album which we did for Meher Baba’s birthday celebrations, which I still dig more than the version done by the Who. But I normally do, in an egotistical way I always prefer my demos to what the Who does. But, this is just my own trip. Usually you find that when the Who does it, it’s completely heavier, whereas with “The Seeker,” I felt that the group was just being whipped into shape, and that what I really want to do when we record in the future is to allow the song to emerge as we’re actually recording it, something which I’ve threatened for years and years and years.

You see, recording is really, it’s the recording of a process of discovery. It’s shifted, it shouldn’t be just a performance going down on the tape, it should also be people discovering lyrics for the first time or maybe a song evolving. It’s like when I listen to something like, say, the very first demo of “My Generation,” the second demo of “My Generation,” the third demo of “My Generation,” the group’s first try at it, the group’s second try at it, and then the final try, you know. Then the reduction of that try and then the cut of that try, and then the pressed recording of that try, and you listen to the two things together and they’re worlds apart. One has class; it’s ridiculous, but I mean the finished thing is kind of polished and slick and it hasn’t got too many bum notes in it, that kind of thing. But the demo, it’s scruffy, it’s hissy, it’s lousy, it’s distorted, and nobody would be able to listen to it; but none the less, it’s got something which the finished one hasn’t, and vice versa. The thing is to bridge that gap.

And I mean, no matter what people say about the Band — I know a lot of people really think they’re kind of frigid — but I think the reason why so many people dig them is because they’ve done that. I mean, while they’re making sounds, they’re discovering things; they’re practically writing as they’re going along, and it’s all being recorded as they’re doing it. It’s like someone picking up a guitar in a room and playing something. Well no, it’s not like someone picking up a guitar in a room at all, I mean they’re conscious of a heavy performance trip.

Have you ever thought of putting out one side of a record with all the takes of a particular song? You’d put it in free as a bonus record.

Yeah, I tried it once. I did this thing with a friend of mine who’s a lecturer at an art college, he said come down and play some tapes. And everyone was on holiday. I took a system down and I took a load of tapes, and I was going on about the thing that I’ve been going on about, the difference between the finished thing and the demo, and trying to bridge the gap, just talking about the difference in generations, as it were, in copy dullness that you get between an artist having his work printed and a musician having his work recorded and then fucked about with and perhaps copied and then buggered about with in other countries and so on. And I was playing them this song that’s on the Thunderclap Newman album, it’s called “Accidents.” The original demo’s just a guy with a twelve-string going and someone was hitting a cardboard box in the background. But I mean, the first time I heard it, it completely blew my mind. I just knew it was incredible. Then it went into another phase and then into another phase and then a kind of a crisp recording, and I played them all three. And they flipped for the finished thing. Nobody even mentioned the early one.

It sounds like they’re brainwashed to me — terrible.

Maybe you’re right: Maybe if you did allow people the time to digest — no, that’s wrong, it’s wrong, it’s not true. The thing is, if you give them three versions, they’re going to make a choice. If you give them the one version, let’s face it, I was lucky, because first I heard the first version, got hip to that; then I heard the second version, got hip to that; then I heard the final version, so now I’m hip to them all. You play them all bang-bang-bang — like that — and it doesn’t happen. There’s no evolution there, because you’re not working towards anything, it’s all finished material. I don’t think it would work. Young musicians would find it interesting, maybe, to see how songs evolved.

How much interested are you in the effect your songs have? Like the effect of’Tommy’ on people listening to it?

I’m very worried about the effect of Tommy because we wanted to avoid so many of the things that actually happened with people. I don’t mind, for example, a kid coming up and saying, “Something very incredible happened to me while I was listening to Tommy and I felt a spiritual a-wakening” or anything — I mean, that’s cool, because if I could have got at someone like Dylan or the Beatles in the past, or in my case it would probably have been the Stones, I probably would have said similar things to them, particularly to Brian Jones, whom I used to see a lot, who used to come and look at me with boss eyes and wonder what I was talking about. I don’t mind that, but what I do mind is a situation when people hear about that kind of thing and expect it to happen part and parcel with the music. I don’t think kids take that kind of journalism seriously; but you’ve got to admit that most of the stuff that was written about Tommy was fantastically unbalanced, without exception, it was all unbalanced. I think the thing is that there was nothing real about the criticism of it, but there was something very real about what we were trying to do; we were trying to fuck the criticism from the word go, so that the whole thing was watertight.

