Who – Bell Boy

Keith would sometimes call out for this song in Who concerts. The reason for that would be because he sings parts of the song along with Roger. Keith lays on the cockney voice well in this song and talks/sings it.

The song was on Quadrophenia released in 1973. The album peaked at #2 in the Billboard Album Charts, #2 in the UK, and #2 in Canada.

After the song was dropped from the set…either Keith or the crowd would request it much to Townshend’s chagrin at times.

The album was a concept album about the mod culture in the UK in the early 60s that features a character named Jimmy.

Pete Townshend: He meets an old Ace Face who’s now a bellhop at the very hotel the Mods tore up. And he looks on Jimmy with a mixture of pity and contempt, really, and tells him, in effect, ‘Look, my job is shit and my life is a tragedy. But you – look at you, you’re dead!’

From Songfacts

This is Keith Moon’s song on Quadrophenia, which centers on a character with four personalities, each one representing a different member of The Who. “Bell Boy” is about the main character Jimmy meeting an old mod “Ace Face,” or leader. However, he finds out that the Ace Face has given up music, and now he works at a hotel (as a bell boy) that a mod gang happened to destroy a few years back. Keith Moon does some of the vocals on the song. 

Keith Moon’s drumming is prominent on this track. Ron Nevison, the engineer on Quadrophenia, told Songfacts what it was like recording him. “The biggest problem with Keith on the drums was finding a place to put the microphones,” he said. “He had so many drums – two hi-hats, two kick drums, six or eight tom-toms – it was challenging just to get in there to get the snare drum covered.”

Bell Boy

The beach is a place where a man can feel
He’s the only soul in the world that’s real
Well I see a face coming through the haze
I remember him from those crazy days
Crazy days, crazy days

Ain’t you the guy who used to set the paces
Riding up in front of a hundred faces
I don’t suppose you would remember me
But I used to follow you back in sixty-three

I’ve got a good job, and I’m newly born
You should see me dressed up in my uniform
I work in hotel, all gilt and flash
Remember the place where the doors were smashed?

Bell Boy, I got to get running now
Bell Boy, keep my lip buttoned down
Bell Boy, carry this baggage out
Bell Boy, always running at someone’s pleading heel
You know how I feel
Always running at someone’s heel

Some nights I still sleep on the beach
Remember when stars were in reach
I wander in early to work
Spend my day licking boots for my perks

A beach is a place where a man can feel
He’s the only soul in the world that’s real

Well I see a face coming through the haze
I remember him from those crazy days (crazy days, crazy days, crazy days, crazy days)

Ain’t you the guy who used to set the paces
Riding up in front of a hundred faces
I don’t suppose you would remember me
But I used to follow you back in sixty-three

People often change
But when I look in your eyes
You could learn a lot from
A job like mine
The secret to me
It ain’t flown on a flag
I carry it behind
This pretty little badge
What says

Bell Boy I got to get running now
Bell Boy, keep my lip buttoned down
Bell Boy, carry the bloody baggage out
Bell Boy, always running at someone’s heel
You know how I feel
Always running at someone’s heel

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

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

27 thoughts on “Who – Bell Boy”

  1. This is an especially powerful scene in the film version of “Quadrophenia.” Sting plays the Ace Face, and during the riots we see him throw a chair through the window of the posh hotel where he’s later working. The implication is that it’s to work off the debt … but it sends Jimmy a bit around the bend (although he didn’t have far to go).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should be ashamed as big of a fan as I am…but no I have to be truthful it was coincidental. I always kick myself every year for missing it…Thank you! I will not miss it this year. I might post something from his solo album.

      Like

      1. Oh wow that would make you remember it.

        I just opened up a new draft in WP and started on it. I think I’ll do two in his honor on Monday. If I had enough info…I would to a blog just on him if I could every day…lol. My favorite rock star.

        Like

  2. I had to look this one up, which I guess tells you I’m not a die hard fan of The Who.

    I still love them. In fact, it just occurred to me they are the only band I’ve seen three times. I can’t even say that for Paul McCartney. One more reason I have to see him at least one more time! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh…I was inspired by you… I’m posting about my first time seeing Paul tomorrow.

      I have to say I’m a die hard fan of the Who…they come in 2nd to the Beatles for me. Moon and Entwistle is my favorite rhythm section…they are my favorite hard rock band no doubt also.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting to learn about this song. Still haven’t heard Quadrophenia or seen the movie but I will at some point. Keith has a good voice! Not the wow factor of Roger, but definitely decent. He seemed to enjoy his chance to sing. I wonder if he regretted not getting to sing more with The Who or with another band?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to see the movie again…He released a solo album…his voice wasn’t strong but fun…I’m going to post some in two days.
      Monday…all Keith day! He died 42 years ago on Monday.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love watching Roger and John exchanging looks which Keith was singing, I bet they were thinking “what’s he going to do now?”

    I love Quadrophenia, both the album and the movie. And Keith’s rendition of Bellboy always makes me smile.

    Apart from that, hell Max, do you know I was going to have an early night and have been glued to your blog for hours (as usual!). No complaints, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The video to Magic Bus…John turns around to see Keith and almost loses it for him…

      I’m sorry Val! You get some sleep! I did get your email off! Finally.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great tune from one of my all time favorite albums. I’m smuggling it to the island. I always wanted Moon and baker to make an album together. Sort of like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa but with some vocals.
    “The beach is a place where a man can feel ….”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would buy that album…twice… I have Moon’s solo album…it’s pure Keith…not much drumming though. I wish he would have made one with just drumming…but him and Ginger? Oh yea

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t hesitate to say it’s their best album… maybe best not named Who’s Next…depending on what day you ask me

        Liked by 1 person

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