Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again… Epic Rock Songs Week

This week I will cover some songs that I have avoided because everyone has heard them so many times but…they are considered some of the best ever…

Meet The New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

As rock songs go…it doesn’t get any better than this one. 

This is one of my favorite rock songs of all time. I wrote a review of Who’s Next and I included this with it about Won’t Get Fooled Again: This is the best concert song I’ve witnessed on film or live in person. It has drama, action, suspense, and aggression… just as much as any movie. Every member of the band is at the top of their game. You have Pete’s thick power chords, John Entwistle’s rolling bass lines, Keith Moon’s controlled chaos, and Roger holding it down and keeping it grounded.

The song is always exciting to hear and out of all the songs in this week’s posts…this is one I never get tired of…

Roger Daltrey’s scream is considered one of the best on any rock song. It was quite convincing…so convincing that the rest of the band, lunching nearby, thought Daltrey was brawling with the engineer.

Pete Townshend: “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.” Townsend then goes on to explain that the song was simply ”Meant to let politicians and revolutionaries alike know that what lay in the center of my life was not for sale, and could not be co-opted into any obvious cause.” 

The song peaked at #15 in the Billboard 100, #9 in the UK, and #7 in Canada in 1971.

Pete Townshend wrote this as part of his “Lifehouse” project. He wanted to release a film about a futuristic world where the people are enslaved… but saved by a rock concert. Pete couldn’t get enough support to finish the project, but most of the songs he wrote were used on the Who’s Next album.

From Songfacts

Pete Townshend wrote this song about a revolution. In the first verse, there is an uprising. In the middle, they overthrow those in power, but in the end, the new regime becomes just like the old one (“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”). Townshend felt revolution was pointless because whoever takes over is destined to become corrupt. In Townshend: A Career Biography, Pete explained that the song was antiestablishment, but that “revolution is not going to change anything in the long run, and people are going to get hurt.”

The synthesizer represents the revolution. It builds at the beginning when the uprising starts, and comes back at the end when a new revolution is brewing.

The title never appears in the lyric, which goes:

I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

The album version runs 8:30. The single was shortened to 3:35 so radio stations would play it.

Daltrey was unhappy about the editing. He recalled to Uncut magazine: “I hated it when they chopped it down. I used to say ‘F–k it, put it out as eight minutes’, but there’d always be some excuse about not fitting it on or some technical thing at the pressing plant.”

“After that we started to lose interest in singles because they’d cut them to bits,” Daltrey added. “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.'”

In a 1985 “My Generation” radio special, Pete Townshend said he wrote the song as a message to the supposedly “new breed” of politicians who came around in the early ’70s.

This is the last song on the album. It was also the last song they played at their concerts for many years.

This was one of the first times a synthesizer was used in the rhythm track. When they played this live, they had to play the synthesizer part off tape.

Townshend (from Rolling Stone magazine): “It’s interesting it’s been taken up in an anthemic sense when in fact it’s such a cautionary piece.” 

Pete Townshend lived on Eel Pie Island in Richmond, London, when he wrote this song. There was an active commune on the Island at the time situated in what used to be a hotel. According to Townshend, this commune was an influence on the song. “There was like a love affair going on between me an them,” he said. “They dug me because I was like a figurehead in a group, and I dug them because I could see what was going on over there. At one point there was an amazing scene where the commune was really working, but then the acid started flowing and I got on the end of some psychotic conversations.”

The Woodstock festival was an influence on this song. Most songs inspired by Woodstock follow the peace and love narrative, but Pete Townshend had a very different take.

The Who played Day 2 of Woodstock, going on at the ludicrous hour of 5 a.m. During their set, the activist Abbie Hoffman came on stage unannounced and commandeered the microphone. Townshend may or may not have belted him with his guitar, but he certainly did not want to provide a platform for any cause. “I wrote ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ as a reaction to all that – ‘Leave me out of it: I don’t think you lot would be any better than the other lot!,'” he explained to Creem in 1982.

