The Who's 50 Greatest Songs

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

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33. "Pictures of Lily" (Non-album single, 1967)

Allegedly written after Townshend's parents caught him masturbating (and asked, "Why can't he go out with girls, like other boys?"), this remains a groundbreaking moment of lyrical intimacy and honesty in rock, and a hilarious one too. The song's title was inspired by a picture Townshend's girlfriend had of 1920s vaudevillian Lily Bayliss, though he later said, "It's just a look back at the period in every boy's life where he has pinups." Daltrey sang the song with what he called "complete innocence," and the band promoted it with a series of risqué postcards, causing a mild controversy that helped assure its Top 10 success.

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