What, When, Where, and Why
Who are you to judge my taste in music? No one, that’s who. What’s this song about, anywho?
“A Legal Matter” is a song written byPete Townshendand recorded by the British rock bandThe Whofor their debut albumMy Generation. It was recorded on 12 October 1965 at IBC Studios, and released as theB-sideto “The Kids Are Alright” in the U.S. The single was released byShel Talmywithout the permission of The Who and reached number 32.This was an attempt to sabotage the release of the band’s chosen single “Substitute” which reached number 5, as a result of a legal dispute between Talmy and the band at the time.
The subject of the song isbreach of promiseand it marks the first time Townshend sang lead vocals, rather thanRoger Daltrey, possibly because the song was too close to home for Daltrey who was divorcing his wife at the time.Who biographer John Atkins describes Townshend’s voice on the song as being higher and less abrasive than Daltrey’s.ButRolling Stone MagazinecriticDave Marshthinks that although the vocal has some charm, it does not suggest that Townshend’s voice would be good enough to be the band’s full-time lead singer.Author Mike Segretto describes the vocal as a “noncommercial adenoidal croon.”According toAllmusiccritic Stewart Mason, “adenoidal whine actually makes the singer sound like he’s sneaking out in the dead of night, scared to death that his wife’s going to catch him.”
Atkins also notes the “ironic humour” of the song.Mason also finds the song “funny.”Segretto points out that the lyrics are surprisinglymisogynisticcoming from Townshend, but that is softened by the “playful tone and cute lines like ‘Just wanna keep on doing all the dirty little things I do.”According to Townshend the song “is about a guy on the run from a chick about to pin him down for breach of contract. What this song was screaming from behind lines like ‘It’s a legal matter, baby, marrying’s no fun/It’s a legal matter, baby, you got me on the run’ was, “I’m lonely, I’m hungry, the bed needs making.’ I wanted a maid, I suppose.”Marsh suggests that the protagonist really doesn’t want to marry because “he’s terrified of discovering who he really is (boring, middle-class and conventional.)”
Everything is some form of hate these days, isn’t it? Let’s just enjoy it.
It’s a Legal Matter by The Who
Seriously, stop picking apart everything, assholes. And stop picking apart assholes, you pricks.