“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 a virtuoso 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.