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Headscratchers / Tommy

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  • Wait, how can one play pinball "by sense of smell"?
    • Being a wizard, clearly.
    • They're probably being metaphorical with that line.
    • The smell of metal.
    • The ball is drenched in perfume.
    • Perhaps it was just Wild Mass Guessing.
      • Exactly. The song appears to be in the words of a character in the story, an observer rather than an omniscient narrator. He's just tossing out ideas (another one being "plays by intuition") because he himself doesn't know.
    • Tommy appears to gain a deeper spiritual insight in spite of his impairments, in line with Meher Baba's teachings. His ability to play pinball seems like a Mundane Utility use of that insight.
    • He's Terezi?
  • How and where exactly into the story does "Sally Simpson" fit? In the album and the film (don't know about the stage version) they're sequenced in different places, though we do know for sure that it's after Tommy gains all of his followers and before he opens his holiday camp. Additionally, it is mentioned that Tommy "always talks about the day" of the events that occur in the song...but, then, that line probably isn't even something that matters much in the context of the larger story.
    • Sally Simpson was originally just about a girl who leapt onstage to touch a rock star; it was adapted to Tommy later.
    • They have to have some way of going to show how intense and out-of-control things are starting to get. Simpson is basically the first pebble of the avalanche.
    • The stage version had the Sally Simpson number be the lead up to Tommy's My God, What Have I Done? moment about letting fame get to his head after seeing her get hurt.
  • Why is Elton John always credited as "the Pinball Wizard"? TOMMY was the pinball wizard! Elton was the Champ.
    • I think it's generally assumed by most people that the Pinball Wizard is the character's name.
      • Exactly. Actually, Elton's character is officially credited as the "Local Lad." Since his character's name is never outright said or even mentioned by anyone (it's not that important to the plot anyway) and he's the one singing the Blacksheep Hit of the same name...
      • That and the name "Pinball Wizard" just seems more memorable than just "Local Lad" or "The Champ."
    • Technically, Elton's character could be considered the pinball wizard up until Tommy ultimately defeats him. After all, he's officially called the Local Lad yet his other nicknames include Bally-Table King and The Champ, so who's to say that one of them wasn't also "Pinball Wizard"? Tina Turner's character is referred to as the Acid Queen, the Gypsy and the Gypsy Queen, so why can't Elton's character have multiple nicknames?
      • If it helps, this troper has seen a stage version where the program billed them (yeah, this version had two for some reason) as both the Local Lad(s) and the Pinball Lad(s), so it seems possible that this character could have multiple nicknames.
  • Speaking of song placement, if "The Hawker" is supposed to be about the Acid Queen — sung by her manager — why isn't it directly before "The Acid Queen"?
    • Maybe Tommy's father remembered the Hawker's words years down the line and took Tommy to the Acid Queen in an act of desperation?
  • Who is the "you" in "See Me, Feel Me"? The audience, perhaps? Or perhaps only "see me, feel me, touch me, heal me" is from Tommy's perspective directly and the rest is being sung to Tommy?
    • It's God. Tommy is influenced by Pete Townshend's interest in the work of Meher Baba.