Christmas Countdown, Wednesday #4

Christmas Countdown Wednesday: Famous groups. Today’s selection is Christmas from The Who’s Tommy, in an awkward mashup of images from Ken Russell’s movie and the band’s album.

Day 27

The theme of this day is Superstar Christmas song, and the one that popped to mind is Christmas from the rock opera Tommyby The Who.

Now, in my personal opinion, Tommy is actually the inferior version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, even though The Who did the story first — it’s just that The Who’s music sounds like nails on a chalkboard, while Pink Floyd’s has depth and melody and so much more going for it. Plus theirs is a better version of the story.

Fight me.

Anyway, both of these rock operas are a direct reminder of how WW II created much of modern music. Why? All of those pioneering rock artists who became prominent in the mid-60s and early 70s were born in the early to mid-1940s.

In other words, Boomers, all of them. And quite a lot of them — The Who, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Bowie, etc. — were British, hence much more directly affected by the war than American children of the time.

Read “directly affected” as “having Nazis bomb the city you lived in, so your parents evacuated you to the safe spots far north in the Lake District or elsewhere for the duration.

That and having a really good chance of learning that your dah got blown to bits somewhere in France or Italy.

These are the catalysts that led to the creation of both Tommy and The Wall. I think the big difference is that The Who basically avoided the real issues and came up with metaphors that missed the mark, while Pink Floyd hit it head-on with the admission up front of, “Yeah, this formed who we are now, but it’s still no fucking excuse.. Sorry!”

Also note the irony, particularly apparent in the film version of The Wall, that the anti-hero Pink, whose father died fighting fascism, basically winds up becoming somewhat of a crypto-fascist himself in 1970s England.

Meanwhile, in Tommy, the protagonist suffers from hysterical sensory loss (becoming “blind, deaf, and dumb”) after seeing his mother and step-father murder his unexpectedly returned from the dead actual father.

Much, much lamer than Pink’s realistic journey and lament about how the “tigers broke free” and “took my daddy from me.”

But I do digress. Here is today’s superstar Christmas song. If it seems a bit weird, it’s because the video takes footage from the Ken Russell film of Tommy and tries to sync it to the original album.

Trust me, the movie version, with musical star Ann-Margret and couldn’t sing his way out of a paper bag Oliver Reed does a lot more justice to the vocals. Anyway, enjoy.

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