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A Quick One While He's Away by The Who
Album: A Quick OneReleased: 1966
The Who had 10 minutes left to fill on the LP. Kit Lambert, The Who's manager, suggested to Pete Townshend that he write "something linear... perhaps a 10 minute song." Townshend responded by saying that rock songs are "2:50 by tradition!" Lambert then told Townshend that he should write a 10 minute story comprised of 2:50 songs.
The song was a "mini-opera," paving the way for the other mini-opera "Rael" and eventually full length rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia.
The plot of the story is simple. A girl is sad that her boyfriend is away. Her friends suggest that she take a substitute lover, Ivor The Engine Driver. When the boyfriend returns, she confesses her infidelity and is forgiven.
The Who performed this on the Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus, which was going to be a TV special. It never aired on television but it was released on VHS in 1996 and DVD in 2004. The Who's performance of this was included in The Kids Are Alright, a 1979 film about The Who.
According to legend, Rock And Roll Circus didn't air because the Rolling Stones felt that they were showed up by The Who. Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithful, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, and Mitch Mitchell all appeared on Rock And Roll Circus.
A live version of this song appears on Live At Leeds
and the soundtrack for The Kids Are Alright
The Who wanted to put Cellos on the track but Kit Lambert said they couldn't afford it. So they sang "cello, cello, cello, cello," where the Who thought they should go.
This was used in the Wes Anderson film Rushmore
starring Jason Shwartzman and Bill Murray.