From the pages of


Who's Next Prez?
by Martin Lewis
(First published November 09, 2000)

As George W. Bush sits impatiently waiting for Florida and the presidency to be rendered unto him - he might be forgiven for passing time by making up a shortlist of musicians to play his inaugural.

One name he now has to remove from his wish-list - rock legends The Who.

On Bush's final night of campaigning - his team came up with a too-cute musical gag that played well with a crowd of raucous Republicans - but rather less well with one of rock music's legendary figures - Pete Townshend of The Who.

As Bush was striding on to the stage at a rally in Bill Clinton's home state - Team W decided to tweak the President's nose by playing his 1992 campaign song - Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" A few moments into the song - the music came to an abrupt halt with the sound of a needle sliding over a vinyl record. Seconds later - the music was replaced with the chorus from the seminal 1972 recording by The Who "Won't Get Fooled Again."

"We better get on our knees and pray - we don't get fooled again...."

The crowd roared - and there was a cute segment tailor-made for network news - which duly showed the musical tweak on Tuesday morning.

The Bush team was canny enough to edit out the lyrical twist to the Who song - in which Roger Daltrey sings "Meet the new boss... Same as the old boss." I guess seeing Bush on an Arkansas stage while those words were playing would have been perhaps too ironic.

But in their eagerness to make fun of Bill Clinton - the Bush officials omitted to seek permission from Pete Townshend (the writer) or The Who - the creators of the recording that they used - a fundamental courtesy and technically - a legal necessity.

Anxious that this breach of protocol might create an international incident between America and Britain - I contacted the Who's Pete Townshend (who is an old pal) to find out whether he was happy about Dubya using his music to get elected.

The good news for George W. is that Pete takes a ruefully realistic attitude to his music being used by others. Law suits will not follow.

The bad news is that Pete - who adores America - did volunteer his political opinions on one key issue - health care - and it's enough to make a Republican ffff-fade away.

Here's the full text of Pete's e-mail to me (posted with his permission!)

Subject: Re: George W. Bush uses one of your songs!
Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2000
From: pete townshend
To: martin lewis

Dear Martin,

I am not a supporter of either party in the US elections. I am not eligible to vote. I was not consulted about the use of "Won't Get Fooled Again" in Bush's campaign, but I don't really give two shits who uses it. Even some Who fans get its intention wrong don't they?

I will almost certainly not benefit financially from the campaign use, but it sells cars, soap and old fucks like me and Roger, so why shouldn't it be used to sell the most powerful man in the world?

If I did have the vote I would have looked at the issues. (Here in the UK I support Labour). What would be good would be to see health care made cheaper or even free for the poor in the USA, as it is here in the UK and in so many other civilised countries. This is one anomaly that makes the USA seem to me like a much more brutal country than it really is.

Regards

Pete


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