Album: Quadrophenia (1973)
Charted: 20


  • This is the first track on the second disc of Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend's rock opera about Jimmy, a pill-popping mod cockney who tries to find reality from sexual encounters, the company he keeps, and the clothes he wears. Only when he drowns in the ocean does he discover himself.
  • In this song, Jimmy The Mod takes the train (the 5:15) back to Brighton, once the site of the Mods' triumph against the Rockers, and en route he remembers various experiences of himself and his fellow Mods. Jimmy's recollections are in the main unhappy - anger, confusion, violence, sexual frustration, and rootlessness dominate his thoughts as he keeps returning to the thought: "Inside, outside, leave me alone. Inside, outside, nowhere is home."
  • The term "Quadrophenia" was coined by Pete Townshend, referring to schizophrenia, times two. The character Jimmy The Mod was a quadrophenic: Townshend wanted each of his four personalities to represent one of the four band members. This didn't work as planned, as he was so much more involved in the project than the other members.
  • Speaking with Uncut magazine in 2001, Roger Daltrey said that his main regret on Quadrophenia was the recording process. Ron Nevison, who was the producer at the time with Pete, recorded it with echo on the vocal which can never be removed now," he explained. "It just makes the vocal sound thin. It was the biggest recording mistake we ever made. The echo diminishes the character as far as I'm concerned. It always pissed me off. From day one I just f---ing hated the sound of it. He did that to my voice and I've never forgiven Ron for it."
  • During an infamous performance of the song on BBC's Top Of The Pops, Townshend demolished the Gretsch guitar that he'd used for the bulk of Who's Next and Quadrophenia. The Who went on to earn a life ban from BBC premises after Townshend flicked two fingers at the show's producer and Keith Moon attacked a steward who refused him entry to the bar.

    Townshend's rage was genuine: The BBC, enforcing union rules, made the group record a new track for their lip-synched performance. The Who recorded their segment on October 3, 1973, which was broadcast on the 500th Edition special of the show the the next evening with the offensive gestures edited out. The ban was lifted after representatives for The Who sent a letter of apology to the BBC.
  • This is one of the more confusing songs to understand outside the context of the album. When The Who toured for Quadrophenia in 1973, Roger Daltrey would often explain the concept between songs so listeners could follow along. Townshend wasn't happy about this - he thought the explanations weren't necessary and slowed the show down.
  • "Quadrophenia" refers not just to the split personalities of the character in the song, but also to the quadrophonic sound they intended for the album. The idea was to create four distinct channels, whereas stereo was just two. In a Songfacts interview with Ron Nevison, who engineered the project, he explained: "We ended up not doing it in quad, but I did record the drums with the idea of having them spread out in a quadrophonic kind of way. Although, I didn't really know - and no one knew - what to do. Nowadays, what you want to call quad and 5.1, you still put the band across the front, and in the rear you have the room, so you feel like you're in the audience almost. I didn't know what to do. You listen to the early Beatles songs when they first came into stereo, they didn't know what to do with them."
  • The Who needed various sound effect to create the train station atmosphere in this song, but the sound effects available were all mono recordings, so they created their own, hauling a mobile recording unit to various locales to get the sounds in stereo. For "5:15," they went to Waterloo station to get the authentic sounds of the platform. Getting the train whistle was harder because engineers (the train kind) were only allowed to use them under certain conditions. According to various accounts, Pete Townshend had his driver bribe the engineer so he would blow the whistle.

    The whistle actually appears at the end of the song "I've Had Enough," which leads into "5:15" on Quadrophenia.
  • During live performances, the sound effects for this song were played on tape, which didn't always go well. On November 5, 1973, Pete Townshend had an onstage meltdown at the Odeon Theatre in Newcastle when the tapes didn't come in at the proper time. Eyewitness accounts recall him punching the road manager in charge of the tapes and going on a rampage against the equipment. The venue dropped the curtain when they realized something was going wrong. After about 15 minutes, the show resumed, with the band filling most of the remaining time with a lengthy jam.

