The Who – Christmas

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and I look forward to reading all of your blogs into the new decade. Thank you for reading mine. This is the last Christmas related song I’m posted until…next November!

This song is on the album Tommy about the deaf, dumb, and blind kid. This is NOT a Christmas song you will hear on the radio at this time of year…it’s just part of the story of Tommy. It’s one of my favorite non-hits on the album along with Sally Simpson.

From Songfacts

Written by Pete Townshend, this song was used in The Who rock opera Tommy when Tommy’s father expresses concerns about his son on Christmas morning. Tommy is deaf, dumb and blind, and doesn’t appear to have much of a future, but that Christmas, he gets a game of pinball and his life changes when he becomes the Pinball Wizard

Christmas

Did you ever see the faces of children
They get so excited.
Waking up on Christmas morning
Hours before the winter sun’s ignited.
They believe in dreams and all they mean
Including heavens generosity.
Peeping round the door
to see what parcels are for free
In curiosity.

And Tommy doesn’t know what day it is.
Doesn’t know who Jesus was or what praying is.
How can he be saved?
From the eternal grave.

Surrounded by his friends he sits so silently,
And unaware of everything.
Playing poxy pin ball
picks his nose and smiles and
Pokes his tongue at everything.
I believe in love
but how can men who’ve never seen
Light be enlightened.
Only if he’s cured
will his spirits future level ever heighten.

And Tommy doesn’t know what day it is.
Doesn’t know who Jesus was or what praying is.
How can he be saved?
>From the eternal grave.
Tommy can you hear me?
Tommy can you hear me?
Tommy can you hear me?
How can he be saved?

[Tommy:]

See me, feel me
Touch me, heal me.
See me, feel me
Touch me, heal me!

Tommy can you hear me?
Tommy can you hear me?
Tommy can you hear me?
How can he be saved?

Pete Townshend – Let My Love Open The Door

Pete recorded the album Empty Glass little before the Who recorded their first album without Keith Moon, Face Dances. This was Pete Townshend’s only solo American Top 10 hit, but it charted as high as any Who song released in America… I Can See For Miles also peaked at #9.

The song peaked at #9 in the Billboard 100 in 1980 and #46 in the UK. The song was on the album Empty Glass that peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Charts.

Two of the musicians on this track, the bass player Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki, formed the Scottish rock quartet Big Country in 1981. Chris Thomas who produced this album also worked with The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Sex Pistols, Badfinger, and U2 among others.

From Songfacts

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine just after this song became a hit, Townshend referred to it as “just a ditty.” He went on to say that he preferred another song from Empty Glass, “A Little is Enough,” which only reached #72 on the US charts.

Pete Townshend has been a follower of the Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba (1894-1969) since 1968 and this appears to be a devotional love song to his religious guru. However, in the liner notes of Townshend’s Gold (Remaster) CD, he refers to this song as “Jesus sings.”

The “love will set you free” message in this song is something Pete Townshend aspired to in his spiritual life, but wasn’t able to sustain as he turned to drugs and alcohol around this time.

When The Who drummer Keith Moon died in 1978, the band carried on, but with loads of tension. Townshend felt it acutely, as his whole life was tied up in the band, including his friendships and his finances. His creative output stayed strong – The Who released albums in 1981 and 1982, and he put out solo albums in 1980 and 1982 – but he nearly killed himself with his vices.

After two stays in rehab, Townshend got clean in 1982 and was able to reflect on this time. He realized he was pushing his guru, Meher Baba, out of his life as a defense mechanism because he couldn’t deal with his issues.

Among the films to use this song are Look Who’s Talking (1989), Mr. Deeds (2002) and Along Came Polly (2004). A different version was recorded for Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), and It was also the end credit song for Jersey Girl (2004). The song played a prominent role in the 2007 movie Dan In Real Life, where Steve Carell and Dane Cook perform the song to Cook’s girlfriend, whom Carell has deep feelings for.

Townshend released a slower version of this song in 1996 that he called the “E. Cola mix,” which he remixed with Jack Hues of Wang Chung along with Chris Hughes and Tim Oliver. This version was used in the 1997 film Grosse Pointe Blank and appeared on the soundtrack. In 2017, this version of the song was used in the “So Swayze It’s Crazy” episode of The Goldbergs, and also in a Walmart commercial titled “Christmas Like a Rock Star,” where families open the door to find items delivered by the store.

According to the 1985 Pete Townshend “My Generation” radio special, Townshend’s manager hated this track and felt it should be left off the album because it didn’t sound like a Pete Townshend song. Weeks after the release, Pete’s manager called to apologize when the song became the first hit single from Empty Glass.

