The Who – Bargain

The most aggressive love song I’ve ever heard. The song did not chart but it was on the classic album Who’s Next. There is not a weak song on the album. Bargain has some of Moon’s best drumming and a strong performance from Daltrey. Townshend has said that the song was influenced by  Meher Baba and the subject of the song is God.

Townshend’s use of the ARP synthesizer on Who’s Next was groundbreaking. He didn’t just add texture with it but the ARP became part of the structure of the songs. This was not like today’s synthesizer where you just took it out of the box. It had to be programmed and connected together…and not many people knew how to do it. He took a risk using it because of technology in general always moving ahead, Who’s Next could have sounded dated in a few years afterward but it still sounds fresh and interesting today…unlike some 1980s synth music.

Related image

Pete Townshend’s lead guitar was played on a vintage Gretsch, a gift from Joe Walsh, who had just formed Barnstorm that same year and would later join the Eagles.

From Songfacts

Pete Townshend wrote this as an ode to Meher Baba, who was his spiritual guru. Meher Baba was from India, where he worked with the poor and served as spiritual adviser to Mahatma Gandhi. He developed a worldwide following by the ’60s, and died in 1969 at age 75. Townshend believed in his message of enlightenment, which was a big influence on Who songs like “Baba O’Riley” and “See Me, Feel Me.”

The song is about losing all your material goods for spiritual enlightenment, thus being a “bargain.”

Roger Daltrey sings most of this, but Townshend sings the part that starts, “I sit looking ’round, I look at my face in the mirror…”

The first line of the song, “I’d gladly lose me to find you” is from one of the teachings of Meher Baba.

Bargain

I’d gladly lose me to find you
I’d gladly give up all I had
To find you I’d suffer anything and be glad

I’d pay any price just to get you
I’d work all my life and I will
To win you I’d stand naked, stoned and stabbed

I’d call that a bargain
The best I ever had
The best I ever had

I’d gladly lose me to find you
I’d gladly give up all I got
To catch you I’m gonna run and never stop

I’d pay any price just to win you
Surrender my good life for bad
To find you I’m gonna drown an unsung man

I’d call that a bargain
The best I ever had
The best I ever had

I sit looking ’round
I look at my face in the mirror
I know I’m worth nothing without you
And like one and one don’t make two
One and one make one
And I’m looking for that free ride to me
I’m looking for you

I’d gladly lose me to find you
I’d gladly give up all I got
To catch you I’m gonna run and never stop

I’d pay any price just to win you
Surrender my good life for bad
To find you I’m gonna drown an unsung man

I’d call that a bargain
The best I ever had
The best I ever had

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

20 thoughts on “The Who – Bargain”

    1. The biggest thing to me about that album…aside from the great songs is the production. Listen to Tommy (69) and then listen to Who’s Next (71)…It totally wipes the floor with it production wise.
      Glyn Johns made a big difference. It has a sonic quality…if that is the right word. Tommy sounds so tinny.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tommy’s always felt valiant to me, making a rock opera with low key production and a three piece band, with almost no overdubs. The other Who record I really like is Meaty, Big and Bouncy but I’m not sure that counts.

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      2. That is a great compilation album…one of the first Who albums I had.
        I like “A Quick One”…the raw power pop is really good on that one.
        I’m not big on Live albums…. but Live at Leeds is a band at their peak.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. This song is on The Who’s Hyde Park 2015 CD set. Pete introduced it as being about doing a deal with God, and then said, “Probably not a good idea,” and then that in writing it he foresaw the coming of the internet. He continued on, and it all came together in a partly tongue-in-cheek musing. To me the lyrics are adaptable to the listener, which is part of what makes it great. I just checked Youtube, and the performance is there, but not with Pete’s intro.

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    1. That is interesting. It was part of that Life House opera or musical project he tried to explain to people but no one could understand so he gave up on it and just recorded the songs for a regular album…which is great cause that is Who’s Next… I wish he could have defined it though.

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      1. I’m with you, on wishing we could have seen the finished Lifehouse project. The concept did seem just too complex to capture. I can see it driving him half mad, trying to bring it together. The interesting thing about hearing him explain and perform some of these songs now, is how they have aged, but yet are still made relevant to today and his current stage in life.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. They really are relevant lyrically as well as musically… heck a lot of the 80s music sounds so dated now… but not this from 71…
        It probably was too complex like you said but from what I heard it sounds great. Feeding numbers into machines and people…. which that is what happens now

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      3. When you contrast it with 80s music, this song really does stand out for its relevance across generations. I hadn’t thought of it that way. It is eerie too, about how he predicted some aspects of the future.

        Liked by 1 person

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