2020 Grammys

Pete Townshend Writes His First Song for 'The Americans'

Pete Townshend has written his first song for a TV show, composing and performing "It Must Be Done" for FX's "The Americans" with the show's composer Nathan Barr. It will appear in the season finale on April 30. Prior to that, Townshend's 1980 hit "Let My Love Open the Door" will be featured on the season opener of Showtime's "Californication" on April 13.

What elements of the show did you want to incorporate into the song?

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 f-- am I in The Who?"

What was the starting point for you and Nathan Barr?

Nate composes on cello, an instrument my partner and orchestrator Rachel [Fuller] uses, so I have really fallen in love with it. We exchanged ideas [between England and Los Angeles] and I was struck by this very plaintive piece he had written. I added guitar, then came up with lyrics.

You've done film and theater projects. How was this different?

It's almost like jazz. I'm responding to something he wrote, he's responding to me, 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 -- and what seems like it should be impersonal and cold is quite the opposite.


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