Roger Daltrey is too often overlooked as one of the leading voices of his generation. The Who singer often falls down in the pecking order when talking of rock’s greatest vocalists, normally behind Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury and Axl Rose, but this isolated vocal on the band’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ is a testament to Daltrey’s power.
The Who were nearing the height of their musical powers when they released 1971’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, it still remains today as one of the band’s most beloved songs. Written by Pete Townshend for the seminal album Who’s Next, it broke the UK Top 10 and is a staple of their live set nearly 50 years on.
Townshend wrote the song as a closing number of the Lifehouse Project, a science-fiction rock opera that was meant to follow on from The Who’s Tommy. The lyrics looked to criticise revolution and power. Townshend even used a mixture of human traits programmed into a synthesizer to use as an affirmation of the connection he felt with Meher Baba and Inayat Khan—it’s used as the main backing instrument for the song.
While the music was truly exceptional, Townshend and Moon’s collaboration as thunder and lightning of the song still feels valid today, the real beauty came in Daltrey’s imperious vocal. His range is extraordinary and, as a listener, he picks you up by the scruff of the neck and takes you wherever you need to be.
Despite the song’s success, Daltrey revealed to Rolling Stone that ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, saying, “That’s the only song I’m bloody bored shitless with. I don’t know why, but I’m being honest. All the others I can approach like I’m singing for the first time. I don’t know what’s happening there psychologically. Maybe it’s the song, but I never seem to be in the same pocket where I’m singing it for the first time.”
We have a theory on this remark. Perhaps Daltrey struggles to connect with the song like the first time he sang it because the first time he sang it he absolutely knocked it out of the park. The vocal is the signature moment of this song and when you share a band with musicians like Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, and John Entwhistle, that’s no small feat. It must be daunting to try and replicate that.
So, sit back and listen to Roger Daltrey’s amazing isolated vocal on The Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ below.