pete townshend – baba o’riley

Losing my ears amongst the cheers in the valley of London
I’ll hang my fears and lend my ears to the father of compassion – Ryan Cox

“Pete Townshend” A Circus Mind

The first line refers to Pete Townshend’s hearing loss. Townshend suffers from partial deafness and tinnitus believed to be the result of noise-induced hearing loss; in other words, his extensive exposure to loud music. Some such incidents include a Who concert at the Charlton Athletic Football Club, London, on 31 May 1976 that was listed as the “Loudest Concert Ever” by the Guinness Book of Records, where the volume level was measured at 126 decibels 32 metres from the stage. Charlton Athletic Football Club’s football stadium is known as The Valley. Townshend has also attributed the start of his hearing loss to Keith Moon’s famous exploding drum set during The Who’s 1967 appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

The the final line of the poem refers to the writings of the Indian “perfect master” Meher Baba, who blended elements of Vedantic, Sufi, and Mystic schools. The name Meher Baba means “Compassionate Father” and was given to him by his first followers. Townshend swiftly absorbed all of Baba’s writings that he could find; by April 1968, he announced himself Baba’s disciple. At about this time, Townshend, who had been searching the past two years for a basis for a rock opera, created a story inspired by the teachings of Baba and other Indian spiritualists that would ultimately become Tommy. The Who song “Baba O’Riley“, written for Lifehouse and eventually appearing on the album Who’s Next, was named for Meher Baba and minimalist composer Terry Riley.

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