Popular Culture (Music) 20110325. The Who Sings My Generation

(8 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

This is the first part of a comprehensive treatment of the albums released by The Who.  This promises to be an extremely long series, but I shall intersperse it with other topics from time to time, to keep it from being too monotonous.

I know, but still can not understand why, some folks are not fans of The Who.  LOL!  This was their first album, and was quite good in some respects, and weak in others.  They had already had some hit singles, but nothing astounding as of yet.  Note that I am using the U.S. discography by default, since I am in the United States.  Where possible, I shall cross reference it to the U.K. one.  Note that we shall take the studio albums first, then the live ones, and then attempt the very long list of compilations.

I have written about The Who many times before, but have never started at the beginning of their album career to cover it from then to now.  I hope that you like the effort, and some of the excellent music that I shall embed.

This was their first album, and it worked for a very young band.  Released in the UK in 196512, it was called simply My Generation there, on Brunswick Records.  I the US, it was released in 196604 on the Decca label with the title referenced in the title of this piece.  Here are pictures of the two album covers:

Here is the UK release one:


Here is the US release one:


I take a bit of issue with using a group proper noun and using the singular for it.  The title should have been The Who Sing My Generation.  But that is just the grammarian geek in me.  Before you ask, it IS acceptable to begin a sentence with a conjunction IF it relates to previous material.  Just do not get carried away with doing that.

This was the first and last album of theirs to be produced by the horrible opportunist Shel Talmy.  I have mentioned him in passing before, and the kindest words that I have for him is that he no longer is in the picture.  He was, and since he is still with us, is a horrible person, taking advantage of anyone gullible enough to fall for his contracts.

Enough of that.  Let us look into the music itself.  There were some differences in song lineup betwixt the US and the UK release, viz.:

Here is the UK lineup:

Side one

  1. “Out in the Street” – 2:31

  2. “I Don’t Mind” (James Brown) – 2:36

  3. “The Good’s Gone” – 4:02

  4. “La-La-La-Lies” – 2:17

  5. “Much Too Much” – 2:47

  6. “My Generation” – 3:18

Side two

  7. “The Kids Are Alright” – 3:04

  8. “Please, Please, Please” (James Brown-John Terry) – 2:45

  9. “It’s Not True” – 2:31

 10. “I’m a Man” (McDaniel) – 3:21

 11. “A Legal Matter” – 2:48

 12. “The Ox” (Townshend/Keith Moon/John Entwistle/Nicky Hopkins) – 3:50

Now, here is the US lineup:

Side one

  1. “Out in the Street” – 2:31

  2. “I Don’t Mind” – 2:36

  3. “The Good’s Gone” – 4:02

  4. “La-La-La-Lies” – 2:17

  5. “Much Too Much” – 2:47

  6. “My Generation” – 3:18

Side two

  7. “The Kids Are Alright” – 2:46

  8. “Please, Please, Please” – 2:45

  9. “It’s Not True” – 2:31

 10. “The Ox” – 3:50

 11. “A Legal Matter” – 2:48

 12. “Instant Party” – 3:12

As you can see, I’m a Man from the UK versions was replaced by Instant Party for the US one.  Both are somewhat forgettable, so let us not quibble.  If any readers would like to post embeds of either or both in the comments, please do so.  I do not intend to embed all of these songs, but only the ones that I like very much.  Hey, it is my post, so I get to choose what goes here!  LOL!

As a matter of interest, everything from here was written by Peter Townshend, unless qualified.  He was always the sparkplug for the writing, although the others sort of wrote a bit, and I strongly suspect that Keith Moon’s were ghost written by Pete.  Daltrey did write some material, and Enwistle was an excellent writer, but later.

Before we listen to tunes, we need to see who else was playing.  For this album, the only other, as far as I can tell, was Nicky Hopkins, who I have written about before.  He is no longer with us, but was one of the best keyboard players, especially piano, that you could ever find.

With that done, let us just take the songs that I like from the top.  I really like Out on the Street, pretty good music for a band of youngins!

This sounds like to me to be the album one, but Shel Talmy still controls those performances, and is very miserly about them getting out with his cut.  He is a very bad man.  Anyway, here it is:

Here is a “live” version.  You can tell the lipsynched ones by the way that Keith plays.  When he holds his sticks up like that, you KNOW that is was synched.

