The Who’s first big hit imparted a metallic urgency to the British Invasion of the mid 60s. Simply stated, My Generation is one of those records that turned pop music into rock music – fierce, brash and a thoroughly unique statement. In it Pete Townshend aggressively established a tradition of rhythm guitar and a rock warrior attitude that is a cornerstone of the Who legacy. One of the first pop records to overtly flaunt berserk power chording, guitar feedback and noise-as-music, it doesn’t just stop there.
You have to consider Keith Moon’s bashing drum attack. John Entwistle’s groundbreaking (and ground-shaking) bass guitar breaks, and Roger Daltrey’s sputtered pill-head vocals to gauge its full impact. And those factors push its intensity needle fully into the red.
My Generation is, in essence, a two-chord song. The inherent problems of relieving monotony are handled with the simple procedure of modulation. The basic two-chord figure, G to F, in Rhy. Fig. 1, is moved up one whole-step after the solo to A (Rhy. Fig. 4), and finally to В flat, where it is trans-formed into a blues comping riff (Bb5-Bb6-Bb7-Bb6). In its various stages, the basic pattern uses a standard F form barre chord, refingered the Townshend way.
Fig. 1 shows the typical G barre chord fingering. Fig. 2 illustrates Townshend’s fingering, as found in Rhy. Fig. 2 and Rhy. Fill 1. Notice the thumb fretting and separate triad shape in the grid. This is an extremely serviceable chord shape allowing the addition of the suspended fourth as an easy option – an option Townshend has seized on many occasions, and one that has become identified closely with his rhythm guitar style. “Pinball Wizard” comes to mind immediately, and there are dozens of other cases in the Who catalog. This suspended fourth voicing (Fig. 3) is found throughout My Generation, specifically in Rhy. Fig. 2 and the choruses in A and B flat.
Townshend’s Spartan and muscular guitar solo reflects his affinity for R&B, country blues and roots rock. Played predominately in the familiar barre chord position of many of the rhythm figures, it’s arranged as a sparring match with the bass and functions as an extension of his rhythm approach with its double-stop textures, bent dyads and mutated Chuck Berry licks. This is a relatively simple and straightforward solo to play once you master the basic movable lead riff concept. The main lead boх is in G at the 3rd position and uses the E form with just brief movement to the connected D shape in bar 15.
The coda to My Generation is a wild free-for-all often referred to as a raveup in the British rock parlance of the day. It is a showcase for the Who’s trademark bombast with crashing chords, feedback, thundering drums and pumping bass. Check out Townshend’s early use of toggle-switch flipping in bars 17-20. This is produced by rapidly moving the pickup selector on a two-pickup guitar from the neck to the bridge position. If you set the volume control for either pickup low or off, the toggle-switch flipping will result in an on-off tremolo effect.
It’s a part of The Who My Generation guitar lesson.
Below you can download PDF guitar tabs and sheet music of
My Generation with backing track
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