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Posts Tagged ‘The Who’

Today I am going to start my countdown of the top 30 songwriters according to Rolling Stone Magazine – I blogged a summary of the top 100 in this blog here. At number 30 in their list is Pete Townshend, who was/is The Who’s songwriter and lead guitarist. I have already blogged about my favourite Who song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” here, and also their best known song “My Generation” here. So, today I thought I would blog about their song “Pinball Wizard”.



At number 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Pete Townshend of The Who.

At number 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Pete Townshend of The Who.



“Pinball Wizard” was the hit song from The Who’s rock-opera Tommy, and the reason I have chosen to blog about this song is that it shows Pete Towshend’s ambition; writing a rock-opera is not something many other songwriters who had sung in the 1960s had done. But, Towsend often saw things on a bigger canvas than many of his contemporaries, and writing a rock-opera illustrates this nicely.

The first version of “Pinball Wizard” which I remember hearing was the 1975 version sung by Elton John, who sung it in the movie version of the rock opera. I only later became familiar with The Who’s version, which was released in 1969 on their album Tommy. It was also released as a single and got to number 4 in the Disunited Kingdom and to number 19 in the US Singles charts. Elton John’s 1975 version reached number 7 in the DUK.


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 has to be a twist.
A pinball wizard’s got such a supple wrist.

‘How do you think he does it?
I don’t know!
What makes him so good?’

Ain’t got no distractions
Can’t hear no buzzers and bells,
Don’t see no lights a-flashin’
Plays by sense of smell.
Always gets a replay,
Never seen him fall.

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 favorite 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.


Here is a video of Elton John’s version of “Pinball Wizard” as he sung it in the movie Tommy.





And here is Tho Who’s original version, with Roger Daltrey singing it.






Which version do you prefer?

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At number 11 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest songs of all time is “My Generation” by The Who. This song was written by Pete Townsend of the band, and is one of their most recognisable hits. It was released in October 1965, and got to number 2 in the Disunited Kingdom singles charts. Surprisingly it only got to number 74 in the USA, but as it was one of their earliest singles the band had not really made a name for themselves in the USA at the time.



At number 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine's '500 Greatest Songs of all Time' is "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.

At number 11 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of all Time’ is “My Generation” by The Who.



I may have mentioned this before, but when I was 12 our family went to holiday in Menorca, one of the Balearic islands. One evening, we were eating in a local restaurant and the owner said that the man sitting by the bar was Pete Townsend. I was too young for it to register with me, but had she said it a year or two later I would have been over asking him for an autograph! Ah well, he was probably glad to be unmolested – he apparently had a villa nearby and enjoyed the quiet atmosphere on the island.

This song, described by Rolling Stone Magazine as a “fuck-off” to the older generation, is a powerful anthem with a driving rhythm. I do find it a bit strange when the surviving Who members now sing it, being well into their dotage, but I am sure Pete Townsend sees the irony too!


People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to d-dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to cause a b-big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby


Here is a video of this amazing song. Enjoy!





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