Love, Reign O'er Me

Album: Quadrophenia (1973)
Charted: 76
Play Video


  • This is the last track on The Who's rock opera Quadrophenia. The main character Jimmy suffers from a four-way split personality, with each personality reflecting a member of The Who. This is Pete Townshend's theme. The personality is described as "a beggar, a hypocrite, love reign over me."
  • At the end of the story, Jimmy steals a boat and takes it to a rock out on the sea. What happens out on the rock is described in this song.
  • Townshend was a follower of the spiritualist Meher Baba. Meher Baba's teachings were incorporated into some of Townshend's songs, including this one.
  • Townshend (from the Quadrophenia liner notes): "(Love, Reign O'er Me) refers to Meher Baba's one-time comment that rain was a blessing from God; that thunder was God's Voice. It's another plea to drown, only this time in the rain. Jimmy goes through a suicide crisis. He surrenders to the inevitable, and you know, you know, when it's over and he goes back to town he'll be going through the same s--t, being in the same terrible family situation and so on, but he's moved up a level. He's weak still, but there's a strength in that weakness. He's in danger of maturing." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jon - Sunnyvale, CA, for all above
  • In 2007, Adam Sandler starred in a dramatic film titled after this song, named Reign Over Me. Sandler played a widowed dentist who can only relate to old rock music since losing his family in the September 11th terrorist attacks. The soundtrack of the film features a cover version of this song by the Pearl Jam, whose lead singer Eddie Vedder is a huge Who fan. Pearl Jam first issues the song in 2006 as a fan-club single. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bert - Pueblo, NM
  • Roger Daltrey was asked by Q magazine March 2008 about Pete Townshend struggling to write songs for his voice. The Who vocalist replied: "It's what makes The Who what it is. That's always been Pete's thing: writing songs with a different lead singer in mind. When you listen to something like 'Love, Reign O'er Me,' he wrote it as an enlightened, spiritual piece of music, and I went and sang it with this scream of frustration from the street. Not what we had in mind. But the great thing about The Who was that we all had the intelligence to realize when someone was putting in something valuable."

    Townshend confirmed this when speaking with Rolling Stone in 2019. He envisioned the vocal as a whimper because the character in the song is having the most awful day of his life. When Daltrey let loose, it was an interpretation that shocked him, and he reflexively dismissed it. Engineer Ron Nevison convinced him to give it a chance, and Townshend came to realize that Daltrey's take was rather genius, a primal expression from his inner voice. This helped the pair come to an understanding in their relationship, which Townshend now respecting Daltrey as an actor who could bring a singular passion to the lyrics.
  • In a January, 2010 press release, Pete Townshend explained why Quadrophenia remains his most multi-dimensional work. Said Townshend: "Quadrophenia is music, it's angry music, it never lets up, it's full of energy. But it's also simply a story of a kid who has a bad day. It rains and he goes and sits on a rock. And he contemplates the future and the present, and he decides to do something that he's never done before - he prays." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    DeeTheWriter - Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation
  • When Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey were given Kennedy Center Honors in 2008, Bettye LaVette performed this song at the ceremony. LaVette started recording in the '60s, but never scored a Hot 100 hit. She gained widespread recognition in the '00s when her releases began attracting attention, especially her striking renditions of famous songs. At the ceremony, Townshend and Daltry were clearly stunned by the performance, and LaVette earned a bevy of new fans.

    In her Songfacts interview, LaVette explained that she didn't know these famous songs when they were first recorded, so she was free to create her own interpretations. Said LaVette: "Since the songs didn't mean anything to me, they aren't the altar I worship at the way people heard them growing up in the '60s. I don't have that reverence for them. I don't have anything that would hinder me from making them a totally different tune."
  • The album was going to be mixed in "quadrophonic" sound, meant to be played back in special systems with four speakers. That didn't happen. "Some people maintained that we did a quad mix - we never did," engineer Ron Nevison told Songfacts. "We checked it out ahead of time and decided at some point during the project to abandon that."
  • Pete Townshend said that rock music "allows you to face up to your problems and then to dance all over them." For most of his career, his devotion to Meher Baba went hand-in-hand with his music to keep him healthy spiritually, but in 1980 and 1981 when The Who were struggling to survive their internecine conflicts, he was faced with losing the band the first time, and he turned his back on the teachings of his guru, turing instead to drugs and alcohol. After lots of rehab, Townshend got sober and again found his path, again embracing Meher Baba and using music as a substitue for drugs.

