Who – You Better You Bet

I always thought of this song as the sister song to Who Are You. You Better You Bet was on Face Dances. This was the first album without Keith Moon and with Kenney Jones on drums.

Pete Townshend has said he wrote it “over several weeks of clubbing and partying” while the still-married guitarist was dating a younger woman. He said: “I wanted it to be a great song because the girl I wrote it for is one of the best people on the planet.”

The song peaked at #18 in the Billboard 100 in 1981. This was the first new Who album I ever bought. Face Dances wasn’t a bad album although they did indeed miss Keith Moon.

Roger Daltrey who was never a big proponent of Jones said: “A wonderful, wonderful song. The way the vocal bounces, it always reminds me of Elvis. But it was a difficult time, yeah. The Moon carry-on was much harder than carrying on after John, because we’re more mature now. I hate going over this but, in retrospect, we did make the wrong choice of drummers. Kenney Jones – don’t get me wrong, a fantastic drummer – but he completely threw the chemistry of the band. It just didn’t work; the spark plug was missing from the engine.”

“The first tour Kenney did with us, though, he was absolutely f–king brilliant,” Daltrey added. “But after that he settled into what he knew, which was his Faces-type drumming, which doesn’t work with The Who. In some ways I’d like to go back and re-record a lot of the songs on Face Dances, but ‘You Better, You Bet’ is still one of my favorite songs of all.”

From Songfacts

This is a love song written from the perspective of a guy who drinks and smokes too much. He and his girl have a clever rapport: when he tells her he loves her, she says, “You better.”

This was the first Who single recorded with drummer Kenney Jones, who had replaced Keith Moon after his death three years earlier. 

The black-and-white music video features the band and keyboardist John Bundrick playing the song onstage. It was the fourth clip played upon MTV’s launch on August 1,1981 and was also the 54th visual to be aired on the fledgling music channel, making it the first video to be shown on MTV more than once.

The lyric, “I drunk my self blind to the sound of old T-Rex,” refers to the ’60s/’70s British glam rock band T-Rex, fronted by Marc Bolan. >>

The lead single from The Who’s Face Dances album, this was the last single by the band that reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Top 10 in the UK.

The keyboard line came from a Yamaha E70 organ Pete Townshend played using the Auto Arpeggio setting. He used the same setup to create the keyboard riff in “Eminence Front.”

You Better You Bet

You better you better you bet, ooh
You better you better you bet, ooh
You better you better you bet, ooh
You better you better you bet, ooh

I call you on the telephone my voice too rough with cigarettes
I sometimes feel I should just go home
But I’m dealing with a memory that never forgets
I love to hear you say my name especially when you say yes
I got your body right now on my mind and I drunk myself blind
To the sound of old T-Rex
To the sound of old T-Rex, who’s next?

When I say I love you say you better
(You better you better you bet)
When I say I need you say you better
(You better you better you bet)
You better bet your life
Or love will cut you like a knife

I want those feeble minded axes overthrown
I’m not into your passport picture I just like your nose
You welcome me with open arms and open legs
I know only fools have needs but this one never begs

I don’t really mind how much you love me
A little is really alright
When you say come over and spend the night
Tonight, tonight

When I say I love you say you better
(You better you better you bet)
When I say I need you say you better
(You better you better you bet)
You better bet your life
Or love will cut you like a knife

I lay on the bed with you
We could make some book of records
Your dog keeps licking my nose
And chewing up all those letters
Saying you better
You better bet your life

You better love me, all the time now
You better shove me back into line now
You better love me, all the time now
You better shove me back into line now

I showed up late one night with a neon light for a visa
But knowing I’m so eager to fight can’t make letting me in any easier
I know that I’ve been wearing crazy clothes and I look pretty crappy
Sometime
But my body feels so good and I still sing a razor line everytime

And when it comes to all night living
I know what I’m giving
I’ve got it all down to a tee
And it’s free

When I say I love you say you better
(You better you better you bet)
When I say I need you say you better
(You better you better you bet)
When I say I love you say you better
(You better you better you bet)
When I say I need you say you better
(You better you better you bet)
When I say I love you say you better
(You better you better you bet)
When I say I need you say you better
(You better you better you bet)
When I say I love you say you better
(You better you better you bet)
When I say I need you say you better
(You better you better you bet)

You better bet your life
Or love will cut you just like a knife

 

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

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

40 thoughts on “Who – You Better You Bet”

