The Who – Who’s Next…..Desert Island Albums

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This is my second round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.

I bought this album when I was 14. I had a few albums by The Who…Face Dances, Big Meaty Big and Bouncy,  and a greatest hits package called Hooligans. Hooligans was a 4 album set and had four songs from Who’s Next and that sample was enough to know I wanted the complete album.

With headphones on, I placed needle to vinyl and could not get over the sound…the sonic boom. The biggest sound I have ever heard before on record. I listened to every song three times through in the first sitting. I knew I finally found a band that moved me like no other except The Beatles. After this came Tommy, Quadrophenia, and The Who Sell Out…but this album left me speechless. Before this record. I liked the Who…after the album they were THE WHO.

It was 1981 and this album had been out for 10 years but that made no difference. As with the Beatles, I was late to the fan party but when I arrived… I arrived in style with Who’s Next under my arm.

There is not one clinker on the album. Forty-three minutes and thirty-eight seconds of pure bliss.

I have a Glyn Johns quote on recording the album to start this off.

I have a residing memory of sitting in the truck, my hair being parted by what was coming out of the speakers, a massive amount of adrenaline coursing through my veins. There have been a few occasions over the years when I have been completely blown away, believing without a doubt that what I was listening to would become much more than just commercially successful but also a marker in the evolution of popular music, and this was one of those moments.

Won’t Get Fooled Again… this is the best concert song I’ve witnessed on film or live in person. It has drama, action, suspense, and aggression… just as much as any movie. Every member of the band is at the top of their game. You have Pete’s thick power chords, John Entwistle’s rolling basslines, Keith Moon’s controlled chaos, and Roger holding it down and keeping it grounded.

When your bookends on an album are Baba O’Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again you have a great album.

My favorite song on the album is Bargain. Moon’s drumming on this song alone makes it worth a listen. Pete Townshend has said the subject of the song is God…as one critic put it… it may be the angriest message God ever received.

Goin’ Mobile is a great vehicle for Townshend’s voice…and how could you not like the line..Play the tape machine, make the toast and tea, When I’m mobile.

Behind Blue Eyes is a song that lulls you with a beautiful melody with sparse accompaniment (probably the longest Moon ever sat on his hands while recording) and then it happens…all hell breaks loose and Roger sings…no correction…he doesn’t sing…he demands When my fist clenches, crack it open, Before I use it and lose my cool… it’s like getting hit by a bus that you didn’t see coming…and then it’s over.

My Wife is a song John Entwistle wrote for the album and one of his best songs. A rocking and hilarious look at marriage by a desperate man. Love Aint For Keeping is a song that gets a lot of play at my home and car. It has a great message. Getting In Tune…this song starts off as a slow ballad and then The Who kicks it up a notch as usual.

The Song Is Over is a beautiful song with Pete and Roger taking turns singing.

Baba O’Riley…One of the most well-known intros in rock ever. Not much else to say about this song except dynamic and exhilarating…that about sums it up.

Who’s Next was released on August 14, 1971. It started off as a rock opera called Lifehouse. The problem was that Pete could not get the idea across to other band members, journalists, or even his producer Glyn Johns. It was suggested to dump the story and make a great standalone album of the songs. The Who did just that.

This album kicked down the door to the seventies and future. The mixture of synthesizers and guitars are perfect. The synthesizers still sound fresh and vibrant today. 1971 was an extraordinary year for great albums…this one helped lead the way.

So far on Max’s Desert Island, I have the White Album and Who’s Next. Life is good…I think I will pick up my guitar and play…just like yesterday.

  1. Baba O’Riley
  2. Bargain
  3. Love Ain’t For Keeping
  4. My Wife
  5. The Song Is Over
  6. Getting In Tune
  7. Going Mobile
  8. Behind Blue Eyes
  9. Won’t Get Fooled Again

 

Rock and Roll Escapades – #1 The Who in Montreal

In the next few weeks, I’m going to hunt for some rock star stories. Fair warning…Keith Moon will be involved more than once.

On December 2, 1973, the Who were nearing the end of their Quadrophenia tour in Montreal Canada at the Bonaventure Hotel.

This scene started when Keith Moon smashed a ketchup bottle on the hotel wall. Pete Townshend said: I thought it looked aesthetically pleasing. Someone should frame it,…Pete had cut his hand with a steak knife so he added his blood to the ketchup “art” on the wall.

