Irony While Rockin’ in the Free World
Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Greendale at Radio City Music Hall, New York City - March 18, 2004
Photo by Thrasher
Over the years, we've written quite extensively how Neil Young's song “Rockin’ in the Free World” has been used and abused for a variety of purposes.
Now comes an in-depth look at the irony and aftermath of RITFW from The Umpteenth Times by Kevin Egan:
To borrow a phrase from the mathematicians, people seem to enjoy things broken down to it’s lowest common denominator. In the case of “Rockin’ in the Free World,” Young experiences what Springsteen has with “Born in the USA,” which is an audience clueless to the ideas expressed in his song.
The masses only seem to recall the chorus to this song, when the chorus is only a summing up of what the verses had articulated with more specific concepts and detailed images. It’s quite possible that Young may have been inspired by Springsteen (Springsteen’s song was written years before Young’s) when he created his own “anti-anthem,” a song in which a chorus is sung ironically, juxtaposed against gloomy, hopeless lyrics.
Though some may argue differently, this is far from an elitist tactic, particularly since both Young and Springsteen sing their verses quite clearly and include the lyrics to the songs on their albums. The information is there for the listener to absorb if they are interested. Unfortunately, in both these cases, many people still don’t get the joke and they ultimately and sadly become part of the joke. They sing proudly and patriotically to these “anti-anthems” that point out the hardships and inequalities of a system and government that has failed their people. It is only to those who have been listening attentively that the irony of these pieces comes across clearly enough.
More from NO SERIOUSLY: “Rockin’ in the Free World:” The Irony Continues | theumpteenthtimes.com.
Also, see lyrics analysis of Neil Young's “Rockin’ in the Free World”.