Rockin' In The Free World

Rockin' in the Free World

"Rockin' in the Free World"
Single by Neil Young
from the album Freedom
B-side "Rockin' in the Free World"
Released November 14, 1989
Format 45 RPM Record
Recorded The Barn, Redwood Digital, Woodside CA, March 10, 1989
Genre Hard rock, proto-grunge
Length Acoustic version: 3:38
Electric Version: 4:40
Label Reprise
Writer(s) Neil Young
Producer Neil Young
Niko Bolas

"Rockin' in the Free World" is a song by Neil Young, released on his 1989 album Freedom. Two versions of the song were released, similar to the song "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" of Young's Rust Never Sleeps album, one of which is performed with a predominantly acoustic arrangement, and the other with a predominantly electric arrangement.


The song was first performed live on February 21, 1989 in Seattle with Young's band The Restless.

The book Shakey by Jimmy McDonough claims the song originated when Young was on tour in the late 1980s. He and Frank "Poncho" Sampedro saw newspaper photos of the Ayatollah Khomeini's body being carried to his grave as mourners were burning American flags in the street. Sampedro commented, "Whatever we do, we shouldn't go near the Mideast. It's probably better we just keep on rockin' in the free world." Young asked if Sampedro intended to use this idea as the basis of a song and when Sampedro said no, Young said that he would do so instead. However Khomeini's death occurred months after the first live performance of the song.

The lyrics criticize the George H. W. Bush administration and the social problems of contemporary American life, directly referencing Bush's famous "thousand points of light" remark from his 1989 inaugural address.

An edited version of the song accompanies the end credits of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11; the phrase "That's one more kid that’ll never go to school / Never get to fall in love, never get to be cool," which originally referenced the second verse's abandoned child, now appears to reference a US soldier killed in Iraq.

The song is rated number 214 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

The song is featured as a playable track in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.



  1. Buckley, 1206
  2. ^ "History and Commentary on "Rockin' In The Free World" lyrics by Neil Young". http://thrasherswheat.org/fot/ritfw.htm.
  3. McDonough, J. (2002). Shakey: Neil Young's Biography. New York, Random House.
  4. http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1269
  5. "Concert Review: Air Canada Centre, Toronto - Sept. 11, 2011". canoe.ca. 2011-09-11. http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/P/Pearl_Jam/ConcertReviews/2011/09/12/18671566.html. Retrieved 2011-09-11.
  6. "Pearl Jam and Neil Young's Suprise Duet". alternativeaddiction.com. 2011-09-11. http://www.alternativeaddiction.com/musicnews/article/2234/Pearl-Jam-and-Neil-Youngs-Suprise-Duet. Retrieved 2011-09-11.


External links

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