On the Wash of Sounds

I felt strangely nostalgic last night.

I went to my CDs, flipped through them, and I saw a CD I’d not listened to in a while. A long while.

The Who’s Tommy.

I bought this CD in 1996. Early in the year, maybe March or April. Charlottesville. Fashion Square Mall, the Sam Goody’s down at the J.C. Penney’s end of the mall. As I write this, I can picture the store; it’s completely vivid in my mind. I can close my eyes, and navigate the aisles.

I was on my lunch break from work. I bought the CD. I walked to the other end of the mall, had lunch at Blimpies. A sub of some sort, probably a turkey and cheese. In fact, I’m certain of it.

I’d never heard Tommy before. Oh, I’d heard of it. I knew songs like “Pinball Wizard.” But the whole thing? Not a clue.

I thought it was okay. Two years later, at the Borders on West Broad Street in Richmond, I bought the Rhino release of the London Symphony Orchestra version of Tommy, the one with Richard Burton. Or was it Richard Harris? I can’t keep them straight. I loved that version of Tommy. I can’t find what I did with the CD, however.

I digress.

Tommy grew on me. Never seen the movie.

How long had it been since I’d last listened to Tommy in its entirety? At least two years. Possibly as much as five.

I sat there and let the “Underture” just wash over me. Closed my eyes, leaned back, and I could almost picture the band, in the studio. Almost. I could feel the space between the sounds. Every tap of the drumskin, every crash of the cymbals, every plucked guitar string. It was an amazing journey.

I’ll always associate Tommy now with Almost Famous, for the scene near the beginning of the film when William first listens to the album and he sees his future ahead of him. Excellent movie, by the way; if you’ve never seen Almost Famous (or the extended cut, Untitled), what are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?

Thirteen years ago I bought that CD. And yet, putting it in the stereo, it could have been yesterday. The years just melted away.

Tommy.

ETA (2-21-09): Found the London Symphony Orchestra version of Tommy. My filing system makes no logical sense. It was with soundtracks.

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