Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Quick One, While He's Away

"A Quick One, While He's Away" is a 1966 medley written by Pete Townshend and recorded by The Who for their album A Quick One. The song also appears on the album BBC Sessions. In the performance on their Live at Leeds album Townshend calls the 9 minute "epic" track a "mini-opera" and introduces it as "Tommy's parent". This song tells the story of an unnamed girl who is left stranded by her lover "for nigh on a year." Her friends inform her that they "have a remedy"; the remedy comes in the form of Ivor the Engine Driver. When the lover returns, the girl confesses her infidelity, and she is ultimately forgiven.

The song has six distinct sections. The brief harmonized a cappella intro is titled "Her Man's Gone". The "Crying Town" section is sung by Roger Daltrey in an atypical low register. Daltrey also sings "We Have a Remedy" in his more usual voice. John Entwistle plays "Ivor the Engine Driver" in that section. Then comes "Soon Be Home", another harmonized section. Finally, "You Are Forgiven" is sung by Pete Townshend — his only lead vocal on the album.

This song is The Who's first publicized venture into the rock opera genre. A studio recording appears on their A Quick One album, and a live recording appears on Live at Leeds. A video performance was made for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, and can be seen on that video and on the documentary film The Kids Are Alright. It also appears on both films' soundtrack albums. Another version recorded live at the Monterey Pop Festival can be found on the Monterey Pop Festival four-disk set and on another Who film, Thirty Years of Maximum R&B Live. A mixed studio and live version can be found on The Who's four disk set Thirty Years of Maximum R&B.

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