The Who

Going Mobile

Composed by Pete Townshend

Song Review by

A survivor from Pete Townshend's aborted Lifehouse project, "Going Mobile" retained some semblance of the vague futuristic concepts involved in the ambitious multimedia event. The song made the cut among some of the group's strongest material as one of the lighter moments on the brilliant and powerful Who's Next album. "Going Mobile" demonstrates the power of the Who as a trio. Recorded without singer Roger Daltrey, the basic track was essentially cut live in the studio, with Townshend taking the lead vocal duties while playing acoustic guitar, accompanied by John Enstwistle's ultra-fluid bass lines and exuberant drumming from the flamboyant Keith Moon. The music is centered on a jouncing acoustic guitar line, employing a kind of cyclical riff, with the bass and drum laying back at the end of each line and Moon holding the beat down with a simple bass drum thump. Townshend sings in a softer tone, sometimes straining with the upper-register notes, but keeps the pace moving, tossing in ad-libbed "whoop"s and giddy "he-he"s along the way. Townshend explains the basic concept behind the song initially intended as part of the Lifehouse story: "As the story unfolded, because of the vagaries of the modern world, because of pollution being caused mainly by people's need to travel, to be somewhere else. (People) had been told, 'You can't do that anymore. You have to stay where you are.' But people have got this lust for life, and adventure, and a bit of color." Near the end of the song Townshend reflects, "I don't care about pollution/I'm an air-conditioned gypsy/That's my solution/Watch the police and the taxman miss me/I'm mobile/Oooh, yeah." The only overdubs consist of a synthesizer in the background of a breakdown section, the tempo briefly slowing then picking up again. Townshend also adds a unique synthesized wah-wah guitar solo, as the band vamps on the final chords, Moon thrashing away at the drums. The Who never performed "Going Mobile" on-stage, perhaps because it would have left lead singer Daltrey to sit and twiddle his thumbs for the duration of the song. The song shows the tremendous energy of the band without the support of powerful guitar amplification.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Who's Next 1971 Polydor
Who's Next [DVD] 2000 Image Entertainment
The  Studio Albums 2012 Universal 3:40
blue highlight denotes editor's pick