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Colliewood
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« on: February 12, 2023 @921.75 »

The Who - Pinball Wizard

I never heard this song before this year. Sad, I know, but when I heard it referenced in a podcast I listen to I ended up giving it a listen and if you've never heard it I implore you to do the same.





Definitely let me know your feelings on it. For me it makes me feel like getting into pinball. In fact it pushed me to download that old windows 3D space pinball demo plus two other tables in the same system. The pinball community is fascinating, of course you have the standard flip the ball get the highscore, When I was younger that's all I thought pinball was. I never thought was much more skill was required than just hitting the ball, now even when I play the video games need aiming and the timing, I complete missions across the table, I can even hit specific targets sometimes. Pinball is far from the random lightshow I once thought it was.

I even know now that many Pinball machines have stories baked into them. There are the obvious movie tie-ins where the story is generally just retreading scenes and plot points of the movie, but there are original tables that have their own story and world to explore. I don't have any examples, I'm just taking the word of people who are more into it than me but there is plenty to explore in that old fandom.



Okay, so with that out of the way, I'd like to discuss a particular interpretation of the song that came to mind while watching the official lyric video that came out in 2020. Somethings I noticed, and you may have noticed yourself, are the gradients of colour that splash across the screen, they strike a resemblance to the Lesbian Pride Flag.


Now you might think this is silly, and by all means do. I am not saying this is "THE HIDDEN MESSAGE OF PINBALL WIZARD" or some shocking revelation about The Who being super progressive for their time. No this is just a little queer art interpretation I found myself doing. I asked myself "What if Pinball Wizard WAS about a lesbian?".

Well for one, The singer refers to him by he/him pronouns, instead of disproving the theory this just implies a he/him lesbian. Which fucking rocks. A Butch lesbian arcade wizard rolling into town and putting his name on the top of every scoreboard you've played. This interpretation puts a twist on a lot of the lyrics in the song, like "He's a pinball wizard there has got to be a twist. A pinball wizard's got such a supple wrist" :omg: "He's got crazy flipper fingers" For the sake of keeping the thread PG I wont elaborate on the latter metaphor. Actually no, if we do read into that metaphor playing pinball becomes a game of picking up women. Okay don't lose me now, suspend your disbelief and just have fun with it. This guy who prides himself on having "game" and being the king of "pinball" see's this guy walk into town and walk all over his scores. Clearly this is about a butch lesbian appearing to woo all the ladies this "king" thought was his. After all who could resist this butch arcade hero.


[Edit: A few grammar and punctuation corrections to make reading easier.]
« Last Edit: February 12, 2023 @944.88 by Colliewood » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2023 @81.50 »

I assume you know the backstory behind the Tommy album that this song is from? :tongue: Its also a very weird movie, I'm not sure if I recommend it, but maybe you'd enjoy it.

Ignoring the movie though.. and just going off the songs in the album.. the theory kinda still works, in fact it kinda gets deeper.. maybe your onto something! If nothing else its a fun way to recontextualise it :grin:
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2023 @109.56 »

I had no idea it was a rock opera, I read the synopsis and it sounds great. Maybe I should listen to more songs about Tommy and see how I feel about them.
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« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2023 @160.97 »

Pinball Wizard Butch Lesbian is something I would have never conjured up but I love it! Also knowing rock of the time and reading the lyrics it isn't all that far of a stretch (granted I don't know much about The Who and only just heard the song on this thread lol). Possibly one of my new favorite songs
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2023 @216.31 »

I've always enjoyed the song but I never read much into it. To be totally honest, I didn't even notice the "deaf, dumb and blind" line until a couple years ago. I have a bad habit of not paying attention to lyrics :P

I do like your interpretation though. You make a compelling argument with the "supple wrist" and "flipper fingers"  :grin:


For me it makes me feel like getting into pinball. In fact it pushed me to download that old windows 3D space pinball demo plus two other tables in the same system. 

I loved that 3D space pinball game! My friend and I used to take turns competing for the high score.

I always wanted a real pinball table but the cost is really prohibitive. So a couple years ago I bought an Arcade1Up digital pinball table which is, I think, a really good substitute. It's just those Zen Pinball games, but with a physical cabinet so you get the feel of an actual plunger and flippers.
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2023 @136.23 »

There was one verse from the song that always stuck out to me.

Quote
He ain't got no distractions
Can't hear those buzzers and bells
Don't see lights a flashin'
Plays by sense of smell

I used to always interpret that as the pinball wizard was Deafblind and could somehow make his way around a pinball machine just by smelling it. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the song intended, but it confused me for the longest time.

Not saying deaf or blind people can’t play pinball, but being able to see where the ball is is kind of important, right? And the sounds of the machine are what make the experience complete for me.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2023 @138.61 by Cobra! » Logged




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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2023 @421.24 »

The blues bar I like to go to has an old Ghostbusters pinball table. It's definitely a lot of fun, but it only occurred to me now that people might think of it as a super mysterious and coveted retro thing.
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2023 @649.33 »

I have a very interesting story to tell with this song actually!  :4u:

My dad repairs and builds arcade machines, that includes pinballs! One of the businesses he works for was hosting a pinball tournament.. I wanted to socialize but I wasn't really feeling it, I played a lot of interesting pinball machines like Gottlieb's Haunted House (This one was my favorite it had the best soundtrack  :smile:)

EHm.. Anyways, this party was a pretty small gathering but I was still overwhelmed by the noise and lights, I decided to go out to the parking lot as dusk sets. My dad, is there helping this old man with his remote-control boat and the three of us were all talking. My dad went inside and then it was just me and the old man lol, despite the age gap we did have a pretty engaging conversation. I asked him about his experience with pinballs and he recommended this exact song to me! I listened to it on the way back home  :ok:  :ok:

I found his interest in RC Boats super cool! He was talking about how some of the college locals were too much of tryhards xD and that he just wants leisurely fun out of them.. (I asked if he ever did any races, win money, etc.) I for sure haven't met any other old man yet who was into RC Boats  :omg:
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2023 @775.27 »

I used to always interpret that as the pinball wizard was Deafblind and could somehow make his way around a pinball machine just by smelling it. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the song intended, but it confused me for the longest time.

you got it dead on, that's exactly the intended interpretation. i would really recommend the movie (just called "Tommy" from 1975) based on this album. roger daltry stars in it as a psychosomatic deafblind mute who becomes a pinball star and then a cult leader.

it's not... good, per se, but it's very unique in its wacky set pieces and fever dream atmosphere. it became an inside joke between me and my boyfriend, so i've seen it maybe over 10 times, and my favorite way to watch it is with a big group of friends who have also never seen it before. its like The Wall and Moulin Rouge had a strange, offputting baby.
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2023 @779.92 »

My god I love this interpretation.
I don't really have anything else to contribute for now.
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2023 @792.62 »

you got it dead on, that's exactly the intended interpretation. i would really recommend the movie (just called "Tommy" from 1975) based on this album. roger daltry stars in it as a psychosomatic deafblind mute who becomes a pinball star and then a cult leader.

it's not... good, per se, but it's very unique in its wacky set pieces and fever dream atmosphere. it became an inside joke between me and my boyfriend, so i've seen it maybe over 10 times, and my favorite way to watch it is with a big group of friends who have also never seen it before. its like The Wall and Moulin Rouge had a strange, offputting baby.

Huh...
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