Pete Townshend releases Can’t Outrun The Truth, first solo single in 29 years

Pete Townshend playing an acoustic guitar
(Image credit: UMG)

Pete Townshend has released a new single, Can’t Outrun The Truth. It's the Who guitarist's first solo single in nearly 30 years – since 1993's Don't Try To Make Me Real – and is accompanied by his first solo video in 38 (1985's promo for Face The Face was the last).  

Can’t Outrun The Truth was written and produced by Townshend's wife and regular collaborator Rachel Fuller, who previously composed the orchestral arrangements for Townshend's The Lifehouse Chronicles and co-wrote It's Not Enough on The Who's 2006 album Endless Wire.

The song was recorded in Townshend's ’home studio in September 2021, and all proceeds from vinyl sales plus at least 10p from every download will go to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

“The pandemic years were terrible for charities," says Townshend. "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. 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."

“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," says Fuller. "I was just climbing the walls, I couldn't do any creative work and obviously, we couldn't go anywhere. 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."

“I’ve helped Rachel make the demos for several of her theatrical projects," adds Townshend. "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”.  

The vinyl edition of Can’t Outrun The Truth is a 12" single with a sleeve designed by renowned British artist Damien Hirst. A limited edition of just 200 copies – each signed by Townshend – it's only available for purchase at this week's Teenage Cancer Shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London – and is backed by Let My Love Open the Door, from Townshend's 1980 album Empty Glass.

 “I think one of the things about the song is that it felt like we drew a line, and it was, okay, back to normal," concludes Fuller. "Nobody's really talking about Covid anymore. There aren't stories in the papers, and no one wants to talk about those two years. And I think for so many people, there is a long tail, people really, really struggled and just because people are saying let's move on. I think a lot of people are still finding it really hard.”

“Rachel is absolutely right, Townshend adds. "This is something that deserves to be carried in our daily life." 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.