The Who: From MOD Fathers To Gods Of Rock

The Who was one of those bands that were constantly played in my house growing up. My father was fond of telling me, a lot, that he saw them live in 1969 and it was the best concert he had ever been to. So my whole life it was my ambition to see this band live, when they announced their retirement in 1982, a 12-year-old me was devastated thinking I would never have a chance.

Then one day in 1989 I found out they were reforming for a tour. Sitting in my office I immediately picked up the phone and rang my dad to tell him he HAD to get tickets. He phoned me back to tell me, with a heavy heart, that he had tried everywhere, this was pre-internet and that was a really big job, and that he couldn’t get tickets for The Who.

Little did I know that this was a rouse, he secretly booked me holiday, made some excuse that we were spending the day together and it was sorted with work. But before he just had to nip into his local pub to help the landlord with something. I walked in to find his friends all smiling “Surprise we are going to see The Who”. It was a wild day and night, which ended with my uncle getting a taxi from Wembley to Bournemouth, and to that point, it was the best concert I had ever been to. It’s in my top three, along with Eric Clapton and Greenday.

Often lauded as one of the greatest live acts of all time the band came together in London in 1964 consisting of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Mad Keith Moon. They along with The Kinks and The Small Faces lead a new youth movement which would be termed the MODs and would influence fashion and music for generations to come. They would develop a heavier rock sound in their later career and it should be stated that My Generation was possibly the first Punk-Rock song.

The various band members, however, didn’t get on and were constantly fighting among themselves apart from John Entwhistle who appeared to be Switzerland and kept the peace. Despite or maybe because of this The Who wrote and performed some of the most amazing rock music ever. Their on-tour antics, blowing up toilets, and throwing TVs out of windows would become the stuff of legend and the standard for any future rock star.

Despite their influence and popularity they never reached No.1 in the UK singles charts, I know right shocking, yet there is a whole catalog of songs that deserve to from their MOD anthem My Generation and their rock standards Won’t Get Fooled Again, and Baba O’Riley to their rock opera Tommy.

From their MOD roots through to a rock opera and then as one of rock’s greatest live bands I am gonna have to try and pick my top 10 favorite songs by The Who.

My 10 Favorite Songs by The Who

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#10. I’m A Boy | B-side: In the City | 1966

One girl was called Jean Marie
Another little girl was called Felicity
Another little girl was Sally Joy
The other was me, and I’m a boy
My name is Bill, and I’m a head case
They practice making up on my face
Yeah, I feel lucky if I get trousers to wear
Spend evenings taking hairpins from my hair

#9. My Generation | Album: My Generation | 1965

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)

#8. I Can See for Miles | Album: The Who Sell Out | 1967

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

#7. I Can’t Explain | B-side: Bald Headed Woman | 1965

I’m feeling good now, yeah, but (Can’t explain)
Dizzy in the head and I’m feeling blue
The things you’ve said, well, maybe they’re true
I’m gettin’ funny dreams again and again

#6. Pinball Wizard | Album: Tommy | 1969

He stands like a statue
Becomes part of the machine
Feeling all the bumpers
Always playing clean

#5. Baba O’Riley | Album: Who’s Next | 1971

I don’t need to fight
To prove I’m right
I don’t need to be forgiven

#4. Won’t Get Fooled Again | Album: Who’s Next | 1971

We’ll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone

#3. Substitute | B-side: Circles | 1966

I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth
The north side of my town faced east,
and the east was facing south

#2. Sally Simpson | Album: Tommy | 1969

She got to her room and tears splashed the picture
Of her new messiah
She picked up a book of her father’s life
And threw it on the fire

#1. Behind Blue Eyes | Album: Who’s Next | 1971

And if I swallow anything evil
Put your finger down my throat
And if I shiver, please give me a blanket
Keep me warm, let me wear your coat

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