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THE WHO Rockpalast March 1981 515

5:15” (sometimes written “5.15” or “5’15“) is a song written by Pete Townshend of British rock band The Who. Part of the band’s second rock opera, Quadrophenia (1973), the song was also released as a single and reached No. 20 on the UK Singles Chart,[1] while the 1979 re-release (accompanying the film and soundtrack album) reached No. 45 on theBillboard Hot 100.

Although written as “5.15” on the single covers in some countries, on the back cover of Quadrophenia (the album from which the song is taken) it is written as “5:15”, and some single covers also have “5:15”.

The lyrics of “5:15” describe Quadrophenia’s protagonist, Jimmy, travelling to Brighton on a train. The song’s writer, Pete Townshend, said of the song’s lyrics:

His train journey down to Brighton, sandwiched between two city gents is notable for the rather absurd number of purple hearts he consumes in order to wile away the time. He goes through a not entirely pleasant series of ups and downs as he thinks about the gaudier side of life as a teenager that we see in newspapers like the News Of The World. ‘5:15’ was written in Oxford Street and Carnaby Street while I was killing time between appointments. I must try it again sometime, it seems to work![2]

— Pete Townshend

No demo recording of the song exists, as the track was written in the studio on the day the song was recorded.[2] The whistle heard on the track was recorded after Townshend’s driver bribed a British train driver with five pounds to sound the train’s whistle as it pulled out, despite breaking the station rules.[3]

“5:15” was released as a single in Britain and Europe shortly before the release of Quadrophenia in October 1973. Backed with the Lifehouse outtake “Water]”, the single charted at #20 in Britain and #46 in Germany.[3][2] The single was not released in America, where “Love, Reign o’er Me” and “The Real Me” were chosen as singles instead. Roger Daltrey later commented on the song’s single release, “Really, it was the only single on Quadrophenia we could have released.”[3] The 7-inch vinyl single mix differs from the wider soundscape of the album mix and appears as a narrower closed stereo; however, the overall dynamics are just as powerful. This particular mix is not available on CD. All compilations making claim to the single mix have used the album mix version and cut to a variety of different running time lengths plus or minus a few seconds. “Water”, the B-side, is a track recorded during the April-May 1970 sessions at I.B.C. and Eel Pie Studios, and was originally intended for an EP, available on Odds & Sods.


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