Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Report: Who I Am

It's always disappointing to read about rock stars. I was really excited to read Pete Townshend's memoir, Who I Am. Christian gave it to me for Christmas. That was nice of him.

I'm a big Who fan. I really love Pete Townshend, well. I thought I did. He's interesting and, frankly, because I like some of his music so much there's nothing that would make me not like him. But this book came close. I almost quit reading it because he's such a cliche. The decadence and addiction is interesting to read about to some degree, but it just gets old so fast. And I felt like he rationalized a lot. He cheated on his wife. He was greedy and rich and selfish. Bleh.

But then he has moments of self-awareness and vulnerability that are endearing and kept me reading to the end. I knew that Pete Townshend always felt ugly—and by "knew" I should say that I imagined it in the personality I created for him in my mind based on songs and snippets of interviews over the years. Anyway, it's true. He did feel ugly. His mom was mean and told him he was ugly. He always had something to prove in that way. I think he has aged quite well. He's a musical genius. I mean, just a full-on genius. I don't know what he's talking about half the time with the music stuff but I appreciate it. He's full of contradictions, self-loathing at times and arrogant at other times. Sometimes he's so thoughtful and sweet in his recollections and other times he's totally oblivious and unlikable.

At one point he says, "It became important to me to be an artist of conscience,"  when he's ignoring his kids and cheating on his wife but donating to charity. That bugged me.

But when he got his computer confiscated for downloading child pornography (I basically believe his story) he says, "I knew nothing incriminating had ever been on my computer, and although I was aware of the possibility that images could easily be planted, I was more worried that excerpts of my personal diaries would get out and I would look like a self-obsessed prat, whose only interest was which car or boat I might buy next to cheer myself up. This was sheer vanity, but I was still embarrassed by it." I liked that.

He's an interesting guy.

See, I have this thing with musicians, actors, or anyone famous who I admire where I become compelled to find out if and decide whether we would or could be friends in real life. So while I read this book I kept thinking, "Would I hate Pete?"
But in the end I decided that we'll always be friends.


  1. I have always been too afraid to read these kinds of books for the very reasons you describe. (I did, however, love Mindy Kaling's book and Tina Fey's book and Diane Keaton's book.) But I agree with you: Pete Townsend is a musical genius, and The Who (at their best) are so, so great. I love your playlist.

  2. Oh, Kacy. I feel ya. I experience the same phenomenon. I try to build my friendship with celebrities based solely on their work (Tina Fey - hilarious on 30 Rock and SNL and movies = confident I would want to be her friend), but I am always intrigued by the personal stuff, and the more I learn, the more risk I run of raising my eyebrows. Also, I feel the same about our friend Pete, here. You rock, Kacy. Out.


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