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

One of the best songs of all time 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" was included in the top 100 best songs by Time. Fans are still building theories about its true meaning: it is equally common that it is about the courage of immigrants to America, and that it draws attention to the problems of adolescents.

Indian philosophy and American minimalism

The name of the track seemed so complicated to many that it even received a second name - "Teenage Wasteland". The original "Baba O'Riley" refers to two figures who influenced the work of "The Who" at once: the Indian philosopher Meher Baba and the musician Terry Riley. The first one, with its long-term vow of silence, inspired the musical group to create the rock opera "Tommy" about the growing up of a deaf-blind-mute boy. The second - largely influenced the minimalist musical style of their compositions, especially the album "Who's next?", In which the hit dedicated to Riley was released.

Rock Opera Lifehouse

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

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

Interactive performances

One of Pete Townshend's ideas was the idea of an unusual interaction with the listener - during the concert, he suggested synthesizing the musical accompaniment of the song using the rhythms of the body of a random person from the audience. In addition, he wanted the track to contain synthesized information about Meher Baba, whom the musician respected very much. The idea was never realized, and the guitar riffs, synthesized by the rhythms of the body, were replaced by the sound of an electric organ.

"They're all wasted!"

There is a lot of controversy 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, losing something that prevented moving forward, and as a statement that "everything is lost." Someone connects them with the political events of those years. Lyricist Pete Townshend once supported the second version and said it was a song about losing yourself. Her lines are about a whole ruined generation. And yet there is hope in them, because "the happy ones are near".

Baba O'Riley and cinema

The song is played at the end of the 2004 movie "The Girl Next Door". It's about the big life choices teenagers make, and Teenage Wasteland really sets the mood.

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

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

Olympic Games 2012

At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, there were performers whom the British consider the pride of their country.

The Who at the 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony
The Who at the 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony

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


The popularity of the song has reached enormous proportions, performers from all over the world are trying to add something of their own to it. The version “Lt. Dan Band, whose lead singer starred in the series CSI: NY, whose theme music was "Baba O'Riley". Gary Sinise kept the mood of the original, while adding a softer sound to it.

The composition "Baba O'Riley" was published 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 of all time.

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