Saturday, September 23, 1989

Neil Young “Rockin’ in the Free World” charted

Rockin’ in the Free World

Neil Young

Writer(s): Neil Young (see lyrics here)

Released: November 14, 1989

First Charted: September 23, 1989

Peak: 2 AR, 39 CN, 5 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 27.6 video, -- streaming

Awards (Neil Young):

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Awards (Pearl Jam):

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Awards (Indigo Girls):

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About the Song:

Some music fans don’t want to see politics in rock ‘n’ roll, but “artists like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan have woven politics seamlessly into the fabric of their music, chronicling the American condition over decades. And anger has always been part of the backbone of rock music, whether the singer’s angry at the government, another man, or a girl who’s done him wrong.” UCR

“When the result is a barnburner like Neil Young ‘Rockin’ in the Free World,’ it’s hard to deny the value of self-righteous rage when it comes to penning a classic tune.” UCR “Young captured that anger perfectly with ‘Ohio’ in the wake of the Kent State shootings in 1970, and he did it again in 1989.” UCR “There may be no better explosion of rage on record than ‘Rockin’ in the Free World.’” UCR “It feels like decades of rage over every betrayal of the American promise, spitting out line by line and lick by lick over three and a half minutes.” UCR

“Whatever your political leanings, there’s plenty to love about this track, not least of which is the simple gut-punch riff that churns throughout the tune. Young shreds away at his guitar with the ferocity of a pissed-off teenager in his garage, spitting out words that were a scathing indictment of America under George H.W. Bush, but seem timeless decades years later, especially when his attention turns to a baby in the arms of a poor drug addict living on the streets: ‘There’s one more kid / That will never go to school / Never get to fall in love / Never get to be cool.’” UCR

The song has been widely covered by other artists including the Alarm, Pearl Jam, Indigo Girls, and Bon Jovi. On my personal charts, Pearl Jam and Indigo Girls each got to #1 with their versions.


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First posted 7/31/2022.

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