The Who, along with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, changed music and started a rock and roll revolution. The band broke through the local scene in the 1960s and began to gain a huge following, producing many classic rock hits and performing at many famous festivals, such as Isle of Wight and Woodstock. These concerts, and incredible studio albums in the early 1970s (including Tommy, Who's Next, and Quadrophenia) moved the band into elite status. The legendary band has sold 100 million records and charted 27 top 40 singles in the UK and US, in addition to producing 17 top ten albums. The Who's surviving members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey continue to tour and were recently honored at the Grammys for a lifetime achievement award and at the Kennedy Center Honors. As rated by AOL Radio listeners, here are the top 10 songs from the band that many consider to be the greatest rock band of all time.
'Pictures of Lily'
One of the earliest singles from the Who, was written by Townshend in 1967 and was titled 'Pictures of Lily.' One of Townshend's narrative songs, this tune includes the singer beating insomnia due to a 'picture of Lily,' although he later finds out later that Lily is dead. Townshend has admitted that the song is merely "about masturbation." Regardless of its meaning, the song became a top 5 hit in the UK and remains one of the Who's most popular songs from the 1960s.
'The Kids Are Alright'
The debut album from The Who, 'My Generation,' was released in 1965 and included this track, which was later released as a single. The song was written by Townshend as a tribute to the Mod Movement in England, specifically targeting the rebellious British youth. The song is still a radio favorite, and has been covered by many modern rock bands, including Pearl Jam and Green Day.
Happy Jack was the first single to make the top 40 in America and was a top 5 UK hit. The song is rare, in that bass player John Entwistle joins Daltrey on the lead vocals for the song. Townshend reportedly wrote the song about a man he saw on the beach, who didn't mind the fact that children were laughing at him. The unique music video is still a treat to watch; It features the Who attempting to rob a safe before they get distracted by a cake, which leads to a lot of wacky behavior from the members of the band.
'You Better You Bet'
One of the more pop sounding rock songs from the Who was their 1981 single 'You Better You Bet,' written by Townshend for the album 'Face Dances.' The song, which contains references to T.Rex. and their own album 'Who's Next,' was the last single by the Who to reach the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and their last top 10 single in the UK. Daltrey has the lead vocals in this one, with Entwistle and Townshend both providing backing vocals.
Magic Bus was originally written by Townshend in 1965, but wasn't officially released until 3 years later. It was one of the Who's most popular songs and it became a live staple at concerts. The song is another simple one, telling the tale of a man who wants to buy a bus so he can visit his girlfriend, but the driver does not want to sell it. The musical arrangement was unique for containing Latin percussion instruments, known as claves.
'Won't Get Fooled Again'
When one thinks of 'classic rock,' it is hard not to think of this song, one of the most successful Who songs of all time. Included on the famous album Who's Next, 'Won't Get Fooled Again,' was a rebellious song written by Townshend about a revolution. The song is well known for Daltrey's scream and for including one of the Who's best instrumentals ever. The hit, which remains a concert staple, was the last song the original lineup ever performed together; It was played in 1978, four months prior to the death of drummer Keith Moon. The song charted in the UK and America, and has been covered multiple times, most notably from Van Halen.
'Behind Blue Eyes'
'Behind Blue Eyes' is one of the softest ballads from the Who, but became an international hit for the band. Also released off of 'Who's Next,' the song was originally written by Townshend as a character for his 'Lifehouse' project, a film that would have been similar to 'Tommy.' Townshend said he wrote this song, which is sung by Daltrey, to show "how lonely it is to be powerful." The song begins acoustically, but turns into a rock anthem, with another strong guitar riff. The tune remains a favorite on radio stations and is played at nearly every Who concert.
As the most popular single off 'Tommy,' Pinball Wizard strongly connects the audience to the character of Tommy, who in the song becomes a pinball champion, despite being 'deaf, dumb, and blind.' This was the last song written for Tommy, and wasn't originally going to be included. Although Townshend once said it was "the most clumsy piece of writing, [he'd] ever done,' the song became a commercial success, peaking at Number 4 in the UK and charting in America. The song is a live favorite, and has been covered many times, most notably by Elton John, who sung it in the film version of 'Tommy.'
Often mistaken for the title of 'Teenage Wasteland,' 'Baba O'riley' is one of the most recognized and most popular rock songs of all time, although it was never released as a single. 'Baba Oriley' was also written for Townshend's Lifehouse project, and found its way onto 'Who's Next' as the opening track. Daltrey sings most of this tune, although perhaps Townshend sings the most reconizable middle eight: "Don't cry, don't raise your eye, it's only teenage wasteland." Townshend claimed that the song in part was about what he witnessed during their performance at Woodstock. Part of his message was that, despite the fact many teenagers were on a lot of drugs and experiencing brain damage, they were celebrating. .
Arguably the band's biggest hit, 'My Generation' was written by Townshend in 1965 about rebellious British youths and the message that older people "just don't get it." It was their highest charting song in their home country, reaching #2 in the UK and became a very influential rock track in America and all over the world. The famous lead vocals of Daltrey, contain a stutter, which is quite unique and was requested by their manager. 'My Generation' was Number 11 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is mentioned more often than any other Who song as one that helped shape rock and roll.