Listening Booth – The Who, “Imagine a Man”

As much as the Who staked their claim as rock legends on high-octane numbers like “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “My Generation”, I find that often it’s the more contemplative songs where they really shine.  Take, for instance, this cut from 1975’s The Who By Numbers.  The lyrics are bleak but the music…the music is startlingly simple and beautiful.  Did Pete Townshend ever write a better ballad?

I’m not sure, but this is certainly a worthy contender.  Here’s “Imagine a Man”:

Imagine a man
Not a child of any revolt
But a plain man tied up in life

Imagine the sand
Running out as he struts
Parading and fading, ignoring his wife

Imagine a road
So long looking backwards
You can’t see where it really began

Imagine a load
So large and so smooth
That against it a man is an ant

Then you will see the end
You will see the end

Imagine events
That occur everyday
Like a shooting or raping or a simple act of deceit

Imagine a fence
Around you as high as prevention
Casting shadows, you can’t see your feet

Imagine a girl
With long, flowing hair
And the body of chalky perfection and truth

Imagine a past
Where you wish you had lived
Full of heroes and villians and fools

And you will see the end
You will see the end
And you will see the end
You will see the end
Oh yeah

Imagine a man
Not a child of any revolt
But a man of today feeling new

Imagine a soul
So old it it is broken
And you know your invention is you

And you will see the end
You will see the end
You will see the end
You will see the end
Oh yeah

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