“A Quick One, While He’s Away” The Who

“A Quick One, While He’s Away” The Who

What is this, some sort of mini-opera?  And about a guy who goes on vacation so his wife cheats on him with an engine driver?  Something like that.  “A Quick One” is sometimes derided by Who purists as not only Tommy-lite, but Tommy-ridiculous.  That, in itself, is its post-modern fun (which, to be fair, is what makes The Who nearly better in retrospect than they were then – they were punks before they knew what that word meant).  It’s hard not to ride with “Quick’”s long constructions and flights of fancy – it can turn one woman’s loneliness into hard rock, the fear of a returning lover into a country road song, make seduction silly, and make silliness seductive.  By the time it explodes in its famous “You are forgiven” round, its pastiche charm is more than forgiven itself.  For “A Quick One,” I’ve never heard an original recording of it – only the live ones on The Kids Are Alright and Live At Leeds.  To me, this song not being live would defeat its whatever-sticks purpose and mitigate its fun, of which it seems to have no short supply.

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