Wednesday, November 4, 2015

50 years ago: The Who charted with "My Generation"

My Generation

The Who

Writer(s): Pete Townshend (see lyrics here)

First Charted: November 4, 1965

Peak: 74 US, 99 CB, 79 HR, 1 CL, 2 UK, 3 CN, 2 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.25 UK, 0.25 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 18.1 video, 158.33 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“This was punk before its time – but not even the Sex Pistols were as negative as this.” HL This song captured in the studio the “atmosphere of chaos and disorder” TC which the Who brought to the stage with their “gear-trashing finales.” RS500 This was “a good nominee for rock’s most explosive expression of adolescent rebellion.” AMG

Guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend told Rolling Stone that it “was very much about trying to find a place in society…I was very, very lost.” RS500 His efforts were to capture the fear about “ the impending strictures of adult life, famously captured in the line ‘Hope I die ’fore I get old.’” RS500 Rumor has it that Townsend was on a train from London to Southampton, on his way to a television appearance on his twentieth birthday when he penned the song. RS500 Manager Kit Lambert had urged Townshend “to make a statement” SJ and, as Townsend said in 1967, “’It’s the only really successful social comment I’ve ever made.” SJ

Musically, the song’s energy more than matched its lyrical punch. The song not only sports “Townshend spewing feedback all over Keith Moon’s avalanche drumming,” RS500 but, thanks to John Entwistle, “the first ever bass solo on a pop record.” TB Of course, what made the song truly iconic was the stuttered vocal of Roger Daltrey. Lambert had suggested the style to “sound like a British kid on speed.” SF The fumbled words starting off with“F” sound like they’ll be obsence TC and end up symbolizing “the barely articulated frustration of youth.” AMG

The song began life as a slow-talking blues AMG in the style of Jimmy Reed. RS500 It went through months of being reworked RS500 with the band attempting to record it on three different occasions AMG before getting it in two takes on October 13, 1965. RS500

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for The Who
  • AMG All Music Guide
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 407.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 126.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc. Page 174.
  • SF
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 75.

First posted 11/4/2011; last updated 4/24/2021.

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