Who – Summertime Blues

Eddie Cochran wrote this song and released it in 1958.

Cochran wrote this with Jerry Capehart, a songwriter who was good friends with Cochran and helped him get a record deal. Capehart said: “There had been a lot of songs about summer, but none about the hardships of summer.” With that idea and a guitar lick from Cochran, they wrote the song in 45 minutes.”

I like the Cochran version…and the Who version…they are completely different. I’ve always loved the way the Who covered it. If I had a time machine The Who would be a stop to see live at this time.

This song was on their great live album Live At Leeds. The song peaked at #27 in the Billboard 100, #8 in Canada, and #38 in the UK in 1970.

Live at Leeds would be my pick for best rock live album ever. The album peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, and #3 in the UK.

Summertime Blues

I’m gonna raise a fuss, I’m gonna raise a holler
About a-workin’ all summer just to try to earn a dollar
Well, I went to the boss, get a girl for a date
But the boss says, “no dice son, you gotta work late”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a-gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

Well, my mama and papa told me, “son, you gotta make some money”
If you want to use the car to go ridin’ next Sunday
Well, I didn’t go to work, I told the boss I was sick
“Well, you can’t use the car ’cause you didn’t work a lick”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

I’m gonna take two weeks, gonna have a fine vacation
I’m gonna take my problem to the United Nations
Well, I went to my congressman and he said, quote:
“I’d like to help you, son, but you’re too young to vote”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime Blues

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

Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again… Epic Rock Songs Week

This week I will cover some songs that I have avoided because everyone has heard them so many times but…they are considered some of the best ever…

Meet The New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

As rock songs go…it doesn’t get any better than this one. 

This is one of my favorite rock songs of all time. I wrote a review of Who’s Next and I included this with it about 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 bass lines, Keith Moon’s controlled chaos, and Roger holding it down and keeping it grounded.

The song is always exciting to hear and out of all the songs in this week’s posts…this is one I never get tired of…

Roger Daltrey’s scream is considered one of the best on any rock song. It was quite convincing…so convincing that the rest of the band, lunching nearby, thought Daltrey was brawling with the engineer.

Pete Townshend: “It is not precisely a song that decries revolution – it suggests that we will indeed fight in the streets – but that revolution, like all action can have results we cannot predict. Don’t expect to see what you expect to see. Expect nothing and you might gain everything.” Townsend then goes on to explain that the song was simply ”Meant to let politicians and revolutionaries alike know that what lay in the center of my life was not for sale, and could not be co-opted into any obvious cause.” 

The song peaked at #15 in the Billboard 100, #9 in the UK, and #7 in Canada in 1971.

Pete Townshend wrote this as part of his “Lifehouse” project. He wanted to release a film about a futuristic world where the people are enslaved… but saved by a rock concert. Pete couldn’t get enough support to finish the project, but most of the songs he wrote were used on the Who’s Next album.

From Songfacts

Pete Townshend wrote this song about a revolution. In the first verse, there is an uprising. In the middle, they overthrow those in power, but in the end, the new regime becomes just like the old one (“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”). Townshend felt revolution was pointless because whoever takes over is destined to become corrupt. In Townshend: A Career Biography, Pete explained that the song was antiestablishment, but that “revolution is not going to change anything in the long run, and people are going to get hurt.”

The synthesizer represents the revolution. It builds at the beginning when the uprising starts, and comes back at the end when a new revolution is brewing.

The title never appears in the lyric, which goes:

I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

The album version runs 8:30. The single was shortened to 3:35 so radio stations would play it.

Daltrey was unhappy about the editing. He recalled to Uncut magazine: “I hated it when they chopped it down. I used to say ‘F–k it, put it out as eight minutes’, but there’d always be some excuse about not fitting it on or some technical thing at the pressing plant.”

“After that we started to lose interest in singles because they’d cut them to bits,” Daltrey added. “We thought, ‘What’s the point? Our music’s evolved past the three-minute barrier and if they can’t accommodate that we’re just gonna have to live on albums.'”

In a 1985 “My Generation” radio special, Pete Townshend said he wrote the song as a message to the supposedly “new breed” of politicians who came around in the early ’70s.

This is the last song on the album. It was also the last song they played at their concerts for many years.

This was one of the first times a synthesizer was used in the rhythm track. When they played this live, they had to play the synthesizer part off tape.

Townshend (from Rolling Stone magazine): “It’s interesting it’s been taken up in an anthemic sense when in fact it’s such a cautionary piece.” 

Pete Townshend lived on Eel Pie Island in Richmond, London, when he wrote this song. There was an active commune on the Island at the time situated in what used to be a hotel. According to Townshend, this commune was an influence on the song. “There was like a love affair going on between me an them,” he said. “They dug me because I was like a figurehead in a group, and I dug them because I could see what was going on over there. At one point there was an amazing scene where the commune was really working, but then the acid started flowing and I got on the end of some psychotic conversations.”

