The Rock (6:38)

Cover of Quadrophenia

From Quadrophenia and 3 other releases

“The Rock” is an instrumental piece written by Pete Townshend of The Who, the second to last track on their double album Quadrophenia (1973), their second rock opera. It is one of the most musically complex pieces that Townshend ever wrote for The Who, combining all of the four themes of Jimmy, the protagonist of the opera, into one six-minute musical medley. At one point during the piece, two of the themes are played simultaneously, one of which is in 4/4 time and the other in 6/8 time. The 6/8 theme’s tempo is slower in such a way that every bar of the opposing themes takes the same amount of time to play, giving The Who one of the most progressive sounds they ever achieved.

The name of the piece is a reference to the location from which Jimmy tells the story of Quadrophenia. He finds refuge from himself in the pouring rain on a solitary rock in the sea.

The piece has neither a definite beginning or end, as it begins with a fade-in from the previous track, “Doctor Jimmy” (containing “Is it Me?”, Bassist John Entwistle’s theme), and starting with the theme of “Bell Boy” ( Drummer Keith Moon’s theme). This is followed by the themes of “Is It Me?”, “Helpless Dancer” (Roger Daltrey’s theme), and “Love, Reign O’er Me” (Townshend’s theme). The finale is then the themes together - “Bell Boy” as the chord sequence, the introduction to “Love Reign O’er Me” on the piano, and “Helpless Dancer” on synthesizers. This suddenly stops with the sound of a thundercloud bursting and pouring rain (which is where Jimmy finds some hope for the future and also reference Pete Townshend’s spiritual fixation with water).


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Albums featuring this track (4)

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  • TheSuperCrasher

    Townshend shoved a dagger in his gut & bled this album [5]

    29 Nov 2014 Reply
  • onthewall2983

    Just watched the performance of this from the new live set on Qello. Seeing the footage overwhelmed me just watching it on my computer screen, I can only imagine what I would have felt seeing it live.

    9 Jul 2014 Reply
  • DestindSoltaire

    I love how they mash three (at least i hear three) of the main themes at the end. It feels so epic.

    18 Feb 2014 Reply
  • gmac1993

    Keith goes the fuck in!

    22 Oct 2013 Reply
  • mathafukkin

    Townsend shoved a dagger in his gut & bled this album [4]

    28 Aug 2013 Reply
  • ProgPro96


    30 Dec 2012 Reply
  • Bastard1

    Epic Moments in Drumming #124

    2 May 2012 Reply
  • musmortwin

    So much talent in one band...

    29 Apr 2012 Reply
  • nicolasbj


    8 Dec 2011 Reply
  • sheepareevil

    this is so awesome. i wish someone had played this for me many years ago, i would have never neglected The Who for as long as I have

    5 Oct 2011 Reply
  • pteronophobic

    Every time the "Reign" motif begins I get chills down my spine.

    30 May 2011 Reply
  • Ghost_Buster

    Townsend shoved a dagger in his gut & bled this album [3] <3333333333333333333

    23 Mar 2011 Reply
  • Grayson666


    18 Nov 2010 Reply
  • Powder_Keg


    4 Sep 2010 Reply
  • Conacha

    Thownsend shoved a dagger in his gut & bled this album [2]

    23 Jul 2010 Reply
  • 90648

    "The Who is so much better than they get credit for." ugh agreed so hard, people often neglect to notice their unique instrumental prowess both in writing and performance

    1 Jul 2010 Reply
  • Dasein_60

    The song has all the elements from the entire album ... It as if it was the beginning of the play and the performers were about to take the stage. A most excellent song showing the genius of Pete Townsend and the Who. By the way who was that guy playing the drum kit? Hahahaha

    31 Mar 2010 Reply
  • Oureweller

    Hier regnet's auch

    5 Nov 2009 Reply
  • backtothelight

    Man, this is great.

    29 Oct 2009 Reply
  • OsusieQ1

    I could listen to Quadrophenia all day every day. However, I think my office mates might get annoyed. what.

    16 Oct 2009 Reply
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