Who Are You”, composed by Pete Townshend, is the title track on The Who’s 1978 release, Who Are You, the last album released before drummer Keith Moon’s death in September 1978. It was released as a double-A sided single with the John Entwistle composition “Had Enough”, also featured on the album. The song became one of the band’s biggest US hits, peaking at #14.
The album version includes an extra verse compared to the much shorter single. Additionally, a “lost verse” mix of the song was released on the 1996 reissue of Who Are You, with a completely different second verse: “I used to check my reflection / Jumping with my cheap guitar / I must have lost my direction, cause I ended up a superstar/ One night I was in the boardroom/ Affected by the human race/ You can learn from my mistakes, but you’re posing in the glass again”.
The song is unusual in that it contains two instances of the word “fuck” — at 2:16 and 5:43 (at 2:14 and 4:27 in the single edit version) — yet has been played frequently in its entirety on rock radio stations. The expletives, while not clearly enunciated and slightly obscured by Moon’s drum fills, are nevertheless quite audible. This led to some controversy when ABC’s unedited broadcast of The Who’s Live 8 performance retained them.
A promotional video was filmed on May 9, 1978 for The Kids Are Alright documentary; originally, the intent was to have The Who simply mime to the single version’s backing track with Roger Daltrey adding live vocals, but the decision was made to also re-record the guitars, backing vocals, drums, and piano. Only John Entwistle’s bass and the synthesizer backing remained intact from the original version.
This song was first performed live at the Gaumont State Theater, Kilburn on December 15, 1977, albeit without synthesizers and only a portion of the lyrics. This can be seen in the DVD At Kilburn 1977 + Live at the Coliseum. Despite that being the first performance, this song had its roots in jams in the band’s 1976 concerts, most notably at the Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto on October 21, 1976, drummer Keith Moon’s last North American appearance with The Who, where the band played a very early version of this. (with Pete on vocals singing “Who Are You?”) The first live performance of this with synthesizers was at the Rainbow Theatre, London on May 2, 1979, Kenney Jones’s first live show with The Who. Since then it has remained a staple for the band’s live shows.
In Pop Culture:
* It is the theme to the TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
* The video game Rock Band features the song as part of a 12 pack of downloadable tracks from The Who. (In this version, the expletive, “fuck” has been replaced with the less controversial “hell.”)
* The Blanks/Worthless Peons in the TV show Scrubs perform part of the song in the episode My Identity Crisis
* Used to introduce the opponents’ starting players at Toronto Raptors home games
Edited by Kasterborus on 14 Nov 2009, 12:27
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