The Woodstock festival was an influence on this song. Most songs inspired by Woodstock follow the peace and love narrative, but Pete Townshend had a very different take.

The Who played Day 2 of Woodstock, going on at the ludicrous hour of 5 a.m. During their set, the activist Abbie Hoffman came on stage unannounced and commandeered the microphone. Townshend may or may not have belted him with his guitar, but he certainly did not want to provide a platform for any cause. “I wrote ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ as a reaction to all that – ‘Leave me out of it: I don’t think you lot would be any better than the other lot!,'” he explained to Creem in 1982.

In the same interview, he shared his thoughts on the festival crowd: “All those hippies wandering about thinking the world was going to be different from that day. As a cynical English arsehole I walked through it all and felt like spitting on the lot of them, and shaking them and trying to make them realize that nothing had changed and nothing was going to change.”

This song was played by the remaining members of the band at “The Concert for New York City,” a fundraising concert in the wake of the devastating attacks on September 11, 2001. Daltrey omitted the last line of the song: “Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss.” 

Part of this song is used in the opening sequence of the CBS TV series CSI: Miami, which launched in 2002. This was the first spin-off from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which went on the air in 2000 with “Who Are You?” as the theme song. Every subsequent CSI featured a song by The Who: CSI: NY used “Baba O’Riley,” and CSI: Cyber went with “I Can See For Miles.”

Roger Daltrey could sing “My Generation” for five decades without complaint, but not this one. “That’s the only song I’m bloody bored s–tless with,” he told Rolling Stone in 2018.

In The Simpsons episode “A Tale of Two Springfields,” Homer forms “New Springfield” and gets The Who to play there. Pete Townshend blasts the wall between old and new Springfield by blasting the guitar riff from this song. >>

Pete Townshend refused Michael Moore permission to use this song in his 2004 anti-George W. Bush documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, citing the left wing filmaker as a “bully.”

This was used in commercials for the 2000 Nissan Maxima. Some people considered this the biggest sellout in rock, but The Who made lots of money in the deal. The same year, Nissan used The Who’s “Baba O’Reily” in an ad for their Pathfinder.

DJs like to play this as their last song before leaving a particular radio station because of the line “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” – a snub directed at station management because they might not be leaving on the friendliest terms. 

This was played in Super Bowl XLI (2007) as the Indianapolis Colts came out of the locker room. The Colts won the game.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

We’ll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain’t changed
Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
No, no!

I’ll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I’ll get all my papers and smile at the sky
Though I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?

There’s nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Are now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again
No, no!

Yeah!

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Big Star – #1 Record…Desert Island Albums

This is my third round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.
2020 ALBUM DRAFT-ROUND 3 PICK 6- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- BIG STAR- #1 RECORD

“Big Star is like a letter that was mailed in 1971 but didn’t arrive until 1985.”
Musician Robyn Hitchcock 

I never travel far, without a little Big Star
The Replacements

“We’ve sort of flirted with greatness, but we’ve yet to make a record as good as Revolver or Highway 61 Revisited or Exile on Main Street or Big Star’s Third.”
Peter Buck

The band didn’t chart a record when they were active. I still hold their music up along with The Who, Beatles. and Kinks…they never had the sales but they did have a giant influence. They released this album as their debut in August of 1972.  I had to stop myself from writing an open love letter (I may have failed) about this band. Was it the mystique of them? Was it the coolness factor of liking a band that not many people knew? No and no. It’s about the music. Mystique and coolness wear off and all you are left with is the music…We are fortunate to have 3 albums by Big Star to enjoy.

In the early eighties, I heard stories from an older brother of a friend about Big Star out of Memphis…but their records were hard to come by.  I loved what little I heard and it got lost in the shuffle but it planted a seed for later. 

By the mid-80s I heard more of their songs. In 1986 The Bangles released “September Gurls” and I knew it sounded familiar…and the DJ said it was a Big Star song…then came the song, Alex Chilton, by The Replacements and  I’m ashamed to say it wasn’t until the early nineties, I finally had Big Star’s music along with the Raspberries and Badfinger. My power-pop fandom kicked into high gear and I have never left that genre.

Big Star was the best band never heard. Such a great band but a long frustrating story. They made three albums that were among the best of the decade that were not heard until much later. They signed with Ardent which was a subsidiary of Stax Records.

A power-pop band on the soul Stax label doesn’t sound like a good idea now and it wasn’t then. Stax was failing at that time and could not distribute the records to the stores. Kids loved the music on the radio only to go to a record store with no Big Star records. Rolling Stone gave them rave reviews…but that doesn’t help if the album is not out there to purchase. They were through by 1974 after recording their 3rd album.

When their albums were finally discovered by eighties bands, they influenced many artists such as REM, The Replacements, Cars, Cheap Trick, Sloan, Matthew Sweet, KISS, Wilco, Gin Blossoms, and many more. They influenced alternative rock of the 80s and 90s and continue to this day.