Keith Moon then grabbed a hotel painting and kicked it out of its frame and used the frame to frame his and Pete’s masterpiece. Ok…not good but funny…not a big deal so far.

Then Pete and Keith pitched a TV in the pool in the old rock and roll fashion. The two then pitched a sofa through the window to the nice courtyard below. Not finished yet they used a large marble table as a battering ram and went through a wall.

The Hotel staff looked at them and they looked at the hotel staff…both sides had a look of horror at the damage. One witness described the scene with one word: “Hiroshima”

Now the fun had begun…The police… or mounties came and rounded all the boys up. 14 of the Who crew including Mike Shaw a paraplegic that worked for the Who…they were arrested and went to jail. They woke Roger Daltrey who was sleeping in his bed when this went on and took him also.

When the police took the band to jail. Keith Moon declared to the officer in charge when they got there… “I believe I booked a suite.”

They ended up spending 7 hours in jail and missed their scheduled flight to Boston for a concert. They did end up getting there just on time that night to play the show.

Keith Moon would sometimes alter one of the songs he sang called “Bellboy” to say  “Remember the place in Canada that we smashed?”

John Entwistle later wrote a song called “Cell Number Seven” about the event.

Cell Number 7

 

Six thirty in the morning, I’d just got to sleep
I felt so tired didn’t even count sheep
I woke up with six policemen standing by the bed
The voice of doom was ringing in my head
Get up fella, and don’t make no fuss
Put your clothes on, you gotta come with us.

To cell number seven
Cell number seven
Cell number seven
Cell number seven ain’t exactly Heaven.

Bill the con said, I think it appears
I’ve only been dreaming the last four years
Wiggy said, I’m having so much fun
Cell number one has something for everyone
Meanwhile in Boston the kids were queuing
Back in Montreal we were just stewing.

In cell number seven
Cell number seven
Cell number seven
Cell number seven’s a long way from Heaven.

Micky boy was busy banging his cell
While the admiral was trying to talk his way outta Hell
Well Bobby needs a change of seed and sand
The promoter’s tearing out his hair screaming where’s the band?

(Guitar Solo)

The chicks were in the chicken shack eating bread and honey
The hotel manager was adding up the money
Come on froggies let us pay
We got a show to do
We gotta get away.

In cell number two was the singer of The Who
Pacing up and down like a tiger in a zoo
Cousin Graham didn’t even know what he’d done
To make them take away his, Nikon
Meanwhile in Boston the kids were waiting
While back in Montreal we were just speculating.

In cell number seven
Cell number seven
Cell number seven
Cell number seven ain’t nothing like Heaven.

The Birdman was sleeping in cage number three
Waiting for the sound of a turning key
While Dougal the Dane leant against the wall
Frightened to sleep in case he should fall
And meanwhile in Boston the kids never knew
That in cell numbers two, three, and seven were The Who.

Cell number seven
Me and Moonie were in cell number seven
He dribbled on my jacket in cell number seven
Oo hoo
Snored like a goat
Ruined my coat.

 

Who – I’m Free

After reading the John Entwistle biography I’ve been listening to the Who for the past week and a half. Tommy is not my favorite Who album…but the album does contain a lot of good songs. Tommy did make a huge mark in pop culture…a movie and Broadway play has been made from the story.

The riff is simple and powerful. A very good song that adds to Tommy. Like some of the other songs…I’m Free was written before Tommy was thought of but Pete fit what songs he had with the new ones to make the story.

Tommy was the breakthrough album for the Who in America. A concept album about a deaf, dumb, and blind boy who…you guessed it…loves pinball. On the album the Who’s sound is subdued but on tour, they presented it loud and aggressive as only the Who could be.

The album peaked at #4 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1970. I’m Free peaked at #37 in the Billboard 100 in 1969.

Pete Townshend: ‘I’m Free’ came from ‘Street Fighting Man.’ This has a weird time/shape and when I finally discovered how it went, I thought ‘well blimey, it can’t be that simple,’ but it was and it was a gas and I wanted to do it myself.

The guitar sound in this version sends shivers down my spine. Compare it to the album version below this one.

I’m Free

I’m free
I’m free
And freedom tastes of reality
I’m free
I’m free
An’ I’m waiting for you to follow me

If I told you what it takes
To reach the highest high
You’d laugh and say ‘nothing’s that simple’
But you’ve been told many times before
Messiahs pointed to the door
And no one had the guts to leave the temple!

I’m free
I’m free
And freedom tastes of reality

I’m free
I’m free
An’ I’m waiting for you to follow me

How can we follow?
How can we follow?

