Transcript of 1996 BBC Radio special.
[Thanks to Brian Cady for transcription].
Music: Opening chord of demo for "Won’t Get Fooled Again." Music continues under.
Pete: Hello, I’m Pete Townshend. After Tommy was released in 1969, I immediately began thinking about a follow-up. I eventually came up with an idea I called "Lifehouse."
Pete: Nursery school stuff.
Stamp: It just hadn’t come across in the way he’d written it.
Pete: Too clever–
Stamp: You still couldn’t see what Lifehouse was.
Pete: Too far advanced–
Man’s voice: It was like, "Wow! This is the future!" You know, "the future is now!"
Pete: Too big–
Man’s voice: I’d never heard anything quite that big and was completely bowled over.
Pete: Too spiritual–
Farron: Thank God everybody wasn’t Jim Morrison!
Pete: Too smart for any of them.
Man: (laughing) That’s it! That’s the norm!
Pete: It was like a nightmare.
Voices: He’s mad! He’s mad! He’s mad! He’s mad!
Roger’s scream from the Who’s version of "Won’t Get Fooled Again" and music fades into wind noises. The synth part to the demo version of "Baba O’Riley" begins.
Pete (reading from script): The scene is a dirt road. The air is foggy, a low fog-like morning mist but very thick and patchy. The sky is dull, but in the horizon the sun is coming up and creating colors in the foggy skyline. The colors intensify and as they do the music begins to ripple and more notes appear. The notes become adventurous and ordered and turn into a bubbling thing. Car lights and dust in the distance signal the approach of a vehicle. A piano chord cuts over the bubbling arpeggios of the notes. Credits start. The vehicle gets nearer and the lights crystallize through the fog. It comes into few traveling fast over rough land. It’s a large safari-like vehicle, weather-beaten and rugged. It’s a home, moving.
Stamp: He bought a mobile home on the last American tour.
Pete: Chris Stamp, who managed The Who with Kit Lambert.
Stamp: And he was driving around in his mobile home! I don’t know if he was living in his van, he was occasionally living in his mobile home I think, but he was using his mobile home to go between the Young Vic and Twickenham.
Pete (reading from script): The camera turns to follow it and watches it move down a hill towards a city, sprawling with a few lights. The bus fords a shallow river and plows through fields. On roads it keeps coming to huge holes and sometimes motorway-like roads that are not finished; that just end in muddy fields. The bus carries on regardless. The credits continue as the bus passes through towns and villages. The houses are all ramshackle with windows boarded up. Wrecked cars lay by the side of the road and nobody is to be seen. There is rubbish all over the roads and some of the towns look as though they’re completely vacated. But occasionally signs of occupation are clear, like the clean, new wires running to every door. They’re thick and colored and numerous. They run to every house and some to caravans and campers parked by the roadside. The windows of the houses have cellophane stretched over them, sealed at the edges with tape; the doors, too. As the music quietens, we see inside the bus.
Sally: Where the hell is everyone? Not too many Gridsleep cops. We might as well use the main roads. What’d you think, Ray?
Ray: It’d get us there more quickly but there are wires everywhere. If we’re not careful we could interrupt the path of the Grid feed.
Girl child in back: Daddy, why can’t we go back to Scotland?
Boy child in back: Yeah, I don’t like it here.
Ray: We’ll reach the city soon, dear. Once we get your karma graphs done, we’ll get back home. You want to see Dave and Mary though don’t you?
Both children: Yeah.
Ray: C’mon son, let’s get moving.
("Baba O’Riley" ends and the demo version of "Going Mobile" begins.)
Pete sings: I’m going home, and when I want to go home I’m going mobile; i.e., I’m going to find a home and we’ll see how it feels going mobile. Keep me moving! I can pull up by the curb; I can make it on the road going mobile. I can stop in any street; invite in people that we meet, going mobile. Keep me moving! Every place is the same to me, any time of the night or day. You’re welcome to pass me by or drop in sometime if you can catch me on my mobile! I’m going home, and when I want to go home I’m going mobile. I’m going to find a home and we’ll see how it feels going mobile. Keep me moving! Keep moving! Woowho! Beep beep! I don’t care about pollution; I’m an air-conditioned gypsy. That’s my solution. I watch the police and the taxman miss me. I’m mobile! Hee Hee!
Stamp: The song "Going Mobile" was about the song he was singing in his head as he was toodling down the A4 or something in his mobile home!