Listening to this album with each song you think…Oh, that could have been a single. Alex Chilton and Chris Bell wrote most of the songs and wanted to emulate Lennon/McCartney and they did a great job but with an obvious American slant to make it their own. After the commercial failure of this album, Chris Bell quit but the other three continued for one more album and then bass player Andy Hummel quit after the second album, and Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens recorded the third.

I could have gone with ANY three of their albums. I picked this one because of Chris Bell. The songs are a bit more polished on this one than the other two but it fits the songs they present. Chris Bell added a lot to Big Star and after hearing his solo song I Am The Cosmos you see how much. Radio City, their second album, with Chilton in charge many consider their best and their third album, Third/Sister Lovers is not as commercially accessible but I still love it. All three are in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time.

I’ll go over four songs.

The Ballad Of El Goodo  A song about Vietnam conscientious objector…but it is much more than that. It is one of the most perfect pop/rock songs recorded to my ears. This would make it in my own top 10 songs of all time. The tone of the guitars, harmonies and the perfectly constructed chorus keeps calling me back listen after listen. This is when pop music becomes more.

In The Street is a song that everyone will know. It was used as the theme of That Seventies Show. Cheap Trick covered it for the show. I was not a teenager in the early seventies but with this song, I am there front and center. Steal your car and bring it down, Pick me up, we’ll drive around, Wish we had, A joint so bad.

Thirteen is a song that Chilton finds that spot between the innocence of childhood and the first teenage year where they meet and intertwine with confusion. Won’t you tell your dad, “get off my back” Tell him what we said ’bout “Paint It Black”

When My Baby’s Beside Me has a great guitar riff to open it up. This is power pop at it’s best. A nice rocker that should have been blaring out of AM radios in the 70’s.

I’m not going over every song (but I could easily) because reading this won’t do it…you have to listen if you haven’t already. You will not regret it. Not just these songs but the complete album.

It’s a mixture of songs on the album…rockers, mid-tempo songs, and ballads. Even the weaker song called The India Song is very listenable. My favorites besides the ones I listed are  Watch the Sunrise, Don’t Lie To Me, Feel, and Give Me Another Chance.

I now have rounded out my albums on my island. The variety of The White Album, The rock of Who’s Next, and the ringing power-pop beauty of Big Star…swim or use a boat and come over to my island and we will listen…the Pina Coladas and High Tides (hey it’s an island) are flowing… let’s drink to BIG STAR.

On a side note. If you want to learn more there is a good documentary out about them called: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.

Feel
The Ballad Of El Goodo
In The Street
Thirteen
Don’t Lie To Me
The India Song
When My Baby’s Beside Me
My Life Is Right
Give Me Another Chance
Try Again
Watch The Sunrise
ST 100/6

  • Chris Bell – guitar, vocals
  • Alex Chilton – guitar, vocals
  • Andy Hummel – bass guitar, vocals
  • Jody Stephens – drums

 

 

 

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

https://slicethelife.com/2020/07/20/37604/

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 – Athena

I felt like a pickled priest
Who was being flambed

No one writes like Pete Townshend…bless him. I’ve come to really like Eminence Front but when this album came out, this is the song that I drawn to at first.

The song was written about actress Theresa Russell who Pete had a crush on that the time. He did a demo at the time called “Teresa for the Face Dances Album. She was then going with Nic Roeg. By the time The Who came to record the song for It’s Hard, Teresa Russell had wed Nic Roeg. The guitarist was nervous about publicly naming his crush so he renamed it “Athena.” What Pete’s then-wife Karen Astley felt about this we don’t know.

The song reached #28 in the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada, and #40 in the UK in 1982.

Roger Daltrey felt that concealing the subject of the song’s true identity was a mistake. “Pete was talking to me about Nick Roeg’s girlfriend and how he fancied her, and that song was written about her – but then it changed into ‘She’s a bomb’.

Roger Daltrey:  I’ve got a psychological problem with it,” “It’s a great record; there’s so much energy on that thing, but I still don’t think there’s a center to that song. The fact that he changed the title in that and didn’t stick to what it was supposed to be lost its center to me.”

Pete Townshend: The song was written after I had been to see The Wall with my friend Bill Minkin and the actress Theresa Russell who was about to marry the film director Nic Roeg with whom I hoped to work on a new version of Lifehouse. I got drunk as usual, but I had taken my first line of cocaine that very evening before meeting her and decided I was in love. When I came to do the vocal on the following day I was really out of my mind with frustration and grief because she didn’t reciprocate

From Songfacts

Pete Townshend wrote this song the day after he was knocked back by American actress Theresa Russell.

The guitarist told TheWho.net how he went to see The Wall with his friend Bill Minkin and Russell. (The actress was engaged to the film director Nic Roeg with whom he was planning to work on a new version of Lifehouse.) “I got drunk as usual, but I had taken my first line of cocaine that very evening before meeting her and decided I was in love,” Townshend explained. “When I came to do the vocal on the following day [February 15, 1980] I was really out of my mind with frustration and grief because she didn’t reciprocate.”

