The Who – A Quick One, While He’s Away

I first saw them perform this on The Kids Are Alright. The performance was electric. I like the studio version but the live versions they push a little harder. The song didn’t chart being so long. The album “A Quick One” peaked at #4 in the UK charts. The hit song of the album was Happy Jack.

The Who had 10 minutes left to fill on the album. Kit Lambert, The Who’s manager, suggested to Pete Townshend that he write “something linear… perhaps a 10-minute song.” Townshend responded by saying that rock songs are “2:50 by tradition!” Lambert then told Townshend that he should write a 10-minute story comprised of 2:50 songs.

The song was a “mini-opera,” paving the way for the other mini-opera “Rael” and eventually full-length rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia.

From Songfacts

The plot of the story is simple. A girl is sad that her boyfriend is away. Her friends suggest that she take a substitute lover, Ivor The Engine Driver. When the boyfriend returns, she confesses her infidelity and is forgiven.

The Who performed this on the Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus, which was going to be a TV special. It never aired on television but it was released on VHS in 1996 and DVD in 2004. The Who’s performance of this was included in The Kids Are Alright, a 1979 film about The Who.

According to legend, Rock And Roll Circus didn’t air because the Rolling Stones felt that they were showed up by The Who. Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithful, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, and Mitch Mitchell all appeared on Rock And Roll Circus.

A live version of this song appears on Live At Leeds and the soundtrack for The Kids Are Alright

The Who wanted to put Cellos on the track but Kit Lambert said they couldn’t afford it. So they sang “cello, cello, cello, cello,” where the Who thought they should go. >>

This was used in the Wes Anderson film Rushmore starring Jason Shwartzman and Bill Murray

A Quick One, While He’s Away

Her man’s been gone
For nearly a year
He was due home yesterday
But he ain’t here

Her man’s been gone
For nigh on a year
He was due home yesterday
But he ain’t here

Down your street your crying is a well-known sound
Your street is very well known, right here in town
Your town is very famous for the little girl
Whose cries can be heard all around the world

Fa la la la la la
Fa la la la la
Fa la la la la la
Fa la la la la

We have a remedy
You’ll appreciate
No need to be so sad
He’s only late

We’ll bring you flowers and things
Help pass your time
We’ll give him eagle’s wings
Then he can fly to you

Fa la la la la la
Fa la la la la
Fa la la la la la
Fa la la la la
Fa la la la la la
Fa la la la la la

We have a remedy
Fa la la la la la la
We have a remedy
Fa la la la la la la
We have a remedy
Fa la la la la la la
We have a remedy
Fa la la la la la la

We have a remedy.
We have!

Little girl, why don’t you stop your crying?
I’m gonna make you feel all right

My name is Ivor
I’m an engine driver

I know him well
I know why you feel blue
Just ’cause he’s late
Don’t mean he’ll never get through

He told me he loves you
He ain’t no liar, I ain’t either
So let’s have a smile for an old engine driver
So let’s have a smile for an old engine driver

Please take a sweet
Come take a walk with me
We’ll sort it out
Back at my place, maybe

It’ll come right
You ain’t no fool, I ain’t either
So why not be nice to an old engine driver?
Better be nice to an old engine driver
Better be nice to an old engine driver

We’ll soon be home
We’ll soon be home
We’ll soon
We’ll soon, soon, soon be home

We’ll soon be home
We’ll soon be home
We’ll soon
We’ll soon, soon, soon be home

Come on, old horse

Soon be home
Soon be home
Soon
We’ll soon, soon, soon be home

We’ll soon
We’ll soon, soon, soon be home

We’ll soon be home
Soon be home 

Dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang

Cello, cello, cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello, cello, cello

I can’t believe it
Do my eyes deceive me?
Am I back in your arms?
Away from all harm?

It’s like a dream to be with you again
Can’t believe that I’m with you again

I missed you and I must admit
I kissed a few and once did sit
On Ivor the Engine Driver’s lap
And later with him, had a nap

You are forgiven, you are forgiven, you are forgiven 

You are forgiven

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

17 thoughts on “The Who – A Quick One, While He’s Away”

    1. That is sad…but at 89 you can’t complain much. Pete Townshend wrote a great forward to his book a few years back. I don’t have the book but I read the forward online.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I had to post a video that someone made of spongebob singing Dylan’s version of All along The Watchtower because there was nothing else on there lol…

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Sad news, but 89, and for a rocker, that’s pretty impressive. I’ve seen the Who a few times, most recently just a couple of years ago. Roger Daltry still has his voice and can still hit those high notes. they put on an awesome show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know man… I have a guitar that is very close to a 335 and I have humbucking pickups…I’ve thought about placing some P90s in it.

      Like

      1. You bet they would. They are my favourite pick up I think, though I have to admit I’ve never owned them! I did enjoy playing some humbuckers over the weekend but you always kind of miss some top end

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think I will try them. The humbuckers on a hollow body can get away from you… It’s like driving a car…keeping it between the lines.

        Like

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