Song of the day: The Who – “Pictures Of Lily”

This is probably my favourite Who song:

The Who – “Pictures Of Lily (1967)

As you might be aware, Pete Townshend kick-started this thing we call “power pop” when he coined the term in an article promoting the release of “Pictures Of Lily”, saying “power pop is what we play.”

In case you haven’t seen the full article and are interested in reading the whole thing, here ’tis:

New Musical Express, 20th May 1967



THE lugubrious looking Pete Townshend with the mincer-like mind ground up an interesting selection of subjects for attention over a lemon tea in London’s Act 1 Scene 2 coffee bar last week.

First subject to receive attention was the accusation of ‘pornographic lyrics’ in “Pictures Of Lily.”

“Really it’s just a look back to that period of every boy’s life when he has pin-ups,” said Pete and vent his violence upon a slice of lemon between forefinger and thumb.

“The idea was inspired by a picture my girlfriend had on her wall of an old Vaudeville star – ‘Lily Bayliss.’

“It was an old 1920’s postcard and someone had written on it – ‘here’s another picture of Lily – hope you haven’t got this one.’

“It made me think that everyone has a pin-up period.

John Entwistle and I used to swap ‘dirties’ when we were kids at school – we used to get a kick out of buying a thousand pin-up pictures at a time from tawdry little newspaper shops.

“It’s funny how some film actresses have sex appeal and some don’t – Bardot still has it – so has Loren.

Julie Christie has a kind of youthful charm but no sex appeal.

“This adolescent stage is a very real part of a young person’s life. I remember when I was fourteen I got a bus pass for school without my age on it and I forged ‘sixteen’ on it so I could go into X films.

“The first one I saw was Cliff Richard in ‘Serious Charge.’ ”

D-j Simon Dee, now somewhat irreverently referred to by his real name – Carl [sic] Henty-Dodd – by The Who, recently said their new single was best forgotten and “It was just The Who in the studio making more noises!”

“If he appears on my TV screen again I may put my foot through it,” said Pete pleasantly.

“I think he’s trying to build up his own little musical empire in which we aren’t included.

“He makes my blood boil – I wouldn’t mind if he was any good in his programme!”

We left Simon somewhere between the apple strudel and the Danish pastry and turned to “Power Pop!”

Explained Pete: “Power-pop is what we play – what the Small Faces used to play, and the kind of pop the Beach Boys played in the days of ‘Fun Fun Fun‘ which I preferred.

“There are too many groups involved in the same kind of scene as the Move where every word has to mean something.

“The Beach Boys are playing on this kind of ethereal level where the public are expected to come to them and be taught.

“I believe pop music should be like the TV – something you can turn on or off and shouldn’t disturb the mind.

“Eventually these people are going to go too far and leave the rest of the world behind.

“It’s very hard to like ‘Strawberry Fields Forever‘ for simply what it is. Some artists are becomming musically unapproachable.”

We discussed the progress of pop people and where The Who were going.

“To retain the attention of the public every pop star has to make the transition to films at some time,” said Pete.

Elvis did it – so did The Beatles and so did Cliff. Paul Jones looks to me as if he has done it with ‘Privilage.’ It’s the only way to last.

TV series

“We’re still being considered for a TV series in New York but it’s very difficult to see what else we can do as a group apart from slapstick.

“Obviously it must be humerous – maybe Roger could break a leg or something.”

Pete observed that it is now more difficult than ever for a new group to break into the big time.

“The pop group situation has been at saturation point in the hit parade for some time.” said Pete.

“Look at the Move – they were around for ages before people noticed them and then they had to smash up TVs and break up cars on stage before people would pay them any attention.

“It’s catching the attention and grabbing the publicity that is the biggest problem for a new group.”

At this point Pete produced a damaged toggle switch and Keith Moon walked into the cafe only two days late for his appointment with me – something of an achievement.In all fairness he had phoned me on the Tuesday to say he was OK to meet me for the interview fixed for the previous Monday.

Still anyone can make a mistake and Keith generally does.

“I’ve just ben to the Finnish Embassy,” he annouced brightly, “lost me passport again,” and looked resigned to the fact.

Pete stayed for a few minutes but as Moon-madness began to creep into the conversation a look akin to that of a man sitting a film round for the second time came over him and he fled.

“Where were you on Moday when I was supposed to interview you?” I enquired.

“Modelling for Vidal Sassoon,” smiled Keith hugely.

“I figured if Brian Jones can make £100 an hour I can undercut him by £15 and clean up.”

I discovered that Keith is buying a house but not, of course, in the conventional manner. He has bought some garden gnomes – now he is looking for a house to go with them.

“A large family-sized pack of gnomes,” emphasised Keith.

New car

Other things Keith has done lately include selling his Bentley to Roger and buying a newer model, going down to Eastbourne to throw pebbles at ice cream cartons and hitting a belligerent fan over the head with a cymbal when they played recently at Dusseldorf.

“He bled all over my snare,” said Keith disconsolantly.

Keith now has two ambitions.He wants to become a professional cartoon “like Tom and Jerry” and get a job in Herman‘s new Herne Bay hotel bar as a professional drip tray.

Drugs somehow got into the conversation

Wearing his most angelic expression he enquired: “Is it true there is now a thing called an electric grape which the hippies boil and smoke through a toilet roll?”

There are times when Keith Moon is worth waiting for.


This is what I was writing about

PETE TOWNSHEND told the NME: “The photographs for the ad were postcards our co-manager Chris Stamp picked up in the Portobello Road. I must say he ‘sussed’ out the lyrics because these are the kind of pictures I was writing about. I hope we get lots of letters of protest.”


[Text and pictures gratefully nicked from:]


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