Teresa Demo

Athena

I had no idea how much I need her
In peaceful times I hold her close and I feed her
My heart starts palpitating
When I think my guess was wrong
But I think I’ll get alone
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb

Athena
All I ever want to do is please her
My life has been so settled
And she’s the reason
Just one word from her
And my troubles are long gone
But I think I’ll get along
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb
She’s a bomb
Just a girl, just a girl
Just a girl, just a girl
Just a girl, just a girl
She’s just a girl

Athena
My heart felt like a shattered glass in an acid bath
I felt like one of those flattened ants
You find on a crazy path
I’d have stopped myself to give her time
She didn’t need to ask
Was I a suicidal psychopath
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb
Consumed
There was a beautiful white horse
I saw on a dream stage
He had a snake the size of a sewer pipe
Livin’ in his rib cage

I felt like a pickled priest
Who was being flambed
You’ve got me requisitioned blondie
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb
I’m happy
She’s a bomb
I’m ecstatic
Just a girl, just a girl
Just a girl, just a girl
Just a girl, just a girl
Just a girl

Look into the face of a child
Measure how long you smiled
Before the mem’ry claimed
How long would children remain
How long could children remain

Athena
You picked me up by my lapels
And screamed “leave her”
I felt like waking up in heaven
On an empty meter
And now you’re stuck
With a castrated leader
And I hate the creep
I didn’t mean that
She’s a bomb
I just said it
She’s a bomb
Please She’s a bomb

Athena
I had no idea how much I need her
My life has been so settled
And she’s the reason
Just one word from her
And my troubles are long gone
Ooh but I get along
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb
She’s just a girl
She’s a bomb

My 10 Favorite Powerpop Songs

As you may have guessed by now I’m an extreme fan of power pop. This list was hard to write…I kept changing most of it… but I knew the top choice and worked from there.

I just gave my self ten choices or I would have gone on and on. A lot of artists and their songs were left off…such as Todd Rundgren, The Cars, Sloan, The Lemon Twigs, The Flamin’ Groovies, The Shivvers, The Jayhawks,  and too many more to mention.

10. The Ride – Twisterella– 1992 – I found this a few months back and have been listening to it ever since.

9. The Records – Starry Eyes– 1979 – Great song. Starry Eyes would end up being The Record’s best-known song. Robert John “Mutt” Lange produced their debut album for The Records.

8. The La’s – There She Goes– 1990 – A very good power pop song that has no verses…It just repeats the chorus four different ways four different times…but that doesn’t matter.

7. Cheap Trick – Voices– 1980 – One of my top Cheap Trick songs. Robin Zanders voice sounds great in this Beatlesque song.

6. The Who –Pictures of Lily– 1967 –  When this song came out Pete Townshend coined the name “power pop” and this song is about the childhood…lusts…of a boy.

5. Raspberries – Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)– 1974 – An epic song by the Raspberries. Not their most popular…that would be “Go All The Way” but this encapsulates everything power pop is about. Bruce Springsteen on Overnight Sensation: It’s one of the best little pop symphonies you’ll ever hear.

4. Big Star – The Ballad of El Goodo – 1972 – The tone of the guitars, harmonies and the perfect constructed chorus keeps me coming back listen after listen.

3. Badfinger –No Matter What– 1971 – The only band to make this list twice. Why? because this song defines the crunchy power pop of bands like Cheap Trick to come.

 2. Tom Petty – American Girl– 1977 – The Rickenbacker, the hook, and a Byrds sounding track.

 

********************************************************************

  1. Badfinger – Baby Blue – 1972 – The number one song was the easiest decision of the list. The rest were changed a few times…this one for me is a no-brainer. This song is the perfect power pop song…strong vocals, Crunchy Brit  guitar, great hook,  and great melody

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?

The Ox: The Authorized Biography of The Who’s John Entwistle…. by Paul Rees

When I see the word “authorized” I get really skeptical that they will not tell the complete story. This one proved me wrong. John’s son Christopher had said that this book was going to be warts and all. He was correct in that. I was super excited to read this. In the past year, I re-read Pete Townshend’s autobiography, Roger Daltrey’s autobiography, and re-read Keith Moon’s biography by Tony Fletcher and to top it off the Kenney Jones biography.

John actually wrote 4 chapters himself in 1990 when he wanted to write his own book. He soon grew tired of it and just stored it away. Rees did manage to incorporate some of what he wrote that included stories about him and Moon I never heard. John Entwistle is the least written about of the four. Any info on him is nice and a lot of this was new to me. Rees goes over the highlights and you don’t get dragged down at any point. The only thing I didn’t like was…like Daltrey’s autobiography it’s short…only 320 pages long.

