October 26, 2020

In The Ether

Pete: "In my Novella The Boy Who Heard Music the narrator is Ray High, a rock star whose drug-abuse has led him to a sanatorium. While there he learns to meditate and begins to sense that someone is interfering with his quietude up in the place where he allows his mind to go. It seems almost as though they are using a Ham Radio, and old fashioned long-wave radio that was the specialist precursor to the modern internet Chat-Room. He may sense another presence, but this song reinforces how lonely it is to be ‘spiritual’. If the intention of the spiritual aspirant is to ‘become one with the infinite’, and yet life is almost the universally finite antidote to the infinite, isn’t he likely to get very lonely?"

In the Observer Music Monthly (Sept. 2006) Pete said "In The Ether" was one of the first songs he wrote inspired by his novella The Boy Who Heard Music and was intended to resemble the theatrical songs of Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George). To Mercury News he denied that the voice he uses on this track was an imitation of Tom Waits: "That’s me singing. I’m 60 years old pretending to be 80. My voice is an instrument I can’t always control. I love Tom Waits, but listen to him, he sounds like gravel being hauled through an oil can. I just sound a teensy bit gruff."

One of the reasons Pete sings the song on the album is that, when he initially played the song for Roger, it got a rather cool reception. "I played it to Roger and about a month passed. In the end, I got on the phone and said, ‘So, what did you think?’" Daltrey: ‘It’s a bit music-theatre. Maybe if you didn’t have piano but just had guitar’ Townshend: ‘Yeah, and maybe if it was three guitars and was rock’n’roll and sounded like "Young Man Blues" it would be OK.’ And then Townshend put the phone down. ‘I was really, really hurt…’

"In The Ether" was premiered by Pete with his partner Rachel Fuller Sept. 25, 2005 at the Poetry Olympics held in the Royal Albert Hall, London. On Oct. 29, 2005, Pete supplied this track as an mp3 download on his website. It featured a different mix from the album release version.