This song was influenced by the 1949 George Orwell novel 1984, where the populace has given up their freedom to the government, known as "Big Brother," in exchange for comfort and security. In a Songfacts interview with Todd Rundgren
, he explained: "The idea behind the song was things could go one way and things could go another way. And the whole idea behind 1984
was abrogation of your will to authority. So, the song essentially was about whether the coming generation would have the strength or the will to continue to resist that authority and maintain their own autonomy."