Out here in the fields
I fight for my meals
I get my back into my living
I don't need to fight
To prove I'm right
I don't need to be forgiven
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland

Sally, take my hand
We'll travel south 'cross land
Put out the fire and don't look past my shoulder
The exodus is here
The happy ones are near
Let's get together before we get much older

Teenage wasteland
It's only teenage wasteland
Teenage wasteland, oh, yeah
Teenage wasteland
They're all wasted


Lyrics submitted by Lucky1869_420, edited by Mellow_Harsher, bmcf1lm, richard105

Baba O'Riley Lyrics as written by Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend

Lyrics © Spirit Music Group, Abkco Music Inc., Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Baba O'Riley song meanings
Add Your Thoughts

152 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +18
    General Comment

    ive read/seen several interviews with pete where he either implies or flat out says that this song is about vietnam, but ive never heard why. the way i see it is that the song is from the point of view of a refugee from communist north vietnam. he doesnt want to be involved in the war ("i dont need to fight to prove im right"), he just wants to live normally and he can only doing that by escaping to south vietnam ("travel south crossland"). i think the chorus comes from the fact that the war devestated vietnam both economically and enviromentally (the "wasteland"), and that when pete wrote this song in 1971, americans had been occupying vietnam for well over a decade (and so, "teenage").

    the title comes from 2 names: meher baba, petes mentor, and terry o'riley, a minimalist composer who inspired pete. pete set up a way to program information about people into a synthesizer so that every person would have a unique melody. he programmed in information about meher baba, such as his birthdate and his height, and came up with the background melody of baba oriley. the original loop was over 9 minutes long, but it was shortened for the song. people dont realize how revolutionary the whos synthesizer use was. now, every other song you hear has a synth loop, but in 1971, basically the only people experimenting with them in their music were the who and stevie wonder.

    PJ10on June 18, 2002   Link
  • +9
    General Comment

    pete said "this whole notion of teenage wasteland, it's not about getting wasted, it's about waste...i take full responsibility for the fact that my generation complained aobut the state of the world, and did absolutely nothing to change it"

    ericfarsadon July 13, 2002   Link
  • +6
    General Comment

    i hate how so many people call this song just 'teenage wasteland' well i suppose not HATE, but it sure does irritate me.

    nicoleon May 18, 2002   Link
  • +6
    General Comment

    I always kinda looked on this song as my life. I live on a farm town and i work my ass off at our farm with hay, laying corn down, maintaining all kinds of animals and working so much, then I go to school and always see all these preppy chicks, jocks and "punks" always not doing shit in there lifes except go to parties get wasted and fuck. then they critize people like me who work and rather jam with some friends and just hang out rather then go out and get wasted and label us "hicks" and shit. Its only a teenage waasteland. their all wasted.

    Staticburn89on May 01, 2005   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    i think this song might have been written about telling someone to come with you to woodstock

    myhotelyearon May 29, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    The Who's Next was originally going to be part of a huge extravanganza project with involving film, technology, and live rock n roll. The complexity of it all caused the project to just implode upon itself from the beginning so the best songs were brought together for The Who's Next. The song Baba O'Riley is about the dystopian world that the characters of Lifehouse would've been set in. The song's title came from the Townshend's twin inspirations, Meher Baba and Terry Riley. Baba O'Riley was merely a prelude to the story of Lifehouse.

    BrainDamageon August 24, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    Taken from

    thewho.net/articles/townshen/life.htm

    From Townshend's narration at the beginning of the BBC Lifehouse special, we learn that the Lifehouse film would have opened with this song -- opening credits would roll, the camera following the movements of a beat-up vehicle making its way across the wasteland. In the vehicle is Ray, Sally and their kids (apparently, they're from Scotland, where the air is still clean), on their way to try and secure, possibly via black-market, a chart-reading for a new, personalized Grid program. (There appears to be a shortage of novel Grid programs being provided by the government). The kids are whining that they want to go back home 'to Scotland' and Ray reassures them that they will be going home -- where they can see friends Dave and Mary -- just as soon as they get the chart done. The very fact that Sally and Ray have ventured out -- endangering themselves -- shows how discontented they are with their current Grid-lives. They show the same scepticism and apprehension towards the 'outside' that Mary and Dave initially have, but are ahead of the latter couple in being fed-up earlier on. Sally and Ray seem to gravitate towards Bobby's project before Mary eventually does.

    As the opening song, "Baba O'Riley" provides the basic setting of a desolate, "teenage wasteland". "Sally, take my hand," Ray says, "we'll travel south crossland". There is a vague rumbling in the outskirts, a movement with individuals feeling compelled to gather and coalesce in hopes of the chance (or promise?) at 'spiritual revolution'. Biblical terminology is used throughout Lifehouse and occurs in this song when Ray tells Sally "The exodus is here, The happy ones are near…" (The "happy ones" likely referring to the Musos, a marginalized cult-like group that still practice the past art of "rock and roll music").

