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.

author · Dad
colophon · rights

June 04, 2018
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