The Real Me – the Who

We all want to be seen a certain way by others. We want our beliefs, our ideas, and the essence of ourselves to be understood by the people we come into contact with. We hope that what we stand for touches the lives of other people and that the unique identity of our souls leaves a mark on the diverse, fast-paced world that we belong to.

But this is no easy feat.

As humans, we often succumb to the pressures to “fit in” and to hide ourselves. The ironic thing about human beings is that we all want to be seen as we are on the inside, but because we are afraid of being misinterpreted by others we instead show the world a person we are not. Some people even say that they hope to find someone who will look past the false personas that they have created for themselves and love them for who they are on the inside, but how are others supposed to know of your inner beauty if it is buried beneath layers upon layers of falsehood? To expose yourself to the world is an utterly terrifying, perilous, and audacious thing to do. But if you don’t do it yourself, no one will.

“I don’t wanna be the same as everybody else. That’s why I’m a Mod, see? I mean, you got to be somebody, ain’t ya? Or you might as well jump into the sea and drown.
– Jimmy, Quadrophenia


“The Real Me” is from the masterpiece, Quadrophenia, by the the Who. “The Real Me” is the second track on the album and was released as a single in 1974 along with “I’m One” as the B-side.The Real Me” is a prime example of just how strong their rhythm section was (of course, how could it not be with their Moon-Entwistle combo?). Drummer Keith Moon, arguably the greatest drummer of all time, pounds away like the madman he was with intricate fills while John Entwistle, arguably the greatest bass player of all time, flies across the frets, apparently recording this piece in only one take. Quadrophenia is the story of Jimmy, a “schizophrenic” teenager in search of an identity. He wants to be admired and accepted by his peers, he wants to be seen as “cool”, and above all, he simply wants to be loved for who he is, whoever that may be.

The Who (from left to right): Keith Moon, John Entwistle, Pete Townshend, and Roger Daltrey

The Song:

“I went back to the doctor
To get another shrink.
I sit and tell him about my weekend,
But he never betrays what he thinks.

Can you see the real me, doctor?”

Whenever we have a problem, we are often told to seek professional help. But when it comes to matters of one’s own mind and identity, there is no one that can solve our problems besides ourselves. When Jimmy “sit[s] and tell[s] him about [his] weekend”, it wouldn’t make a difference even if the doctor ‘betray[ed] what he thinks” because professionals can give all of the advice that they want, but their words can not change who a person is. Jimmy is looking to his doctor to tell him who he is – what’s wrong with him, what’s write with him, a diagnosis – but these words mean nothing if that is not who he feels he is. A person is not defined by labels.

They called him “the Ox”, “Thunderfingers”, “The Quiet One”, assuming he was simply a soft-spoken bassist. Few people realize that John Entwistle was also a talented and eccentric artist with a dark sense of humor. He was also the one who lit the matches when Moon put dynamite in toilet bowls.

“I went back to my mother
I said, “I’m crazy ma, help me.”
She said, “I know how it feels son,
‘Cause it runs in the family.”

Can you see the real me, mother?”

People of all generations struggle to find themselves and everyone has their own path – that is what makes us individuals. Even people who share the same blood can be vastly different people. So while Jimmy’s “craziness”, or lack of a solidified identity, may “run in the family” (meaning that it affects every generation), that does not mean that Jimmy’s “craziness” and his mother’s are the same. We will grow to form our own opinions and ideas, regardless of our parents’ beliefs. It is our thoughts that define who we are. The tricky part is sharing them.

Shame was not in Keith Moon’s vocabulary. He did what he wanted to, regardless of how the world would respond to his madness.

“The cracks between the paving stones
Look like rivers of flowing veins.
Strange people who know me
Peeping from behind every window pane.
The girl I used to love
Lives in this yellow house.
Yesterday she passed me by,
She doesn’t want to know me now.

Can you see the real me, can you?”

Sharing ourselves with the world – our thoughts, our ideas, our beliefs, our joys, our pains, the essence of who we are – is absolutely terrifying. You never know how people will react to you. Will they see the reasoning behind your opinions the way you do? What causes people to hide themselves is the fear of not being accepted by others. It is being judged wrongly and shunned by the “strange people” who think they “know [you]” that scares us, causing us to flee behind the shelter of a facade. Those who make judgements of others based upon marginal, superficial evidence will never know “the real you”.

At his school, Roger Daltrey was the top of his class and everyone assumed he would move on to lead an academically successful life. That is, until he unleashed his inner rebel pursued his real love in life: music.

“I ended up with the preacher,
Full of lies and hate,
I seemed to scare him a little
So he showed me to the golden gate.

Can you see the real me preacher?
Can you see the real me doctor?
Can you see the real me mother?
Can you see the real me?”

Teenagers rebel against parents who don’t approve of their actions and beliefs. People oppose oppressive authorities and start revolutions in the name of the freedom to express themselves and show the world who they are. And yet, even in places that give people the right to be themselves and to be different, people are suppressing themselves by hiding by hiding beneath false personalities in an attempt to obscure their insecurities. Jimmy continues to ask those around them if they can “see the real [him]” but how can they, when he himself refuses to embrace his identity?


He was bullied as a child, struggled to find himself as a teenager, but by sharing his musical compositions, Pete Townshend sent out beautiful messages to the world in the form of some spectacular music.

You can find yourself by thinking, formulating opinions, coming up with your own ideas about life and how you want to live it, but embracing yourself requires action. Once you know “the real you”, others can begin to see it. By sharing our thoughts with others, we are embracing ourselves. This can be a hard thing to do, but you don’t need to stand on a podium and address the billions of citizens of the world to share yourself. You simply need to share yourself with your own world, meaning the people who are close to you, people that you can trust with your soul. If you are brave, you might venture outside of your own world to share yourself with the “strange people” in hope that by reaching out to them, they actually will know you.

As an incredibly shy person, blogging has been a way to reach outside of my own little corner of the world. I have interwoven my soul into my words, sent them out into the world, and, against all odds, I have received support from people living thousands of miles away, amazing, wonderful people who have beautiful thoughts of their own. The most rewarding thing about summing up the courage to share the real you, is that you might get to see beauty in the realness of other people. So to anyone who fears the world’s disapproval or criticisms, it is all worth it. By sharing yourself, you are forced to dig deeper into your soul. You can contribute to the global conversation without anyone telling you what to do or how to think. The world will have a piece of something that is completely and utterly you.

So the question to ask is not “Can you see the real me?” but rather “Can I see the real me?”



6 thoughts on “The Real Me – the Who

  1. ‘The Real Me’ is probably my favourite song on Quadrophenia. The way it enthusiastically bursts into the rocky guitar chords and bass lines and drum fills from ‘I Am The Sea’ is simply wonderful. But then the whole of ‘Quadrophenia’ is wonderful. And so are The Who, full stop!
    (And by the way, your blog is great! 🙂 )

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much! And everything on Quadrophenia truly is amazing. It’s incredible how everything flows together seamlessly and, as usual for the Who, all of the instrumentals are on point. I cannot even begin to fathom all of the time, effort, and genius that the great Pete Townshend put into composing this unbelievable album.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Shop Talk: The Nuts And Bolts Of Student Blogging | : the readiness is all

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