Egypt: Rockin' In The Free World
Cairo, Egypt - February 1, 2011
Once again, people are in the streets and rockin' in the free world.
We're seeing a lot of tweets on the Egyptian revolution referencing the immortal lyrics of Neil Young.
More RITFW Tweets - "neil young" #egypt - Twitter Search
Just weeks ago, on New Years Day, we posted on Freedom in a New Year and traced the song "Rockin' In The Free World" as a soundtrack for revolution. Little did we realize how prescient the post would become.
Freedom (1989) by Neil Young -
"The rock and roll coda of the Cold War"
Neil Young's album Freedom -- which was released in 1989 just as the Berlin Wall fell -- has been called "the rock and roll coda of the Cold War".
The album contains the song "Rockin' In The Free World" and is one of Young's most popular, important and prophetic songs of his vast catalog.
The song has become an iconic anthem and it's status continues to rise as more and more artists cover the song. Young's lyrics are considered to be an indictment of the politics of the 1980's. In today's post-9/11 world, the lyrics seem prophetic and even more meaningful than when originally written on the eve of the '90's as the Berlin Wall fell.
Twenty years on, the song "Rockin' In The Free World" has become a set closer for bands,as well as, a coda for an era.
"There's colors on the street
Red, white and blue"
Pearl Jam covers "Rockin' in the Free World"
Final Philadelphia Spectrum Concert - 10/31/2009
In 2009, Pearl Jam concluded their tour at the Philadelphia Spectrum with "Rockin' in the Free World" amidst an avalanche of balloons and confetti to commemorate the final concert at the historic venue before it's demolition.
"We got a thousand points of light
For the homeless man"
Freedom: Berlin Wall, Germany - 1989
There are those who have argued that "Rockin' in the Free World" espouses anti-freedom ideals, to which we have taken serious issue with in the past.
"We got a kinder, gentler,
Machine gun hand"
Freedom: Tiananmen Square, China - 1989
Yet the song is often misunderstood and attacked on false interpretations and misplaced understandings. Witness some of the near violent comments that have been left on this blog over the years in reaction to some of our previous postings on the song's lyrical analysis (see comments here and here.)
"But there's a warnin' sign on the road ahead
There's a lot of people sayin' we'd be better off dead
Don't feel like Satan, but I am to them
So I try to forget it, any way I can."
Freedom: Kent State University, Ohio - 1970
As always, we live in dangerous times where those who stand for freedom are often accused of treason and worse. Such times are now and the struggle for freedom -- even among those who feel they are actually free -- is more paramount than ever. The right to live and speak freely is an inalienably human right that can never be assumed nor taken for granted.
So, for what it's worth...
From a Comment of the Moment on our New Year's Day post on Freedom in a New Year by Greg "A Friend Of Yours":
Like so many of Neil’s songs, RITFW can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.
For me a few things stand out, but as an overall picture James Lane’s comment comes very close to summarizing the song: "The tune warns us of the complacency of our own lives and the lack of empathy we express for people who are not blessed with the benefits and cushy lifestyle the majority of Americans enjoy. The song is a musical signpost telling us not to lose sight of the problems our society and its less fortunate members face. It is a song of insight attempting to awaken us to the reality of a culture seen on a wider screen…”
As Gil Scott Heron once said in 1970, "The revolution will not be televised". Today he might say it will be blogged, streamed, tweeted, shared and liked.