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Baba O'Riley (1971) - The Who - All about the song "Baba O'Riley"

One of the best songs ever according to Time magazine.

History of the song "Baba O'Riley" (1971) by The Who

A song from The Who's fifth album called "Baba O'Riley" has been named one of Time's top 100 songs. Fans still theorise about its true meaning: it is equally often said to be about the courage of settlers in America, or to draw attention to the problems of teenagers.

Indian philosophy and American minimalism

The title of the track seemed so complicated to many that it was even given a second title - "Teenage Wasteland". The original "Baba O'Riley" refers to two figures who influenced The Who: Indian philosopher Meher Baba and musician Terry Riley. The former, through his long-standing vow of silence, inspired the musical group to create the rock opera "Tommy" about growing up as a deaf-blind boy. The latter largely influenced the minimalist musical style of their compositions, especially the album "Who's next?", which featured a hit dedicated to Riley.

Lifehouse rock opera

The compositions included in the album "Who's next?" were to be part of the rock opera "Lifehouse". In particular, "Baba O'Riley" was conceived as a call for one of the main characters to leave the dying earth and go in search of a better life. Inspired by the success of "Tommy", the musicians planned to quickly finalise the new project. However, their plans did not come true, the rock opera was not completed. Nevertheless, quality tracks were recorded for it, which were combined into the band's fifth album.

In 2000 Pete Townshend released the recordings that were to be included in the Lifehouse opera, collecting them in the album Lifehouse Chronicles. Interestingly, there are two different tracks on there, one called "Teenage Wasteland" and the other called "Baba O'Riley". Both tracks have similar lyrics and motifs, but they differ in details - in "Baba O'Riley" the listener will find more unusual sound effects and musical transitions, from sharp and ringing sounds to soft piano sounds.

Interactive performances

One of Pete Townshend's ideas was the idea of unusual interaction with the listener - during a concert, he suggested synthesising the musical accompaniment of a song with the rhythms of a random person in the audience. In addition, he wanted the track to include synthesised information about Meher Baba, whom he greatly respected. The idea was never realised, and the guitar riffs synthesised by body rhythms were replaced by the sound of an electric organ.

"They're all wasted!"

There is much debate about the meaning of the song. Even the last lines of the verse, "They're all wasted!", can be perceived both as a call to move on, having lost something that prevented them from moving forward, and as a statement that "all is lost". Some connect them with the political events of those years. The author of the lyrics, Pete Townshend, once supported the second version, and said that it is a song about losing oneself. Its lines are about a whole blighted generation. And yet there is hope in them, because "the happy ones are near".

Baba O'Riley and the cinema

The song is played at the end of the 2004 film "The Neighbourhood". It's about important life choices of teenagers, and "Teenage Wasteland" really creates the right atmosphere.

The track became the main theme of the TV series "CSI: NY", which, like the film "Neighbourhood", was released in 2004.

In the first season of the famous TV series Dr House you can hear the much-loved song "Baba O'Riley". It is played twice in the episode "Control" - when the main character plays it on an imaginary piano, and at the very end of the episode, before the credits.

Olympic Games 2012

The London 2012 Olympic Games featured performers that Britons consider to be the pride of their country.

"The Who at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
"The Who at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.

Among them was The Who with their immortal hit "Baba O'Riley".

Covers

The popularity of the song has reached enormous proportions, and performers from all over the world are trying to add something of their own to it. The version of "Lt. Dan Band", whose lead singer played the main role in the TV series "CSI: NY", the theme song of which was "Baba O'Riley". Gary Sinise has retained the mood of the original while adding softness to its sound.

The composition "Baba O'Riley" was released during the heyday of rock, and in many ways influenced the formation of the genre. Decades later, it is still considered one of the best songs in history.

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