The Who – I Can See For Miles

The sound of this song is amazing…from the drums to the guitar. It was very different than their other singles to this point.

It’s hard to believe that I Can See For Miles was The Who’s only top 10 hit in the Billboard 100. It peaked at #9 in the Billboard 100 and #10 in the UK in 1967. The song was recorded for the band’s 1967 album, The Who Sell Out.[3] It was the only song from the album to be released as a single. The album peaked at #48 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1968.

Pete Townshend considered this some of his best songwriting, calling it “a remarkable song.” He thought it would be a huge hit and was disappointed when it wasn’t.

Pete Townshend talking about this song: “I swoon when I hear the sound,” “The words, which aging senators have called ‘drug oriented,’ are about a jealous man with exceptionally good eyesight. Honest.”

The song is ranked #40 on Dave Marsh’s The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made

 

From Songfacts

Pete Townshend wrote this shortly after meeting his future wife Karen. It was a reminder that even though he was on the road, he could still keep an eye on her from miles away.

The song was inspired by the jealousy and suspicion that would well up inside him when he left to tour, but the song is written in character as a vindictive type who wants to get back at a girl. It’s a little creepy:

Well, here’s a poke at you
You’re gonna choke on it too
You’re gonna lose that smile
Because all the while
I can see for miles and miles

He’s warning her that she can’t get out of his sight.

In real life, Townshend married Karen Astley in 1968. They were together until their divorce in 2009.

Townshend’s guitar was overdubbed in the studio. They rarely played this live because it was impossible to recreate the sound with one guitar.

The Who Sell Out is a concept album that makes fun of radio commercials. Fake ads were inserted between songs on the first side of the album.

The word “Miles” is said 57 times in the song. 

This was covered in a lighter, easygoing, and rather corny manner by Vegas lounge lizard Frankie Randall (who sang the lyric “There’s magic in my eyes” as “There’s magic in your eyes”, thus rather confusing the song’s meaning). It is included on the Golden Throats CD. 

Townshend’s played a one-note guitar solo on this song. According to an interview he conducted with his mate Richard Barnes for the book The Story of Tommy, Townshend did this because he “couldn’t be bothered.” He later admitted that he felt very intimidated at the arrival of Hendrix on the London scene during that time and that he couldn’t ever compete in the guitar solo stakes. 

Paul McCartney set out to write “Helter Skelter” shortly after reading a Pete Townshend interview, which described this track as, “The most raucous rock ‘n’ roll, the dirtiest thing they’d ever done.”

This is the theme song for the TV series CSI: Cyber, which debuted in 2015. It’s the fourth in the CSI franchise, with each series using a Who song as its theme. The song has some relevance to the show content, as the detectives use technology to investigate crimes that could be many miles away.

I Can See For Miles

I know you’ve deceived me, now here’s a surprise
I know that you have ’cause there’s magic in my eyes

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles
Oh yeah

If you think that I don’t know about the little tricks you’ve played
And never see you when deliberately you put things in my way

Well, here’s a poke at you
You’re gonna choke on it too
You’re gonna lose that smile
Because all the while

I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles
Oh yeah

You took advantage of my trust in you when I was so far away
I saw you holding lots of other guys and now you’ve got the nerve to say

That you still want me
Well, that’s as may be
But you gotta stand trial
Because all the while

I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles
Oh yeah

I know you’ve deceived me, now here’s a surprise
I know that you have ’cause there’s magic in my eyes

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles
Oh yeah

The Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal are mine to see on clear days
You thought that I would need a crystal ball to see right through the haze

Well, here’s a poke at you
You’re gonna choke on it too
You’re gonna lose that smile
Because all the while

I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles
And miles and miles and miles

I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles

Author: badfinger20

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

13 thoughts on “The Who – I Can See For Miles”

    1. I never have picked up on that either. I was too busy just enjoying the sound of it. It’s so disjointed to me…not like an ordinary song because of Moon’s drums and the way it’s arranged but it fits perfectly.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t understand it at all but soon after this they turned to more album rock but still…

      It’s kind of like CCR never having a number 1 song here… many 2s but no 1s.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m a huge Who fan but this is not one of my favourites. Always found it repetitive. Quite surprised to read Townshends comments…and shocked at their lack of commerical success in the states. How about the albums? They must have sold right?

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s