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Thursday, July 08, 2004

Pete Townshend, Michael Moore & Neil Young

petetownshend moore time neil

Pete Townshend has posted a comment on his website about the use of his song "Won't Get Fooled Again" in the film Fahrenheit 9/11. Pete provides some background on why he declined to let his music be used in the Moore's film. Pete writes:

    "I believe that in the same email to my publisher and manager that contained this request to see the film I pointed out that "Won't Get Fooled Again" is not an unconditionally anti-war song, or a song for or against revolution. It actually questions the heart of democracy: we vote heartily for leaders who we subsequently always seem to find wanting. (WGFA is a song sung by a fictional character from my 1971 script called LIFEHOUSE. The character is someone who is frightened by the slick way in which truth can be twisted by clever politicians and revolutionaries alike).

    I suggested in the email that they might use something by Neil Young, who I knew had written several songs of a more precise political nature, and is as accessible as I am. Moore himself takes credit for this idea, and I have no idea whether my suggestion reached him, but it was the right thing to do."

One can only imagine how things would be if Townshend's song "Won't Get Fooled Again" had been used in the film instead of Young's "Rockin' in the Free World".

In an interview in Film Comment here's how Moore recalls the selection of the film's final song:

    MOORE: "At the end of the film Bush says 'Fool me once, shame on me. I won't get fooled again.' Clearly that moment demands that we hear Roger Daltrey scream, 'Won't get fooled again!' That's how I had it cut.

    Pete Townsend blocked it, would not allow the song to be used. Word came to us that he is not a fan of Michael Moore's and in fact supports the war and supports Tony Blair and doesn't want the song used in any way that would make Blair look bad. Harvey Weinstein personally made an appeal to him to reconsider. And he wouldn't.

    At that point, we're about a week away from going to Cannes. So, I remembered while I was driving in Michigan 'Rockin' in the Free World' came on the radio and I thought this would be a cool song to have in the movie. So we said, 'Let's see how this works,' and it worked perfectly.

    Called up Neil Young and he said, 'Whatever you need. Absolutely. It's yours.'

    Once we started playing it in the movie, we quickly forgot about The Who. In fact, after Cannes, we got a call from their manager who said they might be willing to reconsider. And I said, 'No, uh uh. That's bad karma. This is Neil Young's moment.'

    People leave the theaters, that's what I want them hearing. In fact I don't want them hearing a song that has the line, 'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.' Because the new boss I sincerely hope won't be the same as the old boss. I don't want that song. It gave me a chance to have a line at the end too, cause you can't go right into 'Rockin' in the Free World.'

    So I get to say 'For once I agree with Bush - we won't get fooled again.' "

Some folks are less than impressed with Townsend's retort to Moore.

Eric R. posted on Blogcritics:

    "I have no problem with Pete Townshend picking and choosing who he sells his songs too. Although I was a little surprised to see 'Happy Jack' being used to sell Hummer SUVs.

    What I do find offensive is the closing line in his blog entry...'(Moore) will have to work very, very hard to convince me that a man with a camera is going to change the world more effectively than a man with a guitar.'

Nevertheless, it appears that Neil fans are quite pleased with the use of the song in the film F9/11. Poll results are running about 72% in favor of the use of the song and only about 24% opposed. Vote and more on Michael Moore and Neil Young and Pete Townshend & Neil Young.


At 1/14/2005 09:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil has always had a strong political message, but he also has managed to use his force appropriately. His perfomance of John Lennon's "Imagine" on national TV after 9/11 helped to soothe a crying nation. I cried when I heard it. Michael Moore film, however, represents a bar room brawl between liberals and conservastives and Neil got pulled into it and debased himself. I agree with Townsend's decision to pass. Moore is the only winner here by making millions for himself.

At 11/22/2005 08:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Won't Get Fooled Again" is a very powerful and timeless song which after 36 years and longer still stands as a powerful and timeless work. Where will Moore's film be 36 years from now? COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN. Most people have already forgotten it. The song is far greater than the film. Pete Townsend's decision not to let Moore exploit the song and twist its meaning to suit Moores fancies about a closing for his film was a perfect and righteous decision. After reading what Moore said about Pete Townsend, I have no respect at all for Moore. I hate the Bush administration and after reading what Moore said in the interview I find him corrupt in morals and principles and this puts him at the very bottom of the barrel with the rest of the rotten apples.

At 1/29/2007 09:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheers to the immediately above-Anon entry who summed it up perfectly. Michael Moore is a fat hack buffoon who is adept at splicing news clips. Pete Townshend is a visionary prophet who speaks for a generations with his timeless lyrics and incendiary guitar playing. Have another cheeseburger, Michael.

PS: Any truth to the rumors of Neil hitting the road with the Horse this summer??????

At 8/16/2007 01:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to Pete for not wanting to have anything to do with the detestable propogandist and filthy liar, michael moore..
Way to go Pete!

At 11/30/2007 07:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Townsend's argument is strong. The song is, indeed, spoken by a character who is disillusioned with ALL politicians. While I respect Moore's attempt at toppling the Bush administration, I question his political motives. Was John Kerry really much better? It's all an old boys club overwrought with corruption, and that is what Townsend's song seems to say.

Frankly, having read literally hundreds of interviews with Townsend, I can say with confindence that I would rather have Pete as a my representitive. He is far more sussinct, articulate and, frankly, outright smarter than Moore.

That said, I am a fan of Moore's, I just happen to think that Townsend is closer to having his finger on the pulse of world corruption, decadence and exclusivity.

At 4/28/2009 08:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 56 years old and have listen to Neil for 45 of those years. He has always been my favorite.I even play Martin D28's and know all of his songs. I wish people that I admire like Neil would keep their politics out of their music.impl

At 5/22/2009 10:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil's music is so much better than the Who's. At least Neil has not pimped out his music like Townsend has. I think Moore's work will be around long after the Who (and CSI) are long forgotten.

At 11/10/2015 09:36:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I have been a huge Who fan for the 40+ years that Ive been listening to rock music,and was a Moore fan as well. I saw F911 the day it came out if I remember correctly. However knowing that Pete is a big Blair supporter as well as a supporter of the wars is a huge disappointment to hear personally. I have lost faith in Moore over the years too for obvious reasons to anyone who follows the real political news ,and that of the NWO of which Moore and Pete seem to have no idea exists ,and is the case with most celebrities .


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