The 100 Greatest Songs of the Rock Era: #92: Won't Get Fooled Again


The Who from Who’s Next (1971)

“The CSI:Miami theme song made your top 100 list?” Peggy said.

I laughed. “You know, I’ll bet there are some people who think the song was recorded for that show. Those are the same people who think Kanye West gave a big break to an old musician named Paul-something.”

“So where does Who’s Next stand on your list of greatest albums.”

“Don’t get me started on albums. However, if I were to put such a list together – and I’m not saying that I’m going to – Who’s Next would be very high up there. It starts with ‘Baba O’Reilly’ and it ends with this song. If what came between was nothing but Keith Moon’s besotted mumblings, it would still be an unforgettable record.”

“Number twelve,” Peggy said after a pause.

“Wait, you have a list of top albums?”

“I didn’t, but I started one after we reconnected. I didn’t want to do a song list because I didn’t want you to accuse me of copying you.”

“What’s number one?”

“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

“Nope, I can hold out. You know that patience is one of my few virtues.”

I was lying. As soon as Peggy mentioned that she’d put a list of best albums together, I wanted to know everything on it. That was of course why I’d bridged the distance between us to share my list with her. Peggy was the one person I’d ever been able to be an unabashed music nerd with.

Peggy cut into my thoughts. “Does Townsend get extra credit for making a synthesizer actually sound like a musical instrument here?”

“I think he does. Not many had done so before him. Mostly it was just a bunch of bleeps and blurps. Keith Emerson got it mostly right on ‘Lucky Man,’ but even that switches to noodling by the end.”

“And then there’s the whole next-generation protest song thing.”

“I think that’s what makes this song a classic. It’s a great track – big guitar, crushing bass, just-barely-under-control drums, that amazing wail from Daltrey toward the end – but Townsend’s post-sixties vision of where revolution gets us just keeps resonating.”

“It almost seems more relevant now, doesn’t it?”

That was a political discussion for another day, but it was awfully hard to disagree with Peggy.

It was so great to be speaking with her like this again.

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