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Thursday, June 24, 2010

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.

Thanks Kevin!

More from NO SERIOUSLY: “Rockin’ in the Free World:” The Irony Continues |

Also, see lyrics analysis of Neil Young's “Rockin’ in the Free World”.

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At 6/25/2010 12:12:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

Ya know Kevin,
I don't really give a stuff if it's anti anthemic, politically incorrect,or the lyrics are totally innocuous..I just love the song
I do take in lyrics and always appreciate tongue in cheek..but at the end of the day its the total package that counts and its a kick ass song....
don't overanalyse it and just take it for what its worth!

At 6/25/2010 12:19:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

News flash:
Neil comments on Facebook!
is it a hoax or be the judge!!

Wants to play Vampire blues in his set but is not to sure whether he'd rather do it with the band!

hmmm... decision time...Add it Neil
there's no wooden stakes or garlic around this neck of the wheat!!


At 6/25/2010 10:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin--I must be smarter than I thought- I "got" both songs right away...

Doc--Neil on Facebook? *I* think you really think he would ask ANYBODY what songs he should play? EVER?

At 6/25/2010 11:36:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone who thinks that neil is on facebook is a fucking idiot. he's got much better things to do with his time.

At 6/25/2010 12:22:00 PM, Blogger Matthew Lintzenich said...

According to archives guy (via rust list) it's legit. So add Neil people!

At 6/25/2010 12:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how few people know that Neil is quoting Jesse Jackson in the song? ("Keep hope alive" was from Jackson's speech at the 1988 Democratic Convention, about a year before the album was released.)

I knew this total meathead who had a bar band on Long Island. He was a diehard conservative, and Rockin' in the Free World was part of his band's show. I always laughed to myself that he was singing Jesse Jackson's words on stage every night.

At 6/25/2010 02:46:00 PM, Blogger RICK RANGEL said...

My take on RITFW was that despite all the social ills listed in the song ( to remind us of the state of the union in 1989) the
singer wanted to remind his listeners to never give up hope.
There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel (not a thousand points of 'em) and he was right.We survived the eighties & so did he. Neil was no cheerleader for the eighties....

At 6/25/2010 08:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The vampires broke a tooth and now the earth is bleeding to death in the Gulf.
I say it's a no brainer to add Vampire Blues to the 2nd tour WITH a full band.
A song may not change the world but why be quiet about it when we're all pissed off?
Too many hard working peoples' futures have been drained and I don't want to hear about more of them checking out because of it!
Neil through it at'em with Living With War.
Time to give them the full band treatment again!

"We will meet them on the land, on the sea and in the air."-Churchill

There is ecological warfare going on right now!

WARS have always had SONGS!

Turn 'em UP!

At 6/26/2010 11:49:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

I think us "Earth" People have some VERY big decisions to make..very quickly!

Mother Earth is givin' plenty of warnings lately that it is not a 'happy chappy'!

It can only sustain human abuse so much so many times

Those wounds can only heal so many times before the scars become to deep.

if it takes a song with anthemic overtones and an earworm that never leaves, be it

Yeah,I've got agree with Anonymous
there IS an ecological warfare goin' on here.....

ITS A WAR OF MAN!!!!....

and we are definitely 'rockin' our free world as we know it...lets not let it tipple over, for our children's sake!!!


At 6/26/2010 02:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Greedy Hand has been on my mind a lot lately.
What do I really need to survive?
I was passing by a church the other day and noticed their sign had a message that has sunk deep into my thoughts.


Yeah, Doc. We got a war goin' on alright.
As they said on the Titanic when it was going down, "Women and children first!"
So now I'm thinking, "What kind of a man am I?"

These are truly heady times for the thinking man who is still full of dreams.


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