Pinball Wizard

Album: Tommy (1969)
Charted: 4 19
  • Tommy can you hear me?
    Can you feel me near you?


    Tommy can you feel me?
    Can I help to cheer you.

Comments: 78

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 6th 1973, the New Seekers performed "Pinball Wizard/See Me, Feel Me" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Eight months earlier on February 18th, 1973 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #87; and on April 29th, 1973 it peaked at #29 {for 1 week} and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #16 in both the United Kingdom and Australia...
    Between 1970 and 1973 this new version of the Seekers had nine Top 100 records; with one reaching the Top 10, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" at #7 {for 2 weeks} on January 9th, 1972 {the week it peaked at #7 the Hilltop Singers' version of the song was at #13 on the Top 100}.
  • Uzername from Ny, NyI love this song, can't believe Pete didn't like it. The lyrics are clever and he completely nails the sound of a pinball machine with his strumming. Brilliant!
  • Ryan from Anahola, HiKeith Moon is one hell of a drummer.
  • Emily from Around Chicago, IlThis song is ok...I didn't like them at the superbowl this year though. Maybe they're just getting too old. (February 7th, 2010, Superbowl 44)
  • Tara from Petoskey, MiIt is actually John Entwistle that plays that first lick of what many think is the electric guitar. I have The Who live at Kilburn '77, and it clearly shows him doing this.
  • Matt from Houston, TxHe says"deaf,dumb,blind kid".you people make me paranoid
  • Brandon from Washougal, WaWatching a doc about "The Who" if you watch Keith Moon play the drums he IS "The Pinball Wizard".
  • Andy from Dallastown, TnBoth The Who's and Elton's versions of the song are excellent. The movie "Tommy" was bizarre. I couldn't eat baked beans for years after seeing it. Loved Elton's performance as the wizard.
  • $!n3d from $!n3d, AfghanistanShana from Canada, you are correct, he sings deaf, dumb and !¿¡BLACK!?¡ kid...
  • Scott from Boston, MaHow is Amazing Journey/Sparks not on this website?
  • Ed from York, PaBest Who song ever!
  • Andy from Columbus, OhYeah, the bass part is wicked sweet, too. John Entwistle is my all time favorite bassist. I think I read somewhere the song actually mimics the sound of a pinball table, to some degree. Beats me. This song is the whole reason I first picked up Ultimate Collection. Now the "'oo" is definitely my favorite band.
  • Jim from Woodridge, IlI keep reading about the opening "guitar riff". I can't really think of it as a riff because almost anyone who plays the guitar can play it. However, when the electric guitar starts, you've got one of the greatest "hooks" in R&R history!
  • Rachel from Cleveland, OhLove this song.. you should hear what Keith Moon had to say about it. hahaha.. he was crazy. But I respect them all. My favourite band is the Beatles and the Who remind me a lot of them for some reason. Great band, great songs!
  • E-man from Pittsburgh, Padoes anyone know who wrote the additional lyrics for elton's version in the movie and did The Who ever play that version?
  • Bobby from Sydney, Australiaexellent guitar classic beat AWSOME CLASSIC!
  • Tim from Philadelphia, Pathe ultimate classic rock song.
  • Mark from Mchenry, IlFirst all, anyone who sees this song as being about drugs or sexuality has probably never played pinball. The song is literally about a deaf, dumb, and blind kid becoming the best pinball player in the world. Secondly, I think "riff" (in rock music usage) is a term usually used to refer to a recurring lead guitar part that runs under the melody of a song. A couple of good examples would be the guitar intro on the Rolling Stones' "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" and the guitar/bass combo that runs throughout Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." However, the technical definition of the term would also include a chord progression. I don't think "Pinball Wizard's" chord progression would qualify as a riff since it is just a typical chord progression that goes along with the melody of the song. I would think more in terms of the chord progressions in songs like "25 or 6 to 4" or "All Along the Watchtower," where a chord progression that has a melody of its own is established and then continues to be played under the melody of the song. But perhaps someone could offer a disagreement with me. Finally, this is a great, great song. It is one of the major anthems for those of us who came of age in the 70's. As far as Elton's version goes, while I think his version of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" surpassed the Beatles' version, when it comes to "Pinball Wizard," I prefer the original.
  • Fred from Santa Fe, NmA memorable song
  • Stephen from Claymont , DeElton John took thr rock n roll out oof it though
  • Pete from Gatwick, EnglandMcfly have released a cover version of pinball wizard, I downloaded it to compare to the who version and i was quite dissapointed with it. i would be walking around my school grounds singing the who version of it and random people would come up to me and say "haha, he likes Mcfly" wich realy gets on my nerves, i think that Mcfly give pinball wizard a bad reputation.
  • Natalie from Kingston , CanadaI amsoluly love this song it is stuck in my head everyday i can not fine the cd anywhere but i am tring so hard i love the who they are my favorite band in the world. I love the guitar in this song its so good you will not foget it

