The Who's 50 Greatest Songs

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

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39. "I'm a Boy" (Non-album single, 1966)

Released in August 1966, "I'm a Boy" let Who fans know that Townshend was interested in topics well beyond typical pop-song subject matter. The story of a boy whose parents dress him up like a girl was originally meant to be part of a rock opera called Quads that Townshend never completed. But the notion of a child tortured by his parents came back two years later when he began work on Tommy. "I've always addressed and acknowledged child abuse, the neglect of children, the misunderstanding of adolescence," Townshend said in 1993. "The first song in which I addressed it was 'I'm a Boy,' but it's always been there."

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