Two chords and a plentiful supply of angst. "My Generation" by The Who stands as a pivotal track in rock history, and its influence on what would become punk rock is hard to deny.
Released in 1965, "My Generation" predates the "formal birth" of punk by about a decade, but its rebellious spirit, raw energy, and stripped-down sound foreshadowed things to come. With its brash sound and bold attitude, it bears the hallmarks of what would be recognized as "proto-punk" by rock music historians in hindsight. "My Generation" garnered both attention and controversy from the music press upon its release. Many reviewers praised its raw sound and defiant lyrics, but some critics were taken aback by the song's explicit rejection of societal values or even considered it a sensationalistic ploy to shock the mainstream. This controversy only added to the song's intrigue and ultimately contributed to its lasting impact and appeal.
The track's most iconic line, "I hope I die before I get old," encapsulated the frustrations of youth and defiance against societal norms - Not unlike the "No future" ethos that drove the aesthetics and philosophical mindset of the first wave of punk rockers.
The song's aggressive guitar riffs, irreverent lyrics, and rebellious attitude laid the basis for punk's DIY ethos, anti-establishment stance, and urgency, serving as a blueprint for the punk movement's sonic footprint and counter-cultural values.