Heart To Hang On­to is a song by Pete Town­shend and Ron­nie Lane on their 1977 al­bum Rough Mix. This piece is re­al­ly a rec­om­men­da­tion for the whole al­bum, which is an out­stand­ing col­lec­tion of beau­ti­ful songs beau­ti­ful­ly per­formed; it’s been played as of­ten as any­thing in my col­lec­tion, over the years. Heart To Hang On­to is one of Pete Townshend’s finest com­po­si­tion­s, which is a strong state­men­t.

Pete and Ronnie

The al­bum was maybe Townshend’s first-ever non-Who out­ing. He and Ron­nie didn’t co-write any of the songs; each sings their own, with the oth­er ac­com­pa­ny­ing, along with a gag­gle of guest stars in­clud­ing John En­twistle, Char­lie Watts, and Eric Clap­ton. But on Heart To Hang On­to, they al­ter­nate voic­es on verse and cho­rus, and it works re­al­ly well; al­so, it’s got a sur­pris­ing gui­tar ar­range­ment in the ac­com­pa­ni­men­t, wist­ful lived-in lyric­s, and just an exquisite melody. Pete has lat­er said that the song is re­al­ly about Ron­nie.

But I can’t talk about Rough Mix with­out plug­ging a few of the oth­er songs. Ronnie’s An­nie and April Fool are out­stand­ing; An­nie is an au­tum­nal lamen­t, you might find your­self tear­ing up a bit. Clap­ton plays Do­bro on April Fool and that’s some of the pret­ti­est acous­tic gui­tar sound I’ve ev­er heard any­where.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. All these links are to the al­bum be­cause there’s too much great stuff to by­pass, Heart To Hang On­to is just one click fur­ther: Spo­ti­fy, iTunes, Ama­zon. Town­shend is no fool and takes Heart To Hang On­to out on the road with him. As for live video, here’s a Town­shend a so­lo take which I in­clude be­cause of the nice gui­tar play­ing. There are sev­er­al per­for­mances on­line with some­one stand­ing in for Ron­nie Lane, and of­ten that some­one is Ed­die Ved­der; here they are on Let­ter­man.

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June 04, 2018
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