Don't Let Go the Coat

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"Don't Let Go the Coat"
Single by The Who
from the album Face Dances
B-side "You"
Released 5 May 1981
Format 7"
Recorded 1980
Genre Rock, art rock
Length 3:44
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Pete Townshend
Producer(s) Bill Szymczyk
The Who singles chronology
"You Better You Bet"
"Don't Let Go the Coat"

"Don't Let Go the Coat" is a song written by Pete Townshend and first released on The Who's 1981 album Face Dances.

It was released as a single following up on the first single from Face Dances, "You Better You Bet", but did not achieve the same success, reaching number 47 in the UK and number 84 in the US.[1][2][3] It has also been released on several compilation albums, and Pete Townshend himself released an alternate version of the song on his album Another Scoop.[4][5]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Several authors, including Stephen Thomas Erlewine, regard the lyrics of "Don't Let Go the Coat" as an ode to spiritual guru Meher Baba.[3][6][7][8] The title then refers to Meher Baba's charge that his disciples "hang fast to the hem of my robe," where the robe is a metaphor for his teachings.[7][9] Alternatively, the song could refer to Pete Townshend's parents, who were the ones who would pick him up when Pete Townshend descended into drugs and alcohol.[8] But regardless, the song strikes themes of spiritual torment, fear of abandonment and the need to keep faith, beginning with the lines:[8]

I can't be held responsible for blown behavior
I've lost all contact with my only saviour

Musically, "Don't Let Go the Coat" has a country rock flavor.[8] Authors Steve Grantley and Alan Parker describe the guitar sound as being similar to that of The Pretenders, and note that the Pete Townshend's guitar solo has Spanish inflections.[8] John Atkins acknowledges that the song is melodic, but claims that it is bland and notes that it has less energy than "You Better You Bet."[3] Grantley and Parker, while praising the "pristine production" by Bill Szymczyk, note that the song "never really gets out of first gear."[8] Chris Charlesworth asserts that lead singer Roger Daltrey's bravado is ill-suited to the song's confession of inadequacy and unworthiness.[7] Erlewine, however, claims that "Don't Let Go the Coat" is "one of [Townshend's] better odes to Meher Baba."[6]

Other releases[edit]

"Don't Let Go the Coat" was included on The Ultimate Collection compilation album in some countries in 2002.[10] A promotional video of the song appeared on Who's Better, Who's Best: The Videos in 1988.[11] A live video performance from 1981 was included on the DVD set Thirty Years of Maximum R&B Live.[12] Townshend released a version of "Don't Let Go the Coat," with himself on lead vocal, on his 1987 album Another Scoop. SPIN Magazine favorably contrasted this version with that of The Who, noting in particular Townshend's "newfound rock exuberance."[13]


Chart (1981) Peak position
UK Singles Chart 47[1]
US Billboard Hot 100 84[2]


  1. ^ a b "Official Charts: The Who". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  2. ^ a b "Face Dances Charts and Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  3. ^ a b c Atkins, J. (2000). The Who on record: a critical history, 1963-1998. McFarland. pp. 255, 259. ISBN 978-0-7864-0609-8. 
  4. ^ "Don't Let Go the Coat". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  5. ^ Erlewine, S.T.. "Another Scoop". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  6. ^ a b Erlewine, S.T.. "Face Dances". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  7. ^ a b c Charlesworth, C. (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of The Who. Omnibus Press. p. 87. ISBN 0-7119-4306-0. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Grantley, S. & Parker, A.G. (2010). The Who by Numbers. Helter Skelter Publishing. p. 193. ISBN 978-1-905139-26-2. 
  9. ^ Smith, L.D. (2010). Pete Townshend: the minstrel's dilemma. University of California. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-275-96472-6. 
  10. ^ "Ultimate Collection [Australia Bonus Tracks]". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  11. ^ Eder, B. "Who's Better, Who's Best: The Videos". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  12. ^ "Thirty Years of Maximum R&B Live". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  13. ^ Burr, T. (July 1987). "Pete Townshend: Another Scoop". SPIN Magazine. Retrieved 2011-11-27.