The Who will probably play the all-time greatest conservative rock song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” during the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday.
That’s the #1 song on the list I compiled for National Review a few years ago. It’s the most talked-about article I’ve ever written: not the best or the most important or the one that gives me the most satisfaction, but almost certainly the one that generated the most chatter. It went viral.
When I started to assemble the list, I thought the top song would be “Taxman,” by the Beatles. It met the criteria: It’s a great rock song, and the lyrics carry a right-of-center message. But “Taxman” is #2 on the list. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” dislodged it because of NRO readers. I had asked them to recommend songs for the list. A bunch wrote it to make a case for “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” I was persuaded by their numbers and their arguments, and so it topped the NR charts.
Here’s the case for the song, as it appeared in the article:
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. “There’s nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye. . . . Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.” The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend’s ringing guitar, Keith Moon’s pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey’s wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded — the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.
A few months later, The Who were touring the United States. A writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer asked Townshend about the list.
This summer, National Review magazine called “Won’t Get Fooled Again” the greatest conservative rock song of all time. Townshend says that’s “on themoney.” 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.”
Unfortunately, the link to the original article no longer works. At the time, I blogged about it on The Corner. And just for the record, the article is “The Who: Two for the road,” by Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 12, 2006. UPDATE: A diligent reader tracked down a link.