Pete: What formed in my head was not just the song "Going Mobile," but the idea that I was in a capsule and it had two air conditioners and an extraordinary kind of filtering system. And what I kind of got addicted to with it was that you didn’t get any fumes, basically, and I realized that there’s something about air-conditioned, recycled air in cars which is that you don’t get pollution. And that I figured people in the future that had the ability to clean their own air would have an advantage over everybody else. And so this became part of the story of this world. Who would survive out there in the world who wasn’t attached to an experience suit, being fed pure air and pure food. Who would survive who didn’t elect to put the suit on? It would either be people who lived at the extremes of society, up in Scotland where the water was clean or something, or alternatively, people who had managed to get hold of air-conditioned cars. The song was about freedom.
Stamp: The great thing about this mobile home he had, I mean, he had his desk there and he had his bits and pieces of stuff and his guitar and he would stop and he would work. And he certainly knocked off this screenplay writing very quickly. I think he wrote it in about three days. And I was just very impressed with his output, because Pete hadn’t written like that before. Pete had just written songs and Pete was like that and suddenly here he was writing in the form of a screenplay. Not absolutely 100% correct as a screenplay writer but very good.
Pete: Although I wasn’t an expert screenwriter, there was a script there, there was a bunch of songs there, there were ideas there. All they had to do was to put me together with somebody who knew what they were doing and we would have had an extraordinary project. What they actually did they was put me together with Frank Dunlop, who was the director of a small theatre, with nothing like the kind of credentials that he has today. They put me together with Frank and told him that we were working on Tommy!
Stamp: Tommy has been a successful record and has been a hugely successful rock opera as such presented by The Who and they’ve done this incredible sort of operahouse tour all over the world and it has changed the radio format and it has gone into the public’s consciousness. "Rock opera" the word has gone in. But we were still having trouble getting finance to make it as a movie. And that is when suddenly we were dealing with Lifehouse. Now it’s not as if we were that concerned about Tommy not being made as a film, but we only sort of finished two-thirds of the Tommy project, if you get my drift. And so we are now into the midst of creating another sort of big concept which is the next big Who sort of concept.
Pete: Really quite recently when I said to him, "Why didn’t it happen?" He said that I had denied Kit the opportunity of making the Tommy film, by not letting him go ahead and direct it, and, therefore, they didn’t take my film script seriously.
Stamp: Although Pete had written the screenplay, we hadn’t begun to conceive how this would look on film, how this would be shot, or any of those things, or how it would be staged. I mean, none of this had been worked out. It didn’t gel. I mean, the process of it becoming a concept and it becoming something didn’t happen. It didn’t happen in the Young Vic; it began in the Young Vic, the songs grew in the Young Vic, the recording ideas blossomed more in the record part and then the recording ideas of the songs came together in Olympic Studios. But by then Lifehouse was absolutely finished and there was never another thought about Lifehouse.
(under the last part of above the demo version of "Getting In Tune" begins)
Pete sings: I’m singing this note ’cause it fits in well with the chords I’m playing. I can’t pretend there’s any meaning here in the things I’m saying. But I’m in tune, right in tune. I’m in tune, and I’m gonna tune right in on you, right in on you. I’ve got it all here in my head. There’s nothing more needs to be said. I’m just banging on the old piano. I’m getting in tune through the straight and narrow.
(music continues under)
Pete: I was in the afterglow of Tommy, which was a long, long drawn-out, afterglow, which was a spiritual afterglow. There was spiritual things going on which I felt where, I suppose, corrupt. And there seemed to me to be some confusion which, I know, I contributed to, but there seemed to me some confusion which is going on between what media and music and particularly rock was actually able to do and what it dreamed of doing and what people believed it could do.
Farron: I mean, for a lot of us , I think Pete included, rock music had initially been the revolution. The singular event of Elvis Presley had totally rearranged a large number of people’s thinking.
Pete: Mick Farron, journalist and ideological sparring partner.
Farron: Sitting here in my late-forties, I don’t absolutely subscribe to all the things I was yelling about in 1968, but you think of rock ‘n’ roll in terms of a tool of change–The Who, right, these four young, scrungy Shepherd’s Bush mods who obviously are not getting anything back from the system. So, I mean, no axe to grind, and suddenly people are throwing suitcases full of money at them! We actually also never realized at the time quite how broke The Who were for how long. I mean they’re staying in hotels, they’re riding in limos, are they part of the problem or part of the solution?
