Who – Love Ain’t For Keeping

The Who’s Next album was released in 1971 and is one of the greatest classic rock albums ever released. This song is a song one clocking in at a short 2:11 and unlike most of the album…this one is softer. Pete Townshend originally wrote this for his Lifehouse project, where the character of Ray, a Scottish farmer, was intended to sing the song, which expresses the sentiment that love is meant to be shared.

The song was originally recorded several months prior to Who’s Next, as a four-minute electric version with Townshend singing lead and playing rhythm guitar, and the lead solos performed by Leslie West, the guitarist for New York power trio Mountain. The Who was recording at the Record Plant in New York, and Townshend reportedly didn’t want to spend time on overdubs, so West was called in to play on the track.

After a falling out with producer Kit Lambert, the band recorded an acoustic version that was used on the album. The Who often played the harder Rock version at their concerts. This version can be heard on their 1974 Odds & Sods album.

If two versions weren’t enough…  Townshend’s original demo of the song appears on the six-disc Lifehouse Chronicles, songs from Townshend’s never fully-completed Lifehouse rock opera. This demo clocks in at 1:31, with no solo and Townshend taking advantage of the then-novel oscillator bank on his Arp synthesizer.

The album peaked at #4 in the Billboard Album Charts, #5 in Canada, and #1 in New Zealand in 1971.

Love Ain’t For Keeping

Layin’ on my back
In the newly mown grass
Rain is coming down
But I know the clouds will pass
You bring me tea
Say “the babe’s a-sleepin'”
Lay down beside me
Love ain’t for keeping

Black ash from the foundry
Hangs like a hood
But the air is perfumed
By the burning firewood
The seeds are bursting
The spring is a-seeping
Lay down my darling
Love ain’t for keeping
Lay down beside me
Love ain’t for keeping

Lay down beside me
Love ain’t for keeping
Lay down my darling
Love ain’t for keeping

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

23 thoughts on “Who – Love Ain’t For Keeping”

  1. I like all three versions. It’s hard to pick a favorite. Bringing in Leslie West to avoid overdubs was a cool move. The album version seems to suffer from a bit of over-production compared to the other two, but I suppose may fit into the album better that way, considering the other songs on it.

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  2. A really pretty song. I’ve always loved the backing vocal harmony in The Who’s well known version. I’ve never laid on my back in newly mown grass, but I can see it. If I ever did it, I’d probably sneeze myself to death.

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  3. I quite like it. Listened to the first and third videos, think the Townshend demo had real potential but either one is quite good . Certainly not one I’ve heard on radio, which is too bad.

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    1. I’ve heard it on classic radio a little. Not much off that album that hasn’t been played somewhere but it’s not one you hear all of the time. I do like the rocking one also.

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  4. Great tune and one I’m afraid I kind of had ignored, so thanks for calling it out!

    Between classics like “Baba O’Riley”, “Bargain”, “Behind Blue Eyes” and the killer “Won’t Get Fooled Again” it’s easy to overlook a song like “Love Ain’t for Keeping”. I think of the three takes the Leslie West version is my favorite, but I also like the acoustic version that ended up on the album.

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      1. Listen to the slow songs on Who’s Next album again and you can really absorb his drumming.] mastery.They should have featured him more as a soloist.

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      2. He made a solo album but it was his vocals…I always wished he would have performed a more percussion style album.

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    1. That is where the money was. A classically trained drummer watched him before at Keith’s request for lessons…the guy asked Keith….what can I show you? He then asked Keith what he made…being told that…the drummer said you don’t need any lessons.

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