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5 days 22 hours ago
|Single by The Who|
|from the album My Generation|
|B-side||"Shout and Shimmy" (Brown) (UK)|
"Out in the Street" (USA)
|Released||29 October 1965 (UK)|
20 November 1965 (US)
|Format||Vinyl record (7")|
|Recorded||13 October 1965|
|Genre||Rock, hard rock protopunk|
|Label||Brunswick 05944 (UK)|
Decca 31877 (US)
|The Who singles chronology|
"My Generation" is a song by the British rock group The Who, which became a hit and one of their most recognisable songs. The song 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.
The song was released as a single on 5 November 1965, reaching No. 2 in the UK, the Who's highest charting single in their home country and No. 74 in America. "My Generation" also appeared on The Who's 1965 debut album, My Generation (The Who Sings My Generation in the United States), and in greatly extended form on their live album Live at Leeds (1970). The Who re-recorded the song for the Ready Steady Who! EP in 1966, but this version was only released in 1995 on the remastered version of the A Quick One album. The main difference between this version and the original is that instead of the hail of feedback which ends the original, the band play a chaotic rendition of Edward Elgar's "Land of Hope and Glory". In the album's liner notes the song is credited to both Townshend and Elgar. A music video featuring a montage of live performance clips has been played on music stations.
Townshend reportedly wrote the song on a train and is said to have been inspired by the Queen Mother who is alleged to have had Townshend's 1935 Packard hearse towed off a street in Belgravia because she was offended by the sight of it during her daily drive through the neighbourhood. Townshend has also credited Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues" as the inspiration for the song, saying "Without Mose I wouldn't have written 'My Generation'." Townshend told the Rolling Stone magazine in 1985 that "'My Generation' was very much about trying to find a place in society". On a later interview for Good Morning America, in 1989, the band was discussing the upcoming 1989 tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Tommy, and Townshend talked about the famous line "I hope I die before I get old". For him, when he wrote the lyrics, "old" meant "very rich".
Perhaps the most striking element of the song are the lyrics, considered one of the most distilled statements of youthful rebellion in rock history. The tone of the track alone helped make it an acknowledged forebear of the punk rock movement. One of the most-quoted—and patently rewritten—lines in rock history is "I hope I die before I get old", famously sneered by lead singer Roger Daltrey.
Like much of The Who's earlier mod output, the song boasts clear influences of American R&B, most explicitly in the call and response form of the verses. Daltrey would sing a line, and the backing vocalists, Pete Townshend (low harmony) and John Entwistle (high harmony), would respond with the refrain "Talkin' 'bout my generation":
- People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
- Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
- Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
- I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
The vocal melody of "My Generation" is an example of the shout-and-fall modal frame. This call and response is mirrored in the instrumental break with solo emphasis passing from Townshend's guitar to Entwistle's bass and back again several times.
Another salient aspect of "My Generation" is Daltrey's delivery: an angry and frustrated stutter. Various stories exist as to the reason for this distinct delivery. One is that the song began as a slow "talking" blues number without the stutter (in the 1970s it was sometimes performed as such, but with the stutter, as "My Generation Blues"), but after being inspired by John Lee Hooker's "Stuttering Blues", Townshend reworked the song into its present form. Another reason is that it was suggested to Daltrey that he stutter to sound like a British mod on speed. It is also proposed, albeit less frequently, that the stutter was introduced to give the group a framework for implying an expletive in the lyrics: "Why don't you all fff... fade away!" However, producer Shel Talmy insisted it was simply "one of those happy accidents" that he thought they should keep. Roger Daltrey has also commented that he had not rehearsed the song prior to the recording and he was unable to hear his own voice through the monitors. The stutter came about as he tried to fit the lyrics to the music as best he could, and the band decided it worked well enough to keep. The BBC initially refused to play "My Generation" because it did not want to offend people who stutter, but it reversed its decision after the song became more popular.
The instrumentation of the song duly reflects the lyrics: fast and aggressive. Significantly, "My Generation" also featured one of the first bass solos in rock history. This was played by Entwistle on his Fender Jazz Bass, rather than the Danelectro bass he wanted to use; after buying three Danelectros with rare thin strings that kept breaking easily (and were not available separately), a frustrated Entwistle used his Fender. The song's coda features drumming from Keith Moon, as well, whereupon the song breaks down in spurts of guitar feedback from Townshend's Rickenbacker, rather than fading out or ending cleanly on the tonic. There are two guitar parts. The basic instrumental track (as reflected on the instrumental version on the My Generation Deluxe edition) followed by Townshend's overdubs including the furious feedback on the outro. Perhaps taking a lead from The Kinks' "You Really Got Me", the song modulates from its opening key of G up to C via the keys of A and B♭. Townshend's guitars were tuned down a whole step for the recording.