But because the structure was loose, a lot of things could be read into it, too.

Exactly, I mean, this is what I suddenly realized. The thing was we wanted it to work on lots of levels. We said, well, you know, we want to turn on the spiritually hip, we want to turn on the fuckers and the streetfighters and everyone, we just want to turn on the whole gang. We want to turn on the opera lovers but also we want to turn on other people as well. And we succeeded in turning on a lot of people that weren’t included before, but what we also succeeded in doing was confusing a lot of people. Let’s face it, the Who were the Who before they did that, and that’s the key, that’s where the thing clearly went out of balance. It’s very strange to be talking about something like Tommy as a kind of failure, but I think the thing itself, everything we intended to do, we did.

I believe rock can do anything, it’s the ultimate vehicle for everything. It’s the ultimate vehicle for saying anything, for putting down anything, for building up anything, for killing and creating. It’s the absolute ultimate vehicle for self-destruction, which is the most incredible thing, because there’s nothing as effective as that, not in terms of art, anyway, or what we call art. You just can’t be as effectively self-destructive if you’re a writer, for example, or a painter, you just can’t make sure that you’re never going to fucking raise your head again; whereas if you’re a rock star you really can. And of course, all this choice is always there. There’s always musicians who say, “Well, I’ve had enough.” There’s always somebody there saying, “Really?”

How do you control the situation, then, if you don’t want that?

Well, it’s not a matter of being able to control it because it’s a matter of it being always a situation where you’re aware of the possibilities and you make a rough choice. Let’s put it this way; I suppose it is controllable. The thing is, you can look at something like a song like “My Generation” and say that the intentions of that were quite obvious, it worked all the way down the line. It repulsed those it was supposed to repulse, and it drew a very thick line between the people who dug it and the people who wouldn’t dig it. Well, what if we say we want to make that line disappear, and we don’t want to repulse anyone, but what we do want to do is fuck everyone, as it were, what we want to do is to stimulate everyone and take away their preconceptions about us. We say, we’re the Who, and we’ve been blah blah blah up to now, we’ve been guitar specialists, we’ve been people that wrote such and such type rock lyrics. But we want to get to a position where we want to break down people’s conceptions of what we’re doing by doing something like Tommy, right? This wasn’t the original plan, it wasn’t to do something like this, it was more of a heavy kind of neoclassical thing that I was into, thinking, just go from the sublime to the ridiculous, just completely twist.

And then just when everybody’s like trotting up behind you, turn ’round and get out the whip, and say, “Right, now we’ve got you, now listen to this, because this is what’s really happening.” The only thing that happens is that you break down people’s preconceptions, but as soon as their preconceptions are gone, it opens a door, and the thing which broke down their fucking preconceptions instigates a new lot. It really did escape me that in fact the first thing people are going to hear after listening to Tommy is, of course, Tommy again. So as soon as it breaks down what they know the Who to be, the Who take their next big step — what’s next? Obviously we’re not going to be able to make the record change immediately in nature and then present ourselves — ha ha! — out of the cupboard.

Well, maybe the best thing for the Who is just to embody what’s going on, because that’s apparently the way people finally take it.

Well, absolutely, I mean, the whole trick really of rock is to be a reflection of what’s happening anyway.

Of course if what’s happening is just chaotic, then you can’t do much to change it, can you?

No, not really. But I mean, the thing is this: You can make an order out of chaos by calling it chaos — do you know what I mean? Say, well okay, everybody’s fucked-up, right, we’re fucked-up again — you know, that’s it, and then everybody’s quite happy to be fucked-up. It’s when you don’t know what you are and when you don’t know what situation you’re in that you can’t bear it, or when you’re pretending to be something that you’re not or pretending to be the other thing.

I really got very heavy over Tommy, I really thought I was doing the world a service at one stage. The thing that hit me about Tommy looking back on it, is that it wasn’t very Who, you know. Let’s face it, I could have walked up to any group, even a group like the Kinks or the Stones or the Beatles and said, “Look, here’s Tommy with all the songs and the demos, just sort it out, Ringo sing this” and blah blah — you know what I mean?

But the harmonies and the phrasing were all the Who?