    In one interview, Townshend described the outsiders as follows: "There are regular people, but they're the scum off the surface; there's a few farmers there, that's where the thing from 'Baba O'Riley' comes in. It's mainly young people who are either farmer's kids whose parents can't afford to buy them experience suits; then there's just scum, like these two geezers who ride around in a battered-up old Cadillac limousine and they play old Who records on the tape deck... I call them Track fans." (Pete Townshend, as quoted in The Who by John Swenson).

    The profound influence of Sufi musician and philosopher Inayat Khan on Townshend's own thought is perhaps best conveyed in this song, with its mixing of hypnotic modal raga with the powerful I-V-IV chord progressions typical of Townshendian rock and roll. (As a sect of Islam, Sufism invokes more explicit mystical beliefs. Rather than focusing on the 'Five Pillars of Islam', Sufis seek ultimate religious experience through mystic trances or altered states often induced through twirling dances or the "whirling dervish"). Although Townshend seems to have scheduled "Baba O'Riley" at the beginning of Lifehouse, the song's trance-like, "whirling dervish" ending would have been most appropriate for Lifehouse's ending, when the crowd and the music reach a heightened emotional (and metaphysical) state, culminating in an explosive moment upon which they reach Nirvana and "disappear". (It is for this reason that I believe one of the Psychoderelict instrumental tracks, such as "Baba O'Riley (Demo)", should finish the Lifehouse song sequence, after "The Song is Over".

    SkaShibbyon March 23, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    this song is about having a pet armadillo

    vipergt196on May 12, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    It's basically a song written to Pete Townsend's Indian mystic teacher, telling him not to worry about the state of youth in the world, that it'll all be okay. This is bar-none my favorite song ever on my favorite album ever...I learned how to use a stereo so I could listen to this song.

    TaoAvatar20on June 18, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    What a great way to start off with one of the best albums ever released...though actually I'm kinda thankful Lifehouse didnt work ou... it would have been a disaster... but hey we got Whos Next didnt we... oh and Teenage Wasteland... what a ghastly way to refer to this classic...so in my humble opinion whos Next is better than Led Zeppelin IV... so who agrees with me? Of course... i dont need to fight to prove i'm right...

    piper_@_the_gates_on June 27, 2004   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
when rules change
Life in Your Way
High life
Album art
Step
Ministry
Both as a standalone and as part of the DSOTS album, you can take this lyric as read. As a matter of public record, Jourgensen's drug intake was legendary even in the 1980s. By the late 90s, in his own words, he was grappling with massive addiction issues and had lost almost everything: friends, spouse, money and had nearly died more than once. "Dark Side of the Spoon" is a both funny & sad title for an album made by a musical genius who was losing the plot; and this song is a message to his fans & friends saying he knows it. It's painful to listen to so I'm glad the "Keith Richards of industrial metals" wised up and cleaned up. Well done sir.
Album art
Fortnight
Taylor Swift
The song 'Fortnight' by Taylor Swift and Post Malone tells a story about strong feelings, complicated relationships, and secret wishes. It talks about love, betrayal, and wanting someone who doesn't feel the same. The word 'fortnight' shows short-lived happiness and guilty pleasures, leading to sadness. It shows how messy relationships can be and the results of hiding emotions. “I was supposed to be sent away / But they forgot to come and get me,” she kickstarts the song in the first verse with lines suggesting an admission to a hospital for people with mental illnesses. She goes in the verse admitting her lover is the reason why she is like this. In the chorus, she sings about their time in love and reflects on how he has now settled with someone else. “I took the miracle move-on drug, the effects were temporary / And I love you, it’s ruining my life,” on the second verse she details her struggles to forget about him and the negative effects of her failure. “Thought of callin’ ya, but you won’t pick up / ‘Nother fortnight lost in America,” Post Malone sings in the outro.
Album art
Standing On The Edge Of Summer
Thursday
In regards to the meaning of this song: Before a live performance on the EP Five Stories Falling, Geoff states “It’s about the last time I went to visit my grandmother in Columbus, and I saw that she was dying and it was the last time I was going to see her. It is about realizing how young you are, but how quickly you can go.” That’s the thing about Geoff and his sublime poetry, you think it’s about one thing, but really it’s about something entirely different. But the lyrics are still universal and omnipresent, ubiquitous, even. So relatable. That’s one thing I love about this band. I also love their live performances, raw energy and Geoff’s beautiful, imperfectly perfect vocals. His voice soothes my aching soul.
Album art
Dreamwalker
Silent Planet
I think much like another song “Anti-Matter” (that's also on the same album as this song), this one is also is inspired by a horrifying van crash the band experienced on Nov 3, 2022. This, much like the other track, sounds like it's an extension what they shared while huddled in the wreckage, as they helped frontman Garrett Russell stem the bleeding from his head wound while he was under the temporary effects of a concussion. The track speaks of where the mind goes at the most desperate & desolate of times, when it just about slips away to all but disconnect itself, and the aftermath.