The Who anthem Pete Townshend could never relate to: “I’ve never felt that”

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Rock bands thrive on passion, but even the best bands have their off moments. Fans can sense when artists lose that fire for making great music. Pete Townshend‘s “Behind Blue Eyes” is a prime example of this shift in feeling.

Initially part of Townshend’s vision for a rock opera on The Who’s album “Who’s Next,” the song lost some of its context when the larger project fell apart. Townshend’s frustration with this is understandable; he had grand plans for a masterpiece that never materialized.

“Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” stole the spotlight on the album, leaving “Behind Blue Eyes” in a quieter place. It reflects a character’s struggle in a dystopian world, searching for solace through music. Townshend poured his heart into this ballad, although he initially felt unsure about it.

Despite writing poignant lyrics, Townshend clarified that the song wasn’t autobiographical. It was about the loneliness of powerful individuals, a theme he captured well but didn’t personally resonate with.

The song’s fit for Roger Daltrey’s vocals was undeniable. Daltrey’s own battles within the band added depth to his rendition, revealing vulnerabilities rarely seen.

Townshend’s own version of the song, though similar in lyrics and key changes, feels more intimate, like a fleeting moment of openness in a sea of guarded emotions.

“Behind Blue Eyes” stands out as a powerful monologue, even without the rock opera it was meant for. It’s a testament to Townshend’s storytelling prowess, leaving listeners intrigued about the story it was supposed to tell.

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