The Song Is Over

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"The Song Is Over"
Song by The Who
from the album Who's Next
Released 14 August 1971 (1971-08-14)
Recorded 11 May 1971 at Olympic Studios[1]
Length 6:13
Label Decca (US)
Polydor (UK)
Songwriter(s) Pete Townshend
Producer(s) The Who, Glyn Johns
Who's Next track listing

"The Song Is Over" (or "Song Is Over") is a song by the English rock band The Who, appearing on Who's Next. It was originally to be the ending song on Lifehouse.[2] It takes place after the police invade the Lifehouse Theatre and the concert goers disappear.[3]

Lyrics and music[edit]

"The Song Is Over" is one of the tracks on Who's Next with lead vocals by both Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey and piano work by Nicky Hopkins.[1] According to Pete Townshend the song provides "a mixture of being sad and wistful but at the same time a high point."[3] The mixture of the song is achieved by Pete Townshend's vocals taking a sense of the end: "The song is over, It's all behind me", and Roger's taking a sense of continuing: "I sing my songs to the wide open spaces..." Who biographer John Atkins remarks that the two singers' "contrasting voices" "work wonderfully well.[4] Atkins considers Daltrey's vocals to be the song's strongest feature, but he also praises Keith Moon's "superbly controlled" drumming, John Entwistle's "expressive" bass and the "beautiful, rich synthesizer chords on verses.[4] The music is based on an E flat major 7 chord progression, that Segretto is "sad and hopeful" and "guaranteed to jerk tears."[2]

According to Mike Segretto, with metaphors about singing his farewell song to "wide open spaces," "sky high mountains" and "the infinite sea," the song "poetically indicates that a heart may break but it will endure as nature does."[2] Atkins interprets the song as being about the "concept of song" itself, and forming the climax of the Lifehouse concept by being about "the power of song being finally harnessed as a unifying strength."[4] Indeed, Atkins identifies "The Song Is Over," "Getting in Tune" (also released on Who's Next) and "Pure and Easy" (later released on Odds and Sods) as being the three songs that are most central to the Lifehouse concept in that they "reflect the central idea of music as a source of social and spiritual power."[4] The song also features quotes from "Pure and Easy" in its final bars.[1][5]

Critical reception[edit]

Rolling Stone critic John Mendelsohn rates "The Song Is Over" as being among Daltrey's and Townshend's best work, describing it as "an unutterably beautiful song in which Townshend sings exquisitely over a gentle piano background before and in between Daltrey charging in exhilaratingly over a hard part with breathtaking chord changes in the manner of the "Listening to you I hear the music . . ." refrain from Tommy.[6] Music critic Chris Charlesworth calls "The Song Is Over" "among the most gorgeous ballads Pete [Townshend] has ever written."[5] Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine similarly describes it as a "gorgeous" ballad.[7] Rolling Stone critic Dave Marsh describes it as an "exceptionally fine song."[8] Segretto considers it "one of the Who's most beautiful songs" and Rolling Stone Record Guide, 2nd edition editor John Swenson concurred that it was one of Townshend's most beautiful songs.[2][9] In the 4th edition of the Rolling Stone Album Guide, critic Mark Kemp described it as a "great Daltrey vocal vehicle."[10] Atkins describes it as "a mature composition, structured with an almost baroque tidiness and order."[4]


  1. ^ a b c Who's Next 1995 Reissue Liner Notes
  2. ^ a b c d Segretto, M. (2014). The Who FAQ. Backbeat Books. p. 338. ISBN 9781480361034. 
  3. ^ a b "The Hypertext Who " Article Archive › The Who Puts the Bomp (1971)". Retrieved 2011-06-23. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Atkins, John (2000). The Who on Record: A Critical History, 1963-1998. MacFarland. pp. 147, 154–155, 161–162. ISBN 9781476606576. 
  5. ^ a b Charlesworth, C. (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of the Who. Omnibus Press. p. 44. ISBN 0711943060. 
  6. ^ Mendelsohn, J. (January 22, 1997). "Who's Next". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-06-25. 
  7. ^ Erlewine, S.T. "Who's Next". Allmusic. Retrieved 2016-06-25. 
  8. ^ Marsh, D. (1983). Before I Get Old. St. Martin's Press. pp. 371, 383, 385. ISBN 0312071558. 
  9. ^ Swenson, J. (1983). Marsh, D.; Swenson, J., eds. The New Rolling Stone Record Guide. Rolling Stone Press. p. 544. ISBN 0394721071. 
  10. ^ Kemp, M. (2004). Brackett, N.; Hoard, C., eds. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Fireside. p. 872. ISBN 0743201698.