The Who have been credited with a number of rock'n'roll innovations, from aggressive proto-punk sounds and behavior to synthesizer usage and stadium-scope spectacle. Yet songwriter Pete Townshend's most lasting creation may be the combination of storytelling and music christened, with tongue firmly in cheek, the rock opera, a format that has recently experienced a second wave of popularity through albums by the Streets, the Fiery Furnaces, and R. Kelly. Now down to Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey, the Who's latest comeback record, Endless Wire, avoids the play-it-safe habits of the band's gray-templed peers by returning to musical narratives, the second half dominated by the "mini-opera" Wire & Glass. The proudly computer-literate Townshend (he made a point of mentioning that Pitchfork is on his MyGoogle newspaper) and I spoke over e-mail about rock operas past and present.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment