Pete Townshend, Michael Moore & Neil Young
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.