Posts Tagged ‘The Who Sings My Generation’

Image result for the who my generation record sleeve images

The Who have long held a reputation for being a ferocious live band, but a performance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour back in the ’60s resulted in one of the most memorable performances of all time. See, drummer Keith Moon always had a penchant for the extreme, but it was during this performance that he decided the band needed to end their live show with a bang… literally.

Bribing a stage hand to fill his drum kit with explosives, Keith Moon was set to make his drum kit explode at the end of the song. However, unbeknownst to almost everyone, the stagehand filled the drum kit with more than ten times the amount of explosives required. The resulting detonation was enough to almost destroy the stage, and to give guitarist Pete Townshend permanent hearing loss in one ear.

Along with tracks like ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks, ‘My Generation’ was instrumental in forging the foundation for garage and punk rock. The dirty production, garagey arrangement, and defiant lyrics make this slice of proto-punk one of modern music’s most enduring youth anthems.

My Generation” by the English rock band The Who, which became a hit and one of their most recognisable songs. The song was named the 11th greatest song and among 100 greatest songs of all time. 

The song has been said to have “encapsulated the angst of being a teenager,” and has been characterized as a “nod to the mod counterculture” Originally released as a single on 29th October 1965, reaching No. 2 in the UK, The Who’s highest charting single in their home country,  “My Generation” also appeared on The Who’s 1965 debut titled album, My Generation  and The Who Sings My Generation in the United States , and in greatly extended form on their live album Live at Leeds (1970). The Who re-recorded the song for the Ready Steady Who! EP in 1966, but it was not included on the EP, and this version was released only in 1995 on the remastered version of the A Quick One album. The main difference between this version and the original is that instead of the hail of feedback which ends the original, the band play a chaotic rendition of Edward Elgar’s “Land of Hope and Glory.” In the album’s liner notes the song is credited to both Townshend and Elgar.

But when guitarist and songwriter Pete Townsend was first penning the classic tune, it sounded more akin to later hit ‘Magic Bus’, consisting of shuffling acoustic guitar and a reverb-laden call-and-response section. Townshend reportedly wrote the song on a train and is said to have been inspired by the Queen Mother who is alleged to have had Townshend’s 1935 Packard hearse towed off a street in Belgravia because she was offended by the sight of it during her daily drive through the neighbourhood. Townshend has also credited Mose Allison’s “Young Man Blues” as the inspiration for the song, saying “Without Mose I wouldn’t have written ‘My Generation’.”  Townshend  said that “‘My Generation’ was very much about trying to find a place in society.

An aspect of The Who’s “My Generation” is Daltrey’s delivery: an angry and frustrated stutter. Various stories exist as to the reason for this distinct delivery. One is that the song began as a slow talking blues number without the stutter (in the 1970s it was sometimes performed as such, but with the stutter, as “My Generation Blues” , but after being inspired by John Lee Hooker’s “Stuttering Blues,” Townshend reworked the song into its present form. Another reason is that it was suggested to Daltrey that he stutter to sound like a British mod on speed. It is also proposed, albeit less frequently, that the stutter was introduced to give the group a framework for implying an expletive in the lyrics: “Why don’t you all fff… fade away!” However, producer Shel Talmy insisted it was simply “one of those happy accidents” that he thought they should keep. Roger Daltrey has also commented that he had not rehearsed the song prior to the recording, was nervous, and he was unable to hear his own voice through the monitors. The stutter came about as he tried to fit the lyrics to the music as best he could, and the band decided it worked well enough to keep. The BBC initially refused to play “My Generation” because it did not want to offend people who stutter, but it reversed its decision after the song became more popular.

The instrumentation of the song duly reflects the lyrics: fast and aggressive. Significantly, “My Generation” also featured one of the first bass solos in rock history. This was played by Entwistle on his Fender Jazz Bass, rather than the Danelectro bass he wanted to use; after buying three Danelectros with rare thin strings that kept breaking easily (and were not available separately), a frustrated Entwistle used his Fender strung with nylon tapewound strings and was forced to simplify the solo. The song’s coda features drumming from Keith Moon, as well, whereupon the song breaks down in spurts of guitar feedback from Townshend’s Rickenbacker, rather than fading out or ending cleanly on the tonic. There are two guitar parts. The basic instrumental track (as reflected on the instrumental version on the My Generation Deluxe edition) followed by Townshend’s overdubs including the furious feedback on the outro.

The Who
  • Roger Daltrey – lead vocals
  • Pete Townshend – guitar, backing vocals
  • John Entwistle – bass, backing vocals
  • Keith Moon – drums