For the first time, legendary the Who leader Pete Townsend has written a song for a television program. It Must be Done will appear on the April 30 episode of the hit FX spy show The Americans. Townsend composed the song with the show’s composer Nathan Barr.
Aside from The Americans, his song Let My Love Open the Door will be used as both an opener and a closer for an April 13 episode of Californication. Two versions of the song will be utilized, a remix version first and the original version will close the episode. Both of the versions will appear on a Californication soundtrack EP.
Here are some words from Townsend himself, answering a few questions about the song.
How did you start the whole process with Nathan Barr?
“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.”
You’ve worked with movies, theater, and of course, the Who, but how does this experience differ from all of the other things you’ve done?
“It’s almost like jazz. I’m responding to something he wrote, he’s responding to something I write, almost like live music. I was surprised by the intimacy.You’re so focused on what is essential – there are no breaks for cups of coffee – ad what seems like it should be impersonal and cold is quite the opposite.”
What elements did you incorporate into your song?
“I wanted to keep it very simple. Here’s this couple whose whole life is about duty, duty without honor, duty without explanation. There are no accolades.They’re not living a lie but doing things they find hard to do. Everybody has a part of their life that’s difficult to explain. For me it’s why the fuck am I in the Who?”
Californication used one of your songs, what makes you say yes to these kinds of offers?
“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 1970s, 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 a while I thought let me try this again and I started licensing music and it has created an incredible interest in our work.”