Pete Townshend’s political confession: “I’m a bit of a neocon”

Jonathan Karl, Richard Coolidge, Jordyn Phelps & Sherisse Pham
Power Players

Spinners and Winners

If you ask Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey about political messages behind the The Who's music, they'll be quick to tell you the band steered clear of mixing politics and music. But when these rock legends sat down with ABC's Jonathan Karl to talk about their work for teens with cancer, they didn't shy away from talking about both politics and music.

Townshend, who described himself "a bit of a neocon" politically, said he was surprised that Mitt Romney lost the election to President Obama.

"I thought he [Romney] was throwing the money in such buckets and I thought Obama looked, looked tired," Townshend said of the presidential election.

While Townshend said he mostly tries to stay out of politics, he thought the election's outcome was good in the sense that it provides consistency in the midst of an economic recovery. "You need a continuum now I think," said Townshend.

Though Townshend has his share of political opinions, he says he was not politically inclined growing up and instead found self-expression through music.

"When I found music, and I found a new way to speak and to express myself to particularly those young teenagers that we entertained when we started out, that became my politics--the politics of the spirit, the politics of the heart, the politics of the soul," Townshend said.
When asked about the political undertones in the lyrics of the band's song "Won't Get Fooled Again," Townshend explained that the song was not meant to have a political message--but an anti-political one.

"It's a description of exactly what I thought that we were doing," Townshend said. "We could not go into politics. What, "Won't Get Fooled Again" is an anti-politics song in a sense."

Townshend and Daltrey also discussed their trust fund program, Who Cares, that provides specialized hospital facilities and research for teenagers fighting cancer.

"It was pointed out to me that it was a hole within the health system of care, not of medicine, of care," Daltrey says. "We focused on teenagers with cancer because they tend to suffer more psychologically, as you can imagine."

Daltrey says the program, which is expanding into the United States after operating in the UK for the last decade, is improving care for teenagers with cancer.

"It's looking like between ten and fifteen percent improvement of the medicine, just by giving them a space of their own, so that they can be teenager," Daltrey said.

For more on The Who's efforts to help teens with cancer and to hear more about the legacy of their music, watch this week's Spinners and Winners.