In the same interview, he shared his thoughts on the festival crowd: “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 realize that nothing had changed and nothing was going to change.”

This song was played by the remaining members of the band at “The Concert for New York City,” a fundraising concert in the wake of the devastating attacks on September 11, 2001. Daltrey omitted the last line of the song: “Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss.” 

Part of this song is used in the opening sequence of the CBS TV series CSI: Miami, which launched in 2002. This was the first spin-off from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which went on the air in 2000 with “Who Are You?” as the theme song. Every subsequent CSI featured a song by The Who: CSI: NY used “Baba O’Riley,” and CSI: Cyber went with “I Can See For Miles.”

Roger Daltrey could sing “My Generation” for five decades without complaint, but not this one. “That’s the only song I’m bloody bored s–tless with,” he told Rolling Stone in 2018.

In The Simpsons episode “A Tale of Two Springfields,” Homer forms “New Springfield” and gets The Who to play there. Pete Townshend blasts the wall between old and new Springfield by blasting the guitar riff from this song. >>

Pete Townshend refused Michael Moore permission to use this song in his 2004 anti-George W. Bush documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, citing the left wing filmaker as a “bully.”

This was used in commercials for the 2000 Nissan Maxima. Some people considered this the biggest sellout in rock, but The Who made lots of money in the deal. The same year, Nissan used The Who’s “Baba O’Reily” in an ad for their Pathfinder.

DJs like to play this as their last song before leaving a particular radio station because of the line “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” – a snub directed at station management because they might not be leaving on the friendliest terms. 

This was played in Super Bowl XLI (2007) as the Indianapolis Colts came out of the locker room. The Colts won the game.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

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

The 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 are flown in the next 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
Though I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?

There’s nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Are now 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

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

27 thoughts on “Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again… Epic Rock Songs Week”

  1. Epic is right Max!
    One of the all time greats and it’s amazing when I hear this song today it still doesn’t sound its going to be 50 years young next year! Great start to the week here dude!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I would say the ultimate Who song… Thanks Dave but you can guess the ones that are coming… they are ones that yes we are tired of but…they are considered great.

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      1. Big change for sure. It would actually be a good topic for a blog post about when the changes happened, but I’d assume that Led Zeppelin’s two 1969 albums were factors in introducing clearer, tougher sounds. Tommy started in 1968, while Abbey Road (sounds much more modern IMO) was recorded after Led Zeppelin was released.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I would guess solid-state technology had some to do with it and the number of tracks going up…not as much bouncing being done on 8 and 16 tracks..
        Abbey Road just switched to a solid state board for the Abbey Road album. Compare it to the White Album and there is a huge difference.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I read a book called Solid State and it was about Abbey Road. EMI always lagged behind the other studios and The Beatles were pissed about it. They had the 8 track at the studio when they made the White Album but EMI hadn’t set it up til that album was finished.
        They didn’t have to bounce as many tracks and it gave them a different slicker sound on Abbey Road.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I could have used either one but this one has that long part near the end where Moon explodes back in…plus… Meet the new boss…same as the old boss…I love that line.

      Like

  2. I think if you do a series titled “Epic Rock Songs”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is a perfect fit. The live video is cool. The crazy thing about The Who is that they all seem to be playing by themselves – not really the idea of a band in the traditional sense – yet somehow it’s all coming together!

    Pete ending up with a bleeding finger from hitting the strings of his guitar with, well, his finger, instead of the pick – yikes! With his crazy moves you kind of wonder he’s not getting hurt more often!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One time… this hurts to write… Pete drove a whammy bar through his hand…so he does get hurt… that sounds awful.
      It is crazy… at the end they are all in sync with each other going crazy… Moon powered them… he has to be my favorite rock drummer.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Definitely their best song. This was the song that, at their live gigs, they’d turn the huge spotlights onto the audience and blind us in the process (I hated those lights, but well, The Who are The Who…) I’ve always thought of this as a song of rebellion – of all sorts. Not just political. It’s a real rouser.

    Liked by 1 person

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