Monday, October 08, 2012

"Pinball Wizard"

The Who

Way back in 1975, during my senior year in high school, I saw the The Who's 'Rock Opera' Tommy, though I'd been hearing the music since 1969, and I recall puzzling over the lyrics to "Pinball Wizard" because I couldn't figure out what "So hoe down to bright ton" meant . . . something agricultural? Well, let's see:
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 got 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?'

He ain't got no distractions
Can't hear those buzzers and bells,
Don't see lights a flashin'
Plays by sense of smell.
Always has a replay,
'N' never tilts at all
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!!!
Older and wiser in the ways of the world and its cartography, I now know what "Soho down to Brighton" is talking about, and it ain't agriculture! But I couldn't have figured that out just from playing pinball in May's Cafe -- an old eatery owned and run by May Bassham (whom we called "Aunt May") back in my Ozark hometown of Salem, Arkansas -- not even after years of playing that silver ball.

Let's listen to the song . . .

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At 11:39 AM, Blogger John from Daejeon said...

Thanks for the illumination. I would have gone to my grave mistaken about the SoHo and Brighton used in the song. But then again, growing up in deep South Texas, San Antonio was a distant megatropolis that half of my graduating class has yet to venture north of.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I guess you are well familiar with the Texas Hill Country . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:24 PM, Blogger John from Daejeon said...

Yes, I am very familiar with the Texas Hill Country and all its desolateness. After traversing some of the world's real mountains. The Guadalupe Peak in Texas is quite the quaint hill.

Then, of course, there are all those puny hillocks, or knolls, in the central part of the state that so many natives seem to extol for some strange reason or other.

At 7:02 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The Ozarks don't look too awfully big to me anymore, either . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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