Yeah, but I still resented slightly the way it came out, because I feel that the Who have got to be on top of it, otherwise they don’t shine. You can’t accept our recorded sound unless the group is really on top of what it’s doing, because our recorded sound isn’t good enough. We’re getting on top of it slowly, but it’s like so miserable waiting, like it was miserable waiting for the Stones to get on top of their recordings. But they did it, I think, with Beggars’ Banquet, they were on top of it then, like when Charlie hit the deep tom-tom it sounded like a fucking deep tom-tom, and not like a cardboard box.

The production of our records has got nothing to do with sound. It’s got to do with trying to keep Keith Moon on his fucking drum stool and keep him away from the booze. And through that period it was to do with keeping me from fucking out on some kind of other dope. I’m very good now, I sit there waiting for each tape, but there was a whole period when Kit Lambert was just keeping us from really fighting. We’re a dreadful group to record.

How does Meher Baba come to be involved with your music?

It’s getting to the point where the whole thing is relaxing quite a lot because I’m beginning to see something quite simple. If you want to get your head together, right, or your soul together, or whatever it is you’re trying to get together, there is no necessity to go ’round changing the color of the walls and changing the carpet that you’ve got on the floor, and cutting your hair off, and stopped smoking or any of those trips, there’s no need for that. It’s the translation of what’s happening and the way you get into what’s happening that is the thing. And so I’ve just got to the point now when I’ve suddenly realized after a long time that writing and things like that shouldn’t change; and subsequently this is why musically I feel I’m moving a little bit back to the position we were in before Tommy, which wasn’t very healthy, actually.

It’s kind of peculiar, in other words it’s like going back into a position where we were in a decline. And I prefer that alternative rather than following up Tommy. I’m sure the Beatles were faced with it after the height that went on after Sgt. Pepper. I just feel that that’s the best thing to do, you’ve just got to own up to what’s happening, you can’t fuck around. It would be very very difficult to follow up Tommy, and I don’t want to do it, and I don’t think people really want it anyway.

RS58-RSWhat’s on your new live album?

This was incredibly lucky. On our last tour of the States we recorded every night on a stereo machine taking feeds from the guitars and the drum kit and the P.A. onto a rough stereo picture (the road manager was doing the balance), with the theory that in 80 performances, or whatever it was we had, we must get a good show. We go over there, we do like 80 fucking good shows, you know, some shows incredible shows. We come back, some of the tapes are bad, some of them good, some of them sound all right. Suddenly someone realizes there are 240 hours of tape to be listened to. You know, now who’s going to do this? So I said, well, fuck that, I’m not gonna sit through and listen, you’d get brainwashed, let’s face it! So we just fucking scrapped the lot, and to reduce the risk of pirating we put the lot on a bonfire and just watched it all go and we said, right, let’s get an eight track.

So we got a Pye eight track and we said take it to Leeds, and we went to Leeds and it just happened to be a good show and it just happened to be like one of the greatest audiences we’ve ever played to in our whole career, just by chance. They were incredible and although you can’t hear a lot of kind of shouting and screaming in the background, they’re civilized but they’re crazy, you know, they’re fantastic. And we played it in their own hall. And the sound is all right, it’s a good atmosphere.

Do you know what songs are on it?

Yeah, we’ve just gone for the hard stuff. The first number in the show, which was “Heaven and Hell,” was something written by John Entwistle which was something I was very keen to get on, but it didn’t come out well enough. So it starts off with “I Can’t Explain,” then it’s got “Young Man Blues” and it might have “Fortune Teller” on it as well; “Young Man Blues,” then “Substitute,” “Summertime Blues,” and “Shaking all Over” on one side. Then on the other side it’s got a long version of “My Generation” and then an encore with “Magic Bus.” It’s kinda groovy actually. I like it. It’s where we are today musically, and when you listen to it, it ain’t very far, quite honestly!

What hits you when you listen to it is you realize how much you need to see the Who. You know, I’ve never seen the Who, but it makes me realize how much you need to. Because I know that people wouldn’t rave about us so much if they could just hear that tape, but I’m sure what happens is that the kids that’ll buy the live album will probably be kids that will be able to remember us when they’ve seen us and they’ll compensate. But there’s all kinds of bits where sticks are obviously in the air when they’re supposed to be on the drums and arms are spinning when they’re supposed to be playing solos. And there’s a bit like when we are all doing “Dooby de doo doo” like scissor kicks and you can hear halfway through, where, although I’m playing in time, I’m landing in the middle of the beat. A kind of weird lumpy noise. They did a terrible job on the recording. They fucked it up incredibly. It’s the Pye Mobile set up. They did Air Force and Delaney and Bonnie and they did all right with them but they fucked up on ours, they got crackles all the way through, horrible crackles. But I’m just going to put it out anyway.

