Who I Am by Pete Townshend; Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream by Neil Young; How Music Works by David Byrne - review by Pete Clark

Pete Clark

The Rest is Noise

Who I Am


HarperCollins 538pp £20

Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream


Viking 502pp £25

How Music Works


Canongate 345pp £22

Acursory glance at their careers would not suggest that Pete Townshend of The Who and Neil Young of Canada via the American West Coast musical community have much in common: Townshend is rooted in the London mod scene; Young is an unreconstructed hippie. Yet their separate autobiographical endeavours – both conducted over many painstaking years without ghostly aid – reveal them to be soul brothers. They are both cussed perfectionists, egotists, often thwarted visionaries, deeply attached to those they consider friends and stubbornly antipathetic to entrenched foes – those who do not share their frequently mad dreams. Furthermore, for all his attachment to the smashing up of guitars and the howl of the mob, Townshend has long been a disciple of the gentle teachings of his spiritual guru Meher Baba, while Young, for all his espousal of the tree-hugging side of life, has always been aware of the value of a buck and some good wheels. And a yacht.

Townshend, as he freely admits, has always loved the sound of his own ‘prattling’. Of this, there is plenty, spread over more than 500 pages. Much of what emerges, as he fully realises, is unlikely to endear him to the ordinary folk he so wishes to uplift. Often submerged in

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend