What a wonderful title: “WHO I AM.”
I don’t own a copy yet but I will tomorrow, and will read it probably in one sitting and will write many many posts about it.
In 1993 I spoke to Pete for a very long interview, primarily about Tommy. I spent about two years transcribing it. I will probably be thinking about Tommy for the rest of my life.
I don’t think Pete knows, entirely who Tommy is or where he came from.
That Peter Townshend had a religious upbringing permeates the work, as it does Leonard Cohen’s music. In both cases there is a profound sense of responsibility, an anxiety, a carrying of burdens, as well as an attempt to answer those same questions.
Tommy is a messiah figure of some kind. What kind? A truth seeker; In what tradition?
He is a victim of childhood brutality, so severe he loses all his senses: Sight, hearing, speech.
“You didn’t hear it, you didn’t see it, you never heard it, not a word of it, you won’t say nothing to no one never tell a soul. What you know is the truth.”
Note the unexpected reversal, in “What you know is the truth.”
A religious, specifically Christian parable– the notion that the one who “knows the truth” must be sacrificed. In Tommy’s case, he comes to a higher place in which the “truth” is no longer about what he suffered, only, but about re-integrating, becoming whole, becoming love, again.
Tommy’s prayer is the perfect prayer for every fractured soul on earth:
The sense I get from this book is that this prayer was Pete’s own prayer, so many years ago, and that his prayer was answered.