Note to Teachers: : The programs viewed in conjunction with these lesson plans may include references, consistent with the eras portrayed, to substance abuse, violent acts, and topics of a sexual and/or political nature. Because this may be considered inappropriate for classroom use in some communities, you are encouraged to review the programs before presenting them to your students, and if necessary, choose those sections that enhance your lesson and are acceptable for use in your classroom.
These standards-based materials are provided through a partnership with MENC: The National Association for Music Education. This lesson plan was created by MENC member Marcia Marino, Oakland Public Schools, Oakland, New Jersey.
Tommy Overture Identification Sheet
Draw a line connecting the sections of the overture to the songs performed by Flaming Lips as part of the “Tommy” medley. Some sections of the overture will not have a connection to the performance.
|Horn Theme||Pinball Wizard|
|Second Horn Theme|
|Vocal Interlude||I'm Free|
|Guitar, Drums, Piano|
|Organ Entrance||We're Not Gonna Take It|
|Repeat of Organ Theme|
|Piano Key Change||See Me, Feel Me/Listening to You|
|Guitar, Horn, Gong||See Me, Feel Me|
Deaf, Dumb and Blind Boy
Rock Opera—a term coined by Who manager Kit Lambert, after hearing a spoof Pete Townsend had written. As of 1966, Townsend had been experimenting with larger, inter-connected forms. With the idea of a ‘rock opera,’ the manager joined Townsend in this endeavor as producer.
Influence—Pete Townsend, as other rockers of the time had been, was influenced by Eastern philosophy. The Tommy storyline was a metaphor for mankind’s blindness to higher states of consciousness.
“Strictly speaking, Tommy isn’t an opera at all. It has no staging, scenery, acting, or recitative.” (Barnes, 1996)
The element of pinball was added to win over a rock journalist, Nic Cohn, so that he would give “Tommy” a favorable review.
It was not merely the topic of the work, or the lyrics, that made the piece successful—it was “the sheer brilliance of the tunes.” (Barnes, 1996)
The Who wanted to be able to perform Tommy live. Pete Townsend fought with producer Kit Lambert to keep the production simple—no overdubs, no use of an orchestra.
Tommy changed The Who’s career. It was commercially successful; it changed their status as a band known for their singles to a band known for their albums; it transformed Roger Daltrey into a rock ‘front man.’While it marked the beginning of The Who’s peak, Tommy became larger than life. A ballet, an orchestral pops album, and a film were adapted from it. Demand was great for the live performances of Tommy, but after awhile Pete Townsend was ready to move on to writing other large scale works. For a large span of their career, The Who did not perform much of the music from Tommy, including only a song or two in their shows. In 1989, when The Who reformed to tour, they performed it virtually in its entirety.