Pete Townshend, Prophet?
Pete Townshend is generally acknowledged as a gifted writer/composer, a flamboyant guitarist and one of the true iconic figures in the history Rock N Roll, but a prophet? Yep!Â Certainly not in the Biblical sense, but Pete was a bit of a futuristic visionary back in 1970.
Iâ€™ve recently been reading, â€śWho Are You: The Life of Pete Townshend by Steve Wilkerson (great read by the way) and I was at the point in the book where Pete is struggling to wrestle the concept for his next â€śRock Operaâ€ť he had in his brain into a form the rest of the members of The Who could understand and embrace. He never did. Pete was calling the story, â€śLifehouseâ€ťand the core of songs he had composed for â€śLifehouseâ€ť were eventually re-tooled and become, â€śWhoâ€™s Nextâ€ť. A brilliant rock album, one of The Whoâ€™s best, but it was a far cry from the epic sci-fi movie Pete had in his head and he always considered the album a compromise.
It would take almost 30 years for Pete Townshend to actually flesh out the concept of â€śLifehouseâ€ť and technology to catch up so it could be performed on stage. Roughly the story is about a fictional post-apocalyptic society where people are cloistered in cities and forced to stay indoorsâ€¦ nothing new there, weâ€™ve all seen plenty of movies and books with this theme. But itâ€™s the next part I found so amazing and bit prophetic. People never left their homes they were forced to wear â€śExperience Suitsâ€ť that were plugged into boxes that were in turned wired into a government system called, â€śThe Gridâ€ť. This was a network that fed them â€ślife experiencesâ€ť â€“ everything they were deemed to need, from entertainment, news, social interaction and even sex. The story goes on to find a Hacker breaking into the system.
This was 1970!!! Long, 30 plus years, before the Internet, the World Wide Web, household computersâ€¦ and porn sites would become ubiquitous. I would say Pete Townshendâ€™s vision was pretty prophetic.
Oh, the â€śLifehouseâ€ť story goes on to have that Hacker producing a rock show in a theater and inviting people to leave their homes once more to experience music together, person to person as a community. So I say, log off, unplug, get out of the house and head to a live show with some friends sometime soonâ€¦ Ok, you can bring your iPhoneâ€¦ (Cold turkey can be tough, I know!)