Pete: I knew that I needed certain things as an artist that undermined my political and social credibility. Those things might be a limousine, they might be a recording studio in my house, they might be regular holidays in Venice, I don’t know, but whatever the luxury that I provided myself with at the time, seemed to me to be at odds with a lot of the things I felt both politically and spiritually. So I tended to try to put that stuff out of my mind and get on with the job of just trying to sell the idea to a broad spectrum of people who loved rock ‘n’ roll. The London bunch, the radical bunch of which Mick Farron was a leading light, and the Chicago bunch, Abbie Hoffman and John Sinclair, were incredibly credible, but they were just one piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
(The Who’s "Won’t Get Fooled Again" begins)
Fallon: All that sort of romantic "Viva Zapata!" stuff was very appealing, but thank God there were people like Pete around. Thank God everybody wasn’t Jim Morrison–’cause there were people like Pete around. I mean, I remember being terribly–I took "Won’t Get Fooled Again" quite personally at one point. It was my lot that were being nailed and I kind of resented the–well it wasn’t an inference, it was a direct statement–that we were turning into worse tyrants than the last lot. And at the time I didn’t feel it was acceptable propaganda. In that respect, it happened, so it doesn’t really matter, but I was probably wrong.
Roger sings: We’ll be fighting in the streets with our children at our feet and the morals that they worship will be gone. And the men who spurred us on sit in judgment of all wrong. They decide and the shotgun sings the song. I tip my hat to the new constitution, take a bow for the new revolution. Smile and grin at the change all around. Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday, and I get on my knees and pray, we don’t get fooled again. The change it had to come. We knew it all along. We were liberated from the fold, that’s all. But the world looks just the same and history ain’t changed, ’cause the banners they all flown in the last war. I tip my hat to the new constitution, take a bow for the new revolution. Smile and grin at the change all around. Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday, and I get on my knees and pray, we don’t get fooled again. Don’t get fooled again! No, no! Yeahhhhhhhh! Meet the new boss! Same as the old boss!
Pete: Looking ahead, very much from to what’s happening today funnily enough, like thirty years ahead, we could see that society was going to come under the whip of a new kind of baron, a peace baron, a power baron who would control us through our artistic and social needs, our life of pleasure, if you like. Our spiritual life, we knew that many of the religions that we’d been introduced to as children had become counterfeit, but we also knew that a lot of the gurus and cult figures around in the Sixties were evidently counterfeit the day that they landed on our soil. So we knew that we were going to be used and exploited. And Lifehouse was not a part of a fantasy, it wasn’t a part of delivering a dream, it was a part of that idea that I could create somehow, using the tools of fiction, filmmaking and live performance, a metaphor which would be as satisfactory a metaphor as the one I’d used in Tommy. So that’s what I was looking for, I was looking for some kind of really solid metaphor to explain the degree of marginalization and isolation that we would be living in at the time of the millennium. And I think I was damn close.
Dave: Phew! That was some life! I thought it would never finish.
Mary: Me neither. I enjoyed it though. Didn’t you?
Dave: All except the last few years. I’m looking forward to the balance that we’ll get in the next program.
Pete: We’re cut off from all truth. We’re cut off from all facts. We’re cut off from anything that is direct; everything is processed, and ultimately a lot of what we hope for, as a way of moderating all this information, whether it is from satellite or cable TV or the Internet; that what we actually have to do is we have to look at the fact that ultimately, anybody that comes up with anything that looks like a spiritual answer is going to have our attention. But there is a grave danger that anything that does change the way that we feel could enslave us–anything that feels direct, anything that makes the jump between entertainment and spiritual uplift, as we know it, as something that we can get without effort, without actually getting off our asses and going to a concert, without going to church, without meditating, without doing anything, something that’s easy, something that we simply pay for–anybody that can deliver that, even just a sense of it, is going to be imbued with enormous power.
Dave: This bulletin is about the Lifehouse!
Mary: About what?
Dave: The Lifehouse. It’s happening at the Old Cut theatre by the Armoury. The soundman there has been using the Gridsleep period to produce experiences that will–well he says it will eliminate all the hassels.
Mary: Five years he’s been doing this?
Dave: Yeah. It goes on to say that the whole place is being fitted into the Universal Experience Grid and anyone who uses a suit will go there.
Dave: To the Cut. When I worked at Plusbond, Jumbo’s biggest problem was that all sectors were slowly running out of experience programs. A lot of people are getting steeply reoccurring karma patterns. An observer here says that one woman who was fed the same program three hundred times–
Mary: What! But didn’t her daily routine change either?
Dave: She lived the same thing every day. She lacked creative motivation and got her needle stuck.
Mary: All wrong! It’s really all wrong! Five years is a long time I know, but in the Eighties there were Gridsleep periods for ten and fifteen years at a stretch. People are just getting weak. Eventually you know something will snap. People just won’t stand it any longer. They’ll completely freak and Plusbond will have to destroy whole sectors.
Mary: Pessimism, my eye! There are people who are communicating outside of the experience grids. They could get organized. Let me read that.
Dave: They couldn’t destroy the grid!
Mary: No, but they could prevent new programs reaching the people and we’d all end up like that wretched woman, our lives cycling like a satellite. Experiencing, and needing to experience, the same events every day for eternity. Not me!
