Saturday, July 17, 1971

The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” Charts in the U.S.: July 17, 1971

Originally posted July 17, 2011.

Click to see the DMDB page for “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” is one of the most celebrated songs in The Who catalog. It ranks as one of the top 10 classic rock songs of all time according to Dave’s Music Database. The DMDB also includes the track in its list of the top 1000 songs of the 20th century. It also makes best-of lists from Rolling Stone magazine and British radio station XFM.

Pete Townshend, the band’s chief songwriter and guitarist, originally wrote “Fooled Again” for the intended Lifehouse project. Townshend crafted the concept of a futuristic world in which an enslaved people are freed by rock ‘n’ roll. He conceived the idea while The Who toured in support of their 1969 rock opera Tommy. The project became so confusing to everyone else that it was aborted in favor of a more direct album. The resulting Who’s Next became one of the top 100 albums of all-time, landing on best-of lists from a slew of publications and organizations including Mojo, NME, Q, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Rolling Stone, Time magazine, and VH1.

Who’s Next

The Who, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, originally rode in on the crest of the British invasion in the 1960s, but didn’t really explode in the U.S. until Tommy, a top 5, platinum-selling album. Who’s Next followed suit with “Won’t Get Fooled Again” leading the way. The song hit the Billboard Hot 100 on July 17, 1971, after launching a week earlier in the U.K. It became the band’s tenth top 10 in England. In America, it was only their fourth trip inside the top 20.

Singer Roger Daltrey’s blood-curdling wail at the onset and classic lines like “meet the new boss/ same as the old boss” have made the song one of rock’s most enduring anthems and a popular closer at Who concerts. Townshend has said, “It’s interesting it’s been taken up in an anthemic sense…when in fact it’s such a cautionary piece.” RS500 While many have assumed that “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is a revolutionary song, CR Townshend explains that it is actually “a song against the revolution,” TB saying “revolution, like all action, can have results we cannot predict.” WK

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