The book goes through the history of the Who that Who fans know but with a lot of anecdotes. I found out more about John’s life than I ever knew. You see where he developed his black humor and he was probably the best pure musician in that band. I would recommend this book to any rock music fan. You get some funny stories also…

One about the Who opening up for the Beatles and listening to them through monitors in the dressing room rolling on the floor laughing hearing The Beatles sing obscene words to their songs “I Want To Hold Your ****”…A Hard Day’s ****. because the screaming was so loud and they couldn’t be heard out front.

Why I looked forward to this book…

___________________________________________________________________________________________

John was a bass hero of mine growing up. I started off learning trying to learn the riffs he did by slowing Who albums with my finger so the riffs would be slower…but they were still fast. Most bass players fill in the empty space but with the Who, there wasn’t much empty space because of Moon’s playing. He played what amounted to lead bass and it worked well…his harmonics made up for the lack of other instruments.

Keith Altham (journalist): John was an enigma. That he was the best bass guitarist of his generation is not in dispute, but because of the peculiar demands placed upon him by The Who he wasn’t a bass player in the accepted sense of the term because he didn’t play bass like anyone else, any more than Keith Moon played the drums like anyone else or, for that matter, Pete Townshend the guitar. “His playing was so dextrous and inventive that he was often indistinguishable from a second guitar.”

Lemmy: “He’s the best player in Rock and Roll ever…no contest”

John Entwistle: “I just wanted to play louder than anyone else …

Bill Wyman: John was the Jimi Hendrix of bass players

The Who – My Wife

Gonna buy a tank and an aeroplane
When she catches up with me won’t be no time to explain
She thinks I’ve been with another woman and that’s enough
To send her half insane

I was just going to post the lyrics for everyone to read…it explains it all…it’s funny and a great song. A favorite of mine from the Who. It’s a John Entwistle song with his brand of humor on display. He was married to his wife Alison at this time. It’s on the great Who’s Next album and was the B side to Baba O’Riley. It was released in 1971.

John wrote some good songs like Boris The Spider, Success Story, and Trick of the Light but he was in a band with Pete Townshend, and that makes it tough to be heard.

John (The Ox, The Quiet One, Thunderfingers) and Keith Moon made… to me, the best rhythm section in rock and roll.

On the studio version from Who’s Next, Entwistle sings and plays bass, in addition to performing the piano part and all of the brass parts…he’d also played the French horn on earlier Who records…

Run John Run!

My Wife

My life’s
In jeopardy
Murdered in cold blood is what I’m gonna be
I haven’t been home since Friday night and now my wife
Is comin’ after me

Give me police protection
Gonna buy a gun so I can look after number one
Give me a bodyguard —
A black belt judo expert
With a machine gun!

Gonna buy a tank and an aeroplane!
When she catches up with me,
Won’t be no time to explain
She thinks I’ve been with another woman
And that’s enough
To send her half-insane!

Gonna buy a fast car, put on my lead boots, and take a long, long drive
I may end up spendin’ all my money,
But I’ll still be alive!

All I did was have a bit too much to drink
And picked the wrong precinct
Got picked up by the law and now I ain’t got time to think

Gonna buy a tank and an aeroplane!
When she catches up with me,
Won’t be no time to explain
She thinks I’ve been with another woman
And that’s enough
To send her half-insane!

Gonna buy a fast car, put on my lead boots, and take a long, long drive
I may end up spendin’ all my money,
But I’ll still be alive!

And I’m oh, so tired of running
Gonna lay down on the floor
I gotta rest some time
So I can get to run some more
Yeah!

She’s comin’!
She’s comin’!
She’s comin’!
She’s comin’!
She’s comin’!
She’s comin’!
She’s comin’!
She’s comin’!
She’s comin’!
She’s comin’!

Who – Baba O’Riley

Pete Townshend took a chance with this song and the album. Back in1971 when you used any new synthesizer or electronic sounds you ran the risk of sounding dated very quickly as new devices were coming out regularly.

Townshend played a Lowrey TBO-1 organ at his home studio. He tried to run it through an ARP synthesizer/sequencer, but couldn’t get the sound he was looking for. Instead, he used the “marimba repeat” setting on his Lowrey to create an arpeggiated, complex repeating pattern. The album sounds fresh today.

The song was on Who’s Next…arguably the most successful album of the Who’s career. There is not a weak song on the album. The difference in the sound of the album compared to Tommy is phenomenal. This album has a sonic quality that not many albums have.

The album was released on August 14, 1971.

From Songfacts

The first part of the title comes from Meher Baba, who was Pete Townshend’s spiritual guru. The second part comes from Terry Riley, an experimental, minimalist composer Townshend admired – many of the keyboard riffs and sound effects on Who’s Next were a result of Riley’s influence. According to the Who’s Next liner notes, Townshend wrote it as his vision of what would happen if the spirit of Meher Baba was fed into a computer and transformed into music. The result would be Baba in the style of Terry Riley, or “Baba O’Riley.”

The title is not mentioned in the lyrics, so the song is often referred to as “Teenage Wasteland.” The “Teenage Wasteland” section was a completely different song Townshend combined with his “Baba O’Riley” idea to form the song.

