"Rough Boys" as written by and Pete Townshend....
Tough boys
Running the streets
Come a little closer
Rough toys
Under the sheets
Nobody knows her
Rough boys
Don't walk away
I very nearly missed you
Tough boys
Come over here
I wanna bite and kiss you

I wanna see what I can find
Tough kids
Take a bottle of wine
When your deal is broken
Ten quid
She's so easy to find
Not a word is spoken
Rough boys
Don't walk away
I'm still pretty blissed here
Tough boy
I'm gonna carry you home
You got pretty pissed dear

Gonna get inside you
Gonna get inside your bitter mind

Rough boys
Don't walk away
I wanna buy you leather
Make noise
Try and talk me away
We can't be seen together
Tough kids
What can I do?
I'm so pale and weedy
Rough fits
In my Hush Puppy shoes
But I'm still pleadin'

Tough boys
Running the streets
Come a little closer
Rough toys
Under the sheets
Nobody knows her
Rough boys
Don't walk away
I very nearly missed you
Tough boys
Come over here
I wanna bite and kiss you

I wanna see what I can find!


Lyrics submitted by ButNeverOutgunned

"Rough Boys" as written by Peter Dennis Blandfor Townshend

Lyrics © SPIRIT MUSIC GROUP

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Rough Boys song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +2
    My OpinionI don't think there's any clues to his sexuality in the song at all. It's more of a statement about the punks in the 80s thinking they were tough and he was essentially saying "yeah, tough boy? take a shot at me and I'll make you my little b*tch." You have to think back to when the Pistols and the Clash came out, they made a lot of headlines by dismissing all the rock bands that came before them and calling them tired old inosaurs. Well Ol' Pete wasn't about to let them get away with dismissing his entire history so he threw down the gauntlet with this song and especially the video. After all, the Who had been THE most aggressive band tearing up the stage for 15-20 years by this point. They literally played gigs so rough they got in fights with the audience on stage. So when he says "Make noise, Try and talk me away, We can't be seen together" we was calling them out as a all talk but no fight. And since Punks hated anything old, they couldn't admit their respect for him. When he says "I'm gonna carry you home, You got pretty pissed dear" he was saying that they couldn't handle their liquor, that they drank like women. When he says "What can I do? I'm so pale and weedy, Rough fits, In my Hush Puppy shoes, But I'm still pleading" he's taunting them saying they're too afraid of a scrawny guy little guy like him even though he's pleading for them to take a swing at him. "Don't walk away, I wanna buy you leather" means "I could buy and sell you." So my interpretation is that this song was a bold face counter attack at punk. Calling them a bunch of little Sissy Marys.
    MikeRon December 05, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhen I hear this song, I always want to hear The Pretenders' "Tattooed Love Boys".
    They seem somewhat similar in content if not actual musical style.
    Major Valoron August 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI really like Townshend's rhythm playing in this, especially those quick, short 'stabs' after the first verse.

    It obviously seems quite British. Pretty sure it's about they way young people behave (drinking, fighting etc) and sex. Like the lines "carry you home" and "gonna get inside you" with the latter actually being quite literal - example of a stereotypical good night out, from a man's perspective anyway.

    Also, I think there's a reference to the Who song 'Substitute' in the lyrics. When he mentions "leather" and "shoes", words that are in 'Substitute' with the added fact that the meanings are similar - being young and involving love life.
    Deathsdoor99on December 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFor some reason, I've often thought this song had something to do with Townshend's "coming out" (even if that was a few years later.) I only learned recently that the line was "get inside your bitter mind"...I always thought it was "get inside ....your bed or mine?" This is a masterful song and I like those 'stabs" too as well as the brass.
    If I remember correctly this song was dedicated (on the album) to The Sex Pistols by PT.
    motorbaron September 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's Pete's response to punk rock. Many musicians of his generation came out with work that was, if not an attempt to "do" punk, at least influenced by it.

    The "rough boys" are the Pistols, Ramones, et. al. and the femaie "nobody knows her" and "she's so easy to find" is a metaphor for rock music. The protagonist in the song is acknowledges that he can't be seen with the rough boys of punk rock because they would be embarrassed ("I'm so pale and weedy") possibly by his wearing of "Hush Puppy shoes".

    There isn't a more aggressive song in Pete's solo work. He's just venting about punk rock, saying "It's been done, guys."

    Of course one could read into all the homosexual language of the lyric. It works that way as well, especially considering Pete's sexual ambiguity at certain periods in his life.
    JoeyJoeJoe70on October 31, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti dont know why people think pete is gay, he publicly declared he was. and if he didnt want to come out of the closet then why would he write a song about get with other men. the song is clearly about the punk rock era and becoming pop icons letting it get to there heads.
    dreinickon December 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm not certain as to what to think about Pete's sexuality on this song, but perhaps he opens the door just a crack about about his past sexual experiences with men. He almost looks the part of early 80's gay men-very thin, shaven, short hair. Anyway, gay or not, this is still a great rock song by a man I consider just short of genius.
    Flyersfanon April 23, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My Opinionto Flyersfan below:"He almost looks the part of early 80's gay men-very thin, shaven, short hair.". Say, we wouldn't be indulging in gay stereotyping, would we? If so, stop it!
    I find the comments on Rough Boys here and on YouTubes posted by straight people who go to impossible lengths to deny that their beloved Pete could, ugh, actually want to have sex with another man, to be very funny. There is something called Occam's Razor in philosophy which is basically, "Don't look for complicated explanations when simple ones are staring you in the face." To a gay man the meaning of this song is laughably obvious. And what I read about Townshend, he originally acknowledged that the song was about sex with men, but he got so harassed by the British tabloids who just would not let it go and move on that he took to denying it. But homophobia is all gone now, isn't it? Yeah, sure.
    xmanforever77on May 09, 2016   Link

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