The next on the lineup was the James Brown cover of  I Don’t Mind. If you are interested, You Tube has it.  I do not consider it that good.  Next was The Good’s Gone, and whilst it is OK, not one of their best pieces.

However, I just LOVE the next song, La-La-La-Lies.  Many people would consider it to be a throwaway piece, but I really like the way that the bouncy rhythm and clever writing worked.  Call me sentimental, but I think that this is great.  Tell me what you think after listening.

It also showcases Keith hitting those drums, and HARD!  Nicky was on piano.

Here is what sounds to me to be the studio version:

I could not find a “live” version.  Perhaps readers will supply one in the comments.

By far the most influential song on the album was My Generation, the last one on the first side.  Because of its importance, we shall defer it to the end of this piece.  Next, the first song on the second side, was The Kids are Alright.  The long version is one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs that I have ever heard, and I NEVER tire of listening to it.  Please join me with a nice drink of your choice to enjoy it.  These kids were only in their 20s at most when this was created.

This piece is obviously lipsynched, but it does contain the original, studio content.  I like it mostly because of the folks in the background who obviously did not know what was happening.  If you can find actual studio footage of them recording at the time, please post it.  I think that Talmy has some, but will not release it.  I also like it because it acutally shows them playing, except for Keith, who just hated it, and mostly how young that they were then.

Here it is again, 40 years later, and it still sounds fresh.  My god, what a wonderful piece of music, and extremely under appreciated.  Note that the drummer is Zac Starkey, Ringo Starr’s son, with whom Keith used to play puzzles and drums with when Zac was just little.  I strongly suspect that if Zac had not contributed, many, many fewer live performances of the three (now two, with John no longer with us) would never had been.  My entire family, all three boys and the lovely, generous, and love of my life former (I shall NEVER use the term “ex”) mate saw them with me in Dallas, TX only a year or two before John died.  Oh well.  Her it is:

The next song was It’s Not True, perhaps a throwaway, but I like it very much.  It is sort of prescient, because one of the lines has to do with saying that the protagonist was not born in Baghdad.  Please enjoy.

Here is the album cut with extraneous video.

Here is a “live” version, and I am not sure that it is not really live.  Keith seems to be using his sticks properly.  Unless any of you know better, I am going to say that this piece looks quite live.

They did not always sing.  This piece was written by The Who, with the exception of Daltry, with input from Nicky Hopkins.  It is one hell of an instrumental!  It is also one of my favorite pieces from that era.  My former mate thought that it was too noisy, but I love it.  Please tell me what you think.  It is called The Ox, and John took that name as his alter ego until he expired.

Here is the original sound from the album, but once again I was unable to find original video.  The video here is from the motion picture, The Kids are Alright, from many years ago.  Still, it is a pretty throbbing instrumental piece.


The next song, A Legal Matter, is one of my favorites.  Pete wrote and sang it, and his voice was just perfect for it.  It is also bouncy, but extremely witty and uses very interesting imagery, like “maternity clothes and baby’s trousers”.  I will admit that the protagonist is being a bit of a cad here.  I do not think that this one was autobiographical, but I could be wrong.  Please notice the strong piano from Nicky Hopkins.


This is the original studio release, and I chose this one not because of the album cover stills, but of the stills later on in it of the band.  Some of those are from very early in their careers, and some just before Keith expired.

I have put this last song that I wish to cover at the very last for several reasons.  The first reason is that it was amongst the first to show what The Who really were about at the time.  Second, it showcased the talents of each of the members of the band.  Third, it was sort of prescient in that Keith lived it.  Finally, I do not think that The Who would have ever gone anywhere without this song.  It was their standard, their anthem, and spoke for an entire generation of disaffected young people at the time.  This is one the most iconic songs EVER, and without further ado, please allow me to present the seminal My Generation.  I shall develop some themes about it after we watch and listen.

Here is the studio version with lyrics.  I chose to put it first because that is what you would have heard from the album (by the way, I have it in vinyl, CD, AND of 8-Track!).

They played this song live many times, and here are two selections.  The first is from the Monterrey Pop festival from 1967, and the second from the recently restored Isle of Wight performance  from 1970.

Note that Pete was playing a Fender on the first one and what appears to be a Gretch on the second one.  The sound is quite different, but so were the amplifiers.