Dave: Where do you get off?
Mary: Maybe at this place here. According to this, music is the key. (reads) "He will collect all the data from the few hundred people that are involved. He’ll get pulses, blood samples, heart rates, brain patterns, thought patterns, astrological and karmic details and so on. All this information will be used in making up a chart which reflects the individual in as many ways as is humanly possible. This chart is then used to stimulate and guide him when he tries to further reflect this individual using music. The combination of the adventure is when all the pieces of music are put together and it becomes clear that each one is harmonious and interlocked. The whole, the sum will equal one note. The original note!" Maybe I’ll go down to the Cut Theatre.
Dave: Why bother? They’ll be feeding it all down the wires as soon as it starts. Plusbond are putting all their hopes on it.
Mary: I’m sick of second hand buzzes, Dave! Let’s both go!
Dave: Forget it! I haven’t used my street suit for years. The Gridsleep period is still being strongly enforced, too. We’d be–
Dave: Well, I don’t know.
Mary: Imagine it! We could be there, living life for real instead of–
Dave: We’d be risking our lives! Look, Mary, this guy has made a machine that can eliminate hassles. The whole idea of it is that it works for everyone, not just those in the Cut. The Experience Grid will put us there in someone else’s suit and we’ll know absolutely nothing about being you or I. We’ll let them risk their lives. If they fail, we’ll still be here when the program ends.
Mary: We’ll be here? I can’t damn well wait. That great day when we get back here to this–palace.
Dave: We’re luckier than most.
Mary: I’m going. You’ll see me there. But I won’t see you.
(music begins under last line; the song "Mary")
Pete sings: Mary, you are everything a man could want and I want you Mary. Did you know, when you pushed me once away from you, a need I knew grew inside of me. People are dancing for you now but I can’t see why. Can’t they see that they can’t beat the love that I have for you, Mary. You are everything a man could need and I will need you Mary. I need you. When I look at the hole in your coat, I have to love you more. I remember when I was a child and my brother slept on the floor. Oh, I know that the sun don’t shine down on every man but when the woman let my brother down I swore one day I land me one Mary.
Powell: About the mid-Sixties, Robert Moog started pushing the synthesizer–
Pete: Roger Powell, synthesizer pioneer.
Powell: There’s this new tool that can make all these different sounds and one person can operate it.
(synthesized sounds begin)
Powell: I worked at the recording studio. I convinced the owner–he wouldn’t buy a Moog, those were too expensive–but I convinced him to buy, it was known as the Putney and it came from Electronic Music Studios of London.
Pete: What was interesting about that unit was that it was an educational tool. It taught you what oscillators could do. So getting ahold of one of those little units, which I did like Roger Powell, I got one before I got my ARP, definitely educated me as to what was possible.
Pridden: It used to have like a checkerboard to set up the sounds and you used to have to put little pins in the holes to get different sounds and hundreds of, like, patch things, no toggle switches–
Pete: Bobby Pridden, The Who’s sound man.
Pridden: It took ages to set these things up and I used to have to take it home with me every night. You couldn’t leave it in the studio in case someone came in and started playing with it. And I’m sitting going home in the car, my wife’s got it on her knees and she goes all of a sudden, "Oh, this is good, isn’t it." I say, "What?" "Oh, it’s just like playing checkers, isn’t it?" (laughs) Because it used to take a lot of setting up.
Pete: Bobby’s talking about the problems inherent in the machine. You could set up a sound on it EMS, but you wanted to go to the next one it’s a couple of hours work. These days with digital machinery like on the Synclair V you can hit a button and, well on the toys that you buy at Woolworth’s now you can hit a button and you can get very, very complicated sounds to save and in those days we were stuck with this–there were no computers, man; it’s hard to believe now, it’s only ten years since the graphical user interface of the Macintosh appeared on the scene.
Powell: And they were fifteen, twenty thousand dollars at the time for now what you can get for two hundred and fifty dollars. So I wrote to the ARP synthesizer company, I had one of their catalogs, they were the first big competitor to MOOG. And at the time, which was 1969, I moved to Boston and went to work for them primarily demonstrating these instruments to people and trying to sell them to universities and wealthy, eccentric individuals (laughs) which, of course, rock stars tend to fall into the latter category. So we did a lot of demonstrations for rock people and it was embraced by a very small handful at the time. Most of them, especially the guitar players which I have to give Pete credit, most of the guitar players, it just went woosh! right over their heads. Most of those guys were still having trouble finding the plug for the amplifier for the guitar.
