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They're All Wasted
January 15, 2013 4:16 AM   Subscribe

Meher Baba + Terry Riley = One of rocks most recognizable yet mislabled anthems.

A few covers have been atempted
Dropkick Murphys

Jon Bon Jovi & Friends

Eddie Vedder and Mike Mccready

But their all wasted when held up to the studio version that was released on The Who's 1971 album Who's Next.

Townshend originally wrote "Baba O'Riley" for his Lifehouse project, a rock opera that was to be the follow-up to The Who's 1969 opera, Tommy.

Pete Townshend later claimed in an interview that, at least in part, "Baba O'Riley" was about what he witnessed during the Who's performance at Woodstock. He stated in an interview that "'Baba O' Riley' is about the absolute desolation of teenagers at Woodstock, where everyone was smacked out on acid and 20 people had brain damage.

Baba O'Riley on Ukelele
Blue Man Group - Baba O'Riley
The Gaslight Anthem - Baba O'Riley
And last and certainly least Madonna vs The Who - Virgin O'Riley
posted by Sailormom (62 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Townsend spent the 70's drunker than Elton John's Mom
posted by thelonius at 4:28 AM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


"athem"?

Obvious, but common, typo. Sailormom clearly meant that 'Baba O'Riley' is the sacrificial dagger intended by Townshend to be used in the dread ritual to resurrect Keith Moon. Sure, the song was written (or as Pete puts it, "forged in the dark heart of a moonless night while the stars turned their backs on the shire") years before Moon's death, but we all knew how that story would end.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:30 AM on January 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


I loved that song, and the rest of Who's Next, when I was a teen but I just can't listen to it now. Forty years of overplay have killed any enjoyment I had.
posted by octothorpe at 5:03 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


While we're at it:
anthem
mislabeled
rock's
they're
ukulele
attempted
(sorry, but I don't usually police these)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:05 AM on January 15, 2013 [14 favorites]




While we're at it:
anthem
mislabeled
rock's
they're
ukulele
attempted
(sorry, but I don't usually police these)


like I said, I'm probably just wasted. Not really, but it is early
posted by Sailormom at 5:09 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It would be interesting to be able to write: Got brain damage at Woodstock, on ones CV/resume.

(Even if one wasn't even born at that time. But I guess you could say that your spirit-soul was floating about the ether and that was the point it knew it must take on a human shape...maaaan...)

I may do that, just to see how it goes.
posted by Skygazer at 5:13 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


No mention of Nirvana's "cover"?
posted by anagrama at 5:17 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm also still suffering from Who's Next oversaturation, even though it's been a couple of decades since I was remotely, uh, young. Curiously, I still found the Madonna-mashup to be extremely entertaining--though I would have been DEEPLY offended by it as a younger person.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:18 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anyway, as much as I love the song, and I do, because the lines "they're all wasted" have got to be one of the biggest punches in the face to the status quo and pretty much anyone, there ever was...and cos damn it sounds so cool, but I think it's also a bit of prototype for the epic ultra-rock head-asplosioning total rock as in FUCKIN' ROCK, thermonuclear devastation of Moon, Entwhistle, Daltrey and Townsend KILLING IT...KILLING EVERY LIVING THING ON THE PLANET WITH SUPER KILLER KILLING ROCK POWER...

while that organ keeps beepy beeping...beepy beepying.........beepy beepy beepy beepy.....beep....beeeppy beepy...until Daltrey goes...


YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

WE WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN!!!! NO NO NO!!!!!


Something like that....
posted by Skygazer at 5:21 AM on January 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


Pete Townshend - Teenage Wasteland
posted by capricorn at 5:25 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Meher Baba == Ron Jeremy
posted by GallonOfAlan at 5:56 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'll tell ya, as a kid from the Bible Belt, the line "I don't need to be forgiven" was a revelation. Even now, I hear that and a little smile sneaks across my soul and fills me with wordless joy.
posted by teleri025 at 5:57 AM on January 15, 2013 [23 favorites]


Guided by Voices used to close their shows with this song, and "they're all wasted" would be an accurate description of the band by that time...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:00 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure, but I think Skygazer really likes the Who.
posted by mondo dentro at 6:02 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the CSI song, right?
posted by birdherder at 6:05 AM on January 15, 2013


No, that's Who Are You?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:22 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm also still suffering from Who's Next oversaturation...

