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The Who song that John Entwistle "hated playing"


John Entwistle wasn’t much for aggression. His thunderous bass playing obviously spoke for itself, but it also belied a relatively taciturn and quiet personality. In a band with the explosive personalities of Keith Moon, Pete Townshend, and Roger Daltrey, Entwistle didn’t have to say much or jump around in the same ways to command attention. He was the calm in the eye of the storm that was The Who, and he held down that position for nearly 30 years. 

In that time, Entwistle would occasionally flash a smile, but little else to indicate how he felt about particular songs. He got some of his own compositions into the band, including tracks like ‘Boris the Spider’ and ‘My Wife’, the latter of which became Entwistle’s signature song to sing during live performances. Although he managed to fit in all-time classic bass solos on songs like ‘My Generation’ and ‘Who Are You’, Entwistle played them dutifully and seemingly dispassionately, and least from a visual point of view.

The other members of the band were vocal about which songs they despised. Townshend explained that a fake bit of stage act ruined ‘Sister Disco’ for him and claims to never have loved ‘Dreaming From the Waist’ from The Who By Numbers. For his part, Daltrey felt that he “couldn’t connect” with songs like ‘Substitute’ and seems to take delight in taking apart beloved Who classics, specifically the time Daltrey once claimed to be “bloody bored shitless” of singing ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’. 

Comparatively, Entwistle never had any inflammatory statements regarding any Who songs. All except for one: Entwistle claimed that he never liked playing ‘Magic Bus’ live. 

“I really hated playing ‘Magic Bus’,” Entwistle claims in the interview segments for the box set compilation Thirty Years of Maximum R&B Live. “‘Magic Bus’ was sometimes, like, eight minutes of A,” he added. Entwistle even claims that there are some recordings where he nearly falls asleep playing the song.

Entwistle isn’t wrong: the band would sometimes play ‘Magic Bus’ for nearly 15 minutes, during which time Entwistle had little to do but play the root note. During the same interview segments, however, Townshend claims to love the song due to its use of the Bo Diddley beat. Different strokes for different folks, it seems.

Listen to Entwistle share his opinion on ‘Magic Bus’, and watch the eight-minute version of the track from Live at Leeds, down below.