Comments: 34

  • Marc from Sellersburg, InThis is my all-time favorite song. Daltry's vocals are stellar. Only Greg Lake's work on Take a Pebble do the same thing for me.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhOne reason for the goosebumps listening to this song is because a lead singer from a rock band, synonymous with the partying lifestyle, excessiveness, sex, drugs, ect. is singing his guts out about LOVE. His most desired excess is love. It all means nothing without love. The lyrics are sung so directly, forcefully, with such intent, it is as if begging,demanding, screaming for love to reign o'er a person in this manner will make it happen. Oh, and it does. It does.
  • Ed from Lebanon, NhWhen The Who were feted at the Kennedy Center Awards in Washington, D.C. in 2008 - at rehearsals, the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl heard an R&B singer an predicted, "She is gonna steal the show". Pete Townshend wrote on his blog, "My favorite moment was when Bettye LaVette sang a very fine version of 'Love Reign O'er Me' at the Gala ... and Barbra Streisand turned to ask me if I really wrote it."
  • Meocyber from Alma, Co -This killer song could've just as easily been on Tommy as Quad. From the opening mountainous synthesizer strains to the perfect climbing ,building vocals of Roger this is a top 3 power song by THE WHO! Pete is a genius composer/ guitarist /arrainger!
  • Nate from New York, NyThis is a fantastic song. I love it. But-Does anyone see the first line of the song????? The title is: Love, REIGN o'er me. Not Love, RAIN o'er me. "Only love can make it rain?" I love the Who, but that's just f**king stupid.
  • Oldpink from Farmland, InIt's nice to know that nearly all other posters on here noted Daltrey's stunning vocal performance on this one, arguably his finest in a very long line of songs. I also must comment on the beauty of the piano at the very beginning, which is simple, but the perfect for setting the stage for Daltrey's singing. I have to throw in my two cents on his singing by saying that it is so magnificent that you don't even have to know what the song is about to get goosebumps all the way down your back and both arms when you hear it.
  • Tony from Eugene, OrI read liner notes from Townshend's compilation of demos(Scoop)where he stated that the intro was composed entirely on the black keys of the piano. For sure, it's one of his best songs, ever. When you combine great music with emotionally-charged poetic lyrics espressing the depths of spiritual longing, how can you go wrong? Roger Daltrey has always done a superb job of delivering Pete Townshend'slyrics, but he outdid himself on this one.
  • S from San Gabriel, CaBrad, I like Eddie Vedder on this song also. I think it is Pearl Jam at their best... no offense to Pearl Jam fans. I was blown away that Heart actually has a pretty good version of this also... I never would have believed that if I hadn't heard it with own ears. But Bettye Lavette's version from the Lincoln Center Honors concert was outrageously moving.

    Don't get me wrong, Daltrey is the best and I love it everytime I hear The Who play this song, but unlike My Generation and Behind Blue Eyes, there are great covers of Love Reign O'er Me.
  • Jessica from San Francisco, CaI love this song. Roger Daltrey is an amazing singer.
  • Tara from Petoskey, MiThis is a gorgeous song. The lyrics are poetry. It's amazing to me how 4 people can come together with their seperate talents and make something so groundbreaking and amazing. Being a muscian, I can listen to this song and imagine myself there with them, and that's what makes me really not only enjoy this song, but appereciate it as well.
  • David from Brisbane, AustraliaMy eyes well up just at the mention of this song. There is nothing so emotionally charged as Roger Daltrey's performance on this song; and he didn't even write it! A perfectly written and performed climax to The Who's crowning triumph-Quadrophenia.
  • Brad from Lexington, KyI like pearl jam's version, but I just don't think anybody else can perform this song like the Who. Roger Daltrey's vocals on this track, are, in my opinion his best ever. With that in mind, Eddie Vedder did his best on this song he possibly could, but nobody else can give this song the same power Roger Daltrey did.
  • Gary from Dublin, IrelandJust leaving the room after watching the film when this song came on. Stopped dead in my tracks. It's a very long time since a song or a singer had such an instant impact. Great version by pearl jam
  • Cynthia from Scranton, Pamy favorite song of all time...breathtaking...whenever i'm frustrated, i hear this and think that daltrey's voice on this one is like my mind crying out for help
  • Doug from Totowa, NjLove Reign O'er Me is one of my favorite songs by The Who. I saw them in concert last week and they played this song. Daltrey's vocals during this song are amazing and The Who is definetly worth seeing in concert.
  • Ian from Augusta, MeThis is such a great song, everyone has their A game here. Pete puts his heart into his guitar leads and synthesizer line, Keith and John hold nothing back, and Roger gives such a bone-chilling vocal performance, the best ever in rock.
  • Sg Milkman from Dfw, TxAdam Sandler plays a widowed dentist, not a widowed songwriter, in the movie Reign Over Me. He listens to 70's and 80's classic rock because it was something he loved in life, prior to falling in love with his wife and children, who he lost in 9/11. In a gut wrenching courtroom scene he breaks into this song, screaming the lyrics like Dalton, so that he won't be able to hear the testimony being presented against him in his competency trail.
  • Mickey from Mars, PaThe first time I heard this song I jacked up the volume on the radio all the way. :3 I love it! Amazing song! Also, Pearl Jam's cover really does the song justice.
  • Scott from Boston, MaDaltrey's performance in this song is without a doubt the greatest vocal performance in rock history. And I know I'm not the first one to say this.
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InWhen I first heard this song...I thought it was sooo intense and piercing. It took me to another place or dimension. The vocals on this (song) is right on; it's perfect. I love the use of the word "reign" which carries a double meaning or a pun? Which in fact is also a homophone. I first thought the artist was saying 'rain' and then realized that the lyrics was actually 'reign' which is also really powerful, because this song carries both meanings well and that I think is really deep.
  • Melanie from Seattle, WaRoger's voice is so powerful in this song. just, wow. I love it.
  • Ange from Up State, NyHusband & I just saw Heart cover this song live at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in NY on 27 September 2007 and they really kicked it's butt! It sounded GREAT and Ann belted the vocals to perfection! I was VERY impressed!!!
  • Craig from Melbourne, AustraliaOne of the most powerful songs ever written. Daltrey's vocals are incredible. His wail at the end tears your heart open. This is the perfect track for any muddled up teenage boy.