Two different versions of the song were used on the season opener of Showtime’s Californication on April 13, 2014. A re-mix from Los Angeles producer Philip Stier opened the show and Townshend’s 1980 original version closed the episode.

Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia covered this on her 2014 album Male. “Without sounding corny, this one connects to my heart,” she told Entertainment Weekly.

The Christian rock-pop band Audio Adrenaline remade this song on their 1999 Underdog album. In their case the “my love” was referring to God’s love.

Let My Love Open The Door

When people keep repeating
That you’ll never fall in love
When everybody keeps retreating
But you can’t seem to get enough

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart

When everything feels all over
Everybody seems unkind
I’ll give you a four-leaf clover
Take all worry out of your mind

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart, to your heart

I have the only key to your heart
I can stop you falling apart
Try today you’ll find this way
Come on and give me a chance to say

Let my love open the door
It’s all I’m living for
Release yourself from misery
There’s only one thing gonna set you free
That’s my love
That’s my love

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door

When tragedy befalls you
Don’t let it drag you down
Love can cure your problems
You’re so luck I’m around

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart

Songs That Were Banned: The Who – My Generation

This week I’ll feature songs that have been banned from the radio for one reason or another for a time. I will just feature pre-9-11 songs because after 2001 practically every song was banned for a little while.

My Generation featured the chorus “Hope I Die Before I Get Old” but that was ok…It was the vocals that resembled stuttering; afraid to offend people with actual stuttering problems, the BBC prohibited the song from receiving airplay. Later, when the song proved to be a huge hit, they allowed it.

The best part of this song for me was John Entwistle’s bass solo. You just didn’t hear many bass solos at that time. John Entwistle “I bought this Danelectro bass and it had these tiny, thin wire-wound strings on. They were so thin, they sounded just like a piano, an unbelievably clear sound. The only thing was that you couldn’t buy these strings. When we recorded ‘My Generation,’ I ended up with three of these Danelectros just for the strings. The last one I had, the string busted before we actually got into the studio to re-record it, so I did it on a Fender Jazz in the end with tape-wound La Bella strings.”

Pete wrote this song for British mods at the time who didn’t think older people understood what was going on. The song peaked at #74 in the Billboard 100, #2 in the UK, and #3 in Canada in 1966.

Pete Townshend was asked if the line still resonated with him. “I think it does,”  “The line actually came from a time when I was living in a really wealthy district of London, just by accident. I didn’t really understand quite where I was living at the time. And I was treated very strangely on the street, in an imperious way by a lot of people, and it was that that I didn’t like. I didn’t like being confronted with money and the class system and power. I didn’t like being in a corner shop in Belgravia and some woman in a fur coat pushing me out of the way because she was richer. And I didn’t know how to deal with that. I could’ve, I suppose, insisted on my rights and not written the song. But I was a tucked-up little kid and so I wrote the song.”

 

From Songfacts

Roger Daltrey sang the lead vocals with a stutter, which was very unusual. After recording two takes of the song normally, The Who’s manager, Kit Lambert, suggested to Daltrey that he stutter to sound like a British kid on speed. Daltrey recalled to Uncut magazine October 2001: “I have got a stutter. I control it much better now but not in those days. When we were in the studio doing ‘My Generation’, Kit Lambert came up to me and said ‘STUTTER!’ I said ‘What?’ He said ‘Stutter the words – it makes it sound like you’re pilled’ And I said, ‘Oh… like I am!’ And that’s how it happened. It was always in there, it was always suggested with the ‘f-f-fade’ but the rest of it was improvised.”

Pete Townshend wrote this on a train ride from London to Southampton on May 19, 1965 – his 20th birthday. In a 1987 Rolling Stone magazine interview, Townshend explained: “‘My Generation’ was very much about trying to find a place in society. I was very, very lost. The band was young then. It was believed that its career would be incredibly brief.” 

Back in 1967, Pete Townshend called this song, “The only really successful social comment I’ve ever made.” Talking about the meaning, he explained it as “some pilled-up mod dancing around, trying to explain to you why he’s such a groovy guy, but he can’t because he’s so stoned he can hardly talk.”

This contains the famous line, “I hope I die before I get old.” The Who drummer Keith Moon did, dying of a drug overdose in 1978 at age 32. The rest of the band found themselves still playing the song 50 years later, giving that line more than a hint of irony.

A Singapore magazine called BigO is named for the famous line in this song – it’s an acronym for “Before I Get Old.”

This song went through various stages as they tried to perfect it. It began as a slow song with a blues feel, and at one point had hand claps and multiple key changes. The final product was at a much faster tempo than the song was conceived; it was Kit Lambert’s idea to speed it up.

