Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tommy In The Sky With Diamonds

(Some of you read this earlier on my MySpace blog)

Stars blinked in the sky
that was us, high
in blackened theatre seats,
Roger Daltrey screaming,
seeeee me, heaaaaar me.
Clapton strutted down the aisle
with his MM crazed crowd
banners waving, blood of the
scotch bottle bled for thee--
Elton pin-balling that Wizard
in three foot laced shoes.
Pot so thick you could
slice the air.

Tommy, in rock opera glory,
resurrected across
that hazy Boston banned screen.

Tommy, Tommy,
sing us up the mountaintop.
Tommy, Tommy
lead us to the revolution.

We fell into each other after,
grasping and frantic,
eager to stretch
that fire into forever.


I rented the video years later.
My neighbor napped right through it and
my husband cracked lousy jokes, but

I slipped back with Daltrey
to the commune and you,
our bodies sweat-tight,
reliving the night when Tommy
lit up the theatre on Beacon Street.

Pris Campbell
(revised 2006) many of my blog readers saw the movie, Tommy, or have heard The Who perform it?


Pat Paulk said...

Love the poem, especially sweat-tight memories!! If you're trying to date us, I guess, I'm dated.

Pris said...

Thanks..and that makes two of us:-)

erin said...

I know tommy... the song about the Pinball Wizard is the most famous to me, but we listened to the whole thing in an alternative arts class that I took in High School. I loved it. I was one of the few in the class that thought it was interesting. My sister just saw it performed in Oregon by a little theater in Portland, so there are two more votes for your poll. I need to get it and watch... any ideas where I might find it?

erin said...

Did I mention that we listened on vinyl? That made it all the better!!!

Pris said...

Hi Erin
You can rent the movie, Tommy, through Netflix online. I seriously doubt you're going to find this on the shelf anywhere since it's so old now. You might be able to get a used copy from Amazon if you're not a member of Netflix, which would be cheaper than joining. It's an experience!

Lyle Daggett said...

I've never seen The Who perform live, though I listened to the old double LP of "Tommy" countless times back in the early 1970's, not too long after it came out. I found the music deeply haunting, the album cover art also.

I saw the movie "Tommy" in a movie theater when it first came out, also sometime back in the '70's. Saw it with a poet friend from those years. I thought the movie was okay though more glitzed up than I would have preferred.

I also saw (again in early '70') the Who performing a little bit of the music from Tommy in the movie "Woodstock." First time I'd ever seen Pete Townsend (or anyone else) smash an electric guitar to death onstage.

The Who have never actually been a favorite band of mine -- back then (I'd been writing poems for just a few years) I was interested in experiments with poetry and lyrics and theater and live performance. I also listened incessantly to the stage cast recording of "Hair," for similar reasons (I still enjoy listening to it now and then). I saw a road show performance of "Hair" in Minneapolis, which I really liked. I saw (in a theater) the movie of "Hair" when it came out in the late '70's and didn't like it much -- too courteous and restrained, the actors mostly looked too much like they were just acting.

I wanted to learn things about plot and dialogue and staging and pacing. I wanted to write a complete stage play, written entirely as poetry, 20th century modern poetry, the characters speaking entirely in poems. A 20th century opera without music.

I didn't have much sense, at that time, of the history of such writing, Greek tragedies, Shakespeare, Noh plays of Japan, etc.

I got interested in doing other things with poetry and nothing came of the opera-without-music idea, though who knows one day?

(I always enjoy it when word verification is something that looks like it could be a real word, maybe in another language. Right now it's kmybcunu. Sounds like an elf name from Lord of the Rings.)

Pris said...

Hi Lyle
When I saw the movie later, it wasn't the same, either. A big part really was the atmosphere that first time (literally and figuratively). No, I wasn't a Who fan either but I did like this particular opera. As I remember, there's a glimpse of Townsend smashing his guitar in the movie.

I was fortunate to see Hair in San Francisco when I stayed there a few days moving back to the mainland from Hawaii. It was really an experience. The singing in the aisles, the nude scene , of course, all new and innovative. All wore what they would wear on the streets. When I saw it later, in the eighties, everybody was in 'costume' and it was like watching a retread of something that had disappeared a long time ago. The intensity of it all couldn't be recaptured. That original casting held awareness groups and discussed the meaning of what they were doing. The musical was personal to them, not just a role.

You had wonderful ambitions! I wasn't even thinking poetry in those days.

My word is pjrygae...hmmm a form of algae that feeds on pirates??

Ellen M Johns said...

Yes, I am familiar with "Tommy", both the soundtrack and the film. I found it all quite intense when I first watched it at a party in my teens.

Pris said...

I can imagine~~

texas haijin said...


Pris said...

Thanks, Dustin
You have some very nice haiku on your blog.

michi said...

saw it, years ago.

Pris said...

Ah...there's the lady of song! I listened to the love song again late yesterday. That music is so beautiful.