October 26, 2020

2004-04-21 – The Journal Times

2004 04 21 The_Journal_Times_Wed__Apr_21__2004_

Where did ‘Baba O’Riley’ come from?

0: My favorite song by the
Who is “Baba O’Riley.” Where
did the name come from?

A: Following the Worldwide
success of the rock opera
“Tommy,” Pete Townshend began
work in 1970 on a series of songs
for an ambitious project that he
hoped would change the direc-
tion of rock music. He felt that
rock had become hostage to
commercial excess and he want-
ed to make it as meaningful as
possible. He had become increas-
ingly intrigued by the writings
and spiritual teachings of Avatar
Meher Baba and other Sufi
philosophers. Meher Baba was
born Merwan Irani in India in
1894 and died in January 1969.

As a young man, Irani was
1 declared by the five Perfect Mas-
ters to be the earthly manifesta-
tion of God and he assumed the
name Meher Baba. 'Ibwnshend
found Meher Baba’ 5 message of
universal love, finding personal
meaning, and performing com-
munity service compelling and
' he wove these principles into a
story about a world devastated
by ecological disaster. The inhab-
itants of this world are forced to
remain indoors and are fed life
experiencas‘through cables 'con-
nected to a grid that is con-.
trolled by a totalitarian conglom-
erate. 'lbwnshend generally
referred to the story as the Life-
home project. At the same time,


On Record

'Ibwnshend became interested in
synthesizers and the music of
such minimalist
composers/musicians as 'lerry
Riley. Riley was born in Califor-
nia in 1935 and, by the early
19605, had begun composing min-
imalist works using tape delays
and feedback. In 1964, Riley
composed his most famous work,
“In C,” which was constructed
from interlocking repetitive pat-
terns. These works had a pro-
found impact on Townshend. He
believed that the synthesizer
would “bridge the gap between“
audience and performer.” It was
his interest in these two men
that led him to combine their
names to create the title of one
of rock’s most famous songs.
Although the Lifehouse project
was essentially scrapped at the
time, the Who did release sevwal

songs from the project on their
1971 album; “Who’s Next,”
including the album’s opening
track, “Baba O’Riley.” Although
it has become one of the band's
most popular songs, most people ‘
mistakenly refer it as “Teenage
Wasteland.” Townshend’s “Life-
house” finally saw life in 1999
with a performance on BBC
Radio 3. A six-disc set of the per-
formance is available at:


Third line

0: What is the third line in
the chorus of “Down on the Cor-
ner”? I’ve tried but I can ’t figure
it out.

A: Many people find it hard
to decipher the lyrics of the
Creedence Clearwater Revival
classic. For a clue, you need to
look no further than the title of
the album from which the song
com. The chorus is as follows: .
“Down on the corner, out in the

1 street, Willy and the Poor Boys
‘ are playing, bring a nickel, tap

your feet.” “Down on the Corner”
reached No. 3 on the pop charts
in 1969 and “Willy and the Poor
Boys” reached No. 3 on the
album charts in 1970.

Send questions and comments ,
to ontherecord99@aol.com. Sorry,
no personal replies Bradford
Brady IS a freelance music writer
based in Raleigh, NC.