Pete: The reason why I, unlike other guitar players, I was actually able to get my mouth around this was that I’d always had a studio. What created the huge prospect of creative potential with synthesizers for me related to a spiritual link which I picked up from reading the Sufi message of Inayat Khan, two essays in particular, one called "The Mysticism of Sound" and one called "Music." And I’ve just picked it up now and you can almost sort of open it up at random and find stuff which, like for example, (reads) "the soul feels buried in the outer material world and the soul feels satisfied and living when it is touched with fine vibrations. The finest matter is spirit and the grossest spirit is matter. Music, being the finest of the arts, helps the soul to rise above differences, it unites souls because even words are not necessary. Music is beyond words." The book was just packed with the kind of stuff which I knew from my work and I knew as an artist.
Man’s voice (the character Bobby?): Music and vibration are the basis of all. They pervade everything. Human consciousness is reflected by them. Even atoms are vibrations between positive and negative forces, some very subtle, some fantastically complex, but it’s all music. Man has to let go of his control of the music as art, as media fodder, and allow it freedom. Then, through natural balance, it will allow the real music to become audible. Suppose then a man heard music that reflected himself in terms of the universal scheme. When he became aware of the natural harmony that existed between himself and creation, himself and others, he would find it easier to live in harmony. We can only live in harmony when nature is allowed to incorporate us into her symphony. Listen hard, try hard. You will notice then it may be more than one note, a chord or a simple pulse. It might be a discord or a hiss, high or low, slow or fast. One thing is certain. If it is your own note, it will fit into the scheme because you do.
Pete: And when somebody came along and said, "Here is this device. It is a scientific device. It uses vibrations and oscillations and rhythms and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and it is also a musical instrument," I thought, "Well heigh-ho! Here is a link." And what it actually allowed me to do is that it allowed me to contemplate whether or not I could reflect exactly and precisely and scientifically the emotional, spiritual, disturbed state of a human being. And when I spoke to people like Powell and a few other people, particularly Tim Suster, their news to me was, "Yes, all you have to do is wait a little while and someone will create a computer that’s fast enough to do this and because we can do this now but it’s inordinately slow. And yeah, you could take your heartbeat and your mental alpha and beta patterns, anything that’s recordable, ECG’s, anything to produce data from an individual, shove it into a computer and out would come a piece of music." And the general consensus was that piece of music would reflect the state of the individual at the time. So, for me, getting hold of this big synthesizer was just a step, it was a promise, and I was always ahead, I was always one jump ahead. I’ve got the synthesizer, I’ll learn how to work it, but now I want the computer. And it was the computer that never arrived.
Man’s voice: There’s only one channel on all the programs! With my data I’m supposed to have a random choice of any twenty thousand available.
Another man’s voice: It’s been like that since this afternoon. It’s a nice place, though.
Man’s voice: That’s not the point! Here we are under five year Gridsleep, the river’s stinking, the street’s full of rubbish. It’s only a couple of weeks since we were able to get out of the bus and breathe fresh air! What are we supposed to do? Get all excited about having one solitary channel to tune into? We’ll all die of boredom.
Another man’s voice: The point really is that the Grid can’t make enough programs to keep everyone up to date with fresh experience.
Man’s voice: But there are millions of different programs with infinite event flexibility. How the hell–
Another man’s voice: What keeps happening is that after a few years on the Grid, a person starts to develop reoccurring karma needs. These reflect in the graph and the Grid sends the individual more and more similar programs until in the end the person is happy to live the same events over and over forever. Well, as each person finds his own particular program, so it is excluded from the choice of everyone else. In the end we’ll all end up like that.
Man’s voice: But when the Gridsleep is over, we’ll be able to get back to normal.
Another man’s voice: We won’t last that long apparently.
Man’s voice: So it’s all up to the Lifehouse.
(under the last few lines The Who’s version of "Too Much Of Anything" live from the Young Vic comes up)
Roger sings: I think these hands have felt a lot. I don’t know, what have I touched? I think these eyes have seen a lot. I don’t know, maybe they’ve seen too much. I think this brain has thought a lot, searching, trying to find a crutch. I think this heart has bled once too often. This time, it’s bled a bit too much. Too much of anything is too much for me. Too much and everything gets too much for me. I think these hands have felt a lot. I don’t know, what have I touched? I think these eyes have seen a lot. I don’t know, maybe they’ve seen too much. I think this brain has thought a lot, searching, trying to find a crutch. I think this heart has bled once too often. This time, it’s bled a bit too much. Too much of anything is too much for me. Too much and everything gets too much for me.
Stamp: The Who were in the Young Vic trying out the songs. We weren’t doing a drama workshop of Lifehouse. We were trying to sort of come up with the idea of the way Lifehouse would be the same as we had done with Tommy. So we were trying to go through that same type of organic process of creating a concept.