This is the highest charting Who song in the UK, but it never cracked the Top 40 in America, where they were less known. In the UK, the album was also called My Generation, but in America it was titled The Who Sing My Generation.

Entwistle was the least visible member of the band, and his bass solos on this song threw off directors when The Who would perform the song on TV shows. When it got to his part, the cameras would often go to Pete Townshend, and his fingers wouldn’t be moving. Entwistle played the solos using a pick, since their manager Kit Lambert didn’t think fingers recorded well. Most of Entwistle’s next recordings were done with fingers.

The BBC refused to play this at first because they did not want to offend people with stutters. When it became a huge hit, they played it.

In 1965, Roger Daltrey stood by this song’s lyric and claimed he would kill himself before reaching 30 because he didn’t want to get old. When he did get older, he answered the inevitable questions about the “hope I die before I get old” line by explaining that it is about an attitude, not a physical age.

On September 17, 1967, The Who performed this song on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Keith Moon set his drums to explode after the performance, but the technical crew had already done so. The resulting explosion burned Pete Townshend’s hair and permanently damaged his hearing.

Also of note during this performance was Moon’s total disregard for the illusion of live performance. The band was playing along to a recorded track (common practice on the show), and while his bandmates synched their movements to the music, Moon made no effort to keep time, even knocking his cymbal over at one point.

Shel Talmy, who produced this track, was fired the next year. Talmy filed a lawsuit and won extensive royalties from future albums.

The ending of this song is electric mayhem, with Keith Moon pounding anything he can find on his drum kit and Townshend flipping his pickups on an off, something he also did on the album opener “Out in the Street.” Townshend and Daltrey go back and forth on the vocals, intentionally stomping on each other to add to the chaos.

This was covered by Iron Maiden, who was usually the Who’s polar opposite both musically and lyrically. One connection they share is the BBC-TV series Top of the Pops. Performances on the show were customarily lip-synched, but The Who performed live on the show in 1972. In 1980, Iron Maiden also performed live, and was the first band to do so since The Who. Maiden put their version of “My Generation” on the B-side to the single for “Lord of the Flies.” 

The Who played this during their set at Woodstock, which didn’t begin until 5:00 a.m. on the second day. The group turned in a solid performance, but they weren’t pleased with the scheduling and weren’t feeling the peace and love – at one point an activist named Abbie Hoffman came on stage uninvited and was forcibly ejected by Pete Townshend.

Green Day recorded this for their 1992 album Kerplunk!

When the teen pop singer Hilary Duff covered this as a B-side for her 2005 single “Someone’s Watching Over Me,” she made the curious decision to rewrite some of the lyrics. “I hope I don’t die before I get old,” doesn’t really have the same rock ‘n’ roll attitude as Townshend’s original words, and her rendition caused some consternation among Who fans.

This song fits nicely into the “primal rock” genre, which covers tunes that are raucous, rebellious, unusual, and also celebratory. Roger Reale, who was in one of these primal rock bands with Mick Ronson, explains the impact of the song:

“‘My Generation’ had no lead guitar, but a lead part played on the bass. It also had a bass breakdown, and unless you listened to a lot of jazz, there were no bass breakdowns in pop music. I remember playing the end of that track over and over and over again, because you could hear the feedback of the guitar, which was so exciting to listen to. In those days, you weren’t supposed to have an outro that was pure noise.”

My Generation

People try to put us d-down (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we get around (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Don’t try to dig what we all s-s-s-say (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to ’cause a big s-s-sensation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

My generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to d-dig what we all s-s-say (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to ’cause a b-big s-s-sensation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-generation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
My my my generation

People try to put us d-down (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
My my my generation

(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation

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

My Favorite Guitarists

Here are some of my favorite guitarists. Being fast is not something I care about… I’ve always liked guitarists who play with feel more than finger tapping.

 

Roger McGuinn, Byrds – He will not rip off lightning licks but he plays the Rickenbacker 12 string like no one else. I like the tone and his understated style.

Image result for roger mcguinn playing guitar byrds

Neil Young – This may seem like an odd choice but when Neil plays the electric guitar…anything that can happen will. He plays by feel and feedback and God bless him for that.

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Brian May, Queen– You can hum his solos. One of the most melodic lead guitar players I’ve ever heard.

Image result for brian may playing guitar young

Pete Townsend, Who – The king of the power chord. Pete does not have blinding speed but every note he plays is for a purpose.

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Keith Richards, Stones – The Human Riff… When Keith found G tuning the Stones sound changed forever and it may have been the key to their longevity.

