" is a song by the English rock
band The Who
by Pete Townshend
. Roger Daltrey
sings most of the song, with
Pete Townshend singing the middle
: "Don't cry/don't raise your eye/it's only teenage
wasteland". The title of the song is derived from this combination
of the song's philosophical and musical influences: Meher Baba
Noted for its innovative fusion of The Who's hard rock
sound and early electronic music
experimentation by Townshend, and for its crashing chorus coupled
with repeating F-C-Bb power chords
song has been a perennial favorite on classic rock radio
as well as a concert staple for the band.
Townshend originally wrote "Baba O'Riley" for his Lifehouse
project, a rock opera
that was to be the follow-up to The
Who's 1969 opera, Tommy
Townshend derived the song from an experimental recording of his
Berkshire home organ, which the
band reconstructed. "Baba O'Riley" was going to be used in the
project as a song sung by Ray, the Scottish
farmer at the beginning of the album as he gathers his wife Sally
and his two children to begin their exodus to London. When
was scrapped, many of the songs were released on
The Who's 1971 album Who's Next
"Baba O'Riley" became the first track on Who's Next
song was released as a single
several European countries, but in the United States and the United
Kingdom was only released as part of the album.
Drummer Keith Moon
had the idea of
inserting a violin
solo at the coda
of the song, during which the style of the
song shifts from crashing rock to an Irish folk-style beat. Dave
Arbus, of East of Eden
plays a viola in the studio recording. In concert, lead singer
replaces the viola solo
with a harmonica
solo. The Who have produced
a live version of the song with a violin, provided by John Rogers, during their 27 November 2000
concert at the Royal Albert
The violin solo in the coda of the song is based on Indian
classical music as homage to Meher Baba the Indian mystic who
inspired this song.
The song's iconic backing track was derived from deep within the
concept. Townshend wanted to input the life
information of Meher Baba
synthesizer, which would then generate music based on that
information. That music would have been the backing track for "Baba
O'Riley," but in the end, the frenetic sequence was played by
Townshend on a Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 organ using its
marimba repeat feature. This modal
approach used for the synthesizer track was inspired by the work of
composer Terry Riley
. The names of Riley and Meher Baba
were incorporated into the song title as a tribute by Townshend.
Although they never actually did it in concert, The Who considered
pulling a person from the audience and programming their vital
statistics into a synthesizer that would, in effect, translate that
person into a musical theme around which a song could be built (an
idea later resurrected as the Lifehouse
It is about a self-sufficient, drop-out family group farming in a
remote part of Scotland who decide to return South to investigate
rumours of a subversive concert event that promises to shake and
wake up apathetic, fearful British society. "Baba O'Riley" is sung
by Ray at the beginning of the film as he gathers his wife Sally
and his two children to begin their exodus to London.
"Baba O'Riley" is often called "Teenage Wasteland" after the phrase
repeated throughout the song, of which there is no chorus. "Teenage
Wasteland" was in fact a working title for the song in its early
incarnations as part of the Lifehouse
eventually became the title for a different but related song by
Townshend, which is slower and features more lyrics . A version of
"Teenage Wasteland" is featured on The Lifehouse Chronicles
six disc set of music related to the Lifehouse
project, and on
several Townshend compilations and videos.
In popular culture
- The Blue Man Group played the
song in their "How to Be a Megastar Tour 2.0"
- The same F-C-Bb chord progression is used in the song
Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes by Fall Out Boy.
- Teenage Wasteland was one of the working titles for
the TV series That 70's Show
along with The Kids Are Alright, another Who
- A 40-second segment of this song was used as the opening theme
for CSI: NY. In later seasons, the
opening sequence featured a remix of this song.
- On the television show Freaks
and Geeks, Lindsay Weir incorrectly refers to the song as
"Teenage Wasteland" in the episode "I'm With the Band."
- This song also appeared in the TV show House, in which Gregory House mimes the piano riff at the end
of the episode Control.
- It has appeared in One
Tree Hill, played by the end of the episode Pictures
- It appears in the first episode of the British TV series
Life on Mars.
- It was used during one of the 1970s flashback scenes of the
film Fever Pitch.
Daltrey makes an uncredited appearance in an early scene of the
film, watching the Arsenal Football Club,
of which he is a supporter in real life.
- The song was featured prominently in the 1999 film Summer of Sam.
- An instrumental version was used in the opening of the movie
- It appears at the end of the film The Girl Next Door.
- It was used in the German romantic family comedy "Allein unter
Töchtern" at the end of the movie.
- It was used at the beginning of the documentary When Boris Met Dave.
- The intro is often used by the LA
Lakers for introducing the team before games.
- The organ intro to the song was used as the entrance music for
former New York Yankees right
fielder Paul O'Neill, whose hobbies
include drumming. Later in his career, O'Neill's former teammate
Tino Martinez would use this as his
- It is being used in advertising for ABC
Sports's coverage of the 2009
NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.
- It is featured in a highlight package at the beginning of live
- It is being used in TyC Sports, an Argentinian sports channel.
They uses in a promo for a program named Libero.
- The intro is used in commercials for Cisco Systems.
- It is featured in Rock Band
2's music store as a downloadable track, and playable in
another Rock Band game, Rock Band Track Pack: Classic
- Sister Hazel uses it as an intro to their concerts
- http://www.thewho.net/whotabs/equip-baba.htm Pete's Equipment,
Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1