The Real Me

The Who

About The Real Me

"The Real Me" is a song written by Pete Townshend on The Who's second full-scale rock opera, Quadrophenia in 1973. This is the second track on the album, although it is the first with lyrics. It concerns a boy named Jimmy, a young English Mod with four distinct personalities. The song describes how he angrily deals with several individuals to identify "the real me". The song features an impressive bass performance by John Entwistle. According to a 1996 interview with Entwistle by Goldmine Magazine, the bass part was recorded on the first take. Entwistle claimed he was "joking around" when he played the part, but the band loved it and used it in the final version. Aside from the verses about the psychiatrist, mother and preacher, Townshend's original demo of the song on his solo album Scoop 3 includes another verse about rock and roll in general. The arrangement of the song is also much slower than what it would end up as in Quadrophenia. Townshend has always referred to it as "Can You See the Real Me", rather than the more accepted abbreviated title. 


 Watch: New Singing Lesson Videos Can Make Anyone A Great Singer

I went back to the doctor
To get another shrink
I sit and tell him 'bout my weekend
But he never betrays what he thinks

Can you see the real me, doctor?
Can you see the real me, doctor?
Woah, doctor

I went back to my mother
I said I'm crazy ma, help me
She said I know how it feels son
'Cause it runs in the family

Can you see the real me, mama?
Can you see the real me, mama?
Woah, mama

Can you see
Can you see the real me?
Can you see
Can you see the real me
The real me
The real me

The cracks between the paving stones
Look like rivers of flowing veins
Strange people who know me
Peeping from behind every window pane
The girl I used to love
Lives in this yellow house
Yesterday she passed me by
She doesn't want to know me now

Can you see the real me?
Can ya?
Can ya?
Can you see the real me?
Can ya?
Woah, yeah

I ended up with a preacher
Full of lies and hate
I seemed to scare him a little
So he showed me to the golden gate

Can you see the real me, preacher?
Can you see the real me, preacher?

Can you see
Can you see
Can you see

Can you see the real me, doctor?

Can you see the real me, ma?

Can you see the real me (me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me)?

 Watch: New Singing Lesson Videos Can Make Anyone A Great Singer

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 »

9 fans

Written by: Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend

Lyrics © Spirit Music Group

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

11 facts about this song

Song's Origin
"The Real Me" is originally from "The Who Sell Out" which was "The Who's" third studio album released in 1967. However, "The Real Me" later went on to play a major role in Pete Townshend’s more comprehensive and ambitious project.
John Entwistle's Role
It is primarily a John Entwistle composition. Entwistle was incredibly talented in handling all the chaotic elements within The Who, and his bass line lays down the groundwork for the song "The Real Me".
John Entwistle's Contribution
Entwistle reportedly played all the brass instruments featured in the original recording of "The Real Me" showing his varied musical abilities.
Unique Bass Line
The bass line for "The Real Me" is widely acknowledged as one of the most complex and difficult in rock music as it uses a "lead" bass style. It has been hailed for its musical complexity and is considered a high point in rock bass performance.
Rock Opera Inclusion
The song is also featured in The Who’s rock opera album ‘Quadrophenia’ released in 1973. It is used to introduce the character of Jimmy, the lead character in the narrative.
Pete Townshend's Acknowledgment
Pete Townshend has recognized John Entwistle’s bass work in "The Real Me" as the best he’s ever heard.
Song's Lyrics
Lyrically, "The Real Me" is about a young man struggling with his identity, going to a doctor, a priest, and his mother in search of answers.
Movie Adaptation
"The Real Me" was also adapted for the 1979 film 'Quadrophenia', which was based on The Who's rock opera of the same name.
Live Performances
Despite its complexity, "The Real Me" was often performed live by The Who, and is included in several of their concert films.
Song's Reception
"The Real Me" has been considered as one of The Who's best songs, with praise aimed towards its thought-provoking lyrics and the band's energetic performance, especially Entwistle's bass work.
Musical Influence
Entwistle's playing on "The Real Me" influenced many later bassists and has been frequently cited as an example of the potential of the electric bass for soloistic use in rock music.

Discuss the The Real Me Lyrics with the community:



    Use the citation below to add these lyrics to your bibliography:


    "The Real Me Lyrics." STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 28 May 2024. <>.

    Missing lyrics by The Who?

    Know any other songs by The Who? Don't keep it to yourself!

    Watch the song video

    The Real Me

    10,667     304

    Top Hot 100 Songs 1974

    Billboard #92



    Are you a music master?

    "Oh, the misery -- everybody wants to be my _______"
    A fantasy
    B melody
    C enemy
    D destiny

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant explanation for any lyrics that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant explanation for any acronym or abbreviation that hits you anywhere on the web!

    The Who tracks

    On Radio Right Now


    Powered by

    Think you know music? Test your MusicIQ here!