Essential Listening #25: Won’t Get Fooled Again


Won’t Get Fooled Again” is a song by the English rock band The Who, featured on their 1971 album “Who’s Next.” Written by Pete Townshend, the song is one of the band’s most famous and influential works. Here are the key details about the song:

Song Composition and Theme

  • Writer: Pete Townshend.
  • Genre: Hard rock, progressive rock.
  • Theme: The song addresses themes of revolution, change, and skepticism toward political movements. The lyrics express disillusionment with the idea that revolutions or major changes in society will lead to truly different outcomes, often summed up by the line “Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.”

Musical Elements

  • Structure: The song features a traditional rock structure with verses, choruses, and an extended bridge section.
  • Key Signature: A mix of different keys, primarily E major for the verses and D major for the choruses.
  • Instrumentation: The song is known for its powerful guitar riffs, dynamic drumming, and the innovative use of synthesizers. The synthesizer parts were created using a Lowrey organ fed through a synthesizer, creating a distinctive sound.
  • Length: The album version is 8 minutes and 32 seconds long, featuring an extended instrumental section and a famous scream by lead singer Roger Daltrey towards the end. A shorter single version was also released.

Band Members Involved

  • Roger Daltrey: Lead vocals.
  • Pete Townshend: Guitar, synthesizer, backing vocals.
  • John Entwistle: Bass guitar, backing vocals.
  • Keith Moon: Drums.

Album Details

  • Album: “Who’s Next”
  • Release Date: August 14, 1971 (US), August 25, 1971 (UK)
  • Label: Decca/MCA (US), Track/Polydor (UK)
  • Producers: The Who, Glyn Johns

Reception and Impact

  • Chart Performance: The single reached No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.
  • Critical Acclaim: “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock songs of all time. It has been praised for its powerful performance, complex structure, and poignant lyrics.
  • Legacy: The song is considered a cornerstone of The Who’s catalog and a defining track of classic rock. It has been featured in numerous films, TV shows, and commercials, and is a staple of The Who’s live performances.

Notable Lyrics

  • Opening Lines: “We’ll be fighting in the streets / With our children at our feet”
  • Chorus: “I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution / Take a bow for the new
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