This past long weekend, millions across America celebrated a man whose contributions to the political sphere of our country are innumerable.
One of the greatest “hits” of the 60’s was not perhaps not ‘Satisfaction’ by The Stones or ‘She loves you’ by The Beatles, but rather Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1963 speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The “I have a Dream speech” that ended with the words: “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last.”
And isn’t that what it was all about?
In honor, here are some songs about…..
-‘People Got to Be Free’ – The Rascals
This 1968 song written by singer/ keyboardist Felix Cavaliere was an immediate response to Dr. King’s murder. Written and released just three months after the assassination, it was released on July 1st. Four days later, Bobby Kennedy was killed, giving the song even more emotional weight. It spent 5 weeks at number one during the turbulent summer of 1968.
-‘I’m Free’ The Who 1969
Written by Pete Townshend as part of the rock opera “Tommy”. Within the plot of the album, “I’m Free” tells of Tommy’s vision to spiritually enlighten others due to his sudden and immense popularity.
Great Guitar riff. With even a little ‘Pinball Wizard’ riff thrown in at the end, just so you remember you’re listening to a rock opera.
-‘Freedom! (90)’ George Michael 1990
Yes he’s embarrassed himself to the point of probably never being able to make any kind of come back at all, but for all you snobby haters out there, this is a great song. George had a decent three year run with the album “Faith” in 1987, and “Listen without Prejudice from 1990, which this single was pulled from. He was even too cool to be in his music videos. Of course, he was smart enough to hire supermodels in his place…
Too bad he killed so many brain cells.
-‘Freedom’ Paul McCartney 2001
McCartney was on a sitting plane in New York during the Sept. 11th attacks. He wrote the song the next day.
It now seems a little “militaristic” for a guy that came from such a peace and love background (“I will fight, for my right, to live in freedom”), but everybody wanted to kick someone’s ass on Sept. 12.
It was one of the centerpieces for The Concert For New York City that he put together on October 20th.
-‘Chimes of Freedom’ Bob Dylan 1964
Written by Mr. Zimmerman and first released on his album ‘Another side of Bob Dylan’ in 1964.
But as the case with many Dylan songs, the best version was released by The Byrds on their debut album ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ (also obviously written by the same author.)
A side note to The Byrds recording, it was the last song to be taped for the album After the backing track was recorded, David Crosby inexplicably announced he was going home. An argument ensued, ending with the band’s manager, Jim Dickson, sitting on Crosby’s chest until he sobbingly agreed to sing the vocal harmony.
-‘Freedom’ Richie Havens 1969
Havens was the opening act at Woodstock. He was only supposed to play four songs, but the bands slated to follow him were stuck in traffic.
Richie had to play for three hours. He ran out of material, and improvised this song on the spot. It ended up as possibly the highlight of his career.
Have any more “Freedom” songs?