How Can You Do It Alone (Pete Townshend) Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI

Pete Townshend: "I was actually going up Holland Park Road and I wanted a cigarette, I didn't have a light and it was about two in the morning, and this guy came out of the station and I asked him for a light and he looked very afraid and he stepped back and I said 'listen, all I want is a light from your cigarette' and he said 'Oh, all right'. He opened his coat up and got a lighter out and before he'd known what he'd done, he was completely naked underneath, with the trousers and the string, he was a flasher! He'd obviously just come off the tube doing a bit of flashing. He saw that I saw that he was naked and that I knew what he was up to. I looked into his eyes and he looked into mine and the shame in his face! I felt like saying to him, 'listen, don't be ashamed. I don't give a damn.' Then I was walking up the street and I thought I should have asked him, 'how do you do it all on your own? How do you live that solitary...How do you get your kicks?' Because that's more alone than masturbation. So I started to explore that idea and that turned into the song. How can you do anything on your own ultimately?"

This song first appeared as a jam during The Who's late-1979 North American tour (one of those jams appears as a bonus track on the 1997 Face Dances CD. See below). Oddly enough, after Pete turned it into a real song, it disappeared from The Who's live performances. Pete's demo version appears on Scoop 3.

Recorded live at Chicago International Amphitheater December 8, 1979 and edited down from a jam running 7'24. Many of the 1979 Who shows featured jams at the end where Pete would try out new material. "Cats In The Cupboard" from Pete's solo album Empty Glass as well as "Dance It Away" were also previewed that year. "How Can You Do It Alone" was the last song performed that night.

Saw a man about fifty or so
He looked lonely but his eyes were bright
He was walking up the Holland Park Road
And I stopped him to ask for a light
He practacally froze when I spoke
But eased when he saw my cigarette
Then I saw as he lit up my smoke
Beneath his coat he was naked and wet

With eyes full of shame
For he knew that I knew
He slumped to the wall with a moan
I said "I know there's no name
For what you go through
But how can you do it alone."

I crossed the street to the local newstore
Flicked through some cheap magazines
Beside me some schoolkid I saw
Push some girlie mags down into his jeans
The shop girl was watching amazed
Asked me to call for the police.
She screamed at his blushing young face
And he escaped into the streets.

With eyes full of shame etc.

Do it alone, how can you do it alone,
I need your help, so I can do it by myself.
Do it alone, don't have to breathe down a phone
I ain't got a clue, 'bout the things that you do
But how...can you do it alone.

How can you do it.

Back at the flat my girl sat in the shower
And wasn't too keen on me sharing
She came out well after an hour
And by that time I was past caring
Some women it seems have the knack
Of attaining that stars in their dreams
They simply relax and lay back
While people like us scratch our jeans.

With eyes full of shame
And I know it must show
I slump - and I fall and I groan
Will somebody explain
What I need to know
How can you do it alone.

How can you do it.

How can you do it without any help
How can you do it all by yourself.

This song appears on:

Source Length notes
Face Dances 5:27 Live
Face Dances 5:26
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