Tag Archives: Pete Townshend Who I Am Mediocre Mediocrity Limousine Lecture Royal College Art

Yeah! What Pete Townshend Said!

I am reading the Pete Townshend autobiography: Who I Am.

In it, he describes a short story called ‘The Limousine’; the subject of which…”is a dark murder story in which the evil man who owns the limo fills the airtight passenger compartment with tantalizing music combined with poisonous gas. Then he robs, rapes, murders and dumps his customers.

I told this tale to an initially rapt audience of about 200. Once I had them in the right frame of mind I go to my theme: when music, converted into digital data, could be compressed sufficiently to pass down a telephone line, music as we knew it would end. We would feel as though we were in control, but we would merely be helpless passengers. Composers and musician would feel they had a direct line to their customers, but they would also open doors to all kinds of mental an spiritual pollution…Vinyl discs, already endangered, would disappear, as would analog tape. The CD would be unnecessary. We would use computers, some as small as a watch to listen to music and share it, and we would be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of sounds we were exposed to.

Unable to distinguish good from bad, we would, in the matter of music – metaphorically speaking – be gassed, robbed raped and murdered. our luxurious, comfortable limousine was really a hearse. Perhaps I was being too dramatic. Maybe it was just (junk). But one thing I could see clearly: by the time I got to my punch line most of the audience had walked out.”

Evidently, the idea wasn’t as daft as those in the audience might have thought.