The Who

About Tattoo

"Tattoo" is a song written by Pete Townshend that was first released by The Who on their 1967 album The Who Sell Out. A "rite of passage" song, "Tattoo" tells the story of two teenaged brothers who decide to get tattoos in their attempts to become men. Themes of the song include peer pressure to conform and young men's insecurity about their manhood. The song has been heavily praised by critics and has appeared on several of The Who's live and compilation albums. It has also been covered by Tommy Keene and Petra Haden.  


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Me and my brother were talking to each other
'Bout what makes a man a man
Was it brain or brawn, or the month you were born
We just couldn't understand

Our old man didn't like our appearance
He said that only women wear long hair

So me and my brother borrowed money from Mother
We knew what we had to do
We went downstairs, past the barber and gymnasium
And got our arms tattooed

Welcome to my life, tattoo
I'm a man now, thanks to you
I expect I'll regret you but the skin graft man won't get you
You'll be there when I die

My dad beat me 'cause mine said "Mother"
But my mother naturally liked it and beat my brother
'Cause his tattoo was of a lady in the nude
And my mother thought that was extremely rude

Welcome to my life, tattoo
We've a long time together, me and you
I expect I'll regret you but the skin graft man won't get you
You'll be there when I die

Now I'm older, I'm tattooed all over
My wife is tattooed too
A rooty-toot-toot, rooty-tooty-toot-toot
Rooty-toot-toot tattoo too
To you

Radio London reminds you, go to the church of your choice!

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The Who

The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964 by Roger Daltrey (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Pete Townshend (vocals, guitar, keyboards), John Entwistle (vocals, bass) and Keith Moon, (drums, vocals). They became known for energetic live performances which often included instrument destruction. The Who have sold about 100 million records, and have charted 27 top forty singles in the United Kingdom and United States, as well as 17 top ten albums, with 18 Gold, 12 Platinum and 5 Multi-Platinum album awards in the United States alone. more »

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Lyrics © Spirit Music Group, Abkco Music Inc.

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

10 facts about this song

Historical Background
"Tattoo" is originally a song by the British rock band, The Who, released in 1967. Petra Haden rendered a unique a cappella version of the song, which was released in 2005.
Petra Haden's Interpretation
Petra Haden's version of "Tattoo" is entirely acapella. She reproduces all instruments and vocals using only her own voice and a recording machine.
Track Location
"Tattoo" is the second track on Petra Haden's album 'Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out'.
Album Concept
Petra Haden's album where this song is featured is noteworthy because it is a complete, song-by-song recreation of The Who's 1967 album, 'The Who Sell Out'.
Critical Acclaim
Critics lauded Haden's version for its experimental approach and her amazing vocal range and abilities.
The Original Composition
The original version of "Tattoo" by The Who is a poignant song about adolescence and coming of age.
Album Artwork
For Haden's album, the artwork imitates the original album cover of 'The Who Sell Out,' where it replaces photographs of band members with her own.
Music Legacy
Petra Haden is an accomplished violinist and singer, known for her work with numerous bands like The Decemberists, and her impressive solo projects.
The Who's Influence
The Who is considered one of rock's most influential bands. Thier original version of "Tattoo" has inspired countless artists, including Petra Haden, to make their own takes on the song.
Music Styling
Haden is known for her unique music styling where she uses her voice to replicate musical instruments, as seen in her version of "Tattoo".

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