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Who - Baba O'Riley (Shepperton Studios 1978)

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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Baba O'Riley on Wikipedia
"Baba O'Riley"
Single by The Who
from the album Who's Next
B-side"My Wife"
ReleasedNovember 1971
Format45 R.P.M.
RecordedMay 1971 at Olympic Studios in London, England[1]
GenreHard rock, progressive rock, art rock
Writer(s)Pete Townshend
ProducerThe Who, Glyn Johns

"Baba O'Riley" is a song written by Pete Townshend for the English rock band The Who. Roger Daltrey sings most of the song, with Pete Townshend singing the middle eight: "Don't cry/don't raise your eye/it's only teenage wasteland". The title of the song is derived from the combination of the song's philosophical and musical influences, Meher Baba and Terry Riley.[2]


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. The song was derived from a nine minute demo, which the band reconstructed.[3] "Baba O'Riley" was going to be used in the Lifehouse project as a song sung by Ray, the Scottish farmer at the beginning of the album as he gathers his wife Sally and his two children to begin their exodus to London. When Lifehouse was scrapped, many of the songs were released on The Who's 1971 album Who's Next, with "Baba O'Riley" as the first track. The song was released as a single in several European countries, but in the United States and the United Kingdom was only released as part of the album.

Pete Townshend 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. The contradiction was that it became a celebration: "Teenage Wasteland', yes! We're all wasted!'"[4]

Drummer Keith Moon had the idea of inserting a violin solo at the coda of the song, during which the style of the song shifts from crashing rock to a folk-style beat. Dave Arbus plays a violin in the studio recording. In concert, lead singer Roger Daltrey replaces the violin solo with a harmonica solo. The Who has produced a live version of the song with a viola, provided by Nigel Kennedy, during their 27 November 2000 concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

The violin solo in the coda of the song is based on Indian classical music as homage to Meher Baba, the Indian mystic who inspired this song.

The song's backing track was derived from deep within the Lifehouse concept. Townshend wanted to input the life information of Meher Baba into a synthesiser, which would then generate music based on that information. That music would have been the backing track for "Baba O'Riley", but in the end, the frenetic sequence was played by Townshend on a Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 organ using its marimba repeat feature.[5] This modal approach used for the synthesiser track was inspired by the work of minimalist composer Terry Riley. The names of Riley and Meher Baba were incorporated into the song title as a tribute by Townshend. Although they never actually did it in concert, The Who considered pulling a person from the audience and programming their vital statistics into a synthesiser that would, in effect, translate that person into a musical theme around which a song could be built, an idea later resurrected as The Lifehouse Method.

The imstrumental track for this song appears in a commercial for the North American-spec all-new 2014 Mazda 6. [6]

Lifehouse concept

"Baba O'Riley" was initially 30 minutes in length and was planned to be used during the concerts at the Royal Festival Hall in London, England. When Who's Next was being arranged "Baba O'Riley" was edited down to only the "high points" of the track.[7] The other parts of the song appeared on the third disc Pete Townshend's Lifehouse Chronicles as "Baba M1 (O'Riley 1st Movement 1971)" and "Baba M2 (2nd Movement Part 1 1971)".

"Teenage Wasteland"

"Baba O'Riley" is often mistakenly called "Teenage Wasteland" after the phrase repeated throughout the song. "Teenage Wasteland" was in fact a working title for the song in its early incarnations as part of the Lifehouse project, but eventually became the title for a different but related song by Townshend, which is slower and features more lyrics.[8] A version of "Teenage Wasteland" is featured on the Lifehouse Chronicles, a six disc set of music related to the Lifehouse project, and on several Townshend compilations and videos.


  • Roger Daltrey – lead vocals
  • Pete Townshend – lead vocals (middle eight), synthesiser, piano, guitar
  • John Entwistle – bass guitar
  • Keith Moon – drums
  • Dave Arbus – violin


  1. ^ Who's Next 1995 Remastered Liner Notes Page 17
  2. ^ The Who: The Ultimate Collection (Album notes). MCA Records. 2002. pp. 12.
  3. ^ Who's Next 1995 Remastered Liner Notes Page 17
  4. ^ Guitar World Vol. 30 No. 9 pg. 76
  5. ^ Pete's Equipment, Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1
  6. ^ Mazda. "2014 Mazda6: We are Mazda". Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "The Hypertext Who " Article Archive — The Who Puts the Bomp (1971)". Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Lifehouse Chronicles box set
  9. ^ "Baba O'Riley". ung Medien / Retrieved 28 November 2011. 

External links

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