Slip Kid

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"Slip Kid"
Single by The Who
from the album The Who by Numbers
B-side "Dreaming from the Waist" (US)
"Squeeze Box" (Spain)
Released 7 August 1976 (US)
Genre Rock
Length 4:32
3:30 (single version)
Label Polydor/MCA (US)
Writer(s) Pete Townshend
Producer(s) Glyn Johns
The Who singles chronology
"Squeeze Box"
"Slip Kid"
"Who Are You"
The Who by Numbers track listing

"Slip Kid" is a song from The Who's seventh album, The Who by Numbers. It was released as a single in the USA, backed by "Dreaming from the Waist."[1] "Slip Kid" was on the following compilation albums: The Story of The Who (1976), Hooligans (1981) and 30 Years of Maximum R&B (1994).


"Slip Kid," like many other track released by The Who in the 1970s, was originally to be included in Pete Townshend's shelved Lifehouse rock opera. However, when The Who by Numbers was being created, the song was resurrected to be used in the album. A demo of this song was included on Lifehouse Chronicles.

Pete Townshend once said of the song, "'Slip Kid' came across as a warning to young kids getting into music that it would hurt them - it was almost parental in its assumed wisdom."[2][3]

Music and lyrics[edit]

It starts off with a lot of percussion instruments and somebody counting, "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight." After the counting, Pete Townshend's guitar comes in. The song starts with a shuffle rhythm.[4] The music has a danceable salsa beat and includes an uncharacteristic one-note guitar solo played by Pete Townshend.[1] Nicky Hopkins plays piano on the song.[1][4][5] Townshend and Roger Daltrey alternate vocal lines.[4]

The lyrics are a complaint about how it is impossible to avoid responsibility.[1] Author Chris Charlesworth considers the song partially autobiographical, being about "a rock 'n' roll kid who's lost when he grows up."[4] The rebellious teenager of the song learns that "there's no easy way to be free" and that this is true for everyone.[1][6]

Release and reception[edit]

"Slip Kid" was first released on "The Who by Numbers". Following the album's release in 1976, "Slip Kid" was released as a follow-up single to "Squeeze Box" in the United States and Canada, backed with "Dreaming from the Waist". The song failed to chart.[3]

Music critic Robert Christgau considers "Slip Kid" one of the two songs on The Who by Numbers to "break out of the bind" of joylessness he finds on the album.[6] Author John Atkins considers it "a perfect performance that bridges a classical Who song structure with Townshend's revisionist lyrics and hints at a darker mood that becomes more evident as the album progresses."[1] Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine praises the song's "simple power."[7]

Live history[edit]

This was performed live a few times on The Who's European leg of the 1976 tour and also the American leg before being dropped. A small part of this song was played in one of the concerts of the band's 1979 tour, particularly in Buffalo on 4 December 1979. During the second date of their concerts in London in 2008, "Slip Kid" was performed again, for the first time in 32 years.


  • Roger Daltrey - Lead Vocal, Maracas
  • Pete Townshend - Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals
  • John Entwistle - Bass, Backing Vocals
  • Keith Moon - Drums, Cowbell
  • Nicky Hopkins - Piano

Cover Versions[edit]

A cover version was featured on the soundtrack album Sons of Anarchy: Songs of Anarchy Vol. 3, covered by The Forest Rangers feat. Franky Perez.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Atkins, J. (2000). The Who on Record: A Critical History, 1963-1998. McFarland. pp. 222–223, 228. ISBN 9780786406098. 
  2. ^ Wilkerson, M. (2006). Amazing Journey: The Life of Pete Townshend. Lulu. p. 240. ISBN 9781411677005. 
  3. ^ a b "The Hypertext Who : Liner Notes : The Who By Numbers". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d Charlesworth, C. (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of The Who. Omnibus Press. p. 69. ISBN 0711943060. 
  5. ^ Rosen, S. The Who - Uncensored on The Record. Coda Books. ISBN 9781908538833. 
  6. ^ a b Christgau, R. (1990). Rock Albums Of The 70s: A Critical Guide. Da Capo Press. p. 420. ISBN 9780306804090. 
  7. ^ Erlewine, S.T.. "The Who by Numbers". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-08-15.