1001 Songs Challenge,  1960s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #284: Pinball Wizard (1969)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…


The Who – Pinball Wizard (1969)

Back to the UK today, dear reader, and we have another appearance from The Who. They are currently sitting in my Top 10 songs so far with Substitute and that’s no mean feat. Anyway, we join The Who in 1969 with their rock opera, Tommy, which was well received upon release. The best known song from the album is Pinball Wizard and it’s the one that 1001 Songs has gone with as well. 

Pinball Wizard is written from the perspective of a pinball champion who has dominated in competitions up and down the UK. That is until he encounters a young man who is described as a “deaf, dumb and blind kid” but is the “pinball wizard” of the song’s title. The existing champion looks on in awe as the young man approaches a pinball machine and racks up impressive scores, far better than anyone else. The champion continues to watch, speculating how the kid does it with only a sense of smell for company but the wizard excels and the champion is duly dethroned, handing over his crown to the pinball prodigy. 

The Who hit the UK top 5 with Pinball Wizard and it’s not hard to see why. The music, especially the guitar riff, is fantastic and although he was dismissive of his own lyrics, they are a great construction from Pete Townshend. As part of this challenge, I do like to look at the lyrics closely and was able to share in my wife, Donna’s, previous disappointment that the song talks about a “supple wrist” rather than a “subtle wrist”. Before you ask, yes, Donna gave me permission to mention this mix up. Donna, I prefer your version, as ambiguous as it is! In summary this is a great song from The Who but I do prefer Substitute.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Who – Substitute (1966)

The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)

The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)

The Doors – The End (1967)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (1968)

The Kinks – Days (1968)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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