Pete: I didn’t regard the Young Vic performances as a dramatic workshop. I suppose I was waiting for that to start, I was waiting for that to happen. I’d done my bit, I’d written the script and the other stuff I was fussing with was technical stuff, really, trying to help the band play some of the songs that I had written, help Bobby with some of his technical stuff. And what we were doing at the Young Vic which was dicey was that we were working with a quadraphonic sound system which had been pioneered by [Pink] Floyd, it wasn’t brand new, but, the desk that we were delivered may have worked, but Bobby Pridden couldn’t seem to get it to work. That was one of the problems. He could work it, he could get it to work, but there was so many new things going on.
Andy Johns: In my mind I thought I was recording songs which they were trying out in front of an audience to see how they would work live and how the tour would be.
Pete: Andy Johns, who recorded one of the Young Vic sessions.
Andy Johns: "Can you be there on Tuesday." I got the call on Friday, whenever the hell it was. And I thought, "Oh well. This isn’t obviously something that is going to be released. It’s just a one-off thing. Should I really even bother to charge them very much?" because they’re never going to use it. And it had been fun and a blast to go and work with those guys but it’s not a tape recording that is ever going to be released. It’s just for them to listen to afterwards to see how they’re doing with the new songs. And I know they got a bunch of kids by invitation, it wasn’t a paid thing, and there was quite a bit of dissent between Kit Lambert and the band while they were doing this set.
Pete: Kit was variously very, very encouraging and variously just like not there. I remember him loving John Davies’ pictures which really surprised me. John Davies had done four initial portraits of each member of the band and Kit just loving them, absolutely loving them. We put one on each corner of the room. It was clear that when I asked Chris "What’s happening with Kit? Where’s Kit?" that Chris was unable to tell me and I didn’t learn until we went to New York that Kit had become a heroin addict.
Andy Johns: Lotta starts and stops, but a couple of times Lambert shouting and screaming and stamping and just a lot of rubbish which I just thought was Lambert complaining about the way they were doing it. It might have been that he thought it was just a stupid idea in the first place and "What in the hell are we doing here?" It wasn’t treated as if it was a paying audience so we’d better put on a proper, professional performance. It was these people are here to help us to find out what the vibe is in front of an audience. They’re in for free, so I suppose it was like a TV show. When you have a TV audience and you start and stop and redo takes and that sort of thing. It wasn’t like a proper gig at all.
Pete: Frank Dunlop had a mandate from the Young Vic to allow us in there as long as we were doing something that was manifestly for the public. So he just started to invite people in off the street and all they did was just to get in the way, basically. We got nervous and we started to play "My Generation" and smash guitars and stuff.
(live version of "My Generation" by The Who begins)
Roger sings: People try to put us down, just because we get around. Things they do look awful cold. Yeah, I hope I die before I get old. My generation! This is my generation, baby. Why don’t you all fade away. Don’t try and dig what we all say. Not trying to cause a big sensation. Talkin’ about m-m-m-my-my g-g-g-generation. This is my generation. This is my generation, baby.
Pete: (reading) Each person present at the Young Vic for the finale is sure to have many preconceptions remaining, just like Bobby’s fictional crowd. Hopefully they would all have been present at at least ten other concerts. It’s unlikely but that would be an ideal situation. Some of the concerts would have been three days, some two and some of the earlier ones, only one. Any good characters that had emerged from the audience would have been filmed and perhaps even introduced into the story. Their influence might be so solid as to transform the fiction into something totally real. That’s the aim, really, just as we start off with a group and an audience and hope to end up with neither, we start with a fiction which could very easily become shaded by the real events. People in the audience might even take over the parts of some of the major characters in the fiction as is. The finale itself would be long and involved but it would be working towards a final simplicity of straightforwardness.
(music ends with power chord)
Pete: We did this taping with Andy and then we went and we did some shows to see how the tapes would work live and I think by that time I was starting to think, oh fuck it, what I’m going to have to do is we’re going to have to make an album. I remember when Kit rang up to say, "Listen, you should come to New York." I remember thinking that this was just wonderful.
(Who’s version of "Pure and Easy," recorded in New York begins)
Roger sings: There once was a note, pure and easy, playing so free like a breath rippling by. The note is eternal, I hear it, it sees me. Forever we blend as forever we die. I listened and I heard music in a word and words when you played your guitar. The noise that I was hearing was a million people cheering and a child flew by me riding in a star. As people assemble, civilization is trying to find a new way to die. But killing is really merely scene changer. All men are bored with other men’s lives. I listened and I heard music in a word and words when you played your guitar. The noise that I was hearing was a million people cheering and a child flew by me riding in a star. Gas on a hillside, oil in a teacup, watch all the chords of life lose their joy. Distortion becomes somehow pure in its wildness. The note that began all can also destroy. We all know success when we all find our own dreams and our love is enough to knock down any walls and the future’s been seen as men try to realize the simple secret of the note in us all. In us all! I listened and I heard music in a word and words when you played your guitar. The noise that I was hearing was a million people cheering and a child flew by me riding in a star. There once was a note, listen!
