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Album: TommyReleased: 1969
The Who's bass player John Entwistle wrote this at Pete Townshend's request, as part of The Who's rock opera Tommy
, where the titular character experiences bullying. Entwistle based the melody around the piano song "Chopsticks," and based "Cousin Kevin" on an actual neighborhood bully he met as a child.
Both this song and "Fiddle About" dealt with the most traumatic experiences that Tommy would face in his quest for spiritual enlightenment: bullying and molestation at the hands of family, respectively. Townshend had suffered both as a child, and it would be too difficult for him to write on either subject. Entwistle rose to the task.
This song was excluded from live performances for years because of the tough three-part harmony between Entwistle, Townshend, and Daltrey.
John Entwistle was the only member of The Who who could read music, having taken up the piano at the age seven of seven. Before he reached his teens, Entwistle was also learning trumpet and French horn, and was playing in the Middlesex Youth Orchestra. He composed this song using nearly every chord from A-F#, both majors and minors. Like The Beatles' "I Am The Walrus
," you will hear almost every chord in the musical scale being played here.
In 1972, the London Symphony Orchestra recorded and released a classical version of Tommy on Repertoire Records. John sang on this song as a guest performer. His other song, "Fiddle About," featured ex-Beatle Ringo Starr on vocals.
A rare live version of this song was released on Join Together, a 2-disc live album recorded at the LA Universal Amphitheater during The Who's 1989 reunion tour. The album stalled at #188 in the US and is now out of print and very hard to find.