I actually just recovered from that. It took about 19 years. I read this book, and then got the deluxe CD for a Christmas gift and have been enjoying ever since.
posted by marxchivist at 6:25 AM on January 15, 2013


Wow, been a fan of this album, and song, since I was probably 8, and a fan of Terry Riley's for at least a decade or so... and I never knew about the connection. Now it seems so obvious!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 6:25 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


where everyone was smacked out on acid and 20 people had brain damage.

What?
posted by IvoShandor at 6:30 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


those were the 20 people who ate the brown acid, I think
posted by thelonius at 6:33 AM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just listened the Bon Jovi cover... loved how someone shouts out "DON'T BUTCHER IT!!" at the beginning.
posted by mondo dentro at 6:41 AM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


That Madonna mashup is cute.

But, you know, it's interesting — so much of the structure of the song is instrumental that replacing the vocals doesn't actually change much. Instead of "Oh wow this really transforms both songs" it's more like "Right, yeah, this is Baba O'Riley again. I mean, I guess someone else is singing, but whatever..."
posted by and so but then, we at 6:54 AM on January 15, 2013


I saw Pearl Jam do a worthy version of Baba O'Riley with Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, and Jim O'Rourke from Sonic Youth as their encore at this show in 2000.
posted by octothorpe at 7:03 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


A bunch of old rockers in a display of one hundred percent "you don't want to come on after that" proof that all the metal bombast and snarled rap fauxgression you can bring does not, in fact, bring it.
posted by Devonian at 7:12 AM on January 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I was at my parents' house the night of the 12.12.12 concert, and when The Who was performing this song, I started to tell my dad about the time my boyfriend and I were out to dinner and the restaurant was playing a cover of it that we didn't recognize. Shazam told me that it was "Teenage Wasteland" by Puhdys and I went off on a rant about how no, that's not the name of the song. There may have been a "kids these days" thrown in for good measure, because I had just finished my boozy milkshake and I was on a roll, and had no idea who the Puhdys were (are?) and just assumed they were too young to know better.

Anyway, so there I am, telling my dad this story and offering him a shorter version of my that's-not-what-it's-called rant when he looks at me and says "What are you talking about? That's the name of the song."

Blink. I started to stammer, because this man, my father, has taught me so much about music over the years, mostly bits of trivia here and there, and here he was, and here I am, and am I actually right about something? My head asplode.

"Uh, Baba O'Riley? Is... what it's... actually called?" "What? That's ridiculous. No." I decided not to say anything more and just went back to watching the concert, and my dad did the same. But when the next commercial hit, I saw him pull his phone out of his pocket and fuss with it for a while before saying to himself "Oh. Hmm."
posted by alynnk at 7:13 AM on January 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Formative album, formative song for me. God knows what kind of bass player I would have turned out to be without Squire & Entwistle -- probably a less busy one, but there it is. I got saved by punk, but this is the stuff that initially connected all the neurons when I first picked the instrument up, so it's hard-coded at this point & I've quit struggling against it. We played Baba O'Riley in one of my high school bands, & it was always a blast. They keyboardist actually had an old Moog that she'd do a pretty fair impression of that Arp part with. It took some contortions.

Also, walking down the hall at my school in 1978 & singing this at the top of my lungs. Yeah. I was that kid.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:27 AM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Associate producer: Glyn Johns

Geek note: Fucking amazing engineer. As I attempt to learn a bit about recording & mic placement, I've come to use the Glyn Johns drum micing technique lately, and it's doing me well. He got some of the best drum sounds of the century with 3 microphones & never close-miced the snare or toms. His keep it simple, stupid ethos is worth exploring if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:34 AM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wasn't Baba O'Riley supposed to be part of Townshend's "Lifehouse" project? Something about some sort of agrarian society, something something, living on a farm in Scotland something something, the teenagers escaping and traveling to some big concert something something.

I went on a Who kick this past summer and did all sorts of reading. Quadrophenia still stands the test of time, although, yes, listening to Who's Next in high school does make Baba O'Riley hard to listen to.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:38 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


We covered that above, KokuRyu.
posted by spicynuts at 7:44 AM on January 15, 2013


No you didn't!
posted by KokuRyu at 7:47 AM on January 15, 2013


Devils Rancher, the bass guitar part on BOR is one of the first things I also learned (and played with my first HS band as I think it was required by some law of "first HS bands" especially in the 70s/80s) on bass and it's pretty basic on the verse (and on the chorus), It's just those three deep epic bottom (low) string notes: F, C, A# (Duhnnnnnn....DUHN DUHNNN plus flourishes...), which is the bass part to about 5800 other songs...ha. The thing that made it epic is that you were channeling the most rockest rockin' rock bassist of all time: The OX...Entwhistle....

