Written as the opening song for the never-completed rock opera Lifehouse, "Baba O'Riley" has a very specific setting. Townshend set his story in Great Britain several decades in the future. The earth is blanketed with toxic pollution, forcing people to live in tightly sealed houses and experience the larger world through "experience suits." These suits are connected to a worldwide, internet-like grid that is controlled by one mega-corporation. By feeding people all of their news and entertainment and controlling when they eat and even sleep, this corporation dictates "reality" for most people.
Ray and Sally live in a remote part of Scotland. Even though they're off the grid, they decide to risk a trip to London. Their daughter has gone there to be part of the freedom-promising musical experience of the Lifehouse. They hope to safely pass through the toxic English countryside by rolling up the windows on their old Cadillac and breathing only air-conditioned air.