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This was Pete Townshend's first attempt at a Rock Opera. "A Quick One (While He's Away)" was written because of an obligation to Decca Records that each member of the Who had to contribute two songs each to fill up their seconds album A Quick One, they came up short. So, Pete, at Who manager Kit Lambert's suggestion, wrote a "mini-opera" about a woman-a girl guide, actually-pining for her absent lover. As said above, she gets tired of waiting for her paramour to return, and has an affair with an engine driver. The man returns, and discovers them...erm....fornicating. However, he tells them that she is forgiven.

This song is split into six seperate melodies and tempos, all mixed together. And if you're wondering about the cellos... "We wanted to put ‘cellos on the track but Kit Lambert said we couldn’t afford it. That’s why we sing ‘cello, cello, cello, cello,’.. .where we thought they should be."
-John Entwistle

This song was performed for three years before it showed up on Live At Leeds. By that time, the harmonics and instruments had been finely tuned into a piece of pop poetry. As Pete says before the track, Keith Moon was usually featured on vocals, but not at that particular show (Which is probably why it sounds better here...no offence, Keith :))

This "mini-rock opera" is indeed operatic, featuring many movements and an extravagant falsetto by Entwistle at the end. It's hard to believe that all this instrumentation and arrangement came out of three instruments. "A Quick One (While He's Away)" is truly a (underrated) rock masterpiece.

(Her Man's Been Gone)
Her man's been gone
For nigh on a year
He was due home yesterday
But he ain't here
Her man's been gone
For nigh on a year
He was due home yesterday
But he ain't here

(Crying Town)
Down your street, you're crying is a well-known sound
Your street is very well known, throughout your town
Your town is very famous for the little girl
Whose cries can be heard all around the world

(We Have A Remedy)
Fa la la la la la
Fa la la la la
Fa la la la la la
Fa la la la la
We have a remedy
You'll appreciate
No need to be so sad
He's only late
We'll bring you flowers and things
Help pass your time
We'll give him eagle's wings
Then he can fly to you

Fa la la la la la
Fa la la la la
Fa la la la la la
Fa la la la la
Fa la la la la la
Fa la la la la la
We have a remedy
Fa la la la la la la
We have a remedy
Fa la la la la la la
We have a remedy
Fa la la la la la la
We have a remedy
Fa la la la la la la

We have a remedy...
We have!

Little girl, why don't you stop your crying?
You know, I'm gonna make you feel all right

(Ivor The Engine Driver)
My name is Ivor
I'm an engine driver
I know him well
I know why you feel blue
Just 'cause he's late
Don't mean he'll never get through

He told me he loves you
He ain't no liar, I ain't either
So let's have a smile for an old engine driver
So let's have a smile for an old engine driver

Please take a sweet
Come take a walk with me
We'll sort it out
Back at my place, maybe
It'll come right
You ain't no fool, I ain't either
So why not be nice to an old engine driver?
Better be nice to an old engine driver
Better be nice to an old engine driver

(Soon Be Home)
We'll soon be home
We'll soon be home
We'll soon
We'll soon, soon, soon be home
We'll soon be home
We'll soon be home
We'll soon
We'll soon, soon, soon be home
(Come on, old horse!)

Soon be home
Soon be home
Soon
We'll soon, soon, soon be home
We'll soon
We'll soon, soon, soon be home
We'll soon be home
Soon be home ...

(You Are Forgiven)
Dang, dang, dang, dang
Dang, dang, dang, dang

Cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello
Cello, cello, cello, cello, cello, cello...

I can't believe it
Do my eyes deceive me?
Am I back in your arms?
Away from all harm?

It's like a dream to be with you again
Can't believe that I'm with you again

I missed you and I must admit
I kissed a few and once did sit
On Ivor the Engine Driver's lap
And later with him, had a nap
You are forgiven
You are forgiven
You are forgiven
Forgiven, forgiven, forgiven, forgiven
You know you're forgiven...

You are forgiven!

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