Song: “Eminence Front”
Album: It’s Hard
In the only single off of their 1982 album that the band has continued to play live after its initial release, Townshend tackles the chicanery and drug use of the upscale and hedonistic. The song progresses as the lyrics describe a party where the attendees hide from their problems behind facades. The word “front” in the title is symbolic of the facade. The other part of the title “eminence” is synonymous with reputation. When coupled, an idea of creating a face to match or maintain a reputation is born. In the chorus the line “It’s a put on” hints that something is fake or false. Townshend alludes to the fact that drug use is the root of this problem as he introduces the song during concerts by stating “This song is about what happens when -you take too much white powder-it’s called Eminence Front”
Other lyrics in the song suggest that when people put up their front, they do in the most extreme manor, “Come on join the party, dress to kill”. During the time of it’s release in the early 80’s the pleasure seeking lifestyle was exploding. The song can also be taken from another angle in that humans are strange and will do anything for attention, popularity or approval. They act fake everyday just to fit the norm. To make/maintain friends, to make the sale/get the job, etc. To some this can be all too familiar.
The song has also been used in pop culture, most recently it may be recognized from the jail scene in “Law Abiding Citizen”.
By: James Sobie