Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Who's "Pictures of Lily"

 It was today in 1853 that legendary actress Lillie Langtry was born. Extremely popular in her lifetime, the actress would have an impact on popular culture that lasts to this day. Even rock music has felt her impact. An example of this is the song "Pictures of Lily" by The Who. It is commonly believed that the song is about Lillie Langtry, despite the spelling of the name in the song. Miss Langtry's image was featured on many postcards in her lifetime, so many that it would not be unusual for someone in the Fifties or Sixties to own a few. Perhaps the biggest clue that Lillie Langtry is the subject of the song is the line "She's been dead since 1929." Miss Langtry died on February 12 1929.

At any rate, I rather suspect that many classic film and television buffs could easily identify with the song. Given pictures of Lily by his father, the song's protagonist finds himself in love with Lily, who unfortunately died in 1929. It's something most classic film and television buffs could sympathise with. After all, many of our beloved stars died long ago, some even before we were born.

By the way, it was in an interview about the song with New Music Express in its May 20 1967 issue that Pete Townshend coined the phrase "power pop", now applied to a popular subgenre of rock music. Anyhow, without further ado, here is "Pictures of Lily" by The Who


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