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

 

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!

Thunderclap Newman – Something In The Air

A band discovered by Pete Townshend of The Who that featured John “Speedy” Keen, Jimmy McCulloch, and Andy “Thunderclap” Newman. The song peaked at #37 in the Billboard 100 and #1 in the UK Charts in 1969.

It was written and sung by  John “Speedy” Keen. The song has been featured in many movies and commercials. 16-year-old Jimmy McCullock would later play in Wings and the reunited Small Faces.

Something In The Air

Call out the instigators
Because there’s something in the air
We’ve got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution’s here, and you know it’s right
And you know that it’s right
We have got to get it together
We have got to get it together now
Lock up the streets and houses
Because there’s something in the air
We’ve got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution’s here, and you know it’s right
And you know that it’s right
We have got to get it together
We have got to get it together now
Hand out the arms and ammo
We’re going to blast our way through here
We’ve got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution’s here, and you know it’s right
And you know that it’s right
We have got to get it together
We have got to get it together now

 

The Kids Are Alright 1979

Besides the Beatles Anthology, this is my favorite rockumentary for the lack of a better word. Jeff Stein the director did a great job on this film about The Who.

Jeff was a fan of the band and pestered them until they let him do this. He had no prior experience in filmmaking but this was the 1970s and he got the gig. His timing was eerily perfect. He caught the original band at the very end of their tenure with the great Keith Moon.

He searched high and low for clips of the band in earlier years. Stein keeps the appearance mostly in order. There is sadness in this. You see the band through the years from 1964 to 1978… you see all of them gradually age of course but Keith Moon ages faster than any of them. I’ve read where it hit him hard while watching the rough cut right before he died. His drinking and drug taking had taken its toll on him. He saw a young energetic kid that looked like Paul McCartney’s younger brother to a man who was 32 and looked like he was in his 40s.

This may be the first or one of the first video bios on a major rock group. Led Zeppelin had The Song Remains the Same but it focused on one concert in New York… The Beatles had Let It Be but those films didn’t show their history like The Kids Are Alright.

It this film you see a band that is fun… unlike Zeppelin the Who were more open to their audience and didn’t have a dark mystique hanging over them. They would crack jokes from the stage and Moon treated it like a High School talent show until he started to play…then he got serious.

You see film segments that were fun like the video of Happy Jack, the interview on the Russell Harty show, Keith with Ringo, and Keith and Pete sharing a joke that only they could understand. One of my favorite segments is The Who playing Barbara Ann with Keith singing and the band having a good time. They also played I Saw Her Standing There but it didn’t make the film…you can watch it in the outtakes. I can’t imagine Zeppelin doing Barbara Ann and goofing for the camera.

The Who did a couple of live shows for the film besides being interviewed. Stein mostly used old clips but he convinced the band to do a couple of concerts where he could get a definitive version of Won’t Get Fooled Again… which personally I think is the greatest rock song live you will ever hear. You see Keith’s last performance as he is looking pudgy, older, and slower but still pulls it off. Pete wasn’t too thrilled about doing the concerts for the film but it turned out good. They ended up only using a version Won’t Get Fooled Again and Baba O’Riley.

Keith died a few months before The Kids Are Alright debuted. The film showed The Who at it’s best. Kenney Jones from the Faces replaced him but it was never the same. You cannot replace Moon…he was the engine that drove the Who. The only drummer that has worked well with the Who since Keith has been Keith’s Godson Zak Starkey…Ringo’s son.

zak.jpg

I acquired a VHS copy of this in the mid-eighties. It wasn’t a great copy but my friends and I wore it out. One of them worked at a small cable station. The station was in a small county that usually aired farm reports and advertisements. Basically, it was a very small building in the middle of nowhere. All they would do there is broadcast videos.

We had the tape in hand and wanted to see it so we went there one afternoon. He popped it in the VHS player and played it. He had no idea but it was going out live. Near the end of the film, he took a phone call from his boss. I didn’t think anyone ever watched that station…but it turns out they did and they were not fans of The Who. He didn’t get fired but they took his key for the door. It was a big subject the next day at school as some teenagers loved it but their parents didn’t appreciate their videos on farming being interrupted by My Generation and Keith Moon in bondage.

This film covers the original Who and being such a Who fan I’m glad Jeff Stein was so persistent in doing this because many of the tapes he was able to borrow probably would have been erased and used again by the BBC as was their policy.