What does the Who's "Pinball Wizard" really mean?

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Jake
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What does the Who's "Pinball Wizard" really mean?

Postby Jake » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:49 pm

I realize that the Who isn't a band that generally known for its subtlety, but I was thinking about "Pinball Wizard" and wondering, there's gotta be something more to it than that? Musically, it's undeniable. Awesome. But lyrically, is it just 100% exposition? Just setting up Tommy's character for the rest of the dopey "opera" storyline? Or is there some subtext that I'm just too dense to get?

Does this really say anything about the character other than that he is very good at playing pinball? Let's see. He's deaf, dumb, and blind. Got it. He has disciples -- that's interesting. Anything else?

Does it say anything about the narrator? He's impressed to the point of fawning ("such a supple wrist"). And his theory of what makes Tommy so good starts out reasonable ("He ain't got no distractions"), but then just becomes absurd ("plays by sense of smell" -- ya think?). Huh.

I don't know. It's just a weird song when you think about it.

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Ever since I was a young boy
I've played the silver ball
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all
But I ain't seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

He stands like a statue
Becomes part of the machine
Feeling all the bumpers
Always playing clean
He plays by intuition
The digit counters fall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

He's a pinball wizard
There's got to be a twist
A pinball wizard
He's got such a supple wrist

How do you think he does it?
(I don't know)
What makes him so good?

He ain't got no distractions
Can't hear those buzzers and bells
Don't see lights a flashin'
Plays by sense of smell
Always gets a replay
Never tilts at all
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

I thought I was
The Bally table king
But I just handed
My pinball crown to him

Even on my usual table
He can beat my best
His disciples lead him in
And he just does the rest
He's got crazy flipper fingers
Never seen him fall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

jonas
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Postby jonas » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:20 pm

You're being confused by some badly-forced rhymes. I vote "it was what we thought it was".

dharmabum110
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Postby dharmabum110 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:07 pm

If my memory serves me correctly, I remember reading in my long lost liner notes to the Tommy cd, that Pete included Pinball Wizard on the album because a London music critic liked pinball. Did he really hope to gain favor with the critic? Was he being serious? I don't know. I wish I could find those liner notes now.

jaimoe0
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Postby jaimoe0 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:26 pm

I might be over-reaching, but I always thought the song had something to do with the vacuous nature of celebrity and the ridiculous things we lionize people for. He's a good pinball player... fast forward... he's a messiah... fast forward, he's a false messiah and must be punished. Well, that's how I heard it anyway.

Jake
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Postby Jake » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:34 pm

Jaimoe0 for the win. Thank you. That works for me.

Rikki Lixx
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Postby Rikki Lixx » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:01 pm

News to me. I always thought it was about that Jodie Foster character in <i>The Accused</i>.
Next you'll tell me that "Won't Get Fooled Again" is a tv show theme.
LOL!
-L8R

quasarwutwut
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Postby quasarwutwut » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:22 pm

Rikki Lixx wrote:News to me. I always thought it was about that Jodie Foster character in <i>The Accused</i>.

That made me laugh so hard my tush hurts.

sab
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Re: What does the Who's "Pinball Wizard" really me

Postby sab » Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:44 pm

Jake wrote:I realize that the Who isn't a band that generally known for its subtlety,


And that's why I love them!


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