Won’t Get Fooled Again

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Won’t Get Fooled Again

by The Who

We’ll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain’t changed
‘Cause the banners, they are flown in the last war

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
No, no!

I’ll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I’ll get all my papers and smile at the sky
Oh I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?

There’s nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by the bye
And a parting on the left
Is now a parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again
No, no!

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

_______________________________

First… who is/are The Who? Who are you? Who? Who?

The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964. The main lineup from 1964 to 1978 was guitarist Pete Townshendvocalist Roger Daltreybassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. They became known for their high energy live shows. The Who have sold about 100 million records. Many people think that The Who are the greatest live band of all time.

The Who rose to fame in the United Kingdom with a series of top ten hit singles including: “I Can’t Explain”, “The Kids Are Alright”, “My Generation”, “Who Are You”, and “Love Reign O’er Me”. The albums “My Generation”, “A Quick One” and “The Who Sell Out” followed. Their fame grew with memorable shows at the Monterey Pop and Woodstock music festivals. “Tommy,” released in 1969, was the first in a series of top ten albums in the United States.

Keith Moon died in 1978. The band released two more studio albums with drummer Kenney Jones before disbanding in 1983. They re-formed at events such as Live Aid and for reunion tours such as their 25th anniversary tour and the Quadrophenia tours of 1996 and 1997. In 2002 planning for recording an album of new material was put on hold after John Entwistle’s death at the age of 57. Townshend and Daltrey continued to perform as The Who and in 2006 they released the studio album titled “Endless Wire.”

The Who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

What is “Won’t Get Fooled Again” about?

Townshend wrote the song as a closing number of the Lifehouse project, and the lyrics criticize revolution and power. To symbolise the spiritual connection he had found in music via the works of Meher Baba and Inayat Khan, he programmed a mixture of human traits into a synthesizer and used it as the main backing instrument throughout the song. The Who tried recording the song in New York in March 1971, but re-recorded a superior take at Stargroves the next month using the synthesizer from Townshend’s original demo. Ultimately, Lifehouse as a project was abandoned in favor of Who’s Next, a straightforward album, where it also became the closing track. It has been performed as a staple of the band’s setlist since 1971, often as the set closer, and was the last song drummer Keith Moon played live with the band.

The song’s wiki page includes some interesting background on its composition, some of which is quoted below:

The song was originally intended for a rock opera Townshend had been working on, Lifehouse, which was a multi-media exercise based on his followings of the Indian religious avatar Meher Baba, showing how spiritual enlightenment could be obtained via a combination of band and audience.[3] The song was written for the end of the opera, after the main character, Bobby, is killed and the “universal chord” is sounded. The main characters disappear, leaving behind the government and army, who are left to bully each other.[4] Townshend described the song as one “that screams defiance at those who feel any cause is better than no cause”.[5] He later said that the song was not strictly anti-revolution despite the lyric “We’ll be fighting in the streets”, but stressed that revolution could be unpredictable, adding, “Don’t expect to see what you expect to see. Expect nothing and you might gain everything.”[6] Bassist John Entwistle later said that the song showed Townshend “saying things that really mattered to him, and saying them for the first time.”[7]

Townshend had been reading Universal Sufism founder Inayat Khan‘s The Mysticism of Sound and Music, which referred to spiritual harmony and the universal chord, which would restore harmony to humanity when sounded. Townshend realised that the newly emerging synthesizers would allow him to communicate these ideas to a mass audience.[8] He had met the BBC Radiophonic Workshop which gave him ideas for capturing human personality within music. Townshend interviewed several people with general practitioner-style questions, and captured their heartbeat, brainwaves and astrological charts, converting the result into a series of audio pulses. For the demo of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, he linked a Lowrey organ into an EMS VCS 3 filter that played back the pulse-coded modulations from his experiments.[8] He subsequently upgraded to an ARP 2500.[9] The synthesizer did not play any sounds directly as it was monophonic; instead it modified the block chords on the organ as an input signal.[10] The demo, recorded at a slower tempo than the version by the Who, was completed by Townshend overdubbing drums, bass, electric guitar, vocals and handclaps.[11]

The song, characterized as “anti-revolution” seems to say that nothing ever really changes. If so, then it follows that fighting to make change is a pointless endeavor. Ultimately, after the fighting and the war and the death, we’ll see that the new boss is the same as the old boss and the cycle will begin anew.

Is that true? In the broad sense it seems so. Empires rise and fall. Given enough time, good institutions eventually become corrupt. In a narrow sense focused on individual lives and choices, is it a good moral choice to engage in the attempt to make the world better, even if you know beforehand that attempt will ultimately end up corrupted, too? I think that is difficult to answer. What about the interval between the revolutions? What would the world look like if those revolutions were never fought? Are the revolutions necessary elements of restoring a balance, the things keeping our world from becoming unbearably bad?

I like the song musically and I appreciate Townshend’s efforts to make me think.

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2 thoughts on “Won’t Get Fooled Again

    1. Yeah.. I have always liked The Who most among their British rock contemporaries. I’m not exactly sure what it is about their music that I really dig but they always felt authentic to me.

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