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Jan 07

“Blue Red And Grey” by The Who

"Blue Red And Grey" - Marty's Song of the Day for January 7, 2014
Myself, I only love most minutes of the day, but I’m working on a monopoly.

“The Who By Numbers,” the band’s low(er) key effort between “Quadrophenia” and Keith Moon’s swan song “Who Are You,” sounds more like a Pete Townshend solo album, with “Blue Red And Grey” presenting a side that is very British, earnest, and uncharacteristically sweet.

In 1975, the band was fighting, hemorrhaging money, undercompensated, addicted, and Townshend was suffering from writer’s block. When producer Glyn Johns wanted the simple ukelele ditty for the album, Townshend balked.

“I said, ‘What? That fucking thing? Here’s me wanting to commit suicide and you’re going to put that thing on the record?'”

"Blue Red And Grey" - Marty's Song of the Day for January 7, 2014

“Blue Red And Grey”

Townshend was ahead of his time in so many areas, including keeping things simple. The only other person on this song is bassist John Entwistle, who performs a lovely understated horn arrangement. (Apparently the whole band recorded a version, but the recording is lost or has been deemed not worthy of release.)

To read Pete Townshend’s autobiography, “Who I Am: A Memoir
” is to be left hanging. While there is a lot about Townshend’s recording equipment, finances, and foolishness in love, he shortchanges much of his own brilliant catalogue of songs, including this one, which is The Who’s only unplugged track in its whole discography.

Other bands had featured solo outings on their records (Paul McCartney accompanied himself on “Yesterday,” and much of The Beatles’ White Album wasn’t collaborative) and The Grateful Dead had five years before released “American Beauty,” a mostly-acoustic detour from their usual sound, but somehow “Blue Red And Grey” sounds like the greater statement — The conspicuously-consumptive Who weren’t allowed to get so introspective. At least not Pete himself. Prior to this, he’d had Roger Daltrey voicing his own vulnerabilities by proxy.

It’s such a lovely song, even if Townshend has hinted in interviews that he was being ironic. I don’t think he was. I bet he felt every bit of that song just as surely as he felt suicidal a few months later.

Blue Red And Grey” by The Who
Year: 1975
Composer: Pete Townshend

Lyrics

Some people seem so obsessed with the morning
Get up early just to watch the sun rise
Some people like it more when there’s fire in the sky
Worship the sun when it’s high
Some people go for those sultry evenings
Sipping cocktails in the blue, red and grey
But I like every minute of the day

I like every second, so long as you are on my mind
Every moment has its special charm
It’s all right when you’re around, rain or shine
I know a crowd who only live after midnight
Their faces always seem so pale
And then there’s friends of mine who must have sunlight
They say a suntan never fails
I know a man who works the night shift
He’s lucky to get a job and some pay
And I like every minute of the day

I dig every second
I can laugh in the snow and rain
I get a buzz from being cold and wet
The pleasure seems to balance out the pain

And so you see that I’m completely crazy
I even shun the south of France
The people on the hill, they say I’m lazy
But when they sleep, I sing and dance
Some people have to have the sultry evenings
Cocktails in the blue, red and grey
But I like every minute of the day

I like every minute of the day

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