Boris the Spider

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"Boris the Spider"
Single by The Who
from the album A Quick One
A-side "Whiskey Man"
Released 1966 (album) / 1967 (Japanese B-side)
Recorded 4 October 1966
Genre Rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, comedy rock
Length 2:29
Writer(s) John Entwistle
Producer(s) Kit Lambert

"Boris the Spider" is a song written by The Who's bass guitarist, John Entwistle. It appears as the second track of their 1966 album A Quick One. This song is claimed to be Entwistle's first composition, and became a staple of live shows.[1] This song, along with "My Wife", "Heaven and Hell" and "The Quiet One", were Entwistle's biggest songs to perform live ("The Quiet One" was written to replace this song and "My Wife", which Entwistle had become tired of singing).[2] Though this song was popular, it was not released as a single in the USA and the UK. In Japan, "Boris the Spider" was released as the B-side to "Whiskey Man" in 1967.

"Boris the Spider" was written after Entwistle had been out drinking with the Rolling Stones' bass guitarist, Bill Wyman. They were making up funny names for animals when Entwistle came up with "Boris the Spider". The song was written by Entwistle in six minutes and is considered a horror song.[3]

The chorus of "Boris the Spider" was sung in basso profundo by Entwistle (which possibly helped give birth to the "death growl"), with a middle eight of "creepy crawly" sung in falsetto. These discordant passages and the black comedy of the theme made the song a stage favourite and it was the only song from that album which lasted throughout the Who's live career.[4]

According to Pete Townshend in his song-by-song review of Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy for Rolling Stone, it was Jimi Hendrix's favourite Who song.

Subsequent to A Quick One, the central riff appears again as an encore to The Who's rendition of Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King recorded during the sessions for The Who Sell Out, but Entwistle sings "Radio London" instead. Although not released as part of the original listing of The Who Sell Out, the track appears on both the 1995 and 2009 reissues.

Sequel[edit]

"My Size", the opening track of Entwistle's 1971 solo album Smash Your Head Against the Wall, is a sequel to Boris the Spider. The closing riff of the song is the same as the one heard throughout Boris the Spider. Regarding this, Entwistle stated:

"I wrote it as a sequel to Boris the Spider for our manager. Our manager wanted me to put Boris the Spider on my album. So I wrote My Size and I wrote it in a sort of code so it sounds as if it were being sung about a woman. Then I stuck the ending on it as a clue. It wasn't a very good clue, I suppose."

Covers[edit]

  • The comedy punk band The Radioactive Chicken Heads recorded a version of the song for the 2005 compilation Mr. Snail's Halloween Party, later appearing on their 2008 album Music for Mutants.

Citation[edit]

  1. ^ "A Quick One". The Who. Retrieved 23 February 2013. The very first song that John wrote for The Who endured as a live favourite while he was alive. The band even played it on their 25th anniversary reunion tour in 1989. 
  2. ^ http://www.thewho.net. Face Dances Liner Notes. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  3. ^ Swenson, John (5 December 1971). "The Who Puts the Bomp". Crawdaddy. (Online archive) The Hypertext Who. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Chris Charlesworth, Ed Hanel (2004), The Who: the complete guide to their music