Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Year's The Thing: 1921

Our final look at songs with years in the title brings us to an album cut from the very first rock opera: The Who’s “Tommy.” The song “1921” is the third selection on the album. The back story of the song is that Captain Walker, who had been presumed dead, returns from World War I and discovers that his wife moved on with her life with a new lover.

Incensed, Walker kills his rival; however, his young son Tommy (who was born when he was off to war) witnesses the act. The parents tell him “You didn’t hear it”; “You didn’t see it”; and “You won’t say nothing to no one.” Forced into silence, Tommy retreats into his own post-traumatic shell and becomes the deaf, dumb, and blind kid – who later excels at pinball by sense of touch.

Pete Townshend sings lead on “1921” and is joined by Roger Daltry in a duet later during the song’s chorus. While concept albums had been released for several years, “Tommy” introduced the rock opera idea. “Got a feeling '21 is going to be a good year.”

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