    -natalie kingston ontario
  • Joel from Palm Beach County, FlChristian from Seattle, actually, this song was written specifically for the rock opera Tommy. It even says it in the CD pamphlet in the newer albums which has an interview with Pete Townshend himself. He actually wrote it in one night thinking to himself, 'this is gonna be such a piece of crap' all for the critic. I think the song you're thinking of is Eyesight to the Blind. And there is no hidden meaning of homo-sexuality, masterbation, or drugs. This is literally about a deaf dumb and blind kid beating the best pinba;; player in the world.
  • Tim from Dalton, Maelton john's version was good, the who's was better
  • Zep from Seattle, United StatesUmm, Frankie? You do realise that it's "Bass" line not as you say "Base" line...
  • Frankie from Engine, InI've just noticed this song has a sweet base line too. Doesnt sound too complicated (then again I don't play base so I wouldnt know) but cool anyway.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaDustin, you=sick. Find your innocent inner child. For all of our sake(s). Charlie from Bridgefront, what makes you think that? I doubt you have ever heard the song. Or read these comments. William, a little agressive, eh?
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThank you Andria. I agree.
  • Andrea Ruhlman from Chx, MiThe Who's and Elton John's versions are very different. Obviously, all the credit for the song goes to the Who, but that piano in Elton's version is absolutely incredible. There is no arguement against that, Elton is amazing. I can listen and love both versions.
  • William from Phoenix, Azelton john should have beandip spread on his face with a cement trowel. and so should any idiot that thinks his version was better.
  • Bill from Southeastern Part Of, FlCan you name the male singer originally offered the part of The Pinball Wizard in the movie Tommy? Yes, it was none other than Rod Stewart. As the story goes, Elton John convinced Rod that the part was small and that the movie wouldn't be much of a success. Rod backed out, leaving the part open for sly Elton to slip into. Clever, huh?
  • David Corino from Hawley, PaI think that the opening riffs to Pinball Wizard should be the most famous riffs of all time (besides stairway) when you here it, you feel it. Tommy is one hell of an amazing journey form start to finish, and when ever Daltrey sings "See Me, Feel Me" durning this album is just mind blowing with the raw emotion. And to David from Calfironia, Elton Johns cover of this song cant touch the origional version of the who's, some fan you are, you should go screw your self.
  • Deo from Annandale, VaElton John did a verison of this. I like it better.
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnThere was also a cover version as part of a medley with See Me, Feel Me by The New Seekers.
  • Jordan from Shokan, Nyokay calvin, i like the who too, but i dont believe that, i dont think its better than stairway to heaven.
  • Noah from Sherborn, Maone of my friends made the off hand comment that this song was about masturbation. i have no idea what to think of the comment... any thoughts?
  • Ken from Louisville, KyAt the time this was released, few people had ever heard of Bally, since all they did then was make game machines. Many people thought the lyric was "body table". Now, Bally is a worldwide entertainment and fitness conglomerate.
  • Mike from Germantown, MdI Love this Song! Great guitar at the beginning.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScBryan: I get your point, but I think the Who's version is better. I like Elton's version tool, and I also like the piano in the beginning. Elton did a good version, but the Who's will always stand out for me.
  • Alan from Louisville, KyShocking Blue did not copy this lick -- the only thing the hook from "Venus" has in common with "Pinball Wizard" is the use of a suspended 4th chord. The rhythm isn't even close to the same.
  • Brian from Davis, CaEltons virsion is 1,000 times better the the whos virsion. Eltons fast piano playing in the begining of the song tells it all.I wish I knew what notes he hits