      1. I think they all knew he was the engine of the band. He was too noisy and destructive (and good!) to be taken for granted. But I just don’t know why they couldn’t get someone better. Kenny Jones isn’t the best. Maybe in a normal band he’s do the job but the who?!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You know who they considered? Mitch Mitchell…he would have fit more than Jones. Townshend wanted steady and a time keeper but the Who weren’t made like that.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes he did… he was “excited”…a poor choice of words… so he could have a real time keeper instead of Moon and widen their musical scope. What he didn’t understand until later was…how much they would miss Moon. Replacing him would be like replacing Jimi Hendrix. He was a one-off…but Zak is the best drummer they have had since.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. pretty good single and one of a very few Who songs I remember getting a lot of AM radio play, at least where I was. I always quite liked it, and if there’s one other song it reminds me of it would actually be “Let My Love Open the Door” by Pete Townshend… kind of like how Genesis and Phil Collins were very alike back then too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The good thing is they didn’t do as many albums as other bands. They only did 8 with Moon…As you know Tommy is what got them noticed and Who’s Next came next and cemented them. Personally they are my second favorite band next to The Beatles. For me the best pure rock band.

      They don’t have as long of a winding story as some other ones…close to Led Zeppelin…not like the Beatles or Stones.

      Except Moon…his stories could fill a novel.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Face Dances, even without Moon, is a great album. I thought Jones, while no Moon, was perfect for the style of songwriting that Pete had grown into at that time.
    The Who hadn’t really recorded a great album since Quadraphenia – there were a few great songs, but no great albums. They’d grown drunk & dull. But the post-Moon period, Face Dances, Its Hard, and Townsend solo Empty Glass, and All the Best Cowboys was the best stuff Pete had recorded since Quad

    Liked by 1 person

    1. … definitely the most prolific and consistent Pete had been for a long time.
      Jones played great on all the new stuff, but was glaringly out of place when playing Moon-era songs live. I saw them live with Jones and there were few complaints – one of the greatest concerts I ever saw. Jones gets a bad rap, but comparing anyone with Moon is tough.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love the Faces and the Small Faces and his drumming but yea he was in a tough spot with The Who. Townshend wanted a timekeeper for once and Daltrey wanted that manic energy. Pete got what he wanted to expand the music but Daltrey didnt..

        I wish I could have seen the Who on the 79 tour…I saw the Who with Simon Phillips and they were good…and with Zak…he really fits in well as the drummer. He gives people the Moon fills without just copying him. He fits with them really well.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I liked Face Dances, Empty Glass, and All The Best Cowboys but never caught on as much with It’s Hard…but I did like the two singles off of it. As a complete album I didn’t like it as much. The Who By Numbers I do like although it can be depressing.

      I do like their new album btw.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like the new album too. And Endless wire.
        I agree that Its hard is not as strong overall as those others, but equal to or better than By Numbers and Who Are You, IMO, although both albums have a few great songs. Eminence Front is one of my favorite Who tunes, so I’m partial to Its Hard.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I liked Athena on that also. It stuck with me. I had to warm up to Eminence Front but I did.
        I think if Daltrey would have opened up to the new way Pete wanted to record…good or bad they may have released more albums. Daltrey wanted something that only Moon could give you…I will say though….and I’m saying something outrageous…Mitch Mitchell would have been an interesting choice if they would have went that way.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks man. Yea my main two bands…as if you probably couldn’t guess are the Beatles and The Who…something about those Brit rockers that are timeless.
      Kenney did a a good job as drummer…replacing Moon would be like replacing Jimi Hendrix.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. While it’s perhaps not quite the caliber of Who‘s Next and some of their other earlier album, I‘ve always dug that tune. The Ox’s bassline is pretty cool. He was just a monster of a bass player.

    I’ve seen The Who twice with Zak – in 2001 and last year (with an orchestra). Both shows were awesome.

    Obviously, I would have loved to see them with Keith! At least for the first gig, John was still around – unbelievable! Though it was just in time. Six months later, he passed away in Las Vegas. It was during the same tour!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christian if I had a time machine…a concert in the early seventies with Moon would be one of my destinations…along with The Beatles in the Cavern or Hamburg.
      I did see them in the late eighties so I did get to see Entwistle and I am happy about that… with Simon Phillips drumming…and once with Zak.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it’s unfair that they heap so much blame on Kenny Jones. It wasn’t just him or the void of Keith that threw off the chemistry of the band. This song is a good example. It was catchy, but imo that’s all it was. Each band member seemed to have a distraction at that time. I appreciate this song and album for the fact that they managed to press on without Keith.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You replace a Keith Moon… it would be like filling in for Jimi Hendrix. It’s a no win situation. Roger was harsh but Pete welcomed a new base to work from… but he was out of control and kept a lot of songs for his solo album.

      Like

      1. True, you don’t replace Moon. And you might not get the formula right the first time you try to go on. These songs were certainly shallower than other Who compositions. That’s not Jones’ fault. I like Don’t Let Go The Coat, but it seemed to be part of something unfinished.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Pete was living the Moon life around this time. This one I thought was Who Are You’s lesser sister. It had the same structure but not as good.

        Like

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