One of the most famous videos of them playing this song was from The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967.  I chose this video because it has the interview before the song, as I think that it is funny, although the audio could use more gain.  However, if you look very closely, it is lipsynched.  The drums on camera never match the sound that is heard.  And even though Keith HATED to lipsynch, he made a pretty good effort this time, for a reason.  He had a surprise awaiting everyone, and as it turned out, even himself.

He had loaded one of his bass drums with a pyrotechnic composition, to be triggered at the end of the number.  Legend has it that he bribed a stage hand to load it again, but no one really knows the true story as far as I can tell.  The end result was what you see in the video.  The facts that are established are that Keith was knocked off of his drummer’s throne and injured by a piece of flying debris (contrary to the accepted story, I do not think that is was a piece of cymbal, but more likely a drumhead clamp piece).  Pete had his hair singed (you can see him beating it out in the video) and likely suffered hearing damage because he was so close.  The other two were relatively unaffected physically, but obviously were startled, to say the least.

Let me, as a professional pyrotechnician, tell you what the flash powder used in those effects can do.  This material is what is used in conventional firecrackers, and it is one of the most treacherous mixes that a pyrotechnician can be asked to prepare.  I will not go into the formulation, but will say that to mix it safely it has to be mixed in extremely small batches, either by hand on a conductive sheet, or remotely in a tumbler.  The latter is much preferred.  This stuff can go high order (in other words, detonate rather than deflagrate) instantly.  It is also extremely spark and heat sensitive.  By the looks of the detonation, and that WAS a detonation, I would estimate that at least 30 grams were in the bass drum.  A firecracker has only less than 100 milligrams of flash powder.

In any event, that was spectacular.  Now for more analysis of the song itself.  It is very fast paced, and no one artist dominates the entire piece, but time is allowed for each of them, except for Daltrey, but that is not unusual for the singer.  The stutter, viz., “…mmmmmy ggggeneraton…” is a direct reference to the widespread use of amphetamines by the subculture in London at the time, called the Mods.  They loved snappy clothes, partying all night, and not eating.  There are lots of similarities betwixt them and the folks who go to raves now, and use MDMA (“ecstasy“) for pretty much the same reasons.

I alluded to the the “…hope I die before I get old…” part earlier.  That was a very popular mindset at the time, and I suspect that it is still in certain circles.  I do not any longer subscribe to that philosophy.  My one is pretty simple:

I hope I die before I become useless to others, or live in wracking pain.

It is hard to make that rhyme with anything, but that is my philosophy.

Finally, this song was associated with its band more than any other of which I can think.  Essentially, it was their signature piece.  Many other bands have pieces that are sort of identified with them, but my memory does not identify such a strong link to a single song, for major bands.  Certainly, lesser ones have that one big hit that people remember, but since The Who had so many monster hits, it is interesting to me that this one still remains their opus, and from early in their career.

It is interesting that AARP, the powerful lobbying group, once attempted to use My Generation as their newsletter title.  I can find no reference to it on the web, but I know that I remember them attempting it.  If you have links, please post them in the comments.  It was a bad idea, since the part about “I hope I die before I get old.”  is sort of antithetic to their membership.  However, that is a fact, but I just have not been able to find links about it.

To close this piece, I think that this is likely one of the very best debut albums from any band.  Several pieces have withstood the test of time, and My Generation is as fresh today as it was in 1965.

Please chime in on the comment section for more of their work from this period.  Please do not reference later works, because I shall get to them, one album at a time.

Warmest regards,



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  1. an excellent debut album?

    Warmest regards,


  2. Our baby boomer parents where allowed to get into their old age relatively intact and comfortable.  This is something my generation( I’m 55)won’t see.  My kids are definitively NOT alright and ALL of the even younger 20 somethings are completely defective in multiple areas of human survival/species propagation potential.  Huge words and largely undeveloped statements in this short venue yet I hold it as undesputed gospel type truth.

    AARP, like all American institutions is compromised down the level of theme advancing “solutions for seniors” which only advance the profit margins of globalist institutions.  It’s much like the emails I get from the Nigerian Prince who owes me ten million dollars.

  3. the promotion, ek.  I very much appreciate it.

    I must admit that I was watching the KY OH State game out of the corner of my eye last night whilst covering the many comments that Orange had.  The KY kids played extremely well!  I am not really that much into sport, but I do like to see a group of people working well together to a common, positive end result.

    Warmest regards,


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