Comments: 39

  • Philip from Waterdown, OnThe concert I saw in Montreal with Lynryd Skynrd opening for The Who way back in the 70's on the original Quad tour with Moonie on drums had quadrophonic sound with speakers on large platforms at the far end of the arena and midway back on both sides halfway up. I was sitting centre side and I remember hearing the sound just wash over the whole arena especially with Sea and Sand and the water, it was their idea of quadrophonic sound. -Philip C. Perron, Waterdown, Ontario, Canada
  • Jfv from Philadelphia, PaThe song’s lyrics artfully make frequent use of literary oxymorons such as magically bored, free frustration, quiet stormwater, gravely outrageous, tightly undone, sadly ecstatic, most likely to depict the often contradictory images and behaviors one sees and experiences when observing people riding on a train.
  • Kat from Adelaide, AustraliaI think Quadrophenia has aged a lot better than Tommy. I can sit down and listen to Quadrophenia from start to finish, but even though I'm a huge Who fan, I wouldn't dream of listening to Tommy anymore from go to whoa!
  • John from Honolulu, Hiin Quadrophenia, there are 4 musical themes - one for each member of the Who - thus, the title - quad means 4. the Who was the favorite band of the Mods, in England., who wore geeky suits and ties and rode Vespas with multiple rear-view mirros. They were opposed to the Rockers, who wore leather, like Marlon Brando in The Wild One.
    Inn this 3rd opera by Townshend, the 2 groups come into conflict in Brighton Beach during summer
    vacation. in 5:15, the main character, Jimmy, is messed up on pills - downers, on his way home, after
    being fired from his job.
  • City from London, United KingdomMy mate Doug reckons that the inspiration for this song relates back to when he and Keith Entwisle used to travel to Brighton on the 5:15 for gigs when he was drummer for the High numbers... Daltrey and Townsend used to drive down but there wasn't enough room for all of them and the kit so Doug and Keith used to catch the train the train from Victoria...
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaThis is my favorite Who song. I love the way Roger just belts this one out!!
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Moawesome song! i love the lyrics, and that bass solo is nothing short of incredible. only one question- i clicked on the widget on this page that lets you listen to the song. Maybe it was just some random error, but it started playing "yellow submarine"...? haha.
  • Gina from North Brunswick, NjI have a perfect copy of the "Tales from the Who" album
  • Mike from Boston, MaI'm still not sure which album I love more, Quadrophenia or Tommy. But nonetheless, Pete did accomplish the notion of having Jimmy represent all 4 members of The Who. "Bell Boy" is Keith's theme, "Helpless Dancer" is Roger's, "Is it in My Head?" is John's, and "Love, Reign O'er Me" is Pete's.
  • Don from Franklin, MaJimmy doesnt die, thats right, but he does go into the water. The second-to-last song, The Rock (with that wonderful rolling thunder of Kieth Moon's drum rhythm), refers to Jimmy sitting on a rock in the storm tossed ocean thinking. Pete Townshend: "It's getting in a boat, going out to sea and sitting on a rock waiting for the waves to knock him off that makes him review himself. He ends up with the sum total of frustrated toughness, romanticism, religion, daredevil - desperation, but a starting point for anybody." from http://www.quadrophenia.net/album/album.html
  • Lou from Scranton, PaYo! Jimmy doesn't drown in the ocean. Only his bike goes off the cliff. He's leaving the security of sameness and fitting in for adulthood. "Love Reign O
    er me" is a Meher Baba concept which is also used in European Drama. That is, rain is like a baptism. That's why it's the last song on the album. By the way...schizophrenia is a neuroses. Jimmy has Muliple Personalities, which is a psychoses.
  • Anne Marie from Gettysburg, PaWow! This rocks! VIVID POETRY!
  • James from Glasgow, ScotlandI was very severly influenced by this album and it helped me to find a slot when I was young, if it had not been for the who my life would have been pretty dull.

    I have dedicated a website to all things MOD and Who

    Hope you enjoy
  • Caleb from Camp Point, IlThis song is awesome enough, but it's even better thanks to Entwistle's truly amazing bass solo which can be found on any DVD from 1996 and on containing 5:15
  • Michael from Eastbourne, OrSince I saw quadrophenia, i have been divinely coverted into fanitical mod. this song (and any other songs by the who) have raw passion, thats what in inspired me. WE ARE THE MODS!! ALL YOU MODS OUT THERE STAND PROUD!!!

    (P.S) Jimmy doesn't kill himself @ the end of the film he chucks the scooter of beachy head, this symbolises the end of his mod life)

  • Kristina from Albuquerque, NmQuadrophenia has basically saved my life. It's my favorite Who album and I wish it would get the credit it deserves. It is very esoteric. I love listening to this song and asking "why should I care" about whatever I'm pissed off about.
  • Josh from Sacramento, CaI am in complete agreement with Laura on this one. The Royal Albert Hall performance was John Entwistle's finest moment in his great career.
  • Nick from Houston, TxHey Dave from Stamford, CT, I own the Tales from the Who bootleg album. I am only 15 and when my grandfather gave me his record player I decided to go through my uncles closet to find some records and I found it in there. Although I would never sell it I'm interested in finding out how much it costs. Please tell me if you happen to know its worth.
  • Pete from London, EnglandGreat song, from an even greater album.

    In the words of Pete Townshend:

    "Smile you buggers! Pretend it Christmas!"
  • Susan from Npr, FlI was a teenager in the early 70's, and I got the "Quadrophenia album, along with "Tommy" for Christmas the year it came out. It's about the struggles of being a teenager, as much of The Who's music was. It was also about differences between those following rock music and those following mod music and the lifestyles of both. It's about being "in", or trying to be. There are a number of sites out there with the full story, which was included with the original album. I haven't yet bought the rerelease, but I would think it would have it, too. However, in a record album, you got larger pages and pictures to go with the music than you do nowdays with a cd. Albums were great in that way.

