Baba O'Riley (5:00)

Cover of Who's Next

From Who's Next and 75 other releases

Baba O’Riley (often mistakenly called “Teenage Wasteland”) is the opening track of The Who’s 1971’s album Who’s Next, written by guitarist Pete Townshend. Lead singer Roger Daltrey takes the vocals for most of the song, while Townshend sings the middle eight: “Don’t cry/don’t raise your eye/it’s only teenage wasteland”. The title of the song is derived from this combination of the song’s philosophical and musical influences: Meher Baba and Terry Riley. 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’s rock opera Tommy.

Townshend derived the song from a Lowrey Berkshire home organ experimental recording, which the band reconstructed. 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 an Irish folk-style beat. Dave Arbus, of East of Eden, plays the violin in the solo heard during this section.

“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. Although the Lifehouse project was later scrapped, many of the songs were released on The Who’s 1971 album Who’s Next. The song was released as a single in several European countries, but in the US and the UK was only released as part of the album. It has been a concert staple after its release. A remixed version is used in the title credits of the popular drama CSI:New York.

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