Pete Townshend has released a new song, “Can’t Outrun the Truth,” his first solo single in 29 years. The track was composed and produced by Rachel Fuller (Townshend’s wife and sometimes collaborator) under the name Charlie Pepper, and reflects on the lack of human interaction caused by the pandemic.
The song is accompanied by the Who guitarist’s first solo video in 40 years. The video was shot in a series of one-take performances by a creative team of Michael Nunn and William Trevitt.
“Can’t Outrun the Truth” was recorded in Townshend’s home studio in September of 2021, with the musician playing lap steel guitar and violin and singing on the track. After it was recorded, the pair decided to release it as a way to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
“We’d just moved house and Pete was as happy as Larry up in his studio, working every day, and I put my back out, I was just climbing the walls, I couldn’t do any creative work and obviously, we couldn’t go anywhere,” Fuller explained in a statement. “And I really started to think about how unbelievably difficult this period of time was going to be for so many people. I wrote lyrics and then I sat at the piano and wrote the music, and then I thought, ‘Oh, I really would like to record it, because it’s really not a bad song at all’ — and my singing days are long over. So, I asked Pete to record the demo.”
Townshend added, “I’ve helped Rachel make the demos for several of her theatrical projects. She’s a really a fast worker. It’s not that you say to me, ‘Let’s go into the studio for two weeks and work on this project.’ We do it two hours later, or an hour later, it’s done — so it’s easy to work with her.”
All proceeds from the single’s vinyl sales, as well as at least 10 pence from every download, will go to the Teenage Cancer Trust.
“The pandemic years were terrible for charities; the Teenage Cancer Trust was created in order to take the money from a series of concerts at the Albert Hall every year and various other things and that had all dropped out,” Townshend said. “So, the idea of doing this, which is it’s something that has sprung out of Lockdown about mental illness, but also for this particular charity. If you’ve got a scenario in which somebody in your family or a teenager has got cancer, they’re being treated, Lockdown hits, and you’re not allowed to go and visit them. There’s a poignancy to the whole thing about the song.”
The single’s album art was created by Damien Hirst, who made one of his iconic spin paintings for the cover. Townshend will release 200 12-inch, signed singles of “Can’t Outrun the Truth,” featuring “Let My Love Open The Door” as the B-side. The 12-inch singles will be available exclusively to fans in attendance at the Teenage Cancer Trust shows at the Royal Albert Hall from March 21 to March 26.
Earlier this month, Townshend reunited with Ann-Margret for a cover of the Everly Brothers classic “Bye Bye Love.” The song will appear on her upcoming LP, Born To Be Wild, arriving in stores on April 14.