Dee Snider Talks Writing Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It,’ Says the Video ‘Redefined’ MTV
As Twisted Sister's sole Top 40 single, "We're Not Gonna Take It" has made a huge difference in the life of frontman Dee Snider. And as he argued in a recent interview with the Boom 97.3 FM, he feels the song — and its video — have taken on lives of their own.
"There's a lot of history with that song," says Snider. "There's a lot to tell about that song. Many people think — it was accused of [being written as] the 'great pop song,' the 'sellout song.' ... At the time, there were people who thought we deliberately wrote some sort of pop anthem that was gonna put us over the top."
Contrary to that opinion, Snider insists he started working on the song well before Twisted Sister had any kind of recording career to worry about, or could have even contemplated landing a single on the charts. "The fact of the matter is, I had written the hook for 'We're Not Gonna Take It' in 1980 — four years before it was released. Before we even had a record deal," he continues. "But I couldn't finish the song — I had this great hook, and I would constantly go back to it, trying to come up with the verse and chorus for it. I just kept coming up empty."
Eventually, of course, he was able to come up with those missing pieces — and as he notes now, it's a good thing "We're Not Gonna Take It" was so stubborn, because it would have been "wasted" if they'd recorded it before taking their "big shot" with 1984's Stay Hungry LP, and never would have become as ingrained in the culture as Snider believes it is today.
And while he argues that "We're Not Gonna Take It" would have been a hit without an accompanying video in heavy rotation at MTV, he's proud of the way the clip resonated with young viewers. "I thought I was sharing a personal story of my father tearing me a new one, as he often did," he explains. "Screaming the famous line of my dad's — 'What do you wanna do with your life?' ... People related to the video. What I thought was a personal story for me turned out to be a story that every kid in the world was dealing with."
Snider believes the video's departure from the standard performance-clip setup was directly responsible for classic works by other artists, including Michael Jackson and Van Halen.
"I can say without any doubt in my mind that there would not be a 'Thriller.' There would not be a 'Hot for Teacher,'" concludes Snider — seemingly unaware that Jackson debuted his "Thriller" video in December of 1983, months before "We're Not Gonna Take It" was released. "All these people saw the video and it redefined the genre. You're welcome."
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