They’re all wasted November 3, 2011Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, music, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
Tags: Lifehouse, Pete Townsend
“There once was a note. Listen.”
–Peter Townsend, “Pure and Easy”
Below is the version of Teenage Wasteland originally written for Peter Townsend’s concept performance/rock opera Lifehouse, which in most of its versions is about a dystopic future in which everyone is living connected to The Grid, inside suits that isolate them one from the other. All of their experiences take place alone in tubes to which the suits can connect. Some of the lyrics are familiar, some you have probably not heard before. You can find them here. The antidote to this dystopia is the emergency of an old guru who remembers ancient rock-and-roll, and its cathartic, Dionysian power.
In some ways the prescient concept of Matrix (if not the rest of the story line) captures this moment perfectly.
I think of my own children, slaves of the Grid realized, the careful constructs of cable television and Internet. Controlled by media conglomerates, the Grid stands ready to package and sell them commoditized lifestyles of conformist rebellion suited to their particular taste, from the decadently preppy world of leering models at American Apparel to the depths of industrial goth. Come on in, kid, we have just what you need to rebel and conform all at the same time.
We of their parents generation still live in a personal era in which rock-and-roll is not the forgotten art of the Lifehouse or a carefully scripted commercial soundtrack, but in which the healing power of a song called on in a moment of distress is like that of prayer, with the promise of being born again not in the spirit of the Xianists but as cleansed and refreshed human beings, eyes and hearts open. That was Townsend’s concept for Lifehouse. At its best and before the media conglomerates absorbed the genre rock-and-roll was about not about unbridled freedom (an inverted nihilistic illusion) but about a genuine rebellion, a rejection of the past in favor of a future of possibility, a future still malleable to the hands of people (not just the children) seeking and ready to make the world their own place. It is an idea that must not be allowed to die.