Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Thursday, August 26, 2010

100 Records That Shook The World, # 62

My Generation

The Who

One of the most celebrated, covered, cited, quoted songs in the entire pantheon of rock, arguably the first true punk single, and probably the first ever appearance on record of a bass solo, 'My Generation' was supposedly written by a young Pete Townshend as a direct reaction to The Queen Mother, who allegedly had Townshend's car, a 1935 Packard hearse, towed from its parking spot in Belgravia because she didn't like seeing it as she drove through the neighbourhood. Its direct influence, though was from a song by blues and jazz pianist Mose Allison, "Young Man Blues", which The Who used as a staple of their live shows. Townshend was quoted as saying that the song was about  "trying to find a place in society" and that "when I wrote the song, to me 'old' meant 'very rich'". Daltrey's angry stutter, influenced by John Lee Hooker's "Stuttering Blues", served a dual purpose - firstly, it emulated the speech style of young Mods on speed, the drug du jour for their fans, and it also gave the group room to imply an expletive in the lyrics ("Why don't you all ffff...fade away!"). Whether this was deliberate or accidental has been debated. In fact the BBC initially refused to play the song because of this, and also because they did not want listeners that stuttered to be offended, but eventually as the song increased in popularity they had to relent. Moon's wildman drumming, coupled with Townshend's feedback-laden guitar delivery propelled the song to number 2 in the UK chart.

It was named the 11th greatest song by Rolling Stone on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and 13th on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll. It's also part of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant" value. In 2009 it was named the 37th Greatest Hard Rock Song by VH1.

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