"Won't Get Fooled Again" is a song by the English rock band The Who, written by Pete Townshend. The original version of the song appears as the final track on the band's 1971 albumWho's Next, but its release was preceded by two months by the 1971 single release (a drastically edited version at three-and-a-half minutes in length). The single reached number 9 on the UK Singles Chart, number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 14 on the Australian Singles Chart (Go-Set). It is a perennial favorite on classic rock radio stations and concert staple for the band.
- 2 Cover versions
- 3 Composition
- 4 Political message
- 5 Charts
- 6 Legacy
- 7 Personnel
- 8 In other media
- 9 Live 8 and Live Aid
- 10 References
The song originally appeared, in truncated form, on the A-side of a 1971 single and, in its complete form, on the 1971 album Who's Next. It later featured on the 1979 documentary film The Kids Are Alright and the accompanying live compilation soundtrack album. The film performance of the song, which occurred on 25 May 1978 in Shepperton Studios, was also the last song the original lineup ever performed together, as Keith Moon died four months later.
The song was performed both at Live Aid and 20 years later at Live 8. Townshend also collaborated on a celebrated, live, acoustic duet version of the song with leading classical guitarist John Williams for the 1979 Amnesty International benefit The Secret Policeman's Ball. The Who's Next deluxe edition (released in 2003) contains an early session tape of this song with a different structure featuring Mountain's Leslie West on lead guitar.
Numerous live versions of this song have appeared on albums. In addition to The Kids Are Alright soundtrack, the most notable ones are on the Who's Next deluxe edition from the 1971 Young Vic show and on the Live at the Royal Albert Hall album (from a 2000 show with Noel Gallagher guesting). The band's performance of the song at 2001's The Concert for New York Citywas considered a highlight of that show.
Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Townshend have each performed the song at solo concerts. Townshend has most radically rearranged the song several times, using instrumentation varying from acoustic to techno.
The song was first covered in a distinctive soul style by Labelle on their 1972 album Moon Shadow. Punk rockers Skrewdriver covered it on their debut album All Skrewed Up. A version by Van Halen was performed on their live album Live: Right Here, Right Now in 1993 and made it to number one on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart. In Van Halen's performances of the song during instrumental section, singer Sammy Hagar shouts "they're all wasted!" -- which is from the Who song, "Baba O'Riley". It was also covered by heavy metal guitarist Axel Rudi Pell for his 2007 album Diamonds Unlocked.
The song is noted for its angular organ part set against guitar power chords, leading up to an extended synthesizer break into a drum entrance followed by a long scream by Daltrey. Townshend is playing block chords spread between the two keyboards of the 1968 Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 organ. The output of the organ is fed into the audio input of the EMS VCS 3 mk1 synth. The first bit of processing to be applied to the organ sound is a low-frequency oscillator (LFO) controlling the frequency of a voltage-controlled filter (VCF), using a sine or triangle wave shape. In other words, the synth is turning the tone of the organ from mellow to bright, up and down automatically. There are pictures of Townshend playing this instrument, as well as a video of Townshend demonstrating how the sound was produced. John Entwistle used a Fender Precision Bass that he made out of five other bass guitars, christened "Frankenstein".
Townshend's guitar sound was produced using a Gretsch 6120 guitar, a tweed 1959 Fender 3x10 Bandmaster amp, and an Edwards Light Beam volume pedal, all of which was a gift from Joe Walsh.
The song ranges from eight to nine minutes depending on the version; the original album version is approximately 8:32. A heavily shortened and edited single (3:38) was released for use on broadcast radio and appeared on some hit collections such as Who's Better, Who's Best.
Townshend stated in 2006 that: "It is not precisely a song that decries revolution – it suggests that we will indeed fight in the streets – but that revolution, like all action, can have results we cannot predict. Don't expect to see what you expect to see. Expect nothing and you might gain everything. The song was meant to let politicians and revolutionaries alike know that what lay in the centre of my life was not for sale, and could not be co-opted into any obvious cause. [...] From 1971 – when I wrote "Won't Get Fooled Again" – to 1985, there was a transition in me from refusal to be co-opted by activists, to a refusal to be judged by people I found jaded and compliant in Thatcher's Britain."
Director Michael Moore wanted to play the song over the closing credits of Fahrenheit 9/11, but Townshend refused to allow him to do so, saying "[o]nce I had an idea what the film was about, I was 90% certain my song was not right for them." 
|Chart (1972)||Peak position|
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||7|
|Dutch Singles Chart||8|
|UK Singles Chart||9|
|US Billboard Hot 100||15|
In an April 2006 editorial for Time magazine, retired Lieutenant General Greg Newbold referenced the song, labeling it an "antiwar anthem" that "conveyed a sense of betrayal by the nation's leaders, who had led our country into a costly and unnecessary war in Vietnam." In 2004 it was ranked number 133 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.
During the 2000 Republican convention, a record briefly played "Don't Stop", presumably as a taunt against its use by the 1992 Clinton campaign. The record then screeched to a halt, to be replaced by "Won't Get Fooled Again"—or at least the refrain chorus.
In October 2001, The Who reunited to perform at The Concert for New York City to help raise funds for the families of firemen and police officers killed during the September 11th World Trade Center attacks. They finished their set with 'Won't Get Fooled Again' to a highly-responsive and emotional audience, with close-up aerial video footage of the World Trade Center buildings playing behind them on a huge digital screen.
- Roger Daltrey: vocals
- Pete Townshend: guitars, synthesized organ (Arp 2500, EMS VCS 3) and backing vocals
- John Entwistle: bass guitar
- Keith Moon: drums
- A portion of the song was used as the opening theme for the CBS series CSI: Miami. The predictable conditions prior to the opening theme has become an Internet meme.
- It is featured in the video games Rock Band and Rock Revolution, and a remix by Cato is also used in Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
- It is featured in Anger Management.
- It is featured in the trailer and website for Robots.
- It was on the trailer for the Jim Carrey comedy Yes Man.
- A portion of the song (the outro) was featured in an episode of The Simpsons ("A Tale of Two Springfields") and played by Townshend.
- A portion of the song was used in a scene from Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny where Jack Black and Kyle Gass escape a security guard by powersliding a la Townshend under a closing gate.
- It is featured in the trailer for Land of the Lost[7
- ITV used the song for the closing montage to their coverage of the 2012 Tour de France. The winner, Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins, had cited The Who as band he listened to during the Tour. It was also used as a reference to Lance Armstrong, with revelations of his doping coming out during the Tour.
- The song is used during the final dramatic scenes of Spike Lee's film, Summer of Sam.
- The song is used in the radio program Memory Hole 1 by Kevin Moore
- The song is used of Outside Providence (1999) Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (2002) Blackball (2003) Bewitched (2005) Pirate Radio (2009) and The Lego Movie (2014)
- It is featured in the trailer for The Lego Movie (2014)
The song, along with "Who Are You", formed part of The Who's Live 8 line-up, which they performed in Hyde Park, London on 2 July 2005 to over 200,000 onlookers. It was also performed at the original Live Aid in 1985, along with "My Generation," "Pinball Wizard" and "Love, Reign O'er Me".