"Eminence" is high power or fame, so an "Eminence Front" is the illusion of such, as Pete Townshend indicates with the line, "It's a put-on."
He said the song is about "the absurdity of drug-fuelled grandiosity," possibly related to the Ativan detox program he went through shortly before writing the song. "Whether I was pointing the finger at myself or at the cocaine dealers of Miami Beach is hard to recall."
Townshend created the distinctive keyboard sound using a Yamaha E70 organ with the Auto Arpeggio setting turned on. He used the same effect on "You Better You Bet."
This song criticizes the excess of the wealthy, including stockbrokers who work with other people's money("shares crash, hopes are dashed"). It foreshadowed how the 1980s progressed, becoming known as "The 'Me' Decade" or "The Decade of Greed."
Pete Townshend sang lead on this track. When they performed it live, Roger Daltrey played rhythm guitar.
This is the best-known song off of It's Hard, the second album The Who released after the death of Keith Moon. Even though the album went to #11 on the charts in the UK and #8 in the US, it was poorly received by the critics. Roger Daltrey claimed he "hated" It's Hard and considered this the only song worthy of release.
Suggestion credit: Jon - Tucson, AZ
The song has a very long intro. Running 5:39 on the album, the vocal doesn't come in until 1:57.
This was used in a 2015 commercial for the GMC Acadia Denali.
The hip-hop group 3rd Bass sampled this on their 1991 track "Pop Goes the Weasel."
Eric from TulsaThe 'drug angle' makes sense now...but until I read about that, I imagined Pete writing another biting commentary on politicians (a la "Won't Get Fooled Again"): how they screw the people but the next day, the sun is out and "people forget" about the corruption, all the while those in power put up a front so that the masses remain ignorant of reality.
John from HereFirst heard this played at Shea stadium I have seen The Who many times at MSG and the nasssu coliseum since The Who 76 tourMy friends were all hard core who fans and wouldn't even consider this song but when it came on it the outfield I just went nuts
Tim from Texas"this song is about what happens when you take too much white powder. It's called 'Eminence Front'."
Clemence from New York@John - Princeton, Ky. Yeah, yeah, and "it's a put on" references an FTM transgender who is wearing a strapon to "kill" someone with sex. And "people forget" because they were roofied before sex!
Michael E from Rockford IllinoisDon't nobody but me dig Kenny Jones drumming? Solid.
John from Princeton, KyI'm sorry.....but I always thought the song was about sex!!!....not the excess of the wealthy. Emminence is also defined as an anatomical protuberance and it is from the album "Its Hard". In old England "to die" (shakespeare) was meant to "have an orgasm". That certainly explain the lines in the song...."dress to kill". Maybe I've got a gutter brain......or maybe I'm right!
Splat from Williamsville, DeIn the original album release (and on The Who box set ) Pete's voice is fully panned to the right audio channel (reminiscent of mid-1960's Beatles and Four Seasons recordings). In the remastered CD release (1997) the vocal track is balanced across both channels (in addition to Pete's mis-step being corrected as noted in Bear's comment). Personally, I wish the engineers had kept the panned vocal in the remaster as I feel this is a form of artistic expression (albeit an unusual one).
Todd from Minneapolis, ZaireWatching the Who perform live, Eminence Front was typically the only song where Roger Daltry would join on guitar (a blonde Fender Stratocaster.) Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Daltry's, but I always assumed he only played guitar on this song because it involves playing one note over and over.
Nik from Milwaukee, WiWVTV in Milwaukee used the opening sequence as the theme music for its "NewsWatch 18" segments in the 1980s. A youtube clip of this can be found here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LtpDUD3F0o)
Brian from Boston, MaThis is one of my favorite Who songs.I remember on the album cover there was a kid playing a video game.I always looked upon him as a sort of updated Tommy.Arcade games were really at their hight of popularity at this time.
Jason from Jacksonville, FlThis song can be heard in the movie "Law Abiding Citizen". It is playing on an ipod docked to speakers that is put on a chair. The main guy wants to listen to this song while in his cell. It's a surreal part of the movie just before he brutally murders another prisoner. Sorry if I gave it away. :)
Bear from New Carrollton, MdOn the Who's Ultimate Collection CD set you can still hear Pete Townshend's mis-step when the chorus starts. He sounds like he's singing "M&M-Eminence Front." I hear it was removed in the '97 re-release. Personally I like the flawed version. Makes it more real and cracks me up.
