In all the years I’ve been going to concerts and the nine different times I have seen The Who perform live, there was always that moment of anticipation; awash in cheers and the buzz of 50,000 watts—the calm before the storm—where Keith Moon, Kenny Jones or Zak Starkey can be heard counting out time with three drum kicks before the entire band exploded into the song that was the climax of their shows for three decades. It would also be the last song Keith Moon ever performed live with the band. It sounded like this:
“Won’t Get Fooled Again,” was originally recorded to close out The Who’s aborted Life House project, but eventually wound up as the last song on the band’s historic 1971 album, Who’s Next. Apparently the band’s first ill-fated attempts to record the song were done in New York with Felix Pappalardi overseeing the production and his bandmate from Mountain, Leslie West on lead guitar. When The Who’s manager, Kit Lambert was unable to mix that recording, the band re-recorded the track back home in the UK with Glyn Johns manning the controls. According to Johns, it was his idea to incorporate Pete Townshend’s now legendary synthesized organ demo into the song. Much to Roger Daltrey’s annoyance, the eight and a half minute song was “Cliff-noted” to three and a half to release it as a single in the summer of ’71. It reached No. 9 in the UK singles charts, No. 15. in the US, and has gone on to become one of the quintessential rock songs ever recorded.
April 1st seems like the perfect day to hear “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” but in keeping with the occasion the Happy Medium Song of the Day won’t be the version I just teed up for you. Instead, enjoy this recording of Richie Havens covering The Who’s song from the last album he would record, Nobody Left to Crown. Havens who opened Woodstock in 1969 and released 25 albums over the course of his career, died of a heart attack in 2013 at the age of 72.
And while you’re at it, stuck at home with nothing else to do, check out this version of "Won't Get Fooled Again" — just in case you missed it the first time around: