A Bit Like You And Me Radio

September 21, 2016

The Who - A Quick One, While He's Away (1966)

As Pete Townshend explained in his 2012 autobiography, Who I Am, he and his band, The Who, were in need of about ten minutes worth of songs in order to have enough material for their second album. Being the group’s only songwriter at the time, Townshend went to work. What was eventually created was a sort of “mini-opera.” The song is broken up into six parts and tells the story of a woman whose significant other has been gone for “nigh on a year.” Her friends set her up with another man, Ivor the Engine Driver, whom she eventually sleeps with. When her significant other finally returns, she’s overwhelmed with guilt, admits to her infidelity, and is ultimately forgiven. The six parts are:

I.“Her Man’s Been Gone”
II.“Crying Town”
III.“We Have a Remedy”
IV.“Ivor the Engine Driver”
V.“Soon Be Home”
VI.“You Are Forgiven”

That story, according to Townshend, was loosely based on his own childhood. When young, Townshend was sent by his parents to live with his grandmother, Denny. Denny lived near a train station and would often bring random men home. Although unclear on the details, Townshend is relatively sure that one or more of these men abused him- memories which he blocked out at a young age. The “twin girl” mentioned in the song, in real life, was Townshend’s imaginary friend.

The final part of the song, “You Are Forgiven,” was Townshend’s way of forgiving everyone involved in his childhood drama: his parents for abandoning him with his grandmother; his grandmother for bringing strangers into her home; and ultimately, himself. Townshend stated in his autobiography that when he performed the song live, he would always go into a wild frenzy, striking his guitar as hard as he could, when each “you are forgiven” was sung.

According to John Entwistle, The Who's bassist, "We wanted to put cellos on the track but [record producer] Kit Lambert said we couldn’t afford it. That’s why we sing 'cello, cello, cello, cello' where we thought they should be." The "mini-opera" idea became an obsession to Townshend, inspiring him to write the rock opera Tommy.


album art

The Who - A Quick One, While He's Away (1966)

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Lyrics:


Her man’s been gone
For nearly a year
He was due home yesterday
But he ain’t here

Her man’s been gone
For nigh on a year
He was due home yesterday
But he ain’t here

Down your street, your cryin’ is a well-known sound
Your street is very well known, right here in town
Your town is very famous for the little girl
Whose cries can be heard all around the world

We have a remedy
You’ll appreciate
No need to be so sad
He’s only late

We’ll bring you flowers and things
Help pass your time
We’ll give him eagle’s wings
Then he can fly to you

We have a remedy
We have a remedy
We have a remedy
We have a remedy

We have a remedy?
We have!

Little girl, why don’t you stop your crying?
I’m gonna make you feel all right

My name is Ivor
I’m an engine driver

I know him well
I know why you feel blue
Just ‘cause he’s late
Don’t mean he’ll never get through

He told me he loves you
He ain’t no liar; I ain’t either
So let’s have a smile for an old engine driver
So let’s have a smile for an old engine driver

Please take a sweet
(Take a sweet)
Come take a walk with me
(Walk with me)
We’ll sort it out
(Sort it out)
Back at my place, maybe
(Back at my place, maybe)

It’ll come right
You ain’t no fool; I ain’t either
So why not be nice to an old engine driver?
Better be nice to an old engine driver
Better be nice to an old engine driver

We’ll soon be home
We’ll soon be home
We’ll soon
We’ll soon, soon, soon be home

We’ll soon be home
We’ll soon be home
We’ll soon
We’ll soon, soon, soon be home

Come on, old horse

Soon be home
Soon be home
Soon
We’ll soon, soon, soon be home

We’ll soon
Soon, soon, soon be home

We’ll soon be home
Soon be home

Dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang

Cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello

I can’t believe it
Do my eyes deceive me?
Am I back in your arms
Away from all harm?

It’s like a dream to be with you again
Can’t believe that I’m with you again

I missed you and I must admit
I kissed a few and once did sit
On Ivor the Engine Driver’s lap
And later, with him, had a nap

You are forgiven
(You are forgiven)
You are forgiven
(You are forgiven)
You are forgiven
(You are forgiven)
You are forgiven
(You are forgiven)
You are forgiven
(You are forgiven)
You are forgiven
(You are forgiven)
You are forgiven
(You are forgiven)
Forgiven
Forgiven
Forgiven
(You are forgiven)
Forgiven
Forgiven
Forgiven
(You are forgiven)
Forgiven
Forgiven
Forgiven
(You are forgiven)
Forgiven
Forgiven
(You are forgiven)
Forgiven
(You are forgiven)
Forgiven
(You are forgiven)

(You are forgiven)

(You are forgiven)
You are forgiven
(You are forgiven)
You’re forgiven

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