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The Who's "Pictures of Lily" is probably the most famous song about masturbation ever, bar the Vapors' "Turning Japanese" or "She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper. And then there's The Kinks' not-so-famous "National Health", and Fleetwood Mac's "Rattle Snake Shake" but anyway...

The song parallels a young boy's "problem", and how his dad helps him solve it by hanging pictures up on his wall of a beautiful woman. However, he "falls in love" with her, and, to his grief, discovers she's dead.
Or so the British censors thought...

Pete Townshend: "Really it's just a look back to that period in every boy's life when he has pin ups."

"Merely a ditty about masturbation and the importance of it to a young man. I was really diggin' at my folks who, when catching me at it, would talk in loud voices in the corridor outside my room. 'Why can't he go with girls like other boys?'"

John Entwistle: "It's all about wanking."

The beauty of this little ditty is that, despite its taboo nature, its sugary melody and vocals covered up that fact.

Roger Daltrey: "I deliberately thought I'd sing it the opposite way, with complete innocence."

The eponymous heroine was real-the "Lily" described in the song was based on vaudeville star Lily Bayliss. Townshend, songwriter and guitarist for the Who, had seen a 1920s postcard which was inscribed with "here's another picture of Lily-hope you don't have this one" on the back. She was featured in the press campaigns for the single, along with other risque nudes of the Victorian era. Later, these images were plastered all over Keith Moon's famous "Patent British Exploding Drummer" kit by Premier.

Released in April of 1967, "Pictures of Lily" charted at #4 in the UK. This was despite of the music world's tendency at the time to prefer psychedelia-and probably why it failed to make the top 50 in the US. "Doctor, Doctor" (Entwistle) was the B-side in both countries.

Released as a single, "Pictures of Lily" has appeared on:

sources: Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: A Complete Chronicle of the Who by Andy Neil and Matt Kent

CST Approved

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