  • Luke from Worthing, EnglandWhat?? A riff isn't just a collection of chords! That's called a "chord sequence".
  • Ed from London, CanadaStefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC, a strum is when the guitarist plays a chord... A riff is a collection of chords.
  • Rob from St Davids, WalesWarning! Mc Fly have just released a cover version!
  • Cole from Moraga, CaThe Who are a great band and are very undercretided. They had great appearance and style for the time and they had a great writer and guitarist, Pete Townsend. I think that "Were Not Gona Take it" is the best song from Tommy, followed shortly by pinball wizard. I like Pinball wizard, but have heard it so many times that I cant listen to it, or I will get bored and Im very ashmed to say that any Who song would not get me up and jumping around. Does anyone know what pete is playing in the clip of "The Kids are Allright" at woodstock. I love the sound it have after all the distorted and feedback parts.
  • Calvin from Kyle, Txthis song is quite possibly the greatest song ever recorded. i love the who.
  • Barry from New York, NcThis was the song that the Who finished playing at Woodstock when Abbie Hoffman got onstage and shouted into the microphone "I think this is a pile of s--t while John Sinclair rots in prison!" Townshend proceeded to bonk him on the back of his head with his guitar.
  • Christian from Seattle, Withis song was not written for the rock opera tommy. it was written first, and tommy was written around it.
  • Zola from Dublin, Ohdamn good song, the opening guitar is unforgetable, great song from a great album, idk why pete hates it
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Scelton John's version is great, but the original is better! A lot better!
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI'm not a guitar player, and this might be something I can figure out through common sense, but what's the difference between a riff and a strum? Never mind... I know what a strum is, but when is something classified as a riff?
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI meant listen to the album and you will clearly find that it's not about a speed freak! sorry about that.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScCharlie from Bridgewater New Jersey. leave you're hidden meanings at the door OK? listen to the album, and you will clearly find that it is about a speed freak. Even if the song was about a speed freak, it wouldn't fit with the rest of the album!
  • Matt from Millbrae, CaI saw Tommy when I was seven, before I knew who the Who were. I liked it back then, but now I love it just because I appreciate the Who as one of the best bands ever. The strumming at the beginning is probably the riff I could never mistake.
  • Charlie from Bridgewater, Nj"pinball" is play on the Freudian New York slang of that epoch "needlef**k". The song is about a speedfreak (meth addict). Crazy flipper fingers refers to shooting up with a needle. "deaf dumb and blind" refers to the cold unemotional way speedfreaks are. "the digit counters fall" I take as a reference to the finger pushing the speed injection in. Similarly "supple wrist" since a wrist movement is involved in shooting up. "Plays by sense of smell" -- snorting speed. "His disciples lead him in" -- find the vein and then finally shoot.
  • Phil from Niagara Falls, CanadaI havent heard that many "Who" songs, but this one is my favourite
  • Nessie from Sapporo, JapanIt's not a riff; it's a strum.
  • Janine from Stuttgart, GermanyDustin: It's "supple wrist".
  • Dustin from Black Mountain, Ncif you listen to the lyrics it sounds as if the character is gay as in "I played the silver ball" and "He has such a supoil wrist".
  • Clarke from Pittsburgh, PaMemorably covered by Elton John in 1975.
  • Chiaki from Nagoya, JapanJust thought I'd make a note- my sister thought that by "dumb," the Who actually meant that Tommy was stupid. I told her that it meant mute, which it obviously does. For anyone who still thinks that it denotes stupidity, I will explain. At one point, people thought that mutes were simply too stupid to talk- thus, the term "dumb."

