The Who's 50 Greatest Songs

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

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19. "Tattoo" ('The Who Sell Out', 1967)

This clever and poignant initiation story from Townshend's "absurd album of melody and humor" was an early example of a commitment to narrative songs. "Tattoo" was first demo'ed in Las Vegas during a three-day break from the Who's 1967 American tour opening for Herman's Hermits. Townshend later said he "was inspired by recent events on the road: Were we men or were we something else?" The guitarist was worried Daltrey might not want to sing lyrics about doubting your own masculinity. "He sang it really well," Townshend recalled. "And I realized then … he's got the same insecurities I do."

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