2 December 2021

Tommy the WHO Cult classic tribute – PART TWO

Tommy part 2

Tommy the who cult classic. The second part here. If you feel like you missed the first part, don’t wait any longer and click&tap here.

Do You Think It’s Alright? / Cousin Kevin / Fiddling About

We spend most of our energy choosing the right shoes (Ljupka Cvetanova)

And this is the iconic scene you’ve been waiting for. It has everything – Elton John on the piano and dressed like a flamboyant elf in boots bigger than his body, Tommy in a bedazzled jacket that would make Michael Jackson jealous, and Pete smashing his guitar (maybe he’s trying to tell us he’s sick of being the guitarist?)

Of course, the lyrics are something too:

Don’t see lights a-flashing, plays by sense of smell
Always gets a replay, never seen him fall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball

IMDb Trivia: Sir Elton John did not want to star in this movie. He only agreed to take part in it on the condition that he could keep the gigantic Doc Martin boots.


This is another scene that’s hard to forget… it’s hilarious and disturbing and looks like it was born from the mind of someone on a cocktail of Schedule 1 drugs. In other words, it’s the essence of this movie.

Nora is watching his son perform from the TV screen. An advertisement for Rex Beans comes on, and for some reason, it looks like this:

Are beans a royal food?

Nora is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She’s happy with her fame and fortune, but when she looks at the TV she hears her son calling out the one line he was given in this movie: “see me, feel me, touch me, heal me”… and then the scene of him in the crowd cuts away to advertisements of chocolate and laundry detergent. This happens a few times until she begins to lose her mind. In between pivoting back and forth between being heartbroken for her son and enjoying all her new luxuries, she drinks obsessively.

She finally loses her marbles and throws the champagne bottle at the TV, which explodes.

And this is where the party really starts.

Where the party really starts in Tommy the WHO cult classic

Bubbles explode out of the TV and cover her, and she smiles and rubs them all over her body seductively, and it’s like watching Dita von Teese strip in a giant absinthe glass.

But then baked beans burst out of the TV, and it stops being sexy. Add chocolate to the mix and it’s downright disgusting… and weirdly fascinating.

Here is a terrible screenshot for your enjoyment.

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Frank comes home and finds the TV broken and his wife rolling around on her fur coat like a cat in heat. There are no bubbles, baked beans, or chocolate. Just one crazy rich woman. Or, more accurately, a rich crazy woman.

IMDb Trivia: Ann-Margret, the actress who played Nora, improvised most of this scene and won the Best Actress Golden Globe for her performance. What you don’t know is that with that award she also got ten prepaid sessions with the best psychiatrist in town (not from IMDb, we just know.)

There’s a Doctor I’ve Found / Go to the Mirror

Okay, so we know everyone likes Jack Nicholson. We don’t. And if we were undecided about it, playing a sleazy doctor wouldn’t win us over.

Of course, since he’s sleazy and oily, Nora immediately starts eyeing him. (Some women really do have a type.) Jack, God bless him, tries to look sexy, but he honestly looked hotter when he was breaking doors down with axes.

Inexplicably, she begins to dance with him when he’s supposed to be checking up on her son. It’s clearly how she initiates all her relationships.

Meanwhile, Tommy looks like this:

Ready for the sunbed

Tommy, Can You Hear Me? / Smash the Mirror

The doctor was useless, and Nora is on the verge of another nervous breakdown. How can you tell that she’s mad? When she whips her hair to the side there’s a lightsaber sound effect. It’s how all kids know their mother’s mad without even seeing her face.

You don’t answer my call

With even a nod or a twitch

But you gaze at your own reflection!

She sings about wanting to smash the mirror, and just as you wonder how they’re going to top the “Champagne” scene, she throws the boy himself into the mirror. He crashes through the mirror and falls into the ocean.

Seven years of bad luck

This boy is abused by every damn person in this movie.

I’m Free – The psychedelic slice of Tommy the WHO cult classic

Tommy, now somehow in the ocean, swims naked to the shore. He sings “I’m Free” and starts running shirtless through fields and in forests. He really is Tarzan now.

Then he’s running along the seashore. Identical looking families all wearing sunglasses and angry expressions watch him run past. There is also a cringe-inducing montage of him running over the worst green screen you’ve ever seen (we had a powerful flashback to when Photo Booth was cool.)

Immersive background

Suddenly, he’s running over lava too. He actually ran all the way to Hawaii.

Mother and Son / Miracle Cure

His mother eventually finds him perched on a rock and asks: “Tommy, can you hear me?”

He squints at the sun and then eventually sees her standing over him… and remembers everything from his childhood: Nora dancing with sleazeball #1 (Frank), and then both of them yelling at him to forget the murder he witnessed.

Somehow, he even remembers his birth. He squeezes his eyes shut.
(We would too at that point. Imagine what being born looks like from the perspective of a baby. Ugh.)

He finally has a new line. “Who am I?” he sings. “Where did I come from?” – um, you’re too old for that now, son.

Tommy rips off his mother’s diamond jewellery and starts throwing it into the ocean. And when he’s done with the diamond rings on her hands, he starts ripping off her red nails too… scream-laughing the whole time.

Then he takes her to the sea and dunks her head into the water. It looks like he’s reliving the trauma he went through at Cousin Kevin’s (in hindsight, he had no idea it was Kevin who did those things to him and not his mother), but then it turns out to be a sort of baptism.

Blink and suddenly the media are announcing that the King of Pinball has found a “Miracle Cure”.

