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The Who's 50 Greatest Songs

From power-pop anthems to operatic epics to stadium-size rockers and beyond

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17. "Blue, Red and Grey" ('The Who by Numbers', 1975)

When it came time for a follow-up to Quadrophenia, Townshend decided to scale things back and made The Who by Numbers, a stripped-down confessional album about his own insecurities and demons. "Blue, Red and Grey" was a moment of optimism amid the darkness, a simple, oddly beautiful ode to enjoying life that was written on the ukulele and recorded on a home demo. Townshend was stunned when producer Glyn Johns insisted it appear on The Who by Numbers. "I said, 'What? That fucking thing?'" Townshend said. "'Here's me wanting to commit suicide, and you're going to put that thing on the record?'"

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