09/11/2018: “Baba O’Reilly” by The Who

Some songs have a certain quality to them that leave the listener in no doubt that they have heard something special.

Baba O’Reilly is one of those songs. Right from the unique organ pattern at the start created by Pete Townshend, to  the bouyant, riff driven middle, to the slightly odd but very cool folky bit at the end, the song is timeless.

The meaning of the lyrics, which tell the story of two people travelling through a wasteland, are often construed as supporting people getting mashed up, especially the chorus which talks about a teenage wasteland.

But in fact, Pete Townshend was a follow of Baba Meher, an Indian mystic who taught that drugs, especially psychedelics, were harmful. The song is named after him in part.

After seeing Woodstock, Townshend was a bit disgusted and wrote the song to condemn all the “wasted” hippies.

The other part of the songs name is from Terry Riley, the legendary innovative record producer, who inspired much of the style of the song.

The song was released in 1971 on the album Who’s Next, and has since come to define a lot of the band’s sound, but also helps to express much of that era’s music.

Truly a classic.

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