The 5 Unexpected Country Songs Written By The Who

The 5 Unexpected Country Songs Written By The Who | I Love Classic Rock Videos

The Who live in Tanglewood, 1970 - The Who on MV / Youtube

The Who, renowned for their quintessential rock sound, surprises fans with an unexpected country twist in some of their songs. Despite being far from Willie Nelson’s style, the legendary Pete Townshend, along with Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon, experimented with country elements in their music. Let’s take a stroll through five of The Who’s country-infused tracks, exploring their evolution from the early ’60s to the mid-’70s.

Beyond these five tracks, The Who’s flirtation with country nuances extends to other songs like “There’s A Fortune In Those Hills,” “Blue, Red, and Grey,” “Love Ain’t For Keeping,” and more. Townshend’s demos, including “The Seeker” and “Love Is Wine,” further highlight the band’s versatility, proving that The Who’s exploration of musical frontiers knows no bounds.

In retrospect, The Who’s foray into country territory stands as a testament to their musical evolution. From hayseed undertones to polka-inspired rhythms, these unexpected country songs add a distinctive layer to The Who’s illustrious rock ‘n’ roll history.

1. “Soon Be Home” – A Quick One (1966)

On The Who’s second album, A Quick One, lies a hidden country gem. While the mini-opera “A Quick One While He’s Away” doesn’t fit the country bill, its “Soon Be Home” section takes an unexpected turn into a stereotypically “hayseed” sound. Facing budget constraints, the band improvised by vocalizing “cello” instead of incorporating actual cello parts, resulting in a unique country-inspired flavor.

2. “Here for More,” – “The Seeker (B-side)” (1970)

A rare solo endeavor by Roger Daltrey, “Here for More” unveils a different facet of The Who’s musical repertoire. The song surprises with a loping bass line and chiming acoustic rhythm guitars, reminiscent of Buddy Holly’s signature style. Despite Townshend expressing surprise at Daltrey’s limited songwriting ventures, this country-infused track adds a magnificent layer to The Who’s evolving sound.

3. “I Don’t Even Know Myself,” – “Won’t Get Fooled Again (B-side)” (1971)

Harmonicas, slide guitars, and a touch of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils define this country-tinged track. The percussive backdrop and country-style bass lines contribute to its southern flair. Born out of Townshend’s frustration with simplistic character analyses and prevalent drug attributions during the era, “I Don’t Even Know Myself” stands as a unique testament to The Who’s diverse influences.

4. “Now I’m a Farmer” – Odds & Sods (1974)

Initially echoing classic ’70s Who, “Now I’m a Farmer” takes an unexpected turn into farming territory with its lyrics. Around the 2:10 mark, the song transforms into a full-fledged country piece, providing a glimpse into the fictional “Farmer Pete’s” good life. Originally considered for Tommy, this country-infused track found its way into Odds & Sods, contributing a touch of madness to The Who’s eclectic musical palette.

5. “Squeeze Box” – Numbers (1975)

Townshend’s accordion skills take center stage in “Squeeze Box,” a track that defies expectations. Inspired by Ronnie Lane’s encouragement, the polka-esque rhythm of the song brought forth a crazy Country & Western polka. Despite Townshend initially perceiving it as mere amusement, “Squeeze Box” emerged as a surprise Top 10 hit for The Who, showcasing their ability to experiment with diverse musical elements.