Pete Townshend wrote this as an ode to Meher Baba, who was his spiritual guru. Meher Baba was from India, where he worked with the poor and served as spiritual adviser to Mahatma Gandhi. He developed a worldwide following in the '60s, and died in 1969 at age 75. Townshend believed in his message of enlightenment, which was a big influence on Who songs like "Baba O'Riley" and "See Me, Feel Me."
The song is about losing all your material goods for spiritual enlightenment, thus being a "bargain."
Suggestion credit: Matthew - Palos Park, IL
Roger Daltrey sings most of this, but Townshend sings the part that starts, "I sit looking 'round, I look at my face in the mirror..."
The first line of the song, "I'd gladly lose me to find you" is from one of the teachings of Meher Baba.
Suggestion credit: Connor - Pawcatuck, CT
Pete Townshend's lead guitar was played on a vintage Gretsch, a gift from Joe Walsh, who had just formed Barnstorm that same year and would later join the Eagles.
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France
Enlightenment ain't easy, as Pete Townshend found out in 1981 when he developed a crippling addiction to alcohol, and then drugs. When faced with a number of setbacks - tension in The Who, the collapse of his publishing company, trouble in his marriage - he turned away from the teachings of Meher Baba and reached for the bottle. After getting sober in 1982, he explained to Creem: "For a while I pushed him out of my life, because I couldn't live within those principles. But in a way I did it almost deliberately, and now I've come back in a full circle."
Townshend was an early adopter of synthesizers, and on Bargain, he used a new one: the ARP 2500. This is same synth used to call the extraterrestrials in the 1977 movie Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.
Dave A from Decatur, GaIt takes the right musicians to come together to make a great band and these four we're one of the greatest. I will say keith Moon was the driving force. The best example in my humble opinion was his work on Getting in tune. The Who has always been my beat rock band. I saw the Who with Mr Moon in 1971.
Johnathan from Fort Wayne, InI'm in eighth grade at a catholic school. In my religion class someone is assinged to bring in a song and play it as our beginning prayer before class and get a grade on the quality of it. It took me a while to figure out the song I would do. I had many songs that I thought would be good. I had livin on the edge by aerosmith, show me how to live by audioslave, and the unforgiven III by metallica, all great songs. But after my video for the unforgiven III was removed from YouTube, I chose this song. I was very happy to have this as a backup, perfect for a prayer. And Keith Moon's drums are amazing. My inspiration. The double bass, no hi hat and randomly hitting the crashes but still making it sound good, and his amazing fill and spastic moves around the kit. RIP.
Jim from Chicago, IlThe best review I ever read of the Who's work is that "they built songs with Apolonian architecture, and tore them apart with Dionysian fury..." (check out your old "Patterns of Culture" notes from high school for the references.) This song is quite simply the best example of that - Pete's vocals (I sit looking 'round...) build up your hopes & dreams, and the pure, unleashed fury of Pete's power chords at the end - well, if that's not drunken fury, then nothing is.
It's quite amazing how Keith's drums keep the whole song together, starting about the 4:16 mark mentioned above. Try to find a video of a live show to catch Keith in action (maybe the Monterrey Pop extended edition with the outtakes?) and try to catch his wild-eyed enthusiasm (yet effortless, um, efforts).
Needless to say, Who's Next had an enormous effect on my life. Nuff said.
Banjo Mcgillicutty from Pcb, FlI stand corrected, Mr. Moon played Premier double bass kit starting in mid-'66. Clearly visible in "My Generation" from Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (explosion). Getting off track. I implore you to listen to 4:16 on. Mr. Ulrich or Mr. Peart have nothing on this true pioneer of drums/percussion. Just my opinion, though. Onward to Mr. Townshend. There is no better explanation of talent when the majority of songs AND lyrics are written in seclusion, and then brought to the "rest" of the band for their input/interpretation...genius. Hats off to the band in its entirety. True talent that will NEVER be surpassed.
Banjo Mcgillicutty from Pcb, FlNot one of my top five Who numbers, but brilliant nonetheless. I am not a drummer by any means, so pardon my naivety with correct terminology. From about 4:16 onward with the song, I am absolutely taken back by Mr. Moon's footwork. Assuming utilization of a double pedal vice actual double kick drum. I am now thoroughly convinced, he's the all-time greatest.
Oldpink from New Castle, InDoesn't Entwistle sound simply fantastic on this one? Definitely one of my favorite (and there are many!) Who songs.