Andy from Glen Burnie, Mdactually it's in the key of F...
Andy from Glen Burnie, Mdvideo was shot at the Capital Centre, outside Washington, DC...Brian is right...but why Eb?
Travis from Charleston, WvThe two chords in the song (E-flat and B) are probably the two most used chords in that key. It's also probably just the fact that Pete Townsend had written quite a few songs and similarities get lost to him because it's still his music and still his style. Although, granted, you're right on with the fact that they're very similar. Except I'm unsure whether or not Eminence Front is in Eb. I'll look into it.
G from Potomac, MdThis song has the same descending E-flat minor figure as Love Reign O'er Me. Is it better to steal from yourself or someone else?
Brian from Denver, CoSorry, I should say, Album/Radio version. Video one was better btw.
Brian from Denver, CoIncorrect Dale. The radio version was different than the video version. The video was a live recording from a sound check.
Dale from Santa Fe, NmThis song was the first where the video was filmed during the recording of the song.
Kathi from Detroit, MiI think if it wouldn't have been for us, Pete would have got arrested that night. And I think just the same of that of the Eminence Front song; it's about walking free - and Page did. So, in my experience it's a song about not getting arrested, but your drummer dies and all along someone had promised us free shows, those were my two favorite acts at the time, Eminence Front, and Carouselambra. I think Pete radio broadcast it that night, i'm not so sure though because I ended up in that bar and someone died during that song. Then I knew, this band all they were accused of Pete was the band for me. I wonder if that is where he lost his passport and he says he can't remember what happened to his band member. I think he had a heart attack or what they say happened in the room we would have been affected too. They said on the radio they were not sure how anyone lived in that room. I wonder if they even knew where the room was, because I don't know what happened to Pete. We went out the backdoor. He was still singing and a gunman was in the entry way. The guy was just comming for the song to sit and listen to my favorite song. He would have died before Pete, we were taking this, "come and join the party dressed to kill," too seriously. Don't hit the band man. Nobody did. The guy had a heart attack. I think he was probably raptured. How dumb does that sound?
Kathi from Detroit, MiMakes me wonder if Eminence Front was music that the Who wrote or if it just came from somewhere else. Yes, i've seen just 2 people do this song and it sounded great. Daltry was not on the original track of Eminece Front. I remember Pete freaking out trying to put the song on a 45. I wanted it real bad because I did not want to buy the Who stuff at the time, it was too popular. But, my personal opinion now, is we should have just asked Jimmy Page to help with it, he was actually available; it's just Pete didn't want help with his recording of that trac Eminence Front. It's like a glory song. I've heard Page say it drives him crazy. I like the one too, "and I moved." It makes me cry to think we sat there in that bar, dead as is, and played it. It was lovely, "and i moved..."
Kathi from Detroit, MiThe Who was going through a 'spilt up' and Pete Townshend was the first to comment on this song that we heard I guess on a Led Zeppelin show. The radio commented after that, Pete Townshend would be picking up the words to it and have it out the next day. I was really excited about it, all the songs that Pete did during this era made me feel really accepted and loved as a teen age girl that had low family self esteem. I actually got to see him do it live in a dive bar near my hometown. Pete was a really happy guy, that really impressed me about him. He went back to the who two days later, there was a problem at the bar and Pete almost lost his life there. The next day I threw away My Kids are Alright. I was tripping on the big Who band and liked the drummer Pete had there. But, I like Daltry too. Pete is blessed to have him such caring.
Colin from New Egypt, NjGreat song and the Who's last great song. It just isn't the same without Keith and now Johns dead so its half the who.... :[
Spog Zallagi from Blue Hill, MeGTA San Andreas is where I acquired a taste for Classic Rock. But now I don't like 21st century rock at all. Just a bit maybe. RATM is my favorite modern band. I also got into RATM by San Andreas. Now I only hope that the next GTA has traditional Blues Example: BB King, Buddy Guy. Thanks K-DST and Radio X.
Jameson from Lexington, KyThis song does kinda sum up the Eighties, doesn't it?
Brian from Dennis, MaSo, i hear this song was used in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas