To call Pete Townshend’s 1982 album All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, difficult is to undersell the concept of difficult. It laughed at difficult. It stuck a secret knife in difficult’s gut. For the longest time, I couldn’t make heads or tails out of most of it. Songs like “Face Dances Pt 2,” “Uniforms” and “Exquisitely Bored” tried to be exquisite, but ended up being boring. And it still amazes me today how he could cover “Girl From The North Country” and completely ignore one the most gorgeous melodies in human history.
That said, I thought “The Sea Refuses No River,” “Somebody Saved Me” and even the dread “Stop Hurting People” (OK, if you say so, Pete) were good songs that were overthought, overlong — or both — but somehow got across because of his singing, which I’d come to love even more than Roger Daltrey’s. I mean, the dread “Stop Hurting People” is just plaine silly for the longest time, but god help me, when he sings “may I be matched with you again?” and his guitar shines like the sun out of a cloudbank of synths, it gets me every time.