Baba ORiley is a song by the English rock band The Who. It is the track to the bands studio album Whos Next. Roger Daltrey sings most of the song, with Pete Townshend singing the middle eight, the songs title is a combination of the names of two of Townshends philosophical and musical influences, Meher Baba and Terry Riley. Townshend originally wrote Baba ORiley for his Lifehouse project, an opera that was to be the follow-up to the Whos 1969 opera. In Lifehouse, the song would be sung at the beginning by a Scottish farmer named Ray, as he gathers his wife Sally and his two children to begin their exodus to London. When Lifehouse was scrapped, eight of the songs were salvaged and recorded for The Whos 1971 album Whos Next, with Baba ORiley as the lead-off track. Townshend stated in an interview that Baba ORiley is about the desolation of teenagers at Woodstock. The irony was that some took the song to be a teenage celebration, Teenage Wasteland. Baba ORiley title combines the names of Meher Baba and Terry Riley, the song is often mistakenly called Teenage Wasteland, after the phrase repeated in the song. A demo of Teenage Wasteland is featured on Lifehouse Chronicles, a six disc set of related to the Lifehouse project. The song uses a I-V-IV chord progression and is composed in the key of F major, however, it was recorded using the European A which is 446 HZ rather than the standard 440 HZ. When this idea fell through, Townshend instead recorded a Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 organ using its marimba repeat feature as the backing track and this modal approach was inspired by the work of minimalist composer Terry Riley. The song was derived from a demo, which the band reconstructed. Baba ORiley was initially 30 minutes in length, but was edited down to the points of the track for Whos Next. The other parts of the song appeared on the disc of Townshends Lifehouse Chronicles as Baba M1. Baba ORiley was released in November 1971 as a single in several European countries, however, in the United Kingdom and the United States, it was only released as part of the album Whos Next. Baba ORiley appears at No.349 on Rolling Stones list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, the song is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. The band Pearl Jam regularly plays a cover of the song during concerts, the Tubes performed the song on 9 September 1978 at the Knebworth Festival in tribute to Keith Moon, who had died two days earlier
Image: The Who Baba cover
The Who performing Baba O'Riley live at Manchester Arena in 2014.