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Pete Townshend originally wrote this about a character in his "Lifehouse" project, which was going to be a film similar to The Who's Tommy and Quadrophenia. Townshend never finished "Lifehouse," but the songs ended up on the album Who's Next. (thanks, Brian - Paoli, IN)
Townshend was going to use this as the main song in the Lifehouse film for the villain, Jumbo.
The origin of the song comes from an event that occurred after The Who's June 9th, 1970 concert in Denver. Townshend was tempted by a groupie. He went back to his room alone and wrote a prayer beginning, "If my fist clenches, crack it open..." The prayer was more or less asking for help in resisting this temptation. The other words could be describing Townshend's self pity and how hard it is to resist. (thanks, Geoff Morgan - Brookfield, WI, for above 2)
Townshend has said that he wrote this to show "How lonely it is to be powerful."
The original demo version is a lot quieter and stripped down. Townshend released this version on his 1983 album Scoop.
Townshend and Roger Daltrey both have blue eyes.
The lyrics are based on Townshend's own feeling of angst - that no one knows what it's like to be him, with high expectations and pressure to be someone he's not. Knowing what a miserable sod he can be, he's telling us not to let himself enjoy it because he doesn't want to enjoy making us (the fans) happy. It'll mean we will ask for more!
The Who play this live at every concert. (thanks, Dereck - Cardiff, Wales, for above 2)
Limp Bizkit covered this in 2003 on their album Results May Vary. Their version was used in the Halle Berry movie Gothika. Berry appeared in the video, which was directed by Bizkit front man Fred Durst. Conveniently enough, Durst included a scene where he kisses Berry in the video.
Mike Watt - "History Lesson, Pt. 2"
Mike Watt of the Minutemen tells the story of the song that became an Indie Rock touchstone. It's also the story of what Mike calls "The Movement."
The renown Texas songwriter has been at it for 40 years, with tales to tell about The Flatlanders and The Clash - that's Joe's Tex-Mex on "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"
JJ Burnel of The Stranglers
JJ talks about The Stranglers' signature sound - keyboard and bass - which isn't your typical strain of punk rock.