R.h. from Pauls Valley, OkLOL, Guy from WA. I agree. It IS one the greatest albums in rock history. I saw The Who in '76 and they were excellent! Moon died in '78 so I can honestly say that I've seen The "real" Who. "Who's Next" is still in my top ten favorite albums of all time. Also seen the "real" Led Zeppelin". R.H., Pauls Valley, OK
Scott from Boston, MaI know it's about finding enlightenment and based on Baba's teachings, but this could also serve as a great love song.
Guy from Woodinville, WaOh for god's sake, quit whining about compilation albums and get Who's Next. It is one of the greatest albums in rock history! You need to experience all these songs as a whole, they way they were originally delivered up. As Don from Dallas sez below, "Bargain & Baba O'Reilly may be the best two consecutive songs on any rock album ever."
Spog Zallagi from Blue Hill, MeI thought this song was about a girl but not a prostitute. But that's why I'm at this site, to learn more about the songs that I love.
Claire! from Kansas City, Njmy friend aske dme if this was about a prostitute...
Detlev from Geneva, IlWhatever it's about for Pete, it's about love for me since I stopped playing guitar for crowds a while ago. Even before then, I assumed it was about finding the love of a lifetime. I took the girlfriend I really loved to London specifically to see them play this tune with her in my arms. They didn't there so I snatched tickets to MSG for the American leg of the tour. They played it at MSG and I was happy. My girlfriend got a piece of Roger Daltry's smashed tambourine after the show ended and keeps it with the ticket stubs. I love this song.
Elie from Londoni love this song its great its so powerfull yet spiritual
Fyodor from Denver, CoOnly The Who could make spiritual enlightenment (or LOVE or whatever you want it to be) sound so macho!!
Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScBtw, this and "Baba OReilly" are on Who's Next. I would also buy that if I were you Johnny. It's available on cd.
Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScHey Johnny. There's a compilation cd-set called The Ultimate Collection. It's similar to Then and Now (which I also have), but it contains more songs like "Baba O'Reilly" and "Bargain." I'm posting, because you seemed disappointed that those songs weren't on Then and Now (don't worry I was too), and also because you might like it. It shouldn't be hard to find.
Jonothan from Adelaide, AustraliaI wish I never read that Pete said this song was about spiritual enlightenment.
To me it was always about LOVE! I've always loved the lyric, because it's so sad, but optimistic at the same time.
As a religious/spiritual song - I think it's much less inspiring, but hey - that's just me!
Johnny from Los Angeles, CaYeah, this is about love. The first Who song I got into, besides Won't Get Fooled Again. I only have this on record because, stupidly, Then and Now 1964-2004 doesn't have this OR baba O'reilly! what a rip off, yet i still love the album. It's very ironic that this was about losing all your material goods, yet it's used on a commericial. I wonder if The Who knew how popular this would be coperately when it was in it's early stages?
Trenton from Minneapolis , MnTo be honest, I always thought this song was about drugs until I listened to the lyrics a few times. Now I think it's more about love. Of course it is still possible he just really likes drugs.
Erik from Somers, NyI always thought that it was about doing anything for love, not "spiritual enlightenment."
Chris from Corte Madera, CaGreat song. Petes explanation of Bargain that he told an audience once was that the song was about times back in the late 60's and early 70's where Pete began to feel a deep connection with the fans at concerts. He said it was more than just experiencing music at concerts, it was more like a congregation. Therefore by coming to a concert expecting to get music you got a 'bargain' cuz you got alot more than that. Classic Pete for ya...
Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScDaltrey's vocals on this one are great! Enough said. Great song too!
Shannon from Atlanta, GaI always thought of this as one of the greatest love songs. It's sad they had to cheapen it's meaning by selling out.
Don from Dallas, TxAll comments are about Baba O'Reilly. The song listed here is Bargain. Maybe the best two consecutive songs on any rock album ever.
Steven from Congers, NyBaba O'Riley was in an HP commercial.
Peter from Providence, RiYea Baba O'Reilly was never looked in a 2000 pathfinder commercial...it was this one.
Paulo from New York, NyYes, this was used for a commercial. Pathfinder, I think. I don't recall ever hearing "Baba O' Reilly" in a commercial, though.
Kelly from Los Angeles, CaI think this was used in a commercial also. I hope The Who can make enough money touring that they don't have to have their songs in commercials anymore.