Letters from the pub


petetownshend300



Pete Townshend, the glorious guitarist for the Who, said: "I am like a big stone against that everyone is going to piss against, slowly crumbling.

I was a faithful reader of Rockstar, the music magazine creat in 1980 and one day I read Pete's interview. I applauded him and made him my second supposed uncle, along with Keith Richards.

I love these people. They were my education. They sacrificed themselves to teach us to stay in the world. Yes, I know I'm exaggerating, but I've already said that they were (and still are) my idols. Now I'm just a little bit more cheeky than before, they'll forgive me, but who don’t will get it soon and so, it's better to jump over. 

I have many things, but they are all imaginary. I have a personal and abstract vocabulary in which I break down some terms by modifying the meanings. And I have an imaginary pub where the beer does not make you sweat after a few minutes like a fountain. And I can smoke cigar or cigarette because it certainly won’t do you any harm.

Sitting at my table next to the window, I watch the street go on the street waiting for some of the mentioned men to come and see me. We talk about the times gone by, I can ask every question because in my pub they relax and aren’t moody even if this depends on the questions. Rock stars are animals and like beasts have that particular intuition to know when to trust. They trust me, I won’t be a prince of the intellect, but I will not betray them.

The fact that some are dead and others are still on this earth is not a strange story because it’s not about going beyond time and space and matter. It’s about the messages they have left or the things they have said. They talk about life, bullshit, and good moments.

So I said, indeed, I wrote, that I was reflecting on Pete Townshend's statement about the stone where he would go to dig. In fact, everything changes. Our body (although we do everything to hide the signs that time leaves), our ideas (not always but sometimes), our personalities (for instinct of defense), but also change things around us. The places we have went, the people, your idols, your customs, your habits and your needs.

 

One day, referring to the verse of My Generation (I want to die before I’m old) I said to Pete, “Is it really you that talks about the stone that crumbles?”

“Why?” he asked.

“It’s a contradiction,” I responded. – “First you wanted to die and now you’re talking about resisting time?”

“Ah, damn that verse. It only got me a bunch of scratches. Let's go, everyone is trying to resist. What should I do? Kill myself to be consistent?”

“Ah, kill myself to be consistent: beautiful, this could be the verse for another song, Pete…”

“Everyone in rock has written verses on rocks that roll… and mine isn’t a verse, but only a damn interview!”

“Everyone who?”

“Well Dylan, and also Muddy Waters, who gave the name to the Rolling Stones…”

“Ah, Dylan…”

“Oh sure, everyone fills your mouth with Dylan…”

“Dylan is Dylan…”

“What do you mean? No, tell me: what are you referring to with this? That the Who aren’t at the same level as Dylan?”

“You don’t like Dylan?”

“Of course I like Dylan.”

“And so?”

“Well, I smashed guitars with the Who. Understand?”

“No.”

 

He took a sip and thought for a minute. His lips were shaking while savoring the beer. Then he said, "Me neither. I usually find myself in front of a journalist who says yes. It's a way of turning a page. Clear?”

“Oh yes, now it’s clear.”

Good. It's only rock and roll, after all”, he said, looking at me cautiously, indicating not to add anything, knowing full well that he had quoted a piece of the Stones. I just kept asking what relationship he kept with them, with the Rolling Stones. He didn’t answer straight away, he grimaced.

I love Mick,” he tells to me.

And Keith?”, I asked clumsily. Pete didn’t add anything else, so I explained to him that even Keith Richards considered him unkempt as he did, like Pete, in short. He mumbled a series of epithets in archaic English (I must add, to make it easier to understand, that in this strange place a common language is spoken but insults are in the mother tongue of everyone) of which I only understood the repeated use of fucking and fucking. I thought it would be best to stay silent for a few moments and let him cool down. I changed tactics, trying to flatter him.”


“I like your solo album”.

“Which one?”.

“White City”.

“Ah, to remember White city fighting,” Pete sang, proud".

“Great album, Pete, well done”.

“Yeah. When you leave a group like the Who, all solo projects are revendications.”

“As in?”

“Well, it’s like saying, this is me. I’m the best one.”

“My fans love all members of the disbanded groups”.

“I know. But it’s right to reiterate. So much for playing.”

“Do you like this beer?”.

Yes. I’ll take another”. Pete stands up and goes towards the counter. He orders and returns to the table.

 

On the small stage there was a guy playing Billy Bragg's pieces including Greetings To The New Brunette. When the verb with whoops, there goes another pint of beer came, I always moved. It also went that way this time. Pete came over and approached the boy. On the second lap of the piece, when he was about to repeat the verse, Pete joined the choir whoops, there goes another pint of beer, mimed the guitar solo, finished the drawer and pulled the mug on the floor, splitting it as if it had been his old guitar, as if it was the old times. Then he said goodbye, approached the cashier, paid for what he drank and disappeared with all the answers that time I did not have time to ask.

 

I went out and saw him moving away. Pete has a unique walk: short steps and then he jumps, like when he’s on the stage in front of the crowd, he twisted his arm on the guitar.

I smiled, fixated on the pub's sign, and I watched the sea which obviously was not there.




© ENRICO MATTIOLI 2017   





© Enrico Mattioli 2017