Why ‘Quadrophenia’ Is Still Relevant After 41 Years

By Hilary Crisan

When I was younger, I went through a pretty tough time in middle and high school. I was faced with the conflict of changing myself in order to fit into the current trends everyone else was adhering to, or subjecting myself to ridicule because I looked different than the rest of my classmates. This is when my dad handed me The Who’s “Quadrophenia” and told me to listen to it.

“Quadrophenia” is The Who’s second concept album, released Oct. 19, 1973. It tells the story of an English teenager named Jimmy in 1965, the height of England’s Mod style craze. During the album, Jimmy feels hopeless, confused, isolated, lonely and conflicted. As with every teenager, Jimmy wants to be included in the current trends of 1965, so he changes himself in order to fit into the Mod scene. His decision to change makes Jimmy question why he has to change and why he wanted to change. Why should anyone change just for a trend that will eventually fade?

Forty-one years later, the concept of this album and the lyrics of the songs are still very relevant to every generation since its release. Almost everyone – despite race, gender, class or anything else – has felt left out, lonely, isolated and conflicted because of their desire to fit in with the crowd. Some people are willing to go the extra mile, completely changing who they are and what they know to fit in with the crowd. Every person knows the confusion of trying to figure out who they really are.

It’s a common concept in a lifetime. Of course, while going through those times, you don’t realize how common they are. “Quadrophenia” has also helped me through my college career. Stressful nights of doing homework, planning my future and trying to accomplish my goals were accompanied by The Who’s rock opera. While “Quadrophenia” helped me get through societal standards as a teenager, it now helps me grow into an adult who stands up for what I do, what I believe in and what I say.

In “Quadrophenia,” Pete Townshend tells you that those feelings of hopeless confusion are okay and even normal. While many may know that as they age, those who are going through it do not. Lyrics like “why do I have to move with a crowd of kids that hardly notice I’m around?/I work myself to death just to fit in,” from “Cut My Hair” and “ill-fitting clothes and I blend with the crowd/fingers so clumsy, voice too loud/but I’m one,” from “I’m the One” are lyrics that almost every person has felt at one point in his or her life. Even though the Mod scene is long gone, the heart of these tracks is still true.

“Quadrophenia” became a very important album to me because it helped me throughout those years of frustration. I know that it’s helped many others my age, and it’s helped older generations throughout those years too. Ranging from friends who are close to my age to celebrities such as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, many cite “Quadrophenia” as an important album in their life. I’m confident “Quadrophenia” will help my future children, my children’s future children and so on. It’s an album where the message of “you are not alone” will never die.

The last thing I will say is to listen to “Quadrophenia” if you never have before – from start to finish – and I guarantee that you will feel it in your heart as soon as it starts.

Best “Quadrophenia” Tracks To Get You Through:

“The Real Me”

“Cut My Hair”

“I’m One”

“Is It In My Head?”

“I’ve Had Enough”


“Love Reign O’er Me”

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