Pete Townshend spent a few weeks in his home studio putting together the part that sounds like a synthesizer on a Lowry organ. His goal: to create “a replication of the electronic music of the future.”

When he took the tape of his recording to engineer Glyn Johns, he expected Johns to alter it, but Johns left it as is, insisting it was perfect.

This is the first song on Who’s Next, the most successful album of The Who’s career. Although this is one of the most popular Who songs, it was never released as a single in America or the UK. It was, however, the perfect song for the up-and-coming Album Oriented Rock (AOR) format that was picking up steam on FM radio. Always played in moderation, “Baba” became a Classic Rock staple and remains on many playlists.

When The Who perform this live, the processed organ is played from a recording, since it would be nearly impossible to replicate on an instrument. The guitar doesn’t come in until 1:40, giving Pete Townshend some time to reflect on his work. “There is this moment of standing there just listening to this music and looking out to the audience and just thinking, ‘I f–king did that. I wrote that,” he told Rolling Stone. “I just hope that on my deathbed I don’t embarrass myself by asking someone, ‘Can you pass me my guitar? And will you run the backing tape of ‘Baba O’Riley’? I just want to do it one more time.”

This marked one of the first times a keyboard/synthesizer was used to form the rhythm of a rock song, rather than employing it as a lead instrument.

Regarding the phrase “Teenage Wasteland”:

Lifehouse is set in a time where most of England is a polluted wasteland. Townshend described it as: “A self-sufficient drop-out family group farming in a remote part of Scotland decide to return South to investigate rumors of a subversive concert event that promises to shake and wake up apathetic, fearful British society. Ray is married to Sally, they hope to link up with their daughter Mary who has run away from home to attend the concert. They travel through the scarred wasteland of middle England in a motor caravan, running an air conditioner they hope will protect them from pollution.”

As for the “teenage” bit, Townshend said: “There are regular people, but they’re the scum off the surface; there’s a few farmers there, that’s where the thing from ‘Baba O’Riley’ comes in. It’s mainly young people who are either farmer’s kids whose parents can’t afford to buy them experience suits; then there’s just scum, like these two geezers who ride around in a battered-up old Cadillac limousine and they play old Who records on the tape deck… I call them Track fans.” So basically, teenagers traveling across the wasteland to attend this concert.

The famous violin part was performed by Dave Arbus of the group East of Eden, who created what many consider the first Celtic Rock song with Jig a Jig.

According to Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time, this violin jig at the end was drummer Keith Moon’s idea. In concert, Roger Daltrey would play the jig on harmonica. 

This began as part of Townshend’s “Lifehouse” project, which is a film script he wrote. The playscript was published in 1999 by Pocket Books, Great Britain. In the screenplay of “Lifehouse,” Townshend wrote about the composer (Bobby) setting up the concert: “An experiment Bobby conducts in which each participant [in the concert] is both blueprint and inspiration for a unique piece of music or song which will feature largely in the first event to be hacked onto the grid.”

Townshend subsequently decided to actually pursue this, which he did through lifehouse-method.com.

Townshend was never able to convince anyone to do the Lifehouse film, and he more or less gave up on that – but he never gave up on having it produced. He revised the script to be more relevant to the world of the Internet (which had caught up with his 1971 concept of a global grid), and to incorporate thoughts and insights he’d had in the ensuing 25+ years, and it was performed on BBC3 on December 5, 1999.

The final version of the song runs 5:01, but Townshend’s instrumental synthesizer demo of the song was a healthy 9:48. This demo was released in 1972 on a Meher Baba tribute album called I Am.

In an interview with Billboard magazine carried out in February 2010, Townshend discussed how he feels now that 40 years on this and other Who songs take on a deeper meaning. He explained that when he wrote the band’s classic tunes, “The music there was about living in the present and losing yourself in the moment. Now that has changed. Boomers kind of hang on to that as a memory.When I go back and listen to those songs, the Who songs in particular of the late ’60s and early 70s, there was an aspiration in my writing to attune to the fact that what I could feel in he audience was – I won’t say religious – but there was certainly a spiritual component to what people wanted their music to contain. There’s definitely a higher call for the music now which is almost religious. U2, for example, are hugely successful with songs about inner longing for freedom, ideas.

A song like ‘Baba O’Riley,’ with ‘we’re all wasted,’ it just meant ‘we’re all wasted’ – it didn’t have the significance that it now has. What we fear is that in actual fact we have wasted an opportunity. I think I speak for my audience when I say that, I hope I do.”

This is the theme song for the TV show CSI: NY, which launched in 2004, the third in the CSI franchise. Every CSI uses a theme song by The Who: for the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation it’s “Who Are You,” CSI: Miami uses “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and for CSI: Cyber it’s “I Can See For Miles.”

This was used in commercials for the 2000 Nissan Pathfinder, and also appeared in ads for Cisco. The Who lost a lot of money on bad business deals in their early years and decided to cash in when they were offered big bucks for commercials.