Pete: Kit was going to save me. I remember going for a walk in the park and thinking, "Good old Kit, he’s come to save me. He understands. This is simple. He and I will stand together and explain it to these fucking vegetables. They’ll get it and we’ll make the movie and they’ll all understand." And when I got there I realized that that wasn’t going to be the case.
Stamp: There was a bad vibe about New York because the whole sort of social circuit and the things that were happening outside of the studio were taking over. Pete wanted to go back, I think Roger did as well. I know that John and Keith didn’t, but that was always the case.
Pete: Principally, the difficulty for me was that I’d never had any problem beating Keith into shape. He was the iron man. He might have been up until late in the morning but it never seemed to stop him. It was Kit that was the problem. He kept disappearing, he kept leaving the session to this engineer. One minute it would be going very, very well and the next minute it wouldn’t. And it was in the middle of those sessions that I did finally kind of have a semi-nervous breakdown and did actually completely let go of the idea of ever making a movie. What I’m really proud of was that I did let it go. I don’t know quite how I let it go. But I’m really proud of the fact that I let it go because it was starting to drive me nuts. It seemed to me then and it seems to me today, and I hate to sound arrogant and imperious about it, but it seems to be like nursery school stuff to me and it always has. It seems to be unbelievably simple. I don’t understand why no one could get it and it was like a nightmare. It was like being in a group of people in the middle of the desert and saying "All we have to do is go over there and there’s a tap and we can drink," and them saying, "what, a tap! (whispering) he’s mad! A tap, I can’t see a tap!" "Please let’s go over there and go to the tap," but nobody would move and this started to affect my sense of my own sanity and I had the good sense to let the whole thing go.
(under the last of this, The Who’s version of "Song Is Over" begins.)
Pete sings: The song is over, it’s all behind me. I should have known it. She tried to find me. (music continues under)
Pete reads: Jumbo and his men appear at the main door. He flings the door open wide and surveys the scene appreciatively. As he does, he looks up to the balcony. He sees Bobby, his sequined coat covered in blood falls from the balcony with arms outstretched. The crowd rush in, three circles closing fast to form a perfect cushion as he lands. As Bobby hits the crowd, the whole crowd disappears. Everyone of them has gone leaving only Bobby’s bloody robe laying on the floor. The chorus of "Song Is Over" begins and we hear no sync sound as the actors and workmen start to destroy all the hardware, smashing it to pieces savagely. Jumbo is screaming at them to stop and trying to prevent them. He runs out of the building, reaches his camp and runs to where he left the girl. He picks up her empty experience suit and hurls it down looking around desperately. He spots Henry’s car, jumps into it, drives extremely fast over the bridge towards his office at the Houses of Parliament. There is nobody but him to be seen anywhere. He rushes to the basement and to Dave’s cell. He curses when he finds Dave’s suit empty, too. He looks out of the small barred window that looks over the river. He sees the safari vehicle that belongs to Ray and Sally driving along the empty road sending up dust clouds. The sun is coming up, causing beautiful colors across the river.
Stamp: We came up with the Young Vic. Kit came up with the Record Plant. Pete decided to move back to England and we called [something] Glyn Johns. When it went to Olympic, Lifehouse was over. It was really nothing to do with Kit’s or my side of it. The thing didn’t work creatively. It just ended. The thing about Glyn Johns is that once you accepted Glyn Johns as the producer of the record, you were accepting a producer who only made great recordings. He wasn’t a producer like Kit. Kit was a producer who talked about song structure, should we put a song in here, I suggested a title for a song. Kit was a sort of all-around director-producer. So the Glyn Johns thing was that they had resigned themselves to the fact that they were just going to make a great record and it was never going to be a record of Lifehouse. By the time they were in Olympic they were just making a record with no title. The title was just an arbitrary title we came up with called "Who’s Next." It was like The Who’s next record, right?
Pete: At that particular point I had abandoned any hope of doing anything that would lead to the film. So I wanted to just go on doing what we had proved that we could do in New York which was to produce these wonderful songs and make a really great record. It seemed like a good way to get going. I knew that Glyn would be very workman-like, that would bring the thing in on budget. We didn’t have any money, so it was going to be a quite simple thing to do. Kit was outraged. I just had to abandon him to his, as far as I could see, to his doom in New York. So, I just carried on with my daily job which was to get the album delivered and I knew that Glyn would do a good job.
