Writer: Pete Townshend
Producer: Kit Lambert
Recorded: Early 1969 at IBC Studios in London, England
Released: May 1969
|Players:||Roger Daltrey — vocals
Pete Townshend — guitar, vocals
John Entwistle — bass, vocals
Keith Moon — drums
|Album:||Tommy (Decca, 1969)|
The closing number of the Who‘s rock opera Tommy is actually three songs in one: the opening segment, then a mid-song reprise of “See Me, Feel Me,” and the “listening to you” chorale that closes the album on a hopeful note.
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” was one of the earliest songs completed for the album.
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” is partly a salute to Pete Townshend‘s spiritual guru, Meher Baba, particularly the “listening to you” portion, which praises the rewards of devotion (“following you, I climb the mountain/I get excitement at your feet”).
Townshend was actually critical of the song’s closing lines — “It’s meant to be extremely serious and plaintive, but words fail so miserably to represent emotions unless you skirt around the outside, and I didn’t do it enough there… This one fails because it actually comes out and says it.”
The opening portion of the song, however, chronicles the revolt by Tommy’s disciples when they decide they don’t want to adhere to the rules at his “holiday camp” retreat — particularly when he tells them they shouldn’t drink or smoke pot.
Tommy‘s working titles included Deaf, Dumb And Blind Boy, Amazing Journey, Journey Into Space, The Brain Opera, and Omnibus.
Though not the first rock opera (that was the Pretty Things‘ S.F. Sorrow) nor the Who’s first conceptual piece (the band had already recorded “Rael” and “A Quick One While He’s Away”), Tommyis regarded as one of rock’s landmark albums, one that helped the young art form gain greater respectability from other cultural circles.
Tommy peaked at Number Four on the Billboard 200, where it stayed for 47 weeks — far longer than any other Who album to that point.
Some of the legendary performances of the entire opera were at the Woodstock festival in 1969 and at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera in 1970.