    By the way, the guitar riff is quite lovely. I learned how to play it (finally) and am quite impressed with myself. :D
  • Kel from Bucksport, MeI think by "Few people had heard of this" is refering to Woodstock... and the people not hearing the song often then...

    great Song.
  • Sarah from Colac, Australiapretty damm good, not my fav off 'Tommy', its a real gem
  • Gregmon from Intelbuquerque, NmI don't agree "most beople have never heard of this"-- perhaps the people in Siberia or something? I never liked Elton's version, and thought it odd they used it in the film.
  • Charlie from Thomaston, Ctmost people have never heard this, hah! this is famous! although, it's not my fav song on this album, go to the mirror is my fav
  • Aj from Ontario, CanadaWhat a great song about overcomming obstacles. Truely one of my favorites. The underdog's rock. An overall Great song!
  • Shana from Pembroke, CanadaI LOVE THIS SONG, one of the whos best...its great, I first I thought it said: That deaf dumb Black kid sure plays a mean pinball" so i thought it was totally racist but then i read the bad! lol
  • Fintan from Cheltenham, EnglandPete also wrote it because he had played Tommy to a Radio DJ, Nik Cohn, I think, and his response was only lukewarm.
    So Townshend decided to put a pinball reference in because Cohn liked this, and Cohn immediateley loved it.
  • Tyler from Farmington, MiTownshend told moon to write tommy's holiday camp, but he was afraid that moon would screw it up, so he wrote it and gav emoon the credit
  • Cassie from Detroit, Mithere is an accoustic version of "Pinball Wizard" played and sung by pete townshend, it's a track on Her Majesty's Secret Ball.
  • Robert from Chicago, IlClassic Who. However, Pete refers to it as the worst example of lyricism he ever did. But no one cares. It's a hit, and I stand by it.
  • Owen from Suffolk, EnglandAbove it says that this song was performed at woodstock, there is a video of this. i have it
  • Colin from Denver, CoPete Townshend actually didn't write Tommy in its entirety: John Entwistle (the bassist) wrote two songs (Cousin Kevin, Fiddle About), and Keith Moon (drummer) is given credit for one (Tommy's Holiday Camp).
  • Panther from Houston, TxOne thing that worked out with the creation of this song was that the Who wanted Tommy to be excellent at playing some sport despite his being blind, deaf and dumb. From what I understand, rugby was the number one choice before Townshend wrote Pinball Wizard for Cohn. Despite Townshend's misgivings, the song also worked in another thing they were hoping to add - a teeny-bopper theme, which (at the time) pinball fit very well.

    Another interesting thing about Tommy is that the Who (even Pete Townshend) had no idea people would find so much varied meaning in the story. It just goes to show that works of art can often grow beyond the intentions of their creators.
  • Patrick from Conyers, GaThe line "I thought I was the Bally table king..." pays homage to Bally, one of two leading makers of pinball machines, along with Gottlieb.
  • Jason Lee from New York, NyAlthough this song was by far the biggest hit on Tommy, it is my favorite albums of all time, and I would barely put Pinball Wizard in the top 10 on the album. My personal favorite is We're Not Gonna Take It (I still love Pinball Wizard).
  • Brian from Paoli, InI love this song, it's a shame most people have never even heard it. A guitar riff that once you hear, you will never forget it.
  • Julia from Buffalo, NyThis song is amazing. Tommy is my absolute favorite movie ever and has the best message to everyone. The same thing doesn't work for everyone!
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