The Real Me
The Real Me cover
{{{Type}}} by The Who
Released 12 January 1974
Recorded May 1972
Genre Hard rock
Length 3:20 (Album version)
3:30 (Quadrophenia soundtrack version/single version)
Label Track Records/MCA
Producer The Who
The Who chronology
"Love, Reign o'er Me"
"The Real Me"
colspan="3" scope="col" style="background:Template:Infobox Album/color;" | Quadrophenia track listing

Template:Quadrophenia tracks

"The Real Me" is a song written by Pete Townshend on The Who's second full-scale rock opera, Quadrophenia in 1973. This is the second track on the album, although it is the first with lyrics. It concerns a boy named Jimmy, a young English Mod with four distinct personalities. The song describes how he angrily deals with several individuals to identify "the real me".

The song features a virtuoso bass performance by John Entwistle. According to a 1996 interview with Entwistle by Goldmine Magazine, the bass part was recorded on the first take. Entwistle claimed he was "joking around" when he played the part, but the band loved it and used it in the final version.[1]

Aside from the verses about the psychiatrist, mother and preacher, Townshend's original demo of the song on his solo album Scoop 3 includes another verse about rock and roll in general. The arrangement of the song is also much slower than what it would end up as in Quadrophenia.

Townshend has always referred to it as "Can You See the Real Me", rather than the more accepted abbreviated title.

Live historyEdit

The band first performed "The Real Me" on their 1973 tour promoting the Quadrophenia album, as a medley with the tape track "I Am the Sea", and it was played up until the end of their next French tour the following year, this time without "I Am the Sea". It was not played again until the 1979 tour, where it frequently used to close concerts. It remained a fixture of The Who's concerts until 1981, and was again played on their 1989 reunion tour. It was included in every concert of the 1996-1997 tour, on which Quadrophenia was played in its entirety. The Who continued to play the song until John Entwistle's death in 2002. After not performing it for several years, the band began including it in their live shows again in 2007 with the bass part, now performed by Pino Palladino, being less prominent than in the original version. The most recent performance of the song by was on the 2012-2013 "Quadrophenia and More" tour, which again featured the entire album.

The band have been known to stretch the song out with an extended instrumental jam. A notable example occurred at the Rainbow Theatre in London on February 3, 1981, where the song reached 12 minutes. These extended jams have become far less frequent since Entwistle's death.

Other album appearancesEdit

"The Real Me" was featured in the 1979 movie based on Quadrophenia as well as its soundtrack album, with a new bass track and a conclusive ending as opposed to the segue on the original album.[2] It was also featured on the 2002 Who compilation The Ultimate Collection, with a slightly modified opening.

The following Who albums and DVDs feature "The Real Me", either as a studio or live recording:


Cover versionsEdit

The song was covered by heavy metal band W.A.S.P. in 1989 and released as the second single from their 5th album "The Headless Children". The song was a hit in Britain and reached no. 23, on the UK Singles chart.[3] An accompanying video was also made and released.

It was also covered by Pearl Jam during The Who Tribute on VH1 in 2008. In August 2009, Pearl Jam performed the song at the Shepherds Bush Empire, with Simon Townshend on guitar.[4]


  1. "The Quiet One Speaks! A Chat with The Ox, The Who's JOHN ENTWISTLE", Goldmine 416, July 5, 1996
  2. The Who - Quadrophenia (1979 Soundtrack) (2016-07-17). Retrieved on October 10, 2016.
  3. W.A.S.P. | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company. Retrieved on October 10, 2016.
  4. Pearl Jam and Rolling Stones star unite onstage at intimate gig. Retrieved on August 12, 2009.

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