Pictures Of Lily

Album: Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy (1967)
Charted: 4 51

Songfacts®:

  • Pete Townshend wrote this because he wanted to see a song about masturbation become a hit. He would later write another song on the topic: "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand," which appeared on their album The Who Sell Out.
  • This tells the story of a father who gives his son dirty pictures, including one of a movie star from long ago. The son becomes particularly enamored with the photo of the movie star, and all goes well until he finds out she is dead.
  • This was banned by many radio stations for it's sexual content.
  • The Who put this song in their setlist for some shows in 1989, and revived it when they toured in 2014-2015.
  • Bass player John Entwistle had beef with this song. He told Mojo in 1994: "The thing I hate about 'Pictures Of Lily' is that bloody elephant call on the French horn. I also hated the backing vocals, the mermaid voices, where we'd sing all the 'oooooohs.' I hated 'oooooohs.'"

Comments: 28

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 14th 1967, the Who begain their first full-scale U.S. tour* at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon...
    At the time the quartet's "Pictures of Lily" was at #65 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; sixteen days later on August 30th it would peak at #51, and that was also its sixth and last week on the Top 100...
    Sadly, two of the four members have passed away, Keith Moon {1946 - 1978} and John Entwistle {1944 - 2002}...
    May they both R.I.P.
    * They appeared as the opening act for Herman's Hermits.
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationRoger Daltrey in mid Octover, 2011 A.D.: "In my own show, I do things like 'Pictures Of Lily' and 'Tattoo' -- songs that the Who haven't done onstage for years. And I do them with all the backing vocals, y'know, the original backing vocals that have been missing for years in the Who."
  • Robert from Leeds, United KingdomI do not think this is Lily Langtree as someone says as he is clearly singing about masturbating to nude pictures. I once looked through a book of Victorian nudes and the they used to sell the images as pictures of...and then the girls name. There was indeed "pictures of Lily". Black and white photos of a Victorian nude.
  • Sophie from Invercargill, New ZealandDoes anyone know where I can get the French Horn sheet music in this?
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Molol, thats hilarious that nobody really realized what it was about. rockstars in the 60s always had a bit of fun messing with the heads of the people who were out to censor everything. great song, and the story's pretty clever too.
  • John from Longmont, CoOops. Watched the video. That was a French Horn -- I remembered that as a guitar...
  • John from Longmont, CoAnyone notice the obvious stroking guitar in this one?
  • C. Darryl Mattison from Utica, Ny> The most beautiful song about masturbation I've ever heard.
    I think "Rosie" by Jackson Browne gives it a run, at least for beauty. But the drumming is better on this one.
  • Nora from Orlando, Fli think pete townsend is a genuis!! he cares less what record co. think.pictures of Lily is brillant
  • Jfv from Philadelphia, PaThe Lily referred to in the song is actually Lillie Langtry. Her real name was Emilie Charlotte Le Breton. Langty was her married name. She was a British actress who was born on the island of Jersey and later acquired the nickname "the Jersey Lily". As Clifford (from Cottekill, NY) correctly pointed out, she died in 1929. [JFV - June 2008]
  • Mackenzie :) from Fairmont , Wvprobably the best song ever written about masturbation. this song proves that the who could of made a song about anything and made it a hit.
  • Cj from Cinncinati, Ohthat song is so great i want to see lily
  • Shannan from Wilmington, DeI love this song. I heard it for the first time and saw the video for it today. I love Pete Townsend he was sooo hott and I love his words and lyrics. This song is great, the meaning is cool too. I mean only Pete Townsend can write a song like that, that has a weird and risky meaning for the 60's and get away with it. I also like how it kind of tells a story too. Just a great song and great band all together.
  • Paul from Cincinnati, Ohquirky*
  • Paul from Cincinnati, OhSo yeah, I agree with you Henry from Kingston, NY- its a perfect sympathetic portrayal of a young kid just beginning to discover the joys of adulthood...and yet there is a hint of sadness in the fact that he needs to find comfort and solace in old nudie pictures...so there's emotion in addition to the typical illicit joy of listening to a song about such a topic. A truly perfect song lyrically. This was in a stage in their career when they made many such sympathetic, quiry portrayals of characters...(think "happy jack," "substitute," and "i'm a boy"). God, those are awesome songs.
  • Paul from Cincinnati, OhPshaw, You Better You Bet is a great song...and so is this one, gotta love a song about masturbation. I know I do..
  • Frank from Morenci , AzI like the song but its kind of silly
  • Henry from Kingston, NyThe most beautiful song about masturbation I've ever heard. I'm serious.
  • Mandy from CalgaryHa ha ha, man... I didn't think this song was quite about what it IS about. Call me stupid for not knowing the meaning of it, but I honestly didn't think it was as... er, "bawdy" of a song as it is. LOL. Um, but otherwise, I actually really like this song. Still having a hard time getting over the meaning though. Woah...
  • Elie from The U.k, Englandwrote a story about this song once the teacher didnt understand the meaning
  • David Corino from Hawley, PaWhen i herd of this song title i thought it would be about keith moons drums, because wasent his drum kit named lily? anyway call me an idiot for thinking that. Nathan and Alfred, You Better You Bet is a great song (hit #1 on the singles chart)Yea, too bad Moonie was alredy dead, but they still had Enthwistle and if you dont like this song than dont bitch about it and dont listen to it, and it seams like it should be a Townsend solo album song.
  • Aylin from Montreal, CanadaYahh...this is a little weird, eh?
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhYou Better You Bet shouldn't have been recorded at all, especially after Moon's death.
  • Alfred from Sidmouth, CoI hate that song You Better You Bet
  • Zola from Dublin, Ohnever fails to cheer me up when times are bad
  • Clifford from Cottekill, NyLooking further into it, Lily Langtree did die in 1929 as stated in the song.
    cliff
  • Nessie from Sapporo, JapanAnyone know who he had in mind?
  • Joe D from Hamden, Cthaha. Pictures of Lily would make my life so wonderful too ;)
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