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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Stay Tuned – Music alleviates pain

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During my weekly perusal of the record stands at Half Price Books, I picked up a copy of the Who’s 1969 rock opera, Tommy, and quickly entered a world of pinball wizards and acid queens. I was far from disenchanted.

Ever since my father showed me the Who rockumentary The Kids Are Alright, I have been mesmerized by the foursome (now, a two-some). The opening scene in the documentary was taken from their 1967 performance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. After Roger Daltrey stutters out the final notes of “My Generation,” the band proceeds to destroy the set, with Keith Moon obliterating his drum kit and Pete Townshend smashing his guitar with sheer force into a pair of amplifiers.

Although The Who was famously prone to outbursts, this behavior was all new to me. I was wide-eyed and slack-jawed. After the amplifiers sparked an explosion and Townshend emerged from the debris covered in soot, I was sold. These guys do not mess around.

Later in the film, Townshend denies the band as having any sort of quality, but rather being one of musical sensationalism. And Tommy is sensationalism at its finest.

The narrative follows Tommy, a boy who becomes dumb, deaf, and blind after witnessing a murder committed by his parents through a mirror reflection. Donned a freak by his family and incurable by doctors, Tommy immerses himself in the game of pinball and proceeds to become a world champion.

Its psychoactive plot does not overshadow its message. Without any senses, all stimuli reaches Tommy through touch, through vibrations and rhythm, through music. As Townshend told Rolling Stone in 1969, “In Tommy’s mind, everything is incredible, meaningless beauty.”

Music alleviates the pain of awareness, the pain experienced because of our lack of control over life’s events. It did so for Tommy. It can do the same for you.

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Caitlyn Vandevelde
Caitlyn Vandevelde
Caitlyn Vandevelde is a senior at Neuqua Valley High School.
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