October 21, 2020

1921

From the Tommy liner notes by Brian Cady:

“The father shoots the mother’s lover. Tommy’s father was assumed missing — ‘Don’t expect to see him again’ — before Tommy was born. Then we move to 1921 — three years after the war — and we see that the mother is obviously involved with someone else; she is saying, ‘1921 is going to be a good year.’ Then Tommy’s father bursts in, throws open the door, and shoots the lover. There was a gunshot that was taken off the record. Our producer, Kit Lambert, was very much against all sound effects, except for the mirror smashing…[Tommy] witnessed a traumatic event, and the key which people have missed is that it was mirrored. We purposely obscured the fact of his witnessing a murder in the mirror; but the key is that in the background vocals of ‘1921’ you get reflections — ‘You didn’t hear it (I heard it)’ and so forth.”
–Pete Townshend

All of this got further obscured by the movie which reverses it; the lover shooting and killing the father.

An early draft had the line “I had no reason to be over-optimistic, but I dreamed that you’d be faithful and wait for me forever.”

The demo version has the lines: “Gotta feeling ’29 is gonna be a good year, especially as you and him saw it out together.”

On the U.S. LP it was called “You Didn’t Hear It.”