≡ Menu

Boomer Anthems: The Who – Baba O’Riley

Proof Positive: It’s the singer, not the song.

First thing you want to do is stay away from that heavy metal mike Daltry is hurling around like some Gaucho tomahawk. He had it made special for the act, don’t cha know?  Still do not — while dodging the tomahawk — shuffle off to the Townsend zone where he’s twerking about like some MotoPsycho Nightmare on a weekend pass. He’ll hammer your face with a broken Tamborine. It needs a new drumhead. Could be yours. Deal with that as best you can but don’t forget to tune your tempo to Keith Moon’s tom-toms. You know, the ones where he is dead on time with a whisp of the next now in each beat. Plus it’s the last look at Moon before he left to sit in with the reaper. You got to admit he’s brilliant crisp for a man taking his last bow.

All of which rolls along to a bold proclamation paired with a vague promise:

The exodus is here
The happy ones are near
Let’s get together
Before we get much older

Okay. Good. Call me.

Forget it, man. You try to think about that too hard and… and… WHABONG! I mean it’s like Keith Moon ARMED with a gong man hits you — hits you! — with a GONG! Who puts this stuff in the middle of Top-40 rock songs? Who gives Keith Moon a gong in the first place? Then there’s no real vocal outro only Daltry grinding on and on on the harp and Townsend hopping about on a psychedelic pogo stick. And all the while the super-chill never bent Entwistle keeps the whole band standing on their shadows when the track shatters in a brash of cymbals with “THEY’RE ALL WASTED!”

This song defies explication. It’s not a song but a thing; an object d’art made of solid rock. If that ain’t too persnickety.

The Shepperton Studios performance seen above was the song exhibited in its original intensity. Later,  being unable to leave the perfect undisturbed, the aging Who forgot to “get off the stage before the light dims.” Instead, they cranked out this geriatric The Who – Baba O’Riley (Live In Hyde Park) to the whoops of millennial groundlings who — even though many microdosed inside a nitrous oxide haze — had no idea at all what they had missed decades back. Previous, previous. Instead, they all went home with t-shirts that said “We had the experience but missed the meaning.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dan Patterson May 12, 2021, 6:51 AM

    I saw them in the late 70s and my ears are still ringing.

  • stephen_barron May 12, 2021, 8:17 AM

    Still one of my favorite all time albums, Live at Leeds, and this song isn’t even on it. Imo greatest rock rhythm section of all time, except perhaps for Bruce and Baker, but of course it was the whole band that made them great.

  • Eric Blair May 12, 2021, 8:37 AM

    Mr B

    The first 1:30 of Magic Bus on the Live at Leeds album is appropriate for cardioversion in the ER

    Speakers to 11 … of course

  • Callmelennie May 12, 2021, 10:26 AM

    I was Class of ’73. “Baba O’Riley” and “We Wont Get Fooled Again” were definitely our two anthems. It probably would have been “Stairwsy To Heaven” had it not been for the fact that the pop culture tried to shove it down our throats by playing it at least once an hour on every rFio station

  • Skorpion May 12, 2021, 12:17 PM

    They kicked off metal and punk rock with their debut album.
    They invented the rock epic with TOMMY.
    They produced the greatest live album of all time: LIVE AT LEEDS. Listen to “Amazing Journey” on it — Moon’s drumming will plaster you to the wall.

    Interestingly enough, Townshend wrote this song about the huddled masses he witnessed at Woodstock: all forlorn, all lost, all wasted. When I’ve seen them do this one live, the audience usually missed the point of the tune, and would cheer loudly when Daltrey yelled, “They’re all WASTED!”

  • EX-Californian Pete May 12, 2021, 2:45 PM

    I like The Who, but they aren’t a favorite of mine.

    Speaking of Rockers, Van Morrison is sending Libtards and Media Types into “triggered overload” with the new songs he’s released.- https://www.breitbart.com/entertainment/2021/05/10/nolte-van-morrison-being-blacklisted-for-anti-media-song/

    The poor little Liberal snowflake nancy-boys are diving headfirst into their “safe spaces” in tears, while falsely claiming that Van’s anti-media song is (GASP!) somehow antisemitic- though there are ZERO references or implications about Jews, or anything to do with the Jewish faith.
    He simply sings “THEY own the media”- meaning LIBTARDS, not Jews.
    Listen for yourself- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3Zg023J-ok
    (some of his other new songs are there, too.)

    I think I’ll listen to it a few more times while I’m at the bench tonight, cranking out some more .30-06, and .12 ga. 1 oz. slug rounds.

  • Rich Berger May 12, 2021, 3:27 PM

    I saw them at the Electric Factory in 1969 right after Tommy came out. I thought Tommy was a bit pretentious, but they were great. I’ve been listening to them a lot lately and have a new appreciation of Quadraphrenia. There is something sad about listening to the music of the past; like captured in amber.

  • Tom Hyland May 12, 2021, 4:36 PM

    @ Pete…. actually… the Jewish people DO own the msm and it is almost entirely inhabited by them. Click onto the condensed graphic and it will grow to a readable size.

  • Nori May 12, 2021, 9:31 PM

    I saved babysitting money to buy every Who album. Those LP’s are much worn.
    This Baba version featuring Daltrey harmonica-ing instead of that smoooth liquid electric violin in the original? Missing that,along with Keith Moon’s right-there-with-you stick and footwork.

    Great tune,thanks be to The Who.

  • Teri Pittman May 13, 2021, 1:02 PM

    I saw them on that tour, twice. Always loved the Who, from the first time I saw them on Shindig. But my current personal theme is “Going Mobile”.