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Pete Townshend Invented The Internet

June 25th, 2007 · 7 Comments

I was watching the Glastonbury festival on the TV over the weekend and my favourite band The Who were one of the headline acts. Now I don’t care that two of the original members are no longer with us or that Roger Daltrey is nearly as old as my dad, these guys still rock! If you don’t believe me, you can watch the entire Who Glastonbury set courtesy of those nice people at the BBC.

Anyway, what’s that got to do with Twenty Steps? Well about half way through the set Pete Townshend introduces “Relay” like this:

When you look up on the stage and see all these old fuckers up here talking about the Internet, well in 1971 I wrote a song which we’re about to play which is about the Internet…

So forget Tim Berners-Lee. It was actually Pete Townshend who came up with the idea of the Internet in a New York hotel whilst Keith Moon was throwing a TV set out of the window and Townshend himself was off his head on cocaine and brandy. However, like everything else associated with his Lifehouse project, he never quite got round to finishing it.

When you look at it in this context, all of a sudden the Internet makes a lot more sense.

Anyway, here are the lyrics to Relay and you can make up your own mind. Did Townshend really invent the Internet or was he just being a pretentious twat?

You can hear it in the streets
See it in the draggin’ feet
The word is gettin’ out about control
Spies, they’ve come and gone
The story travels on
The only private place is inside your soul

From tree to tree, from you to me
Travelin’ twice as fast as on an empty freeway
Every single dream, wrapped up in the scheme
They all get carried on the relay
Relay, things are brewin’
Relay, something’s doin’
Relay, there’s a revolution
Relay, relay, hand me down a solution, yeah
Pass it on

Someone disapproves
Of what you say and do
I was asked to see what I could really learn you
Don’t believe your eyes
You’re tellin’ only lies
What is done in the first place don’t concern you

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7 responses so far ↓

  • Terinea Weblog // Jun 25, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    I missed the who unfortunately. Did you the Glastonbury Website it was rubbish, I was really disappointed with it. I mean they could of done some fantastic things with it, integrating it with flickr, youtube, twitter etc

  • Mike // Jun 26, 2007 at 12:05 am

    Yeah it looks like a very dated site which doesn’t sell the festival at all. More integration of user driven content would definitely make it better.

    Have you recovered from trench foot yet? It looked seriously muddy!

  • Mike // Jun 26, 2007 at 12:10 am

    Oops! Just read your post and realised you didn’t attend. Probably just as well given the conditions, train delays and the fact that most of the South West is currently under about 5 foot of water!

  • Matt // Jul 1, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Townshend didnt “invent” the internet, he just made a logical approximate prediction about where technology would go over the next 20 or 30 years. He’s not the only one do have done that.

  • Mike // Jul 1, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    I’m pretty certain that Pete Townshend didn’t really invent the Internet but if you imagine that in 1971 that computers were the size of a house, it’s interesting where his mind was at the time…


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