Can you say anything about the record Brian Jones made in Morocco that Track is supposed to release?

I haven’t heard it, but I remember when he was making it. He’s done a lot of film music as well you know, which I heard tracks of, for some French guy or some Dutch guy, which he did with all these weird instruments which he used to play. You know there’s something really escapes people now, and I miss it when I hear Mick Jagger play the harmonica, and that’s Brian Jones’ harmonica playing. Brian really was a good harmonica player. He was into quite a lot of ethnic stuff. I wrote a song about Brian Jones dying. A lot of people on the day he died rang ’round and said, “What have you got to say ’bout it?” And I got one from Peter Cole of the Daily Express and it was about ten o’clock in the morning arid I didn’t really think about what I was saying, it was the first I’d heard of it and it just seemed very normal you know — well, Brian Jones has died, rock singer’s death, good stuff, you know, he had to go and like he was dead already kind of thing, so I just said “Oh, it’s a normal day for Brian, like he died every day, you know,” and he said, “Thank you very much,” put down the phone and I thought, “Fucking hell,” then I got a phone call from the Rolling Stones’ publicity man, Les Perrin, saying, “This is terrible,” so on and so on. And I got all upset about it and to back up my words I wrote this song, “A Normal Day for Brian, the Man who Died Every Day,” and it really came out very good.

You’re not going to release it are you?

I don’t think I will, but I think it might not be too late. I did it and recorded it so I could put it out that day.

Maybe it’s too soon.

Yeah, perhaps. I used to know him quite well. Fairly well. I know a lot about the vibes that were about. The Stones have always been a group that I dug very much. Dug all the dodgy aspects of them as well, and Brian Jones has always been what I’ve regarded as one of the dodgy aspects. The way he fitted in there and the way he didn’t fit in, I always felt was one of the strong dynamics of the group. And I felt that when he stopped playing with them that dynamic was going to be missing, but somehow it seems to be still there. I credited him with a lot. I think the thing is that the Stones have just managed by some miracle to kind of replace him somehow. Not with Mick Taylor, I mean, he’s like a musician, but they’ve kind of filled the hole. Either that or the fact that he’s dead has made that dynamic that was there when he was alive permanent.

What about the Keith Moon episode, the chauffeur business?

Keith is going to come back from his holiday to a bit of a shock, because he’s been charged with drunken driving and being in charge of a vehicle without a license. His solicitor says that the police did it so he gets the chance to clear his name, which sounds very suspicious. But they kind of did the inquest or whatever it is, and it made him feel better because nobody actually pointed a finger at him and said, “You killed your best friend.” But that was the thing that went through his head, and it took a lot of heavy thinking on his part to straighten himself out. Because what basically he must have felt like is that there was trouble and he ran away, which is the exact opposite of what was true. I mean, he thought in fact that this guy had run ahead and he was actually driving ahead to get him. But it was just pointless, the whole thing was pointless.

Especially coming after Altamont.

Yeah, it was probably some kind of moon thing going on.

How do you feel about Altamont and Woodstock now?

Well, the Woodstock thing I’m still very unhappy about. Altamont I don’t know about, because I wasn’t there. At first I was a bit repulsed by the way ROLLING STONE wrote about it, because I felt like it was written by a whole batch of writers who seemed to be unanimous in the decision that it was the fault of rock and roll or the fault of the Stones. But what I really felt was wrong with the whole thing was the fact that there were murderers in there. And I mean I know there’s murderers everywhere. I think it’s just as silly for Keith Richard to say it wouldn’t happen in this country, because, let’s face it, it did happen to Keith Moon’s chauffeur. Somebody killed him; somebody kicked him under the fucking car. They arrested what, like four 14-year-old boys? There are reasons why kids do things and there are reasons why grown men do things, and they’ve got a lot more to do with rock and roll than they’ve got to do with anything else. But at the same time I felt that with a little bit of care, a little bit of thought in advance, you can avoid things like that.

What didn’t you like about Woodstock?

