Mick Jagger Makes Sure the Who Won't Get Fooled Again by Virgil Vince
The album 'Who's Next' provided fans with some of the most cherished songs ever written by the band. Rising from the smoldering remains of Pete Townshend's emotional breakdown and thwarted artistic vision, the band was able to cherry pick from the reams of compositions that Townshend had lying around unused from previous projects. For The Who Won't Get Fooled Again, the epic eight and a half minute track that closed the album, would become their anthem, a stunning tour de force that railed against the dangers of false revolution.
The Who weren't enamored with the song when they first laid it down in 1971. Originally recorded in New York, the band felt that the track could stand some revision, and so they employed the services of the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, a great recording studio on wheels that was popular amongst bands of the day who wanted to record their albums in off the wall places. These usually ended up being enormous, empty mansions isolated from fans and possessing unique acoustic properties. In the case of The Who, they kept the Mobile Studio close to home and worked on the track at Mick Jagger's Star Grove residence in England. The biggest change between the original track and that which would emerge from their work at Stargrove was the decision to again use parts of the synthesizer demo that Townshend had recorded earlier in the year. Juxtaposed with the rising and falling organ part during the solo break in the middle of the song, this new edit would make its way onto the final record.
Given the lyrical content of the track, it is unsurprising that many political movements and pundits have appropriated the track to represent their particular cause and champion the overthrow of the status quo. According to The Who Won't Get Fooled Again partially represented their backlash against the pressure they felt from radical revolutionaries to give their music over entirely to whatever movement happened to come calling. The lyrics had their root in the plot of Townshend's failed 'Lifehouse' rock opera, in which the villain attempts to convince the hero that they are almost the same people - to which the hero sings this stunning rebuttal. The song remains a cautionary statement to those who would get caught up in the promise of change without examining whether they are merely trading one power structure for another that is equally deficient.
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