The Who’s Pete Townshend: Not the Left’s Fool


Being a college student in the early ’70s, The Who was right up there on our “must see” concert list. I have often thought of them in the last few years, as their famous lyrics “won’t get fooled again” continued to pop up in my mind (usually on a daily basis.) For me, that one line resonates more than any other.

Seeing them on the Superbowl half time stage commanded my full attention and arose me from my football-and-queso-dip coma. They were playing my song! I knew what it meant to me, but I have often wondered what Townshend had intended when he wrote it. I decided to Google it this morning. 

Apparently, John J. Miller had discussed this very song back in 2006 for National Review. At the time, he said:

The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naïve idealism once and for all.

Townshend heard about it, and this was his response, from an interview in the Pennsylvania Times Leader:

National Review magazine called “Won’t Get Fooled Again” the greatest conservative rock song of all time. Townshend says that’s “on the money.” The self-described “working musician” who sees his job as “helping the audience to forget themselves,” says he never really bought into “all that hippie (expletive) I so despise.”

And, Townshend says, “when people say ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ is not about rebellion, it’s the exact opposite of that, I say they’re right.”

I love the great observation made by Thomas Ryan from American Hit Radio:

Some were offended by his inability to lay back and accept the hippie agenda at face value, but time may have proven Townshend to be the wiser. Once the smokescreen of rhetoric and posturing dissipated, the politics of youth were revealed to be as one-dimensional and muddled as the values they were rallying against. In 1967, the dream was fresh and new, but by 1970 it had become little more than a deceitful memory.

Reading over the complete lyrics of the song, you can take a lot from it. For me, as I keep plugging along, trying to keep from getting disillusioned with the daily influx of insanity coming from this radical administration and the progressives now in office, I’ll try to bring the song up in my mind, the new anthem to keep me going.

Then I’ll get on my knees and pray

We don’t get fooled again

Michelle is a small business owner in south Texas.