The Who: “Baba O’Riley”

Posted: February 14, 2018 in THE CLASH of Cover Tunes
Tags: , , , , ,
Tune du Jour: “Baba O’Riley” – The Who
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Guided by Voices vs. Pearl Jam with Steve Diggle vs. Pickin’ On Players

Broccoli For Miles
And Miles And Miles
And Miles And Miles …
Oh Yeah!



“Want to know what God thinks of money? Look at the people he gave it to.”

  Dorothy Parker




The Original

The Who:


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes


Guided by Voices vs. Pearl Jam with Steve Diggle vs. Pickin’ On Players
Guided by Voices:

Pearl Jam with Steve Diggle:

Pickin’ On Players:

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. It is your solemn responsibility to decide which cover song prevails. In other words … Which Side Are You On?!!? 


  1. Cuspid says:

    Anthemic song. Tough call here. All 3 covers are good. And yet all 3 have their flaws. Pearl Jam gets my vote because I like their attitude while playing the song. But they play it too fast; this song works best when not played too fast, which is difficult to do, especially live.

    By the way, one thing I’ve never understood. Most people (and concert audiences) seem to think that being wasted is good and admirable. The singer sings “They’re all wasted!” and everyone throws their fists in the air and either sings along or cheers wildly. Seems to me that an entire generation wasted is a sad commentary on the generation, rather than something to be celebrated.

    • Cuspid says:

      ps. If you’re lucky enough to be jamming with Steve Diggle why would you not cover “Harmony in My Head” or “Love You More”? Seems to me they would have been better choices than “Baba O’Riley”.

  2. Kerry Black says:

    If I didn’t know any of these bands, I’d probably go back and listen to the first two again before deciding how to vote. But to save time and avoid voting for Pearl Jam, I’m goin’ with GBV.

  3. RDubbs says:

    Tough call between Guided By Voices and Pearl Diggle. Both are excellent (and the Pickin’ Boys do a nice job as well but you got to have vocals on this one). I ended up voting PD simply because they were having so much fun.

  4. bornunderabadsign says:

    GBV! Nothing like staggering drunken delivery to capture the essence of this anthem!

  5. Arnold Plotnick says:

    One of my all time favorite songs, as y’all know. For me, this was no contest. I voted for Pearl Jam w. Diggle for a couple of reasons. One is that Pearl Jam, like the Who, are really a fantastic live band and this video clearly shows it. They are rockin’. I love Eddie Vedder’s voice. So rich, so resonant. I guess my real bias here is that I was actually at that show! I went with my friends Danny and Dave, and have the freakin’ ticket stub to prove it. The Buzzcocks opened, and Eddie Vedder came out a the end of their set and jammed with them. Then, during Pearl Jam’s set, I distinctly remember them doing “Why Can’t I Touch It?”, a Buzzcocks song. Before they launched into Baba O’Riley (which was an encore, I believe), they did Sonic Reducer, a Dead Boys song. I have a few Pearl Jam bootlegs, and they do a LOT of cover songs, all of which demonstrate their very good taste in music. I think I once e-mailed Doug a Pearl Jam track of them covering PiL’s song, Public Image, which he said was terrific (and it is). It was nice seeing this video and being reminded of that show. Guided by Voices do a good job, but Pearl Jam’s got this one.

    Oh… as for Cuspid’s comment about being wasted… I read an interview with Pete (Townshend, not Black) where he said that the notion of “teenage wasteland” is not about getting wasted, it’s about waste in general. He said that when he wrote it, “we’re all wasted” just meant that we’re all wasted. “It didn’t have the significance that it now has. What we fear is that in actual fact we have wasted an opportunity. I think I speak for my audience when I say that, I hope I do.” That’s what Pete (Townshend, not Black) said. Of course, 99.9% of the crowd screaming are just wasted wasted. There are worse things that you could be screaming at a concert.

    • Cuspid says:

      Arnie – I like the idea much better that Pete (Townshend, not Black) was thinking in terms of wasted life or wasted opportunity. It makes the song more meaningful. It also confirms my gut feeling that the line “They’re all wasted!” is really not a call to cheer, but really the opposite.

      And yes, the Pearl Jam cover of “Public Image” is excellent.

  6. Pete Black says:

    This is an all-time favorite song of mine as well, from a favorite all-time favorite album. One recurrent theme for me is that I can’t take saturation airplay so that few songs which were big hits from 1971-1990 could I still be excited by. At least until I could get some distance from them as radio and MTV both faded. This is one of those few that I always found rousing and exciting, with The Who’s combination of power, melody and musicianship. I think Pearl Jam played a better rendition but I voted GBV because I worship them and I am an apologist. This was seemingly the last song on a new year’s eve gig and Robert Pollard is truly wasted. This current version of the band are not also drunk also unlike many previous lineups. Pollard even at 59, which he was at this show 14 months ago, normally is thrusting out leg kicks and throwing the mic ala Daltrey. He loves The Who and could do this song in his sleep which he basically did here. There is also a video connected by its similarity with Eddie Vedder and Pollard together doing Baba O’Riley in Cincinnati. Pollard from Dayton was at The Who show in Cincy when people were crushed.

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