Quite honestly, I mean knock for knock, everything Abbie Hoffman said was very fair. Because I did hit him, he must have felt it for a couple of months after. I didn’t like Woodstock for one reason because I took my wife and the baby, and you know when women are pregnant they go through a whole thing where if they get in a crowd they freak out. Well, I was kind of like that, paternally, people coming up to me — “You’re going to Woodstock? You’re crazy. Turn back, go home, there’s millions of people there, the food’s poisonous and the water . . .” Well, I immediately got into an incredible state and I rejected everyone. I wouldn’t talk to anyone. And I was telling really nice people like Richie Havens to fuck off and things like that. And it just got to a point where when we finally did get out of the helicopter and the helicopter never arrived and we eventually got in a queue of cars it took about six hours to get there. Well, we got there and then we waited another ten hours in the mud; the first cup of coffee I had had acid in it. I could fucking taste it. I took one sip and threw it away because I really can’t play if I’m tripping. Can’t trip if I’m playing, as it happens. Like I thought I was going to be up by the time the trip had gone through, it was only a little trip, you know, a very bad one incidentally, but I mean it’s just a little thing, went up/down in the space of say three or four hours. But there was another six hours to wait before we got on the stage and we got there at eight o’clock at night.

And people came up and said “It’s all right for you fucking rock groups, flying in by helicopter,” but we had to walk a mile through the mud from the car, then we got there and just started to pick up vibes that were just great. I must admit if you went out of the section where the musicians were, forgot that you were there to work, it was great, but every now and then you’d think, “I’m part of the sideshow, I’m selling the soft drinks here” — No one else was doing his fucking job — no one was supplying water, no one was cleaning the lavatories, no one was supplying food. But the groups played. I know that’s what people were there for, but it’s a whole trip.

People picked on the Who as the group to criticize because you demanded money, is that right?

That was because we were leaving the morning after, you see. I expected this as we were fucking asking for it. They were giving us such a lot of bullshit. This geezer said, “I invited you to play as a friend and now all this distrust,” and we said, “Look, man, we’ve come from England to play your shows specially. We want our fucking money. Want to take it back and spend it. You know, we’re in debt.” And they said, “Well it’s very difficult.” They had to get a bank manager in the middle of the night to sign a check. So we did it, and then everyone else started to do it. They said, “What’s the trouble?” So we said, “We just got our money, it’s all cool.” So Creedence did it, Grateful Dead did it, Santana did it, all the bands that were on that night tried it on. We went and the Jefferson Airplane came up and said, “Did you get your money in advance?” So we said, “Yeah and you should,” so they said, “We already have. Paid six months ago.”

Everyone felt it wasn’t the spirit of the thing to ask for money.

Oh yeah, I mean in a way it wasn’t the thing. Oh fucking hell, Woodstock wasn’t what rock’s about, not as far as I’m concerned. When the sun came up I just didn’t believe it. I was giving a little prayer, you know, I was saying, “Look this is a disaster, we’re playing and Abbie Hoffman and company are spreading their peculiar vibes about and I’ve done the wrong thing,” and the vibes were well down. Tommy wasn’t getting to anyone. Sly and the Family Stone had just whipped everyone into a frenzy and then kind of walked off. Everyone was just silent and then we went on and all the bad vibes, and all the photographers all over the stage. I had to kick about ten photographers off the stage to get on.

By this time I was just about awake. We were just listening to the music and all of a sudden, bang! The fucking sun comes up! It was just incredible. I really felt we didn’t deserve it, in a way. We put out such bad, bad vibes. But like it started for that bit and then we went into “Summertime Blues,” “Shaking All Over,” “My Generation,” and as we finished it was daytime. And it was just incredible. We just walked off, got in the car and went back to the hotel. It was fucking fantastic. Still, if people offer us festivals now, we say no before we say yes.

What are you doing with the opera tours now? Is that all over?

We pulled out of that really because it was we were going and playing in fucking opera houses, you know like thousands and thousands of kids were coming to see us and then only about a hundredth of the kids who wanted to see us could. And we’d go in and play and like the first 20 rows would be Polydor people. Or Prince Rainier and his royal family, and honestly it was such a bad scene. We were going to play the opera houses in Vienna, Moscow and the New York Metropolitan, but I just thought that was the biggest hype bullshit I’d ever heard of. We blew it out.

