Power Play

Songfacts®:

  • Written by lead singer John Kay, this is a song about the "power people" who try to mandate people's lives and behavior, which was very much on the minds on many young people in 1969: "What gives you the right? Hey you to stand there and tell me what to do. Tell me who gave you the power to stop me from livin' like I do?" Strangely enough, it's the same mantra later chanted by the right wing, while in the '60s, it was the left wing that expressed these sentiments. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ray - Bonneville salt flats, UT

Comments: 5

  • Revjen45 from Lake Stevens, WaJohn Kay was/is a prophet. Listen to this and "The Ostrich" - more accurate now than when they were written. I turned 21 in '68, and I see the conditions portrayed coming true faster and faster every day. The Wolfmuzik espouses a Weltanschauung of kindness, courage, introspection, personal responsibility, and honorable conduct. I have seen them 25 times and they just get better as I listen. I, too hope to meet John in person some day.
  • Randy from Fayettevile, ArMan, this song brings back some memories of the late Sixties & the U.S. the way it was back then. Then, John Kay & Steppenwolf were famous for their hard rock creativity and their social conscious songs. I'm glad Kay & the band are back performing & recording for their fans now. This song is powerful in message and music. In '69 I served in the Army in Vietnam War at Bien Hoa Base & heard the military radio station there that played a lot of Rock & Roll, R&B, some blues, and some pop. Whatever the GI's loved then. I heard many Steppenwolf hits over the AFVN radio in "Nam. When I got to go on my R&R to Singapore, I bought a cassette of Steppenwolf's "Monster" album and that is one hell of a great album. Well, here in 2014, I'm a bit older, none the wiser, but still a rock & roller. And still a Steppenwolf fan!
  • Raunchy from Tulsa, OkYes, I remember "Power Play" on their Monster album from 1968. That year, I read several rock magazines' articles about this song's popularity with young rockers. The year 1968 was a terrible year with the war riots & demonstrations all over many states, the assassinations, the riots at the political conventions, and the widening of the Vietnam War. Steppenwolf was on the cutting edge in the rock world. I had just graduated from college, then got drafted into the Army. Besides "Power Play" another relevant Steppenwolf song off of that LP was "Monster." It was about 15 minutes long and was a real "slap across the face" to our political leaders of the time. Many young people embraced that song as well. These songs are also on the "STEPPENWOLF LIVE" album which captures their skilled "in concert" performances. Catch that "LIVE" album----it's worth your time. It's a double album with loads of great Steppenwolf "live" performances. And "Don't Step On The Grass, Sam" is on there too. A fine song about pot. Haaa! Here in 2013, Steppenwolf is still going strong on their website and on Facebook. Check 'em out.
  • Elmer from Westville, OkLord have mercy, "Power Play" off of Steppenwolf's LP "Monster" is still a favorite of mine. In 1969, I was in the US Army with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment & when my unit passed thru the Bien Hoa Army Base (not the Bien Hoa Air Force Base!!) we got to visit a big PX where I bought a cassette of "Monster." All my buddies also loved this & other songs off the Wolf's "Monster" album & those who were lucky enough to also have cassette players borrowed it from me quite a lot. Its message struck a chord with a lot of GIs over there in '69-'70. But, man, the entire "Monster" album was full of great songs. Actually, I first loved Steppenwolf when I heard "Born To Be Wild" when I was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC & it was released and blazed up to the top of the charts. I own all of Steppenwolf's LPs and now CDs from original release. Even the infamous Sparrows LP, a "low fidelity" recording before most of its members later became Steppenwolf. "Power Play" has a message that really connected with a lot of GIs in Vietnam because of John Kay's lyrics about the manipulative & corrupt power establishment in the USA/world. Steppenwolf's later releases were just as hard-hitting & relevant as "Power Play." When I returned to the States & got back into civilian life, I heard this song on the "underground FM stations" around Kansas City, Mo. in 1970-74. I believe the undie FM stations of the t imes really loved to play Steppenwolf, especially in the late, late hours when things would get rather "funky & unruly." hahaha! And they even played "Power Play" or even everything from the "Monster" album. Steppenwolf is still rocking and performing in 2013 too. Rock on!
  • Tommy from Tupelo, MsMy favorite, favorite, favorite Album and Protest song. From me to John...I'm a Vietnam Vet (USAF - 1967 - 1971) who finally 'woke up' when I really saw what was going on. I played the whole album, 'Monster', as loud as I could from front to back...whenever I could while I was 'over there'. Not, actually, in 'Nam,cause I was in Microwave and crypto in Japan keeping the General's and Admiral's scrambled circuits alive. Camp Zama, my 'home location', was the Army Base for 'The Little Pentagon'. And just down the road was the hospital (Sagami Ono) where 5,000 gut wounded soldiers were evacuated to from Nam. I was a supervisor for the Kanto Plains Military system of microwave and crypto sh-t. When Mash came out I and some friends watched it in a little base theatre...as helicopters with bodies of young men flew over. Rave on John Kay! One day I hope to shake your hand just a s a best friend of mine did in a parking lot as you walked out from a long concert. "Rave On, Rave On through the writing of a Vision."
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