Derail: And BTW, I can't be the only person who thinks his death in Vegas (of all places) a few years ago doesn't sound suspicious as fuck...and I mean suspicious as in perhaps there were substances involved or a weird sort of Rock God euthanasia aspect to it...
posted by Skygazer at 7:47 AM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


smacked out on acid

and hopped up on pot!
posted by Sys Rq at 7:47 AM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Baba O'Riley isolated bass. This isn't as exciting as watching him play The Real Me or Won't Get Fooled, but I could still watch Entwistle play all day long and never get tired of it.

I was fortunate to not discover Who's Next until later in life. Sure, I knew the hits from it, but it wasn't until I was in my thirties in the glory days of Napster before I listened to the whole album. It's now become one of my all time favorite rock albums and it even passes my classically-trained wife's picky ear. She doesn't always appreciate the loud rock and/or roll.
posted by bondcliff at 7:49 AM on January 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


and hopped up on pot!

not to mention brain damaged . . .
posted by IvoShandor at 7:54 AM on January 15, 2013


BTW, I can't be the only person who thinks his death in Vegas (of all places) a few years ago doesn't sound suspicious as fuck...and I mean suspicious as in perhaps there were substances involved or a weird sort of Rock God euthanasia aspect to it.

I don't think you're the only one who thinks that. He was found dead in the morning by the groupie/stripper he'd been doing cocaine with. Official report was a heart attack induced by cocaine. Rock God euthanasia, indeed.
posted by bondcliff at 8:00 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, that's right, I guess they did make that public, but man, it's really sad, As a Rock God way to go...I guess it's up there, but I also think the Ox should've known how to navigate the territory w/o dying. But I suppose, anyone who thinks they can control that shit, after a certain point, at an advanced age is a bit deluded.

It's incredible it's already been 10 years.

posted by Skygazer at 8:07 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, walking down the hall at my school in 1978 & singing this at the top of my lungs. Yeah. I was that kid.


I was walking down the halls at work singing this at the top of my lungs, oh, a couple of weeks ago and it was fully grand. I am still that kid.


The graveyard shift has some unusual perks.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:18 AM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


By the way, here's a complete version of Terry Riley's A Rainbow in Curved Air, which is the composition Townshend's synth ostinato was paying tribute to.
posted by jonp72 at 8:35 AM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of my strangest one-night-stands of all time ended up at the girl's house with us listening to this album at 3 am all hopped up on [redacted] and heating it up on the couch, when she decided she wanted to hear me sing "Whee-hoo!" from Going Mobile -- just that one little shout thing-- & she Would. Not. Drop. It. "Come on! Do it! Whee-hoo! Come on! Sing it!" It was a bit like a scene from After Hours, or something.

I head many years later from a mutual friend that she was off the [redacted], raising a family, and generally doing okay, now.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:35 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Associate producer: Glyn Johns

Geek note: Fucking amazing engineer.


Yeah, but I think you guys producing it yourselves, instead of Glyn Johns, was the right thing to do.
posted by grubi at 8:42 AM on January 15, 2013


This is the CSI song, right?

It's the theme song for CSI: NY. "Won't Get Fooled Again" is the theme song for CSI: Miami. "Who Are You" is the theme song for CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. They're all wasted on being theme songs for CSI shows.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:46 AM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've known "Baba O'Riley" for years and only recently realized a lot of the power of the song comes from the guitar and piano playing the power chords at the same time.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:49 AM on January 15, 2013


I've known "Baba O'Riley" for years and only recently realized a lot of the power of the song comes from the guitar and piano playing the power chords at the same time.

It's extra-good when you're standing right between the guitar & the piano.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:55 AM on January 15, 2013


F, C, A#

Then the tricky part, where you have to walk up the scale back to the F!
It really is a great tune for beginning bass players to learn. But I actually almost quit playing after I saw "The Kids Are Alright". I was about 15, and I thought I was getting really good on bass.....
posted by thelonius at 9:24 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wore 5 vinyl copies of this album out in my formative years, there's a copy in my phone.
Like Skygazer and Devils Rancher, I hold this album up as a textbook on "How the Rock and Roll is Made" The thing still burns.

