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Pete Townshend tips his hat to Obama

November 9, 2008

Pete Townshend is so impressed with President-elect Barack Obama that he has had to rethink the sentiment of his archly anti-political song “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Who guitarist performed a solo acoustic version of the 37-year-old anthem in front of a few hundred fans at the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Friday.

Before playing it, Townshend said Obama’s decisive election victory on Tuesday was “the most wonderful result,” a comment that earned the loudest cheers of the evening.

And afterwards, he mused over the song’s cynical parting shot, “meet the old boss, it’s the same as the old boss,” and suggested, “Maybe not.”

Townshend was the main attraction at an all-star jam session organized by his girlfriend, Rachel Fuller, and being taped for a DVD and CD that will be released next March through Best Buy. It was the latest installment of her “In the Attic” series, which she has webcast for the last few years.

“There’s going to be cockups and messups, but it’s all gong to be fabulous,” Fuller said at the outset.

Indeed, her “adorable” boyfriend was a frequent transgressor, not that anyone cared about forgotten lyrics or misplaced spectacles.

Guests such as Jakob Dylan, Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie, She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward) and E from Eels, each played brief acoustic sets. And then Townshend would join them. He and Dylan performed the Who song “The Kids Are Alright,” and he teamed with E and Gibbard for his solo hit “Let My Love Open the Door.” He dueted with Deschanel on the Who obscurity “Blue, Red and Grey.”

He wrapped the evening out in the spotlight on his own, armed only with his acoustic guitar, singing “The Acid Queen,” “Drowned” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Everyone took the stage for a rather limp version of another Who rarity, “I’m One.”

Townshend and Who singer Roger Daltrey are in town for a pair of shows on Saturday and Sunday, the final gigs on their latest North American tour. They begin a five-stop Japanese tour on Thursday.

Reporting by Dean Goodman

Photos by Reuters


Won’t Get Fooled Again goes the song. We learn this morning that Mr. Obama presumes to tell the British government how they ought to be running run our country before he has even been sworn in to run his own and it begings to look as if we have been fooled again. Not since the days of Idi Amin have foreign leaders lectured us on how we should organise our nation.

It looks as though the man the mainstream media mistook for an agent of change is nothing but an African village tyrant in an expensive suit.


Obama is needed not only in the U.S. but around the world. Certainly, the former U.S. administration (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.) were awful; Obama is far better. He is intelligent, well-spoken, promised to tell the American people what is going on in government (unlike Bush who was full of secrecy), and is no slouch. Of course, now with the tremendous collapse of banks and the U.S. economy not only affecting 99.99% of all everyone who lives here, but is also gravely affecting every country who trades with the U.S., Obama is needed more than ever to right the wrongs of the Bush administration. There is NO simple and NO quick remedy to the U.S. economic crisis, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our pitiful real estate market, or global warming, but Obama will be better for the world, period, including England. Afterall, which country has a monarch and which country elects its Presidents? At least the we chose someone who speaks our language, culturally and socially, values intelligence, and is also in step with all ages across the board…….GO OBAMA!

Posted by good day | Report as abusive

As Pete Townsend sings in his song “The hypnotized never lie”

Posted by BigBrother | Report as abusive

Ian what are you trying to say? It looks like your writing in tongues. Ya-ba-da-ba-doo!


the correct lyric is: “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”


Cheryl, it’s quite obvious to me what Ian is trying to say here but the question is do you really care? Some people just cannot give up their biases and prefer to see only what they want to see.

Posted by Manoj Agrawal | Report as abusive

We learn this morning that Mr. Obama presumes to tell the British government how they ought to be running our country >

Brown should listen…
He just might learn something !

Posted by Stewart Grant | Report as abusive

Perhaps Mr. Townshend should wait a year or so before he decides President Obama is everything he says he is.

Posted by Hal Crawford | Report as abusive

Pete Townshend has always been middle-of-the-road, politically speaking (even thought he hit 60′s radical Abbie Hoffman over the head with his guitar on stage at Woodstock). In England he’s been a donor to the Labor party. It’s great that you’re as happy as most of the rest of us are, Pete. Hopefully Obama’s win will inspire you and Daltrey to get into the studio and record a new album (and please make it a GOOD one this time).

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive

Pete’s politically ignorant as well. Same old boss.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

Now,now boys & girls,let’s no get too worked up over whether Obama is going to be good for America.He was elected fairly,(which is more than can be said for the out-going President,remember Florida! He can present himself better than the out-going President.Millions of Americans can’t be wrong!!
On a lighter note,the main thing for me is The Who gig.How good must it have been to see The Who in such an intimate venue.Also to play these songs in an acoustic set,remember The Who were the loudest rock band in the world,is inspired.

Posted by Colin Robertson | Report as abusive

WGFA is about frustration with the government and politicians. No matter what angle you see it from, it is a very political song, regardless of political affiliation. Pete Townshend is, in my opinion, a man of the people and is merely recognizing that Barack Obama is too. President elect Barack Obama IS the most wonderful result. I am so elated Pete Townshend thinks so and takes a stand in American politics. I have never been so proud as I am now to be a fan of Pete Townshend. And never in my life have I had more faith in my country for electing Barack Obama. Never have felt prouder to be an American, or more patriotic.

Don’t call it a comeback.

Posted by Gina Aguilar | Report as abusive

Review of Pete Townshend & Rachel Fuller In the Attic at the Troubadour Friday Night – This was an excellent intimate show nearly three hours long! As if Pete & Friends were playing in my own living room. I felt very privileged to get a ticket. Only 309 lucky people had this incredible opportunity. The music was beyond special for me being a who fan & Pete fan for over thirty years. Pete’s rendition of drowned was incendiary and one of the best songs. Acid queen was very good too! Plus many others. The special guest musicians included Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Jakob Dylan, E of the Eels were excellent but newcomer singer Zoë had the voice of an angel and angelic looks to match. Pete even was even gracious enough to sign a few autographs in the alley after the show before jumping in to the awaiting limo. To top off a wonderful night I ran into Cynthia Fox & Rita Wilde on the way to my car! What a show what a night to remember. I can’t wait get the DVD scheduled to come out March 09

Posted by Chris Ponsonby | Report as abusive

Wow, Pete saying “maybe not” is certainly not what I would make the lead for the story. It was a great night, with beautiful versions of songs rarely, if ever, heard at Who shows. “Sunrise”, “Blue, Red and Grey”, “The Kids Are Alright”, “Let My Love Open The Door”, and “Acid Queen”.

It’s about music not politics.

Rock on, Pete.

Posted by trrish | Report as abusive

Well I am very saddened to read this. My band is covering “Won’t Get Fooled Again” because of Obama. It’s a shame Townshend let himself get fooled (again), as a bunch of Americans and indeed people all over the world have. I would’ve thought after writing such an incredibly real song that he would understand it always is “meet the old boss, same as the new boss” when dealing with controlled politicians like Obama. I hope he rethinks things when reality hits.


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