    Incidently, the "crashing" sound at the end is Keith Moon walking through his drum kit. Yes, walking THROUGH his drum kit. As the song builds to the climax, we get Moon's customary and incredible "going nuts" bit, Townsend runs his pick down the strings, and Moon ends the song (and the album) by walking through his kit. An under appreciated album at the time (especially in America) it is rightly regarded as masterpiece. I feel its way more accomplished than Tommy.
  • Joycemorrison from Phi was totally taken from the first time i heard this song. *powerful*. and i always thought he meant "reign"... never occurred to me as "rain" until i searched for its lyrics in the net.
  • Victor from New York, NyPearl Jam's cover of this song is in the new Adam Sandler movie "Reign Over Me".
  • Lauren from London, EnglandI think the fact that Reign is spelt the way it is, is purely to add an ambiguous quality to the song.

    Rain is often seen as being spiritually cleansing. I love the screaming quality of Rogers voice on this song - like hes crying out to be refreshed.
  • John from Hendersonville, NcThis song is marvolous and Pearl Jam has done a wonderful cover of it recently.
  • Kristina from Albuquerque, NmI totally agree- Roger is a hero on this song. I love how in the title it's "reign," which means that love is going to rule over everything, but that it sounds like "love rain o'er me," which continues all the water imagery.
  • Jed from Tulsa, OkI love the song, and Roger does an amazing Vocal preformance, it really shows of his voice.
  • Tim from Dalton, MaI can sing as good as Roger Daltrey........not even in my dreams....damnit The Who are the greatest band ever.
  • Danny from New City, NyMaybe my favorite Who song of all time. Should be included on the best of Who compilations.
  • Jonothan from Adelaide, Australialast song on "Quadraphenia". It was written by Pete before the other songs on the album though.
  • Josh from New York, Nyroger daltrey is a god on this song. it's almost impossible to get your voice to do that. it rivals his screams on won't get fooled again.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScThis song is a great one. I like the piano part at the beginning.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Howard Jones

Howard JonesSongwriter Interviews

Howard explains his positive songwriting method and how uplifting songs can carry a deeper message.

Joan Armatrading

Joan ArmatradingSongwriter Interviews

The revered singer-songwriter talks inspiration and explains why she put a mahout in "Drop the Pilot."

Jello Biafra

Jello BiafraSongwriter Interviews

The former Dead Kennedys frontman on the past, present and future of the band, what music makes us "pliant and stupid," and what he learned from Alice Cooper.

Jules Shear - "All Through The Night"

Jules Shear - "All Through The Night"They're Playing My Song

Shears does very little promotion, which has kept him secluded from the spotlight. What changed when Cyndi Lauper had a hit with his song? Not much, really.

Rush: Album by Album - A Conversation With Martin Popoff

Rush: Album by Album - A Conversation With Martin PopoffSong Writing

A talk with Martin Popoff about his latest book on Rush and how he assessed the thousands of albums he reviewed.

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New York

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New YorkSong Writing

Our chat with Barney Hoskyns, who covers the wild years of Woodstock - the town, not the festival - in his book Small Town Talk.