Who – Tommy Can You Hear Me

A short song off of their 1968 album Tommy.

The rock opera Tommy tells the story of a “deaf, dumb, and blind” kid who becomes a Pinball Wizard and then a spiritual leader. The double album was The Who’s break though album. They performed the album in concert halls and opera theaters.

On their second album A Quick One, they were short of material, Kit Lambert (manager) encouraged Pete to create a mini-opera called A Quick One, While He’s Away by combining a suite of song snippets. By 1968 he was developing a full-album concept called Deaf, Dumb And Blind Boy, inspired by Indian spiritual mentor Meher Baba.

When the album was released to the world it was a huge hit… It was their first album to get into the top ten or the top forty for that matter in America. It wasn’t for the lack of trying. They released some great albums that only the UK enjoyed..they also had singles that rivaled the Kinks, Beatles, and Stones but were not heard here until the compilation album Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy was released in 1971.

I like the Tommy album although it’s not my favorite Who album…that would be Who’s Next. I always thought the album sounded thin compared to the live version they played in 1969 and 70.

Unlike other bands such as the Stones…Townshend encouraged the others to write because he carried most of the burden. Entwistle was the most prolific writer next to Townshend. Daltrey and Moon only wrote occasionally.

All of them contributed vocals to this one.

From Songfacts

“Tommy Can You Hear Me?” is the sixth track on the first side of the second album (third side overall) and acts as a transition between two narratively important songs, “Go To The Mirror!” and “Smash the Mirror.”

In “Go to the Mirror!” a doctor (played by Jack Nicholson in the film version) tells Tommy’s parents that their son’s lifelong handicap is entirely psychosomatic, basically meaning it’s all in his head. That song leads into “Tommy Can You Hear Me?” In this track, the lyrics are meant to be the words of Tommy’s mother, who is extra frustrated by Tommy’s inability to hear her now that she knows it’s all in his head.

“Tommy Can You Hear Me” leads into “Smash the Mirror,” in which Tommy can indeed see his own reflection, but still doesn’t register seeing his mother, which enrages her so much, she shoves Tommy through a mirror. This scene leads to Tommy’s eventual awakening as a spiritual figure..

Bob Dylan references this song in “Murder Most Foul” with the lyric, “Tommy, can you hear me? I’m the Acid Queen.” That line also mentions “The Acid Queen,” which is another track on Tommy.

Tommy Can You Hear Me

Tommy can you hear me?
Can you feel me near you?
Tommy can you see me?
Can I help to cheer you?
Ooooh Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy

Tommy can you hear me?
Can you feel me near you?
Tommy can you see me?
Can I help to cheer you?
Ooooh Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy

Tommy can you hear me?
Can you feel me near you?
Tommy can you see me?
Can I help to cheer you?
Ooooh Tommy

Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy

Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

25 thoughts on “Who – Tommy Can You Hear Me”

  1. Nice deep track from “Tommy.” I like the harmony singing! In some way, “Tommy” feels like not like an entirely finished album. At the same time, this gives it a certain charm. “Who’s Next”, on the other hand, which also is my favorite Who album, sounds like a much more mature production.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My problem with Tommy is the thin production…nothing wrong with the playing. I think Tommy came alive live…pardon the pun. That is when it sounded like it should have on the album….live it sounded not like the who…but like THE WHO.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think “thin” is a good way to describe it, Max. Also, I never understood why they decided to fade out Pinball Wizard. It really sounds like a premature ending to such a great song. Elton John’s cover, on the other hand, got it right!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yea it wasn’t the playing at all…it was the production. I know they were doing the first rock opera but listen to the difference between Tommy 1968 and Who’s Next in 1971…night and day production.

        Like

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