Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

4. The WhoTommy

There’s a picture in my book of me in my bedroom in the late ‘60s with a Who poster, a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young collage, a Bob Dylan collection, and a New York Times magazine cover of the Beatles. So that kind of says it all. I think I had the most romantic vision of England. I’ve got every Who album and loved Tommy, and their performance in the movie Woodstock. I didn’t go to Woodstock. There was one kid in my high school who did and came back, and we all looked at him as if he was the president of America. Chicago was a little bit far away from New York.

The first year I went to college at the University of Missouri my dad drove me there. And I made him listen to Tommy the whole way to Missouri. In my first year I also wrote a paper on the social significance of Tommy, and when I changed universities I used the paper again!

Around that time The Who were playing the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. All the shows were sold out, apart from a matinee on the Sunday. We were flying back to Chicago that night, but I talked my parents into letting me get a ticket and I queued in the returns line for hours. I got a seat in the 20th row centre and they did Tommy back to front, with Roger in the suede fringe and stuff. And they just blew my mind. The Who albums sound a bit dated and I struggle with them now, but Tommy then was unbelievable.

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