Pete Townshend: “Why do I hate ‘Pinball Wizard'”


Pete Townshend is never afraid to unleash a barrage of barbed comments when he sees fit, more often than not, the target within his crosshairs was his own band.  Townshend is a constant critic of his work.

He’s even gone as far as to pick out The Who songs he hates, with one, in particular.(Faroutmagazine)
The song is arguably one of The Who’s most famous songs, ‘Pinball Wizard’. Artists disliking their own songs is nothing new, after all,

Townshend, he disliked ‘Pinball Wizard’ almost instantly and has since called it an “awful” song as well as saying in the album’s liner notes: “I’m embarrassed. This sounds like a Music Hall song,” he wrote.

Originally written as part of The Who’s epic rock opera Tommy from 1969, Townshend later admitted that he wrote the song to impress Nik Cohn, who had been giving the band some terrible reviews. As well as being an influential music critic Cohn was also a well-know lover of pinball and so Townshend shamelessly directed a track at the writer in a bid to gain some favourable reviews.

Describing the writing of the song, Townshend said: “I knocked it off. I thought, ‘Oh, my God this is awful, the most clumsy piece of writing I’ve ever done. Oh my God, I’m embarrassed. This sounds like a Music Hall song. I scribbled it out and all the verses were the same length and there was no kind of middle eight. It was going to be a complete dud, but I carried on.


“I attempted the same mock baroque guitar beginning that’s on ‘I’m a Boy’ and then a bit of vigorous kind of flamenco guitar. I was just grabbing at ideas, I knocked a demo together and took it to the studio and everyone loved it. Damon Lyon-Shaw (the engineer on Tommy) said ‘Pete, that’s a hit.’ Everybody was really excited and I suddenly thought ‘Have I written a hit?’ It was just because the only person that we knew would give us a good review, was a pinball fanatic.”


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