You write a book and then you talk about it. You talk about how you wrote it, why you wrote it, and if it was easy, hard or boring to complete. You demystify the intentional gags and ironies because they scream out on the page for elucidation, but you further mystify the unintentional betrayals and disloyalties to friends, family and old lovers.
As a performer, in front of an audience, I operate very differently from the way I do sitting here writing. I am myself, there is no act, but I am a different self, one that I only meet when I walk onto a stage or into a television studio. I have no fear. No nervousness. It isn't confidence, but fatalism. There is no control. Why worry? This is not what I'm like most of the time. Like everyone else in the world, I worry about health, money, sex, politics and the people in my neighborhood who seem to be struggling so hard today. On the stage, none of this is forgotten, but it becomes collateral to be freely used.
To sell books...
I enjoyed the session hosted by the Free Library of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. I was interviewed by the musician and songwriter John Wesley Harding (A.K.A author Wesley Stace). We got on well, with a few friends in common.
But once on a stage‚ even with someone I admire, battle commences for ownership of the boards. I've even been known to try to take over David Letterman's show‚ speaking almost entirely to the studio audience and hardly turning to him. He forgives me, but I've had to learn to be polite and courteous as I get older and I'm interviewed. I try to answer questions properly, not just wander into whatever will make the audience laugh or grimace.
This event was exceptional for me because the acoustics were superb in the small theatre venue; I picked up a guitar and immediately was able to relax into the more familiar persona of a rock performer. Even sitting in a chair I can catch fire, and I'm proud of these songs.
So when you watch these clips from the event, can you trust me? Can you trust what I've written in my book? Where I am unable to reconcile the two distinct parts of my psyche, I hope you do better.
In his highly anticipated autobiography, WHO I AM (Harper; October 8, 2012; $32.50), rock icon Pete Townshend shares the story of his evolution from angry young Mod to one of the defining musicians of his generation.