Live versions of the song often meander into extended jams, going on as long as fifteen minutes, as evidenced by the version appearing on Live at Leeds. Live recordings from 1969–1970 include snippets of music from Tommy as well as parts of what would become "Naked Eye."
Townshend's demo version of the song (together with a demo of "Pinball Wizard") appeared on a flexi-disc included in the original edition of the book The Who: Maximum R&B by Richard Barnes.
- Roger Daltrey – lead vocals
- Pete Townshend – guitar and backing vocals
- John Entwistle – bass guitar and backing vocals
- Keith Moon – drums
In popular culture
- The 1967 performance of "My Generation" on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was another defining moment in the television comedy series, as well as one of classic rock's defining moments.
- "My Generation" was sung live by three of the main stars of the 1980s BBC sitcom The Young Ones (Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer).
- The line "I hope I die before I get old" was the inspiration for the They Might Be Giants 1985 song "Hope That I Get Old Before I Die", a reaction against the stereotypical values of rock and roll in the 1960s.
- British pop singer Robbie Williams also released a song in 1997 called "Old Before I Die". The song reached No. 2 in the UK charts.
- The Who's BBC Radio version is briefly featured in the 1999 film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
- MC Lars parodied the line "I hope I die before I get old" in his 2005 single "iGeneration" (also referencing the title "My Generation"), with the line "I hope I die before I get sold".
- In a 2009 Pepsi commercial used to promote their new logo
- The Disney video game Ultimate Band features a cover of "My Generation" in its tracklist.
- The video game Rock Band features the Live at Leeds recording of the song, albeit heavily edited, as part of a 12 pack of downloadable tracks from The Who.
- The Who performed this song as the last song to be played at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.
- Psychedelic rock band MGMT rephrased the line "I hope I die before I get old" into "I hope I die before I get sold" in their song Siberian Breaks.
- "My Generation" has been covered by numerous artists. Some of the most recognised, and celebrated, include Gorky Park, Oasis, Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Count Five, Green Day, Phish, Generation X, Soul Asylum and The Sweet.
- "My Generation" was Patti Smith's standard set-closer from 1974–1978, and a live version appeared on record as the B-side of her 1976 single "Gloria" (with John Cale guesting on bass). This recording has since appeared as a bonus track on some CD re-issues of her album Horses. A live version with Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers playing bass appears on the 2005 30th Anniversary CD release Horses/Horses.
- It was covered in French by Chapeaumelon, and appears on the soundtrack to the 2004 film EuroTrip.
- Oasis released the track as a B-side on their 2002 UK single "Little by Little" / "She is Love" and have closed their live shows with this track for several years, such as on their Don't Believe the Truth Tour.
- Hilary Duff recorded a cover of "My Generation" as a bonus track on pressings in Japan of her second album, Hilary Duff (2004), and as a B-side on the "Someone's Watching over Me" (2005) CD single. In this version the famous line "I hope I die before I get old" was changed to "I hope I don't die before I get old". Rolling Stone listed the song as one of the worst covers of all time.
- The Sweet covered the song with Pete Townshend on vocals. The track was released on the Collector's Edition of Desolation Boulevard.
- Green Day's live cover of the song is included on their live album Awesome as Fuck; the group did a studio cover for the extended play Sweet Children in 1990, which was later featured on its second studio album, Kerplunk in 1992.
- Atom™'s cover of the song is included on his album HD (2013).
- ^ The Who, Discography
- ^ "My Generation". allmusic.com. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
- ^ a b "spreadit.org music". Retrieved 7 February 2009. ,
- ^ Rock On The Net: VH1: 100 Greatest Rock Songs: 1–50
- ^ My Generation Songfacts
- ^ http://www.thewho.net/discography/songs/MyGeneration.html My Generation. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
- ^ AMAZING JOURNEY: THE LIFE OF PETE TOWNSHEND. Retrieved 13 June 2007.[dead link]
- ^ MOSE ALLISON |DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
- ^ My Generation. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruyDyFfbbg8&feature=related
- ^ Middleton 1990, p.207.
- ^ Barnes, Richard (1982). The Who: Maximum R&B. Medford, New Jersey, USA: Plexus Publishing. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-85965-351-0.