Substitute (The Who song)
Cover of the 1966 Italy single
|Single by The Who|
|B-side||"Circles (Instant Party)" (UK)
"Waltz for a Pig" (US)
|Released||4 March 1966
5 April 1966 (US)
|The Who singles chronology|
"Substitute" is a song by the English rock band The Who, written by Pete Townshend. Released in March 1966, the single reached number five in the UK and was later included on the compilation album Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy in 1971. In 2006, Pitchfork ranked "Substitute" at number 91 on the "200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s".
Inspiration and writing
"Substitute" was primarily inspired by the 1965 soul single "The Tracks of My Tears" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Pete Townshend became obsessed, particularly, with the line, "Although she may be cute/She's just a substitute." This had then led Townshend "to celebrate the word with a song all its own."
For the American single, released in April 1966, the line in the chorus “I look all white but my dad was black” was changed to “I try walking forward but my feet walk back.” The complete second verse and chorus were also edited from the US release, reducing the track's length to two minutes and fifty-nine seconds.
The song remains a familiar fan-favourite and was played at most concerts that the Who performed. "Substitute", along with "I Can't Explain", have served as the group's opening numbers since 1971. It appears on the Live at Leeds album, as well as Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.
On the album Live at Leeds, Townshend comments on the song by saying:
We'd like to play three hit singles from our past for ya. Three selected hit singles, the three easiest. There's "Substitute", which we like. [crowd cheers] Thank You. That was our first number four [crowd laughs]...
"Substitute" has been covered by various artists and musical groups. In 1994, the song was covered by the American punk rock band the Ramones, which was released on their album Acid Eaters and featured backing vocals from Pete Townshend. Other notable covers of the song include renditions by the Sex Pistols, which was released as a B-side to the bootleg single "EMI" and the British rock band Blur, in a 1994 tribute album to the Who called Who Covers Who?
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||17|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||13|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||2|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||5|
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