(under the last of this, The Who’s version of "Bargain" begins.)
Roger sings: I’d gladly lose me to find you. Gladly give up all that I’ve have. To find you, I’d suffer anything and be glad. I’d pay any price just to get you, work all my life and I will. To win you, I’d stand naked stoned and stabbed. I’d call that a bargain, the best I ever had, the best I ever had!
Pete sings: I sit looking ’round, I look at my face in the mirror. I know I’m worth nothing without you. And like one and one don’t make two, one and one make one. And I’m looking for that free ride to me, I’m looking for you.
Glyn Johns: I think it’s a phenomenal record.
Pete: Glyn Johns, record producer.
Glyn Johns: The lyrics, if you don’t understand the story which I never did, if you listen to the lyrics of all the songs you don’t really know what the hell he’s going on about but it doesn’t matter. There’s enough content in each of the lyrics for you to grab on and read your own thing into it or you can make it whatever you want. And I’ve often thought that if he’d just sat down and written a bunch of songs, clearly he would never have written lyrics like that.
Pete: I did have an attempt to help Glyn understand what we had been doing with Lifehouse, but he–The point is that nobody did except the guys in the band. The guys in the band tried very, very hard to understand it. And in some cases, I think with Roger for example, Roger finally got it a couple of years later and came running to me and said, "This is magnificent, this idea and we have to have another go," and that’s what produced the second incarnation of Lifehouse which produced "Who Are You" and another burst of activity on the script.
(instrumental version of "Who Are You" begins)
Woman’s voice: I can safely say that since the rebellion was crushed over two hundred years ago by my precursor the great Jumbo the First, we have achieved everything we promised. There is a feeling at Plusbond that the first perfect one approaches. All of us are closer to the spiritual stature of the great saints of the Christian Epoch. Away from the horror of war, of revolution, of the evil drug of music, safe from pollution and mortal danger. Each of us enjoys a life more beautiful, more luxurious, more fulfilling and more perfect than ever we could in the dark days before the Grid when young peoples’ heads were turned by the ritual chants and incantations of the musos.
The Who sings: Who are you? Who, who, who, who? Who are you? Who, who, who, who? Who are you? Who, who, who, who? Who are you? Who, who, who, who?
Roger sings: I woke up in a Soho doorway. A policeman knew my name. He said, "you can go to sleep at home tonight if you can get up and walk away." I staggered back through the Underground and the breeze blew back my hair. I remember throwing punches around and preaching from my chair. Well, who are you? Oh, who are you? C’mon tell me who are you? Ah, who the fuck are you?
Man’s voice: This sound has freed me! What I’ve been hearing in my heart for a million years is now here in our hands. Today we’ve already liberated many laypeople from the absurd, cosseted womb of the suit. This sound is the greatest key to the hearts of men since–
Woman’s voice: Since the musos last were crushed. Since our lives were last time torn away from us. Since the time we were thrown from the cities to live like animals while the rest of society was saved from the nuclear waste, the pollution and the bloodshed by their suits.
Dax: What time? What bloodshed? In my heart I’ve always felt the suits were wrong but–
Woman’s voice: My own grandmother was a child of only twelve years when she was thrown out into the winter fields with thousands of others. We are the musos. The sound you call a key to the human heart is music. Music! It belongs to us. It is in our blood. My heart recognizes it, too, but what I feel, what all we musos feel, what escapes you, you, you laypeople, is that I recognize it in my very blood as well.
Man’s voice: For a second, all of you, just, just listen. Will you help me bring music into the lives of every layperson on the Grid?
Dax: How? Why?
Man’s voice: You’ve never lived in a suit, Dax, I don’t expect you to know why. I can’t describe to you the horror of living but never knowing where you’ve been or what you’ve done. Even what you’ve achieved is taken away from you. The Grid gets the credit and your suit changes color. This is life, what we enjoy out here. Ask any of these people that came from the Grid whether they’d like to go back. Go on, ask them!
Dax: But how can we get music to every person on the Grid? There are millions of them, millions in countries all over the world that I’ve never seen, that we could never reach.
Man’s voice: We can reach all of them. The answer is a simple one. We’ll make music in this place. We’ll make it take shape, we’ll give it form, we’ll create an event, a concert, an experience. All of us together. Our music! Music from us and for us. When we’ve rehearsed it a hundred times, when it’s perfect, when it’s natural, when it’s complete and in harmony with nature, we’ll put the whole show on the Grid. From this house, we’ll bring the world life. This’ll be the Lifehouse!
("Who Are You" reaches its end)
Pete: I carried the whole fucking thing on my shoulders and it was not through my choice. It was not through my choice; I tried very, very, very, very hard indeed to communicate the ideas that I had. They just didn’t get it.