In August 1971 when I first heard The Who “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from Who’s Next blasting out of a portable AM radio around midnight, it was in the commercial kitchen of a large chain restaurant where I was the all-night janitor. Though I had missed the Woodstock Festival two summers earlier because I was too young, this Summer 1971 was my first time as an emancipated adult, and I thoroughly bought into the ” peace, love, social change without violence ” ideals of the Woodstock Nation and the American civil rights movement. The power and fury of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who were exhilarating, but the lyrical sentiments in Pete Townshend‘s song were unsettling to me, even then. According to author Richie Unterberger‘s Won’t Get Fooled Again: the Who from Lifehouse to Quadrophenia, apparently I was not the only one.
“Revolutionary change, the song wryly observes, might be exciting and necessary, but the differences between the revolutionaries and the despots they toppled weren’t as big as either side might have you believe”, writes Unterberger. “The very nature of power, Townshend suggested, corrupts and makes the prospect of real change dubious, if not hopeless .”
Regardless of your hopes in this bizarre year of Brexit and US presidential politics that resemble a Mexican soap opera, my guest Pete Townshend reveals great insights into the ageless musical triumph on Who’s Next, including the songs “Baba O’Riley”,”Bargain”,”Going Mobile”,”Behind Blue Eyes”,”Getting in Tune“, and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.
Freshmen U.S. Congressmen and women who currently see themselves as self-righteous agents of change by refusing to compromise, while playing chicken with the lives of 300 million Americans now as well as our future, would do well to remember what happened when Youth Independent Party activist Abbie Hoffman attempted to hijack the Who’s set at Woodstock: Pete Townshend clubbed him in the back of the head with Townshend’s Gibson SG guitar. Maybe we need to send Pete up to Capitol Hill to see Who’s Next?-Redbeard