This is why the punks gave The Who a pass, they _got_ it.
posted by djrock3k at 9:32 AM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


> I loved that song, and the rest of Who's Next, when I was a teen but I just can't listen to it now. Forty years
> of overplay have killed any enjoyment I had.

As much as I wish it would get old and out of date, meet the new boss, same as the old boss keeps on being right up to the minute relevant.
posted by jfuller at 9:42 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wore 5 vinyl copies of this album out in my formative years, there's a copy in my phone.

I did that to Tommy (only 3 copies though). This post has pretty much dictated what's playing in my headphones for the rest of the day.

Thanks, Sailormom!
posted by DigDoug at 10:03 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is why the punks gave The Who a pass, they _got_ it.

I've always considered Substitute & Young Man Blues from Live At Leeds to be both prime examples of early proto-punk. They sure as hell had the attitude.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:29 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


meet the new boss, same as the old boss

There must be a pre-Who 'etymology' for that line?
posted by Chuckles at 10:39 AM on January 15, 2013


I'm one.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:46 AM on January 15, 2013


I've always considered Substitute & Young Man Blues from Live At Leeds to be both prime examples of early proto-punk...

I love Who's Next, but my favorite Who album is the remastered Who Live at Leeds that not only sounds much better than the original, but has the entire Tommy live. They are at their peak, and their status as proto-punk gods really comes through, not only in their stage presence, but mainly from the absolutely blistering, super tight sets. "A-well a young man... ain't got nothin in the world these days..."
posted by mondo dentro at 10:48 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"A-well a young man... ain't got nothin in the world these days..."

Yeah, so excellent, especially the way Daltrey sings that final line:


They got sweeeet fuck-all!

posted by Skygazer at 11:03 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, here's a complete version of Terry Riley's A Rainbow in Curved Air yt , which is the composition Townshend's synth ostinato was paying tribute to

I always thought it referenced Riley's In C.
posted by rtimmel at 12:38 PM on January 15, 2013


This is the CSI song, right?

It's the theme song for CSI: NY. "Won't Get Fooled Again" is the theme song for CSI: Miami. "Who Are You" is the theme song for CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. They're all wasted on being theme songs for CSI shows.


I've never seen CSI:UK, but if the theme isn't Boris the Spider I'll be very disappointed.
posted by Grangousier at 1:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


When I was in high school in the 80s, my history teacher (seems like he was in his 50s) used to play Baba O'Riley on one of those school-issue record players before class almost every day. I think it was his commentary on what he thought of us teenagers.
posted by rjd at 1:15 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love this song, and I think of it partly as a prototype of the sort of epic emoish music I love. But this is better than all of that. Gaslight Anthem covered it live last time I saw them, pretty faithfully.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:28 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love Baba O'Reilly. I remember seeing a cover of it live as a teenager in Kalamazoo. The opening band for Concrete Blonde (The Oblivious, I think?) started it as a transition between the two bands. The violinist of the band started it up, and slowly Concrete Blonde took the stage and joined in, no long take down/set up between bands. It was pretty damn amazing.

Still, for absolute wonderfulness, I go with A Quick One (While He's Away). There's also a terrific cover by Eddie Vedder and My Morning Jacket. I like Pearl Jam, but I love Pearl Jam as a Who cover band even more.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:29 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Uh, Baba O'Riley? Is... what it's... actually called?" "What? That's ridiculous. No." I decided not to say anything more and just went back to watching the concert, and my dad did the same. But when the next commercial hit, I saw him pull his phone out of his pocket and fuss with it for a while before saying to himself "Oh. Hmm."

I'd say lol but I didn't laugh, I guffawed. Lovely anecdote, thanks. I empathise.
posted by ersatz at 4:30 PM on January 15, 2013


If you trust Wikipedia, this was supposed to be the theme for a London spinoff of CSI.
posted by stannate at 8:05 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the damn CSIs should have used I Can See For Miles. It's all right there in the lyrics, FFS:
I know you deceived me, now here's a surprise:
I know that you have 'cause there's magic in my eyes.
Too on the nose?
posted by whuppy at 1:15 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nash The Slash did the best cover version. Looped electronics, violin solo and all.
posted by ovvl at 8:52 PM on January 19, 2013


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