Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Won’t Get Fooled Again

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Pete Townshend (c. 1970).
Hit version by The Who (US #15/UK #9/AUS #14 1971).

From the wiki: “‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ was written by Pete Townshend for inclusion into Lifehouse, the science fiction rock opera intended as a follow-up to Tommy by The Who . The project, however, was abandoned – as a rock opera – in favor of creating a traditional rock album, Who’s Next. Although the Lifehouse concept was abandoned, scraps of the project remained present in the final album including the song ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’.

“Other of the project’s songs would appear on various albums and singles by The Who (e.g., ‘Baba O’Riley’, ‘Behind Blue Eyes‘, ‘Join Together’), as well as Pete Townshend solo albums. Years later, in the liner notes to the remastered Who’s Next CD, Townshend wrote that the failure of the project led him to the verge of a suicidal nervous breakdown.

“Pete Townshend was living on Eel Pie Island in Richmond, London, when he wrote the song. There was an active commune at the time on Eel Pie located in what used to be a hotel and, according to Townshend, the commune had a strong influence on ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’. ‘There was like a love affair going on between me an them,’ Townshend later recalled. ‘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.’

“‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ originally appeared, in truncated form, on the A-side of a 1971 single and, in its complete form, on Who’s Next. It would later be featured in the 1979 documentary film The Kids Are Alright; the film performance of the song, which occurred on 25 May 1978 in Shepperton Studios, was the last song the original Who lineup ever performed together, as Keith Moon died four months later.”

The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” album version (1971):

The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” live performance from The Kids Are Alright (1978):

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