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Saturday, January 28, 2012


The Who - Substitute (1966)

Townshend has said he got the idea from this line: /Although she may be cute / She’s just a substitute / Because you’re the permanent one/   The Tracks of My Tears-The Miracles. 1965

Wow, what a self hating self deprecating single. This is like a primer for Emo bands everywhere. Every time the singer claims that the girl he is singing to likes something about him, he points out what a fake it is. Shoes, height, suit, age, it's all a false front because he's trying to fit a mold so that she will be happy with him as a substitute for who she really wants to be with. There are some fantastic lines here, but one that needs a little notice. /I look all White but my dad was Black/ wasn't heard in the US. They replaced it with /I try going forward but my feel walk back/. A little to controversial for America at the time.

Don't let the video confuse you, in the recording studio things were a little different. First, guitarist Pete Townshend wasn't playing electric, he was playing a 12 string acoustic. Also, drummer Keith Moon was apparently so high that he didn't remember the session at all. He later accused the band of using another drummer for the recording. More subtly, bassist John Entwistle was turning up his bass after the recording engineers got sound levels so that his sound came across more during the instrument breaks. Pete Townsend produced the track; it was his first single for the band that he produced himself, so he must have liked it well enough. Personally, I think that's why he turns away from the camera at the big break at about 1:00 in this video. Because of the mix, it sounds like a bass solo rather than a full instrument break. He's even got what looks like a tire mark running over his white coat.

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