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Wont Get Fooled Again
Song

Wont Get Fooled Again

The Who
Album:
Whos Next

Song Meaning and Background of Won't Get Fooled Again by The Who


Pete Townshend wrote this for an aborted concept album and film called Lifehouse.

But many of that project’s songs were resurrected for Who’s Next, which started off with a week of demo sessions at Mick Jagger’s country house, Stargroves.


The synthesizer on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is from those demos. “Pete came up with sounds, synthesizer basics, for tracks which were just unbelievable,” said producer Glyn Johns. “Nobody had done it before in that way.” “It’s interesting it’s been taken up in an anthemic sense,” Townshend said of the song, “when in fact it’s such a cautionary piece.”


"Won't Get Fooled Again" is a song by the English rock band the Who, written by Pete Townshend. It was released as a single in June 1971, reaching the top 10 in the UK, while the full eight-and-a-half-minute version appears as the final track on the band's 1971 album Who's Next.


Townshend wrote the song as a closing number of the Lifehouse project, and the lyrics criticise revolution and power. The track is known for a staccato keyboard figure, played on a simple home organ with a “rhythm” feature that produced a synth-like effect.


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.

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.


Townshend described the song as one "that screams defiance at those who feel any cause is better than no cause".


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."


Bassist John Entwistle later said that the song showed Townshend "saying things that really mattered to him, and saying them for the first time."


The song's message is summarized in the last line "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." Townsend was influenced to write the composition by an incident at Woodstock when he chased off the stage Abbie Hoffman who attempted to speak against the jailing of John Sinclair of the White Panther Party. who had grabbed the microphone during a break in the band's performance.


He explained to Creem in 1982, "I wrote 'Won’t Get Fooled Again' as a reaction to all that – ‘Leave me out of it: I don’t think your lot would be any better than the other lot!' All those hippies wandering about thinking the world was going to be different from that day.


As a cynical English arsehole, I walked through it all and felt like spitting on the lot of them, and shaking them and trying to make them realise that nothing had changed and nothing was going to change."

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.


Lyrics of 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 judgment 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

 

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 all 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

For I know that the hypnotized never lie

Do you?

 

Yeah

There's nothing in the street

Looks any different to me

And the slogans are effaced, by-the-bye

And the parting on the left

Is now the 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

 

Yeah

Meet the new boss

Same as the old boss

Release Date

1971

Songwriter/s

Pete Townshend

Producer/s

The Who, Glyn Johns (associate producer)

Label/s

Track (UK), Decca (USA)

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