The Who's 50 Greatest Songs

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

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20. "I'm Free" ('Tommy', 1969)

With an elastic guitar riff and an uplifting chorus, "I'm Free" is Tommy at its most optimistic. In his 2012 memoir, Townshend described it as the opera's "moment of realization." It's one of many songs he wrote during this period that were influenced by the teachings of Meher Baba. Musically, the inspiration for its shuffling rhythm came from a more earthly source: the Rolling Stones' 1968 classic "Street Fighting Man." "When I finally discovered how [the Stones song] went," Townshend said, "I thought, 'Well, blimey, it can't be that simple' but it was ... and I wanted to do it myself."

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