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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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46. "Overture" ('Tommy', 1969)

This five-minute piece, which opens Tommy and foreshadows its thematic and musical themes, was an afterthought. When Townshend was working out the album's narrative, he began it with "It's a Boy," but he told Rolling Stone in 1969, "That would have been too blunt of an opening." Instead, he juxtaposed the urgency of "See Me, Feel Me" with the glee of "Pinball Wizard" in an instrumental intro: "This clues you in to a lot of themes and gives a continuity to the tracks." It singlehandedly elevated the rock album to a "rock opera."

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