This quickly became a concert favorite for The Who. Live versions of this song can be found on the albums The Kids Are Alright (1978), Concerts for the People of Kampuchea (1979), Who’s Last (1982), The Blues To The Bush (1999) and The Who & Special Guests Live at the Royal Albert Hall video (2000).

Black Francis of the Pixies finds this song rather intriguing. He broke it down in an interview with Songfacts. “It’s not just straight up verse/chorus/verse/chorus,” Francis said. “I was always impressed by that song, the way that it changes, the way the end of the song sort of becomes the chorus by eliminating one of the chords. It removes the minor chord, and it’s an outro, I guess, but it feels like, Oh, here we are in the chorus again, even though it’s not again – it’s totally different than anything that came before it. So I really like that song. Songs like that I tend to deconstruct a little bit and try to understand what it is that I’m hearing.”

In 2007, the song was covered by The Blue Man Group for the TV show America’s Got Talent. Since then, it has become a staple at Blue Man Group shows. 

While Townsend’s keyboard playing is legendary and brilliant, it’s not quite what it seems. When the song was recorded, the band’s newly purchased Lowry organ came with a very special feature: a pedal that, when pressed, would repeat each note played three times in succession. (Source: interstitial on 97.1FM The Mountain, Denver, Colorado – thanks, S.D. – Denver, CO)

Spike Lee used this in his 1999 movie Summer of Sam, and a fully orchestrated version was used at the beginning of the 2002 movie Slackers. Other movies to use the song include:

Far Out (2015)
Slash 3 (2015)
Premium Rush (2012)
The Girl Next Door (2004)
Fever Pitch (1997)
Prefontaine (1997)
Love in Maid (1975)

It has been used in these TV series:

Stranger Things (“Chapter One: Suzie, Do You Copy?” – 2019)
Family Guy (“Quagmire’s Mom” – 2015)
The Good Guys (“Vacation” – 2010)
My Name Is Earl (“The Trial” – 2007)
One Tree Hill (“Pictures of You” – 2007)
House (“Control” – 2005)
King of the Hill (“Tankin’ It to the Streets” – 2002)
Miami Vice (“Out Where the Buses Don’t Run” – 1985)

This song was used for Part 3 of the VH1 special The Drug Years about drug use in the 1970s. It showed how drugs went from a religious experience in the ’60s to just getting “Wasted” in the ’70s. 

This was used at the end of the trailer for the film The Girl Next Door. The movie encompasses some of the dramas of teenage life.

Baba O’Riley

Out here in the fields
I fight for my meals
I get my back into my living
I don’t need to fight
To prove I’m right
I don’t need to be forgiven

Don’t cry
Don’t raise your eye
It’s only teenage wasteland

Sally take my hand
We’ll travel south cross land
Put out the fire
And don’t look past my shoulder
The exodus is here
The happy ones are near
Let’s get together, before we get much older

Teenage wasteland
It’s only teenage wasteland
Teenage wasteland
Oh yeah, teenage wasteland
They’re all wasted!

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 – Squeeze Box

You go and see Pete Townshend to watch him windmill his guitar and jump about. Not on this song…you hear Pete happily playing on a banjo…and that is a great thing. He also slips in the accordion for good measure. This is not The Who’s best song but it’s happy and catchy. It’s also the first Who song I remember hearing without knowing much about them. My sister surprisingly had this single…a bright spot among the many bad ones she owned.

This song was on the album The Who By Numbers released in 1975 and peaked at #8. Squeeze Box made it to #16 in the Billboard 100 in 1976.

Townshend wrote all of the songs and they were deeply personal. He had just turned 30 and he was beginning to question his place in Rock and Roll. A question he would wrestle with a few more years.

Squeeze Box was originally intended for a Who television special planned in 1974. In the planned performance of the song, the members of the band were to be surrounded by 100 topless women playing accordions

Pete Townsend: “It’s not about a woman’s breasts, vaginal walls, or anything else of the ilk.”

Roger Daltrey: “What’s great about ‘Squeeze Box’ is that it’s so refreshingly simple, an incredible catchy song. A good jolly. I’ve never had a problem with that song because it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is and I love it for that. Live audiences love it. Nothing wrong with a bit of ‘in-and-out’, mate!”  

From Songfacts

Squeeze Box” is a slang term for an accordion, but it is also slang for the vagina. The band just wanted to see if they could get away with singing about the joys of explicit sex. 

In the liner notes to Pete Townshend’s compilation album Scoop, he wrote that he recorded the song for fun one day when he had bought himself an accordion. The accordion gave the song a polka-esque rhythm and the lyrics were “intended as a poorly aimed dirty joke.” Townshend had no thought of it ever becoming a hit.

The song is about an accordion (sort of), but there is hardly any of the instrument in the song. You can hear some in the section about 90 seconds in that goes, “squeeze me, come on and squeeze me,” but the subsequent instrumental section is mostly banjo. Pete Townshend played both instruments.

