Friday, June 25, 1971

The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” hit the charts

Last updated 2/11/2021.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

The Who

Writer(s): Pete Townshend (see lyrics here)


First Charted: June 25, 1971


Peak: 15 US, 9 CB, 8 HR, 1 CL, 9 UK, 9 CN, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 38.5 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

One of rock’s most celebrated anthems kicks off by singer Roger Daltrey’s iconic blood-curdling wail, “considered one of the best on any rock song.” SF There is an uprising in the first verse, those in power are overthrown in the second verse, and then, in the end, the new regime is just like the old one (signified by the classic lyric “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”). SF Interestingly, the title never appears in the lyrics, although there is the line “we don’t get fooled again.”

While many have assumed that “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is a revolutionary song, CR Pete Townshend, the band’s chief songwriter and guitarist, explains that it is actually “a song against the revolution.” TB He says “it’s interesting it’s been taken up in an anthemic sense…when in fact it’s such a cautionary piece.” RS500 “Revolution, like all action, can have results we cannot predict.” WK He “felt revolution was pointless because whoever takes over is destined to become corrupt.” SF

Townshend originally wrote it 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.

When the song was released as a single, it was edited down from its album running time of 8:30 to 3:35. Daltrey told Uncut magazine, “I hated it when they chopped it down…After that we started to lose interest in singles because they’d cut them to bits. We thought, ‘What’s the point? Our music’s evolved past the three-minute barrier and if they can’t accommodate that we’re just gonna have to live on albums.’” SF


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Who
  • DMDB page for parent album Who’s Next
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Page 671.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” (12/04).
  • SF Songfacts
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA.
  • WK Wikipedia

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