Pete Townshend will premiere his first new song since 2006 when the track "It Must Be Done" is featured on the April 30th episode of FX’s drama, The Americans. Townshend wrote the new tune with the show's composer, Nathan Barr. The Americans portrays a pair of KGB agents living in the U.S. during the Reagan era. Townshend spoke about the project to Billboard and explained his and Barr’s creative process on the new song, saying, "What I was struck by was that Nate composes on the cello, an instrument my partner and orchestrator Rachel (Fuller) uses, so I have listened to a lot of cello music and I have really fallen in love with it. We exchanged ideas (between England and Los Angeles) and I was immediately struck by this very evocative piece he had written, very plaintive. I added some guitar, then came up with some lyrics." Prior to airing, the series had used the Who’s 1982 track "Eminence Front" during the promos for the show.
In the publishing world, Townshend has turned heads by licensing the use of not only his songs -- but also the masters to his solo work and Who classics for films and TV -- especially for the CBS CSI franchise: "Long before I got into the matter of commercial publishing, it was obvious that I was someone who had spent his life writing these anthems and that they could help me pay for dangerously artistic things -- I wouldn't have spend my time touring constantly. In the early 1970’s, I was one of the first to license for commercials and Roger Daltrey was perturbed by it. He wasn't angered by the license, but by licensing without tying the song to the master. Our music, the Who's records, were not being heard. I think I overreacted and for four or five years I stopped licensing songs. Then the Who's music went off the map. This was in the '80s -- '83, '84 -- it wasn't even on the radio. After awhile I thought let me try this again and I started licensing music and it has created an incredible interest in our work."
In addition to the new Townshend track being used on The Americans, his 1980 hit "Let My Love Open The Door" will be featured both in its original version and a new remix by producer Philip Stier on the April 13th episode of Showtime’s Californication. Both versions will be featured on the upcoming Califoinication EP CD.
In the just released Who documentary Sensation: The Story Of 'Tommy,' Pete Townshend shed light on how he played into the interest of the burgeoning counter culture to help drive Tommy into the blockbuster it eventually became: "We’d had a very strange time. We’d had a terrific two-year run of hit singles in the UK, and I’d kind of run out of steam, I’d just written myself out. The final song that I wrote for the Who’s single was, that was successful, was ‘I Can See For Miles,’ and after that, I felt I had nowhere to go. But I felt if we could achieve anything -- If I could achieve anything -- if it had a spiritual subtext, it would straddle the word of pop from which we’d come and this new hippie world, which seemed to be about new age values, and well, we all know what hippies stood for."
Photo Courtesy of Ross Halfin