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George Harrison, Beatles – After the Beatles, he reinvented himself into a great slide guitar player. Guitar players are still trying to find that tone. He had a great touch and taste in whatever he played.

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Buddy Guy – For electric blues and the tone he gets Buddy Guy is the man. Below is a picture of Buddy at the Festival Express playing a great version of Money.

Image result for buddy guy festival express

Jimi Hendrix – Like Keith Moon…many musicians have tried to copy him but none have. It is controlled chaos but I like it.

Image result for jimi hendrix 1970

Chuck Berry – Rock and roll owes a lot to him…he has been copied more than anyone.

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Scotty Moore, Elvis – The guitar player backing Elvis on his great 50s hits. Keith Richards said of Moore… Everyone else wanted to be Elvis, I wanted to be Scotty.

Image result for scotty moore 1955

Also

Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Peter Green, Lindsey Buckingham, BB King, Joe Walsh, Jimmy Page

 

 

 

 

 

The Who – The Real Me

One of the most exciting songs of The Who. It was off of the Mod concept album Quadrophenia. Roger and Pete are excellent in this song but John and Keith really stand out. The song peaked at #92 in 1974.

I have sat hours with a bass in my hand trying to get the runs right to this. One of John’s best bass parts.

John Entwistle on The Real Me…  “The Real Me” was the first take. I was joking when I did that bass part. The band said, “Wow, that’s great, that’s great!” And I was just messing around. They just loved the song. I was sitting on top of my speaker cabinet playing a silly bass part and that’s the one they liked. 

From Songfacts.

This is about how a Mod can’t see who he really is. “Mods” were British youth who kept up with the latest music and fashion trends. Pete Townshend was a champion of Mod culture, and the rock opera Quadrophenia told the story of a Mod named Jimmy.

John Entwistle gave what many consider one of his greatest bass performances on this song. In a 1996 interview with Goldmine magazine, Entwistle explained that he recorded it in one take. He was just “joking around” when he played it, but the band thought it was great and used it in the final version.

The Real Me

I went back to the doctor
To get another shrink
I sit and tell him ’bout my weekend
But he never betrays what he thinks

Woo
Can you see the real me, doctor?
Doctor?
Can you see the real me, doctor?
Woah, doctor

I went back to my mother
I said I’m crazy ma, help me
She said I know how it feels son
‘Cause it runs in the family

Can you see the real me, mama?
Mama?
Can you see the real me, mama?
Woah, mama

Can you see
Can you see the real me?
Can you see
Can you see the real me
The real me
The real me

The cracks between the paving stones
Look like rivers of flowing veins
Strange people who know me
Peeping from behind every window pane
The girl I used to love
Lives in this yellow house
Yesterday she passed me by
She doesn’t want to know me now

Can you see the real me?
Can ya?
Can ya?
Can you see the real me?
Can ya?
Woah, yeah

I ended up with a preacher
Full of lies and hate
I seemed to scare him a little
So he showed me to the golden gate

Can you see the real me, preacher?
Preacher?
Can you see the real me, preacher?

Can you see
Can you see
Can you see
Woah

Can you see the real me, doctor?

Can you see the real me, ma?

Can you see the real me (me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me)?

The Who – Pictures of Lily

Describing the Who’s next new single…Pete Townshend coined the term “Power Pop” to describe this song before it was released. It made it to #60 in the Billboard 100 and #4 in the UK Charts. The song tells the story of a father giving his son risque pictures of a woman taken the 1920s…and after a while, the son finds out that she had died many years ago.

It is a song about the lust of a teenage boy…we will keep it at that.

“Pictures Of Lily”

I used to wake up in the morning
I used to feel so bad
I got so sick of having sleepless nights
I went and told my dad
He said “son now here’s some little something”
And stuck them on my wall
And now my nights seem quite so lonely
In fact I, I don’t feel bad at all
I don’t feel bad at allPictures of Lily
Made my life so wonderful
Pictures of Lily
Helped me sleep at night
Pictures of Lily
Solved my childhood problem
Pictures of Lily
Helped me feel alright

Pictures of Lily
Lily, Oh Lily
Lily, Oh Lily
Pictures of Lily

And then one day things weren’t quite so fine
I fell in love with Lily
I asked my dad where Lily I could find
He said “son now don’t be silly
She’s been dead since 1929″
Oh how I cried that night
If only I’d been born in Lily’s time
It would have been alright

Pictures of Lily
Made my life so wonderful
Pictures of Lily
Helped me sleep at night
Pictures of Lily
But me and Lily are together in my dreams
And I ask ya, “Hey mister have ya ever seen?”
Pictures of Lily!