The song was written by group member Pete Townshend. It was released as a single in 1965 with “Shout and Shimmy” on the B-Side (U.K.) and “Out in the Street” (U,S.) as well as on their 1965 album My Generation. (The album was released in the U.K. in 1965 and the U.S. in 1966 as The Who sings My Generation.) Inspiration for this song of teenage angst and rebellion (with a nod to the Mods) is attributed to a number of things. One is the story that the Queen Mother allegedly had Townshend’s 1935 Packard hearse towed from a street in Belgravia because she disliked seeing it during her drives through the neighborhood. Another inspiration was from Mose Allison’s “Young Man Blues.” Townshend has said, “‘My Generation’ was very much about trying to find a place in society.” And older people just don’t get it –hence, the lyric, “I hope I die before I get old.”
The call and response aspect of the song has its influence from American gospel and R&B. The stuttering? Well, one story is that the song was first conceived as a slow talking blues number and the stutter was influenced by John Lee Hooker’s “Stuttering Blues.” It’s also been proposed that the stutter sounded like a mod on speed (one of their drugs of choice). Roger Daltry, who sings lead on the song, says that he actually has a stutter but keeps it under control. You be the judge.
“My Generation” charted internationally. It went to #2 in the U.S. and Australia, #3 in Canada, #5 in The Netherlands, #6 in Germany, and #74 in the U.S. Over the years, the song has accumulated many accolades. It is on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. It is on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.” It was induced in the Grammy Hall of Fame for its “historical, artistic, and significant value.”
On the track were Roger Daltrey (lead vocals), Pete Townshend (guitar, backing vocals), John Entwistle (bass, backing vocals), and Keith Moon (drums).