Sunday, July 10, 2011

Independence => Album Cover Art: The Who - Tommy

The Who: I‘m Free


If you are familiar with the story of Tommy, bear with me for just a moment. Tommy is a rock opera, complete with recurring musical motifs and an overture and “underture”. The story tells of a boy who escapes from the horrors of his life by retreating into himself, giving up his hearing, sight, and power of speech. This leaves Tommy in an inner world with no visual component. Nevertheless, it fell to artist Mike McInnerney to create a visual representation of this for the album cover. Being 1969, the album was released on vinyl on two records, with an extensive booklet with lyrics and notes. So the album cover would have two fold outs, and the whole thing measured 36 inches wide by 12 inches high. McInnerney came through with the image you see above. The large alien shape represents both the otherness of Tommy’s world and the fact of his imprisonment. But the fist shows that Tommy will eventually break free and rejoin the world. I’m Free is the song that describes that breakthrough. It seemed to me to be the perfect choice as a transition from our Independence theme.

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