The thing I didn’t dig about it is that we didn’t play big enough places. The opera houses over there are very small. There are 1500 people usually and you could see every face. But you can’t win them over. Say there’s an old guy in a bow tie out there, he’s come to write up a review in some opera paper or some serious music paper and most of the night he sits there with his fingers in his ears. It’s just impossible to work when someone’s doing that.

You were talking about the next step for the Who.

Well, I was talking about it then in terms of a film and I think a film would be the ideal thing. A film, a bit in nature like the Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus thing. Only a feature. Something which was about rock but was about a lot of people in rock. The Stones scooped, as far as England was concerned, Taj Mahal and Jethro Tull and people like that, and at the same time gave a good reflection of the kind of music they dug, gave a good performance of their own and had some oldies but goodies like the Who on, and had some fun at the same time. If this could be done — but where the balance was one where you were actually filming something turning on its axis or doing a spiral upwards or doing something incredible, say a whole picture including a whole lot of groups, filmed from the viewpoint of the Who maybe or just using it as an excuse. I think this is yet to be done. It’s very vague, but there are people, and I am one of them, who have got a lot of ideas in that direction, for a rock film which is not a documentary and not a story and not a comedy either, but a fucking Rock Film. A film which is the equivalent of a rock song, only lasting an hour or longer.

Why did you write to The Sunday Telegraph about drugs?

Because the guy that wrote the article, Lionel Birch, who’s a friend of mine, asked me to write a letter backing up saying that Meher Baba had caused some people to stop taking drugs, and I got into the letter and got carried away and wrote a lot of stuff as well. I just feel that the whole thing is that if there is such a thing as a drug problem and if there are people who get fucked-up because of drugs, and there are many who don’t but quite a lot who do take drugs get fucked-up — it’s because they’re looking for something and they’re desperate and even if they don’t know they’re desperate themselves, they are. I mean even if you’re not taking drugs, you’re still fucking desperate.

The first thing that hit me about stopping . . . you see the first thing Meher Baba says, which is logical, is that drugs like acid and STP, the psychedelic drugs, right, are harmful mentally, physically and spiritually. Fair enough. Who am I to say they are not? In fact it was probably the harm they did that I dug. But then he says that it is all right for a sincere seeker to have been stimulated by them but not to continue use of them in the light of that. In other words if you get a buzz from something and then you dwell on it, it’s the equivalent of like getting in a mood. It’s like seeing something fucking incredible like a daffodil and then just looking at it till it wilts and dies. Do you see what I mean? He just put it in a way which got to me.

And I just stopped using acid straight away, just the words got me. But I went on smoking pot, and coke, and I started to get heavily into coke and other things and then all of a sudden when I did that long Rolling Stone interview, I was very hyped up on coke because we went round to the Jefferson Airplane pad in the middle of the interview, which was a silly thing to do. The day after I did that interview, a Baba lover came to see me in San Francisco and he was talking about drugs and things and what Baba says about it, and he says, “Of course you’re not still smoking dope, are you?” So I said, “Yes, sure. What’s Baba said about dope?” “Didn’t you know that it’s been proved now that pot’s an hallucinogenic drug, so it falls into Baba’s teachings?” he said. So I just stopped. Just because I felt more keen about getting into Meher Baba than I felt about being stoned all my life.

And then as it started to go down I started to realize how much I credited to drugs. I used to think, “Well, man, I can’t play the guitar unless I’m stoned, I can’t write a song unless I’m stoned, I can’t be happy unless I’m stoned, I can’t listen to records unless I’m stoned, I can’t do anything unless I’m stoned. Because if I’m not stoned it’s not as good.” Well, I’ve just kind of got out of that, and I can get just as much now out of everything perpetually 24 hours a day as I used to out of that high. It’s like that thing in the hearing, they call it A.G.C., like if you hear a very loud sound, very quiet sounds are inaudible, but if you play a very quiet sound, other sounds become audible. In other words if you’ve got the loudspeaker on, you don’t hear the doorbell ring, but if you’ve got it on quietly then you do hear the doorbell ring. I think it’s a lot like that with dope. When you’re on dope, it’s so extreme it dulls a lot of other aspects. You dig what you’re focused on, but you miss what you’re not focused on.

Well, your music works the other way, doesn’t it?

What do you mean?

You go to a Who concert and couldn’t hear the doorbell ring if you wanted to.

