10 Of The Hardest-Hitting Heavy Songs From The Who
When it comes to the most iconic rock songs released, we can always count on the Who‘s classics to be part of the list. But on this one, we listed down ten of the hardest-hitting heavy songs from the band that continued to be fan favorites and an anthem to all the rockers out there.
10. “The Quiet One”
This song is written by bassist John Entwistle. It is one of his contributions on Face Dances, the first album without Keith Moon. Entwistle teamed up with then new drummer Kenney Jones for this track. Entwistle said about the song: “It’s me trying to explain that I’m not really quiet. I started off being quiet and that’s the pigeon hole I’ve been stuck in all these years. It started when I heard Kenney playing a drum riff and I thought ‘that would be really great for a song and give Kenney a chance to play that on stage.’ So I got Kenney to put down about three minutes of that and I worked along with it and came up with the chorus of ‘The Quiet One.'”
9. “Who Are You”
Co-founder and lead guitarist Pete Townshend wrote this song that turned out to be a classic hit for the band. Roger Daltrey threw multiple F-bombs on the original track, giving it more power. “Who Are You?” was part of the Who’s eighth studio album with the same name and the last record with Moon, who did some heavy drum patterns on this.
Later on, the track got more fame when it became the official theme song for the CBS TV series CSI, which went on the air in 2000. When CBS created spin-off shows, they used more Who songs: CSI Miami (2002) uses “Won’t Get Fooled Again”; CSI New York (2004) uses “Baba O’Riley”; CSI: Cyber (2015) uses “I Can See For Miles.”
8. “Pinball Wizard”
Released as the first single on their fourth studio album Tommy, which was written by Townshend as part of the “rock opera,” with the aim to impress rock critic Nik Cohn. It became a hit boosting the whole album, which later on was made into a play and ran as an off-Broadway production. Tommy was also made into a film in 1975 starring Jack Nicholson, Ann Margaret, Tina Turner, and Daltrey, who played Tommy. Elton John made an appearance as The Pinball Wizard and performed this song.
Tommy is about a young man who is deaf, dumb, and blind, but becomes a pinball champion. Many of the songs from the album don’t make a lot of sense if you listen to them alone, but “Pinball Wizard” stands well on its own. Townshend told Rolling Stone in 1969: “The whole point of ‘Pinball Wizard’ was to let the Tommy have some sort of colorful event and excitement.”
7. “Summertime Blues” (Live)
The song was originally recorded by Eddie Cochran in 1958 and was later on covered by artists such as Blue Cheer, Rush, and of course, The Who. From 1967 to 1976, “Summertime Blues” was a staple of their concerts. They also performed this at Woodstock in 1969 and released as a single on their 1970 album Live at Leeds, peaking at #38 in the UK and #27 in the US. It was the only Who hit not written by Townshend.
6. “The Real Me”
Another song written by Townshend on their second full-scale rock opera, Quadrophenia in 1973. But the real star on this song was Entwistle, who gave the wildest and considered to be one of his greatest bass performances that was recorded in just one take. While, Townshend did some distorted chords, Moon killed it with his drum groove, and Daltrey belts some signature bluster.
5. “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
Like almost all of the songs from Who’s Next, this song was written by Townshend for the abandoned rock opera Lifehouse that became another hit for the band. The album version runs 8:30, but the single was shortened to 3:35 so radio stations would play it. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” was one of the rhythm tracks to ever use a synthesizer for the first time.
Daltrey’s scream here is considered one of the heaviest hard rock screams ever laid to tape. In the May 26, 2006 issue of the conservative National Review magazine, they published a list of “The 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs,” ranking this song at #1.
Daltrey’s iconic “The best I ever haaaaaaaaaaad!” paired with Townshend’s most assertive riffing, makes this song as the most primal hard rock song in 1971’s Who’s Next. Although Daltrey sings most of this, Townshend sings the part that starts, “I sit looking ’round, I look at my face in the mirror…” and as an early adopter of synthesizers, Townshend used a new one: the ARP 2500.
3. “Boris the Spider”
You cannot see the title of this song without hearing that gravelly tone that sounds like a death-metal singer Entwistle did on this track. This was the first Who song written by the bass player with him on the vocals as well. He wrote this as a joke because he was afraid of spiders as a kid, but it became a concert favorite and the only song from the album that the band continued to play live.
2. “Young Man Blues” (live)
Another cover song from Live at Leeds album. “Young Man Blues” was originally recorded by jazz pianist Mose Allison in 1957. The Who’s rendition was built on Daltrey’s gruff solo vocals. Entwistle told Rolling Stone in 1981: “The only Who album I listen to a lot anymore is Live at Leeds, and that’s the heaviest album we’ve ever made.”
1. “My Generation”
We know you’re not surprised because this is no doubt the Who’s greatest hard-hitting song. Townshend wrote this for rebellious British youths known as “mods,” but the lyrics continued to stay relevant up to this day. It is a rock anthem for every generation to come. Daltrey sang the lead vocals with a stutter, which worked with the Moon’s sick drum fills, Entwistle’s monster bass solo, and Townshend’s fuzzy riffs. “My Generation” is the highest charting Who song in the UK.