Meaning of My Generation by The Who & The Story Behind

Allmusic reviewer Richie Unterberger called The Who’s My Generation a worthy nominee for rock’s most explosive teenage rebellion. It is hard to disagree with this characterization. The song has an interesting history, has an unusual structure, is remembered for its original manner of performance and contains a phrase that became the motto of the young generation of those years. In a word, My Generation should be discussed in detail.

sources of inspiration

Pete Townsend wrote My Generation during The Who’s first tour. It is believed that the inspiration for it was an event involving the British Queen Mother. Allegedly, she ordered Townsend’s Packard hearse to be removed from the street in Belgravia, because she drove by every day and was upset at the sight of a gloomy car.

Pete himself claimed that he composed the song under the influence of the Young Man Blues composition by the American jazz pianist Mose Ellison. He once said that without Mose he would not have written My Generation.

Explaining the meaning of the text, Townsend said that the song expresses the search for a place in society.

“I hope I die before I get old”

This is the most famous line from the song, which instantly went to the people and became a kind of slogan for many young people of that time. But, as you know, only drummer Keith Moon, who at that time had just turned thirty-two, died young of the entire composition of the group.

The rest of The Who continued to play My Generation for decades after the song was recorded, with Townsend explaining that he did not take the line literally. Say, old age is not age, but a state of mind and all that.


A characteristic feature of My Generation is the manner of performance by Roger Daltrey. He sang it, stuttering, although he had never seen anything like it in his life. Why? There are several versions of this.

Some think that in this way he mimicked the queen, who had a strange manner of speech. Others see it as a nod to John Lee Hooker’s Stuttering Blues. There is also an opinion that Daltrey imitated the dialect of British dandies, stoned with “AIDS”.

Some even believe that Roger stuttered specifically so that in the line “Why don’t you all ff-fade away” there was a hint of a famous curse.

But producer Shel Talmi insisted that everything happened by chance. Allegedly, Daltrey simply did not hear his voice well during the recording and began to stutter, trying to adjust to the music. The band members liked the way it sounded and decided to keep it as a way to draw attention to the song.

Stuttering was the reason the BBC refused to air My Generation so as not to offend people suffering from this speech impediment. True, when the song turned into a super hit, he changed his mind.


It’s hard to believe now, but My Generation was originally a slow blues song. The modern version came about as a result of numerous rehearsals, when it became obvious that the composition needed to be sped up and made more aggressive.

My Generation went down in history as one of the first songs to feature a bass guitar solo. John Entwistle played it on a Fender Jazz Bass. It should also be noted that the incredible drums performed by Keith Moon.

Release and recognition

My Generation was released as a single in November 1965. It climbed to number two in the UK charts. In the USA, due to misunderstandings with the record company, the song was hardly played on the radio, so it was content with only the 75th line of the hit parade. The track was featured on The Who, the band’s debut album. Later it was re-released and included in other albums of the group.

My Generation was ranked eleventh on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It is also featured on VH1’s 100 Greatest Rock and Roll Songs (#13) and the Greatest Hard Rock Songs (#37). In addition, she is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

A huge number of covers have been recorded for the song. It has been performed by Gorky Park, Iron Maiden, Oasis, Alice Cooper, Green Day and many more.

Interesting Facts

  • My Generation was used in an advertisement for Pepsi in 2009 when the company was launching a new logo.
  • The Who played My Generation at the 2012 London Olympics closing ceremony.

My Generation Lyrics by The Who

People try to put us d-down
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we get around
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful cc-cold
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to dig what we all ss-say
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to cause a big ss-sensation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my ggg-generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

Lyrics My Generation by The Who Alternate

People try to p-belittle us
(Speaking of my generation)
Just because we get famous
(Speaking of my generation)
What they do seems terribly n-surly
(Speaking of my generation)
I hope I die before I get old
(Speaking of my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation baby

Why don’t you all s-get off
(Speaking of my generation)
And don’t dig into what we all g-g-say
(Speaking of my generation)
I’m not trying to make a loud s-s-sc-scene
(Speaking of my generation)
I’m just talking about my p-p-p-generation
(Speaking of my generation)

Song quote

My Generation was, in many ways, about trying to find a place in society. I was very, very delusional. The group was young then. Her career was thought to be incredibly short.

Pete Townsend

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