Best-Ever Songs by The Who

By Dom Nozzi

The songs found on this list are the best-ever songs performed by The Who.

According to Wikipedia, The Who emerged in 1964 with singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. They are known for energetic live performances which, since a performance at the Railway Hotel in Wealdstone in June 1964 when Townshend smashed his guitar in anger and frustration, often include smashing their instruments.

The band developed from Daltrey’s band, the Detours. Fame for The Who grew with memorable performances at the Monterey Pop, Woodstock and Isle of Wight music festivals. The 1969 release of Tommy was their first major commercial success, reaching number 4 in the US charts. Various sources estimate the album has now sold over 20 million copies internationally. This was followed up by the successes of Who’s Next (1971), Quadrophenia (1973), The Who by Numbers (1975), and Who Are You (1978). With the exception of The Who by Numbers, all of these reached the top 5 of the US charts, with by Numbers making the top 10. Also successful was the live album Live at Leeds (1970), and the soundtrack album The Kids Are Alright (1979), reaching number 4 and 8 on the US charts, respectively. The Who have sold about 100 million records, and have charted 27 who-460_873124ctop forty singles in the United Kingdom and United States, as well as 17 top ten albums, with 18 Gold, 12 Platinum and 5 Multi-Platinum album awards in the United States alone.

Keith Moon died at the age of 32 on 7 September 1978. They disbanded in 1983, and re-formed at events such as Live Aid and for reunion tours such as their 25th anniversary tour (1989) and the Quadrophenia tours of 1996, 1997, 2012 and 2013. In 2000, the three surviving original members discussed recording an album of new material, but their plans were temporarily stalled by Entwistle’s death at the age of 57 in 2002. Townshend and Daltrey continue to perform as the Who and in 2006 they released the studio album Endless Wire.

The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, their first year of eligibility; the display describes them as “Prime contenders, in the minds of many, for the title of World’s Greatest Rock Band.” TIME magazine wrote in 1979 that “No other group has ever pushed rock so far, or asked so much from it.” Rolling Stone magazine wrote: “Along with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Who complete the holy trinity of British rock.” They received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1988 and from the Grammy Foundation in 2001, for creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording.

Criteria for this ranking:

• Groundbreaking

• Sing-able melody

• Memorable and catchy

• Superb singing, lyrics, guitar work

Best Songs

I Can’t Explain

My Generation

Substitute

I Can See for Miles

Pinball Wizard

Won’t Get Fooled Again

The Kids Are Alright

Magic Bus

I’m Free

See Me, Feel Me

Summertime Blues

Baba O’Riley

Bargain

Behind Blue Eyes

Long Live Rock

Love Rein O’er Me

Squeeze Box

Who Are You

Sister Disco

You Better You Bet

Eminence Front

_______________________________________________

I urge you to email me (dom@walkablestreets.com) or leave a comment if you have a suggested addition or subtraction from this list. Or if you have any other thoughts about this list.

About

Each list in this blog contains my own personal opinions based on my personal experiences. I acknowledge that there may be a need to add or subtract from these lists (or to create a new subject list), and I welcome such suggestions. The lists are not ordered from higher to lower quality. Each list is a work in progress.

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About Dom Nozzi

Urban designer, Complete Streets instructor, smart growth specialist, town planner, walkable & bikeable streets & trails specialist, writer, editor, speaker, world adventurer, skier, kayaker, SCUBA diver, bicyclist, hiker, dancer, book reader, urbanist. Make my own beer, wine, pasta, bread. Live by the motto that it is the things we do NOT do that we later regret. Life is too short to not live it to the fullest.
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