The Who have an almost unlimited wealth of choice when it comes to selecting the material for their live sets, but there’s one song that Roger Daltrey refuses to sing, and his explanation makes perfect sense.
Keith Moon’s final days were not just difficult for him, but they were challenging for his family and friends too. His declining health took a toll on his relationship with his bandmates, and Daltrey felt helpless. One particular track reminds the singer of this time and brings back some memories that he’d rather forget.
The final album that the band recorded before his tragic passing was the 1978 release, Who Are You. On the LP is one song titled ‘Music Must Change’ which Moon just couldn’t get his head around. Despite his best efforts, they were forced to recruit a session musician to play the drums on the final recording, which Daltrey regrets.
Although the group immediately inserted the track into their set following the album’s release, they have refrained from performing ‘Music Must Change’ since a concert at The Rainbow in London back in 1981, and Daltrey is determined to keep it gathering dust on the shelf.
In 2015, the vocalist appeared on Howard Stern’s programme on Sirius XM and opened up about the negative feelings he holds towards the Who Are You cut. “There is one, and I won’t ever play it again. There’s a song on the Who Are You album, it’s called ‘Music Must Change’. Every time we played that in the studio, Keith couldn’t play the drums to it. It was in a three, four. Keith couldn’t play normal drums. Keith could play great Moon drums, and that was it,” Daltrey laughed.
They tried everything with Moon to help him learn the track, including one extremely unconventional method, but that was also to no avail. Daltrey revealed: “He just couldn’t do that, so he had to do it with a pair of squeaky boots walking the pavement and do a squeaky walk to do the rhythm. Anyway, Keith is not on that recording on the record, and straight after we made that record, he died.”
For Daltrey, the song is a reminder of that painful time close to Keith’s death, and he also feels regretful about recruting another drummer, which must have been humiliating for Moon. The singer painfully continued: “We played the song when we got back together with Kenny Jones as drummer, and then we dropped it for a long, long time. We brought it back in 2002 for the last tour with John Entwistle, and we rehearsed it, we were going to do it in the show, then John died.”
Daltrey feels like there is a curse attached to ‘Music Must Change’, and for the sake of his and Pete Townshend’s health, The Who will never perform it again. In the grand scheme of things, whether the track is truly a bad omen is irrelevant; ultimately, it has negative connotations and should be left untouched.