But balls are still important

Sally Simpson

The “Sally Simpson” song narrates the hopeless crush a little girl develops on Tommy, who, once losing his old status, decided to open a cult and profess himself as the new Messiah in order to maintain his fame and fortune (why didn’t we think of that?)

Sally’s father is a reverend and refuses to let her attend one of Tommy’s “meetings”, but she decides to dress up in her mother’s clothes and sneak out to it anyway.

Church concert hall

It’s a concert held in a church, and security guards hold back rabid fans who are desperate to get close to Tommy. Meanwhile he sings from a microphone shaped like a cross, and you can’t really get more rock n’ roll than that.

Sally manages to get through security, and she grabs onto the edge of the stage. Frank sees her and steps on her hands. She falls over and ends up bleeding profusely – Tommy begins crowd-surfing just as Sally is carried away, and the irony is bloody fantastic (no pun intended.)

She marries “a rock musician who came from California” and has a concert-like wedding… and it all ends with Sally yawning as she rocks a pram back and forth while her husband performs on stage alongside a line-up of gasping girls.

It’s depressing. And kind of pointless.

Sensation / Welcome

Sally’s misery carries on to the next scene, where blue-collar workers are working a dismal job and singing, “While Tommy flies, the world is turning. Life goes on for you and me. Our chief concern is money earning. Why can’t someone set us free?”

It ends with homeless people being shot at and abused by an army of mod rocker bikers. Just as one of the bikers is about to shoot homeless man on the ground, you get this:

Nostrils forever

That’s what she said.
Hint: It’s Tommy on the hang-glider, and he’s singing.

I overwhelm as I approach you
Make your lungs hold breath inside!

I’m a sensation

It sounds like Classic Narcissism™, but it stops the bikers, who begin dancing as he lands. The ex-followers of the Marilyn Monroe church have defected and joined his cult. And everyone’s dancing and celebrating, and it’s really getting to his head.

I leave a trail of rooted people
Mesmerized by just the sight
The few I touched now are disciples
Love as one I am the light

I am the light

But it’s all going well and everything’s utopian. Nothing can go wrong right? Cults that start happy end happy.

He sits on the roof of his house and starts singing “Welcome” – a song which was probably meant to sound as eerie as it did. He invites the whole world and their relatives into his house, and it looks like some Jim Jones stuff is about to take place.

T.V. Studio / Tommy’s Holiday Camp

Spoiler: Nobody dies. There isn’t even any Kool-Aid.

Nora, happy for a chance to be rich again and buy back all the expensive jewellery her son threw into the sea, is helping Tommy advertise his new cult as Frank cheers them on.

To better market themselves and someday achieve their goal of having a Tommy camp in every city in the world, they host a parade at the first “Tommy’s Holiday Camp” (well, whaddya know, dreams do come true.)

Our dreamcar

The lyrics here are hilarious and speak right to our cynical, jaded little hearts:

Get your Tommy T-shirts, and your stickers,
And your Tommy mirrors to smash!
Don’t rush, keep steady,
Have your money ready!
Buy your way to heaven,
That comes to one pound seven.
Bless your heart! (ka-ching!)

Tommy is sitting on a giant ball hosting a severely overpriced modern dance / Yoga session. Just kidding – he’s leading rows of disabled people through a spiritual ritual. But eventually, the dance studio – sorry, cult – membership plan is too pricey. And people get pissed.

We’re Not Gonna Take It. Tommy the WHO cult classic

Silverado balls

These pricy gips don’t teach us!
Your freedom doesn’t reach us!
Enlightenment escapes us!
Awareness doesn’t shape us!

Tommy is calm and level-headed. Above all they’re angry, but he welcomes them and begins singing. He makes them deaf/dumb/blind, and his camp helpers (Nora and Frank) lead them to pinball machines to play. It doesn’t work, and they start smashing pinball machines with the Tommy microphone-crosses.

Tommy is still unfazed, standing peacefully with his arms wide open (he’s learned to love being abused, the poor kid), and doesn’t panic until an angry mod rocker biker kills Frank and Nora.

Immediately, the lyrics become more intense:

Don’t want no religion,
As far as we can tell!
We ain’t gonna take you,
Never did and never will!
We ain’t gonna take you,
We forsake you,
Gonna break you,
Let’s forget you better still!

And suddenly, everything connects. This whole film looked downright insane, but in reality, it was a clever little parody of religion. Besides, sorry Jesus, but in our defence, if Bible Studies was a bit more entertaining we probably wouldn’t be here championing religious parodies disguised as rock operas.

See Me, Feel Me / Listening to You. The conclusion of Tommy the WHO cult classic

Utter despair

Frank is dead with a Tommy cross in hand, and Nora’s corpse is thrown over a pinball machine. Tommy sings his usual refrain, “see me, feel me, touch me, hear me…” and this time it’s actually sad.

He throws Frank’s Tommy cross away, and as he runs from the scene, the whole area – pinball machines included – goes up in flames.

Then he’s standing on a pier when the chorus of “Listening to You” starts up. Later on, he dives into the water and swims until he reaches a rocky hill. He climbs up and falls down the waterfall his parents had their honeymoon under. Finally he’s climbing up a mountain until he reaches the very peak, where he sings with the chorus:

Gazing at you I get the heat.
Following you I climb the mountain.
I get excitement at your feet!
Right behind you I see the millions.
On you I see the glory.
From you I get opinions.
From you I get the story.
Listening to you!

We have no idea who ‘you’ is here. The true God he was deprived of by all his culty activities? His fans? Himself? The spirit of Mufasa / his father that he saw in the water?

We’re going with the last one, because the story ends where it began. It’s the circle of life.

The end

There were so many balls.