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Townshend sings to the wide open cyberspaces

October 22, 2005|Geoff Boucher

When Pete Townshend finishes a novella manuscript, does he smash his keyboard?

The answer to that question will become clear on New Year's Eve. That's when the guitar hero of the Who is scheduled to post the final pages of "The Boy Who Heard Music," his serialized Web tale that grows by a chapter every Saturday.

The story by the 60-year-old master of the rock opera is set in the year 2033 and has characters such as Spin, an "activist, marijuana smoker, dreamer, muddled dystopian, confused utopian, visionary and spiritual fool."

Here's a sample of the latest chapter: "In the ether I can sense the assembled angels awaiting the next great Harvest listening enthralled to the beautiful music this ritual still engenders in young Gabriel's mind, echoing through the clouds until this very moment sixty-seven years later."

Heavy stuff, but, hey, this is the guy who cooked up "Quadrophenia."

So far, his fans seem to be enjoying it. "It's like Cubism," one reader commented in a posting. "Different aspects and views of its subjects, from differing perspectives and times, assembled and brought together to exist harmonically in one place."

The novella is posted on and on Townshend's page on His blogger profile is perhaps more interesting than his prose; his listed interests include prison reform, cooking and "the behaviour of dogs in packs." And who would have pegged him as a Yo-Yo Ma fan?

If you prefer the rock star when he sticks to his day job: On Nov. 7, a three-disc DVD set of Who performances hits stores. It includes the complete 1989 performance of "Tommy" filmed at the Universal Amphitheatre.

-- Geoff Boucher

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