August 1, 2007

"Baba O'Riley"

The first part of the title comes from Meher Baba, who was Pete Townshend's spiritual guru. The second part comes from Terry Riley, an experimental musician Townshend admired. Many of the keyboard riffs and sound effects on Who's Next were a result of Riley's influence. The title is not mentioned in the lyrics, so consequently some people know it as "Teenage Wasteland." This is the first song on Who's Next, the most successful album of The Who's career.

"Baba O' Riley" began as part of Townshend's Lifehouse project, which is a film script he wrote. It was one of the first times a synthesizer was used to form the rhythm of a song. The synthesizer part was played from tape at their concerts because it was too difficult to reproduce live. In concert, Roger Daltrey almost always plays the violin jig at the end of the song on harmonica.

This is the great version of it from the excellent documentary The Kids Are All Right (1979). Blognor Regis says: "The Kids Are Alright gig was at Shepperton Studios on the 25th May, 1978. It was their only gig of the year. Moon the Loon would die on 7th of September":

4 comments:

Blognor Regis said...

The title is not mentioned in the lyrics, so consequently some people know it as "Teenage Wasteland."

I may have changed in the years since I've lost track of the charts but time was when there were 5 UK number ones whose titles were not mentioned in the song. The Who don't come into it of course because they've never had a number one. Bohemian Rahpsody and The Ballad Of John & Yoko I can think of off the top of my head.

Based on Keith Moon's appearance, I'd place this in 1975, during the tour for The Who By Numbers

I think, possibly from the DVD sleevenotes, that The Who shot this concert at Shepperton Studios especially for the film possibly the year before Keith Moon died.

Fabulous Who fact, I only just can't quite see the fort used for Tommy's Holiday Camp out of my work's office window!

That and "That my son, is Brighton" in Quadrophenia is really Eastbourne!

Chris said...

blognor regis -Might one have been Led Zeppelin?? They were infamous for song titles that had very little to do with the song.

I based my Who chronology on the fact that it couldn't have been after Who Are You because Moon died very soon after it was released. The album before that was Who By Numbers. I guess hey toured without supporting an album from time to time.

Blognor Regis said...

According to this labour of love the Kids Are Alright gig was at Shepperton Studios on teh 25th May 1978. It was their only gig of the year. Moon the Loon would die on 7th of September.

Led Zep (didn't Moon come up with name BTW?) never released a single in the UK so it couldn't have been them.

Chris said...

Thanks again for the info! I try to be as accurate as possible, and that was a big help.

The Led Zeppelin suggestion was a shot in the dark! I didn't think they'd ever released singles, but I wasn't that sure about in the U.K. They are infamous, as you know, for cryptic song titles! I think it was Moon who said the newly formed supergroup would "go over like a lead zeppelin."