Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Baba O'Riley

Out here in the fields, I farm for my meals
I get my back into my livin'
I don't need to fight to prove I'm right
I don't need to be forgiven
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

Don't cry, don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland...yeah...

Sally take my hand, we'll travel south cross land
Put out the fire, and don't look past my shoulder
The exodus is here, the happy ones are near
Let's get together, before we get much older

Teenage wasteland
It's only teenage wasteland
Teenage wasteland
Oh, yeah
Teenage wasteland
They're all wasted!

- Released November 1971

- The first part of the title (Baba) comes from Meher Baba who was Pete Townshend's spiritual guru.

- The second part of the title (O'Riley) comes from Terry Riley who was a minimalist musician.

(Terry Riley "A Rainbow in a Curved Air")

Pete Townshend sings the middle eight: "Don't cry/don't raise your eye/it's only teenage wasteland".

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 opera, Tommy. Townshend derived the song from an experimental recording of his Lowrey Berkshire home organ, which the band reconstructed.

- "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. When Lifehouse was scrapped, many of the songs were released on The Who's 1971 album Who's Next.

- The song's iconic backing track was derived from deep within the Lifehouse concept. Townshend wanted to input the life information of Meher Baba into a synthesizer, which would then generate music based on that information. That music would have been the backing track for "Baba O'Riley," but in the end, the frenetic sequence was played by Townshend on a Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 organ using its marimba repeat feature. This modal approach used for the synthesizer track was inspired by the work of minimalist composer Terry Riley. The names of Riley and Meher Baba were then incorporated into the song title as a tribute by Townshend.

- A remixed version of the song serves as the theme for the CSI: NY television show.

- "Baba O'Riley" is often mistakenly called "Teenage Wasteland" after the phrase repeated throughout the song's chorus. "Teenage Wasteland" was in fact a working title for the song in its early incarnations as part of the Lifehouse project, but eventually became the title for a different but related song by Townshend, which is slower and features more lyrics.

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