 

Squeeze Box

Mama’s got a squeeze box
She wears on her chest
And when daddy comes home
He never gets no rest
‘Cause she’s playing all night
And the music’s all right
Mama’s got a squeeze box
Daddy never sleeps at night

Well the kids don’t eat
And the dog can’t sleep
There’s no escape from the music
In the whole damn street
‘Cause she’s playing all night
And the music’s all right
Mama’s got a squeeze box
Daddy never sleeps at night

She goes in and out and in
And out and in and out and in and out
She’s playing all night
And the music’s all right
Mama’s got a squeeze box
Daddy never sleeps at night

She goes, squeeze me, come on and squeeze me
Come on and tease me like you do
I’m so in love with you
Mama’s got a squeeze box
Daddy never sleeps at night

She goes in and out and in and out
And in and out and in and out
‘Cause she’s playing all night
And the music’s all right
Mama’s got a squeeze box
Daddy never sleeps at night

The Who – Pinball Wizard

It wasn’t the highest-charting song (See Me, Feel Me peaked at #12) but probably the most well-known song off their concept album Tommy.

It was the last song written for Tommy. Townshend wrote it when he found out influential UK rock critic Nik Cohn was coming to review the project. Townshend knew Cohn was a pinball fanatic, so he put this together to ensure a good review. Cohn gave it a great review, and pinball became the main theme of the rock opera.

After writing this song for Nik Cohn, Townshend almost didn’t even mention it to the band because he hated it so much. They told him to play it and told him he had written a hit. Meanwhile, he thought it was a mindless, badly written song.

The song peaked at #19 in the Billboard 100, #4 in the UK, #6 in Canada, and #8 in New Zealand.

From Songfacts

This is part of Tommy, the first “rock opera.” Tommy is about a young man who is deaf, dumb, and blind, but becomes a pinball champion and gains hordes of adoring fans. It was made into a play and continues to run as an off-Broadway production.

Tommy was made into a movie in 1975 starring Jack Nicholson, Ann Margaret, Tina Turner, and Roger Daltrey (who played Tommy). Elton John made an appearance as The Pinball Wizard and performed this song. His version hit UK #7.

Pete Townshend wrote this. It existed mostly in his head while they were recording it, and the other members of The Who had no idea how most of the story would end until they finished it. Townshend was not credited as the only songwriter on the project – John Entwistle wrote “Cousin Kevin” and “Fiddle About,” and Keith Moon got credit for “Tommy’s Holiday Camp.”

The character Tommy played pinball by feeling the vibrations of the machine. Townshend liked how that related to listeners picking up the vibrations of the music to feel the story.

The single version was sped up to make it more radio-friendly.

This was the most famous and enduring song from the Tommy project. Along with “See Me, Feel Me,” it is one of 2 songs from the album that The Who played throughout their career.

The Who performed this at Woodstock in 1969. The song was still fairly new, so many in the crowd did not recognize it. The Who were given the early morning slot, so they ended up playing this as the sun came up.

The Who performed the entire album from start to finish on their subsequent tour. Two of the dates were in the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

The famous guitar riff was sampled by The Shocking Blue on their 1969 hit “Venus,” which was covered by Bananarama in 1986.

The album got The Who out of a financial mess. After a legal battle with their manager, Shel Talmy, and some bad business deals in England, they were facing bankruptcy if it didn’t sell.

According to the book The Duh Awards by Bob Fenster, Rod Stewart asked Elton John if he should accept an offer to sing in Tommy. Elton told him no way, “Don’t touch it with a barge pole.” A year later, The Who asked Elton John to sing the same song. Elton grabbed his barge pole and took the offer. “I don’t think Rod’s quite forgiven me for that,” he commented years later. 

The Dutch group The Shocking Blue used the guitar riff from this song for their 1969 hit “Venus.”

Townshend played a 1968 Gibson SG Special guitar on this song.

This features in a commercial for the Toyota Supra GR that debuted during the 2019 Super Bowl between the Rams and Patriots. In the spot, a driver navigates a life-size pinball game in the vehicle.

Pinball Wizard

Ever since I was a young boy
I’ve played the silver ball
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all
But I ain’t seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall

That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball!

He stands like a statue
Becomes part of the machine
Feeling all the bumpers
Always playing clean
Plays by intuition
The digit counters fall

That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball!

He’s a pinball wizard
There has to be a twist
A pinball wizard’s got such a supple wrist

‘How do you think he does it?
I don’t know
What makes him so good?’

Ain’t got no distractions
Can’t hear no buzzers and bells
Don’t see no lights a-flashin’
Plays by sense of smell
Always gets the replay
Never seen him fall

That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball!

I thought I was The Bally table king
But I just handed my pinball crown to him

Even on my favorite table
He can beat my best
His disciples lead him in
And he just does the rest
He’s got crazy flipper fingers
Never seen him fall

That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball!