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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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27. "Happy Jack" (Non-album single, 1967)

Townshend wrote this whimsical two-minute "nonsense song" while thinking about the kind of village idiot he used to see as a child on the beaches of the Isle of Man, where his family spent their summers. He emphatically claimed that "never in a million years will it be a hit for the Who." Despite his protests, manager Kit Lambert put it out as a U.K. single in 1966, and when its jittery rhythm, empathetic lyrics and sweet harmonies earned it a Number 24 chart position in the U.S., Townshend called it a "hard ego lesson." Harder still, Paul McCartney would later tell him it was his favorite Who song.

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