Saturday, May 26, 2012

40 Year Itch : The Who Record "Relay"

Forget what you've heard about Al Gore inventing the internet. Listen to the lyrics Pete Townshend wrote for "Relay" , recorded on May 26, 1972 at Olympic Studios, and you might think he's commenting on social media circa 2012. In fact, Pete introduced the song at the Glastonbury Festival in 2007 in this way :

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…

From tree to tree,
From you to me,
Travelling twice as fast as on any freeway.
 Ev'ry single dream
Is wrapped up in the scheme,
They all get carried on the relay.
 "Pass it on."
 Someone disapproves
Of what you say or do,
I was asked to see what I could learn you;
 Don't believe your eyes,
They're seeing only lies,
What is done in the first place don't concern you.

"Relay" was released in the winter of 1972, reaching #21 in the UK and #39 in the US. It was one of three great singles ( the others are "Let's See Action" and "Join Together") from the aborted Lifehouse project that helped string fans along between Who's Next and Quadrophenia. Had The Who released the Lifehouse rock opera, "Relay" would have come near the end of the album between "Slip Kid" ( from The Who By Numbers) and "Who Are You".

The single's B side is "Waspman" written by Keith Moon.

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