That is, of course, an old pre-dope thing, where in fact we used to be a mod group and we’d go on the fucking stage and we’d literally get heckled. You go and play a really tough town like Glasgow and you get bottles thrown at you, so the thing was you just turn up your amplifier. It’s good, it’s good, I still like it loud.

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Pete Townshend Interview In Rolling Stone May 14th 1970 | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Bloomington, Minnesota April 12th 1977


Concert Memories :: Led Zeppelin :: April 12, 1977

From: Steve Benson
That the Mighty Led Zeppelin played to a capacity crowd at The Met Sports Center here in Bloomington, Minnesota. The following night was, of course, another sell out at The St. Paul Civic Center. Zeppelin played to 32,500 in the two nights and according to most sources, couldn’t have seen the band in two very different lights.

I was in attendance with about 10 of my buddies that first night, April 12th of 1977. I had my Drivers’ License for all of a month, as did my buddy who drove. We were all 16, independent and on top of the world..attending our first big event on our own! My seat wasn’t as good as one my friends, but I couldn’t argue the fact that……..hell! I was going to be in the fricking building with the greatest band that ever assembled! I had held a grudge against my parents for 2 years because they wouldn’t allow me to attend the 1975 tour opener here at the Met. Wow, was I pissed. I was asked to go with some older friends twice and was denied.

Jumping ahead to to the present…
My buddy Greg, who drove, borrowed his Dad’s Chevy pickup with a topper on back. There were 3 guys in the front and about 6 or 7 of us in the back…partying like there was no tomorrow!

While one of my close friends was seated 2nd row, Jimmy’s side. I was in the first row of the upper deck just stage right and had a great sight line. I can confirm that JPJ used his “acoustic, three-necked instrument” that night, early in the tour.

It was one of the most brutal evenings of weather I can remember in my lifetime. The rain, in particular. It was beyond “torrential” or any other adjective or description. The band was nearlys 2 hours late and I thought there would be some very intense shit going on soon if they didn’t show. A stage announcer showed a couple of times to give us the message that because of the weather, the band was delayed departing from Chicago. No one was really buying it. Why, would they wait all day to leave..knowing the weather was so terrible? Why didn’t they cancel or postpone instead of letting everyone venture out into this awful, dangerous evening? Why would they take the chance? There were no good answers, really ever! But there were some stories currculating about Jimmy’s health and drug use. It was providing good fodder for explaining this ridiculous situation.

jimmyMetCentre1977_zpsd4d4c8e4When the band did finally show, it was the most amazing burst of energy I have ever witnessed. It was so wild for the first 10 minutes that it didn’t even sink in that they were actually there until “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”. My fondest memory of the night was at this point, when Robert & Jimmy were like bookends at opposite ends of the stage..constantly moving.

Then, they would weave doing 360’s and twirling and met at the center of the stage in time for the next verse. It rivaled those common scenes during “Achilles”. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong, to me, for awhile. There was this point during “In My Time of Dying” that I thought Jimmy might just keel over. And, he nearly did! At the end of the song, I recall him curiously going up to left edge of the stage and bending over. I thought maybe he was taking an item from a fan down in front. But, as it turns out, he was throwing up! My buddy, John, who had that 2nd row seat was there to fill in the blanks for this one. OK…was it the incredibly scary flight they went through in “Caesar’s Chariot” to get to the gig? Was it the drugs &/or alcohol?

My guess is, it probably was all three components. Who knows, really? Anyway, this situation did happen here in Minneapolis and it seems it could have been one of those rare, dark moments for the band that foul, April eve. It wasn’t until a few months later that Creem magazine, doing a date by date account of their ’77 tour, cites this very tense arrival into the Twin Cities. The Star newspaper mentioned that the band was “visibly shaken” when they arrived at the Met. Robert’s voice was sure strong that night!

You know, there couldn’t be a more perfect example of “timing is everything” as this situation. I couldn’t attend the next evening’s show, for whatever reason. It turns out that the second night, here in St. Paul, has been pointed out by Richard Cole and, I believe, Robert Plant as one of the best nights of the tour! The band had taken the day to relax in town and were ready to rock on April 13th! Thanks for indulging me, I need to hear “Ten Years Gone” from “Deep Striker” right now! If anyone, ever comes across recordings from either of the Twin Cities’ shows…’75 or ’77. Please remember this story contact me immediately! Have a…”Good Evening”.

Steve Benson

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Bloomington Minnesota April 12th 1977 | , | Leave a comment