    Quadrophonic music was fantastic to listen to. I don't remember whether or not this particular album was actually quadrophonic, but it would certainly make sense. I do remember having 4 large speakers, 1 in each upper corner of my room, and listening to recordings that were quadrophonic. It was incredible the way different parts of the music were split between the speakers. The music would rotate around the room. It was like being in the center of the music, and with a rock opera, that was quite an experience. I'm amazed when I think back to how loud I sometimes had the music, and I really can't remember my parents complaining much about it!

    Take a look at quadrophenia.net for the story that came with the album, as well as a lot of other background on the setting. It's set in a time when I was actually younger, and some of it is even particular to London's teen life at that time. I remember some of the "mod" age, but not from the viewpoint of a teenager living at that time. Still, like so much of their music, The Who's Quadrophenia remains a classic. Every generation struggles with growing up and being recognized as such. Certain themes are ageless, meaning it relates to every generation. It's an interesting experience to go back and listen to the music of your youth when you're much older. You can feel it all again, but from a different perspective.
  • David from Youngstown, OhQuadrophenia is one of the three or so best albums of all time. I'm sure there are many teens (me, 20 years ago) who can really identify with Jimmy and his confusion over his true identity. So many of the songs blow me away like "Cut My Hair" and "The Dirty Jobs." "5:15" is a great rock song. I agree that it's a shame there isn't a place on the site to talk about great albums.
  • Kelly from Burbank, CaI agree, Jon from Sunnyvale. It's a shame there's no where to talk about Quadrophenia as an entire album, because I'd love to discuss it. It seems that most people listen to this song, 5:15, out of context-- they're right, it is an incredibly "messed up" song if they don't know to what the lyrics are referring. Listen to the album, and not only will you understand the lyrics, but you may discover the absolute magic of Townshend's writing. I know I did. I think it's also a shame that Tommy became so much more popular than this rock opera, because while Tommy has it's merits, this one just blows me away. It's like musical chocolate...you savor every bit of it until it is done and then want more. Oh, and back to the song, I love all of it: musically and lyrically.
  • Don from Newmarket, CanadaIn the liner notes it is mentioned that Pete Townshend bribed the train engineer 5 pounds to blow his whistle so he could record it.
  • David Corino from Hawley, PaIts the "OX cam". They have the "OX" cam on the second disk on the Kids are alright Dvd, you can watch Entwistile durning Baba O'Riley and Wont Get Foolde Again (they isolated the sound so you only here the bass, its so awsome) Pick up this DVD, before you step on it.
  • John from Boston, MaYeah, Pete Townshend was never really into drugs, this song is about teen agnst as it fits into the rock opera, Jack Flash, this song has nothing to do with drugs
  • David Corino from Hawley, PaA real sweet bass solo in the middle of this song live by Entwistle.
  • Dave from Stamford, CtThe who did do quadrophonic performances. There were also bootleg quadrophonic recordings made. Most famous being the "Tales from the Who" Bootleg double LP. Notable for having EC horror comic art on Album cover. If you can find one let me know. Mom sold mine in a tag sale.
  • Jack Flash from New Jack City, United StatesAll of you are wrong! This song is about a time for pot heads to re-group. Like 4:20, which is the time pot heads are suppose to group together and smoke, 5:15 is the time to have the last bit of smoke together before splitting. Now exhale!
  • David from Muir, Miactually, Sam, you are wrong.

    Quadrophenia -- Schizophrenia x 2

    Sam - sounds like a good explanation but is not related to quadrophonics which you are right about, was stereo x 2 and was a technology that was loved by audiophiles but never achieved commercial acceptance and died. I have found no evidence that Quadrophenia was recorded or released as a Quadrophonic album.
  • Laura from Spencerport, NyIf anyone has seen The Who from their year 2000 concert at the Royal Albert Hall, you'll know what I'm talking about here: John's bass solo during "5:15", which was about 3 minutes and 40 or 45 seconds long, was INSANE!!!!!!! It looks like he's in fast forward...I LOVE that "john cam", too. No one can ever play like that. He's one in a million. Like Moonie. Two best friends in Rock 'n Roll Heaven--long live the Who!!
  • Eddie from Petaluma, Cavery weird song. but hey it rocks
  • Nessie from Sapporo, Japan<> The song title is probably a reference to a train.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScYeah. It's a great song, but the lyrics are pretty messed up. I like it though.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScDidn't Pink floyd use quadriphonic sound in some of their early performances? it seems like Pete Townsend wasn't the only one to use it.
  • Vincent from St. Davids, EnglandLittle bit odd, but still amazing!
  • Sam from Philadelphia, Paactually quardopenia is a term for music in quadrophonic sound, which is a sound system like stereo or mono that was way before its time and never took off. pete townshend convinced the group to record the cd in quadrophonic sound becuase he said it was the sound of the future. he was wrong
  • Jon from Sunnyvale, CaQuadrophenia: The best album so few know about.
  • Jim from Gainesville, Tx"Schizophrenic hell,I'm a bleeding qudraphenic."
  • Shana from Detroit Rock City, CanadaThis is a sweet song!! The lyrics are a bit meesed up though...
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