The Who's 50 Greatest Songs

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

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38. "Christmas" ('Tommy', 1969)

Kicking off side two of Tommy, "Christmas" is one of the album's saddest moments, in which we learn Tommy's parents don't think their deaf, dumb and blind son could appreciate the holiday. Townshend recorded the song as a sparse, piano-based demo. (The original lyrics had the line "playing with himself, he sits and smiles," which was later revised to introduce Tommy's love for pinball.) As soon as the bandmates got their hands on the song, they turned it into a bombastic showstopper, with Townshend and Daltrey both taking vocal turns. For a definitive version of "Christmas," see the expanded Live at Leeds.

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