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