Slit Skirts

Album: All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes (1982)


  • This is Townsend's personally felt lament to the way a decline in a couple's sex life so often leads to the overall decline and disintegration of the relationship. He tells of it primarily from the point of view of the man, whose libido and performance both tend to diminish with age. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    S.D. - Denver, CO
  • The Who was still active when Pete Townshend recorded the All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes album - he snuck it in between sessions for the Who albums Face Dances (1981) and It's Hard (1982). Townshend's marriage was on the rocks at the time, which influenced this song. He and his wife Karen ended up getting back together; they divorced in 2009.
  • The opening lines reflect the turmoil Townshend had been going through:

    I was just 34 years old and I was still wandering in a haze
    I was wondering why everyone I met seemed like they were
    Lost in a maze

    Townshend was 34 years old in 1979, which is when his drinking became a problem. The Who looked like they were going to break up, which triggered his alcoholism. After finally getting sober in 1981, Townshend realized he was using booze (and later, drugs) to deal with his problems instead of facing them head on.
  • The bass player on this song was Tony Butler, whose band, Big Country, took off a short time later. He shows up in the video.

Comments: 2

  • Andy from FloridaEric from Virginia; I have to disagree. I think you have the first part right about the disintegration of the marriage - there are plenty of lines to support that - but with regard to her attitude, it talks about how they both have become stagnant - "we have to be so drunk to try a new dance" "she wouldn't dare in those slit skirts" - that suggests he's upset that she has to be drunk just to do anything new...
  • Eric from VirginiaOh God no. No, No, NO. A thousand nos! (to B.D.'s explanation)

    There are a couple of lines in the second verse that can be read as referring to sexual performance, but that is totally missing the point of the song.

    This is an incredible meditation on the disintegration of a marriage in middle age. A meditation bristling with frustration, anger, defiance, disappointment -- you name it.

    Townshend is both ruing the loss of his youth and the opportunity, romance and idealization that accompanies youth while also saying that his ex (Jeanie) will never be some middle aged faceless woman in a slit skirt desperately trying to find someone new. And he won't be some middle aged wanker in a ripped shirt doing the same. He's ruing the loss of his marriage and of his youth while simultaneously giving the middle finger to being some desperate middle aged has-been. And that his ex is too good for that also.

    An absolutely brilliant -- and defiant -- meditation on aging, loss, and heartache.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

DevoSongwriter Interviews

Devo founders Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale take us into their world of subversive performance art. They may be right about the De-Evoloution thing.

John ParrSongwriter Interviews

John tells the "St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" story and explains why he disappeared for so long.

Classic MetalFact or Fiction

Ozzy, Guns N' Roses, Judas Priest and even Michael Bolton show up in this Classic Metal quiz.

Second Wind SongsSong Writing

Some songs get a second life when they find a new audience through a movie, commercial, TV show, or even the Internet.

Timothy B. Schmit of the EaglesSongwriter Interviews

Did this Eagle come up with the term "Parrothead"? And what is it like playing "Hotel California" for the gazillionth time?

Andy McClusky of OMDSongwriter Interviews

Known in America for the hit "If You Leave," OMD is a huge influence on modern electronic music.