The Truth About Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World”
Neil Young being interviewed by CBC News - CBC News: The National / Youtube
When it comes to global challenges, Neil Young has never held back. Foreign policy and domestic strife were raging at the time when Young wrote “Rockin’ In the Free World,” one of his well-beloved songs of all time.
Neil Young didn’t spare any time in putting his thoughts down on music. And he didn’t waste any time in making his debut. Young and his band performed “Rockin’ in the Free World” for the first time in Seattle on February 21, 1989, just a few days after he wrote the song. One of Young’s best-known tracks, it was featured on his album “Freedom” later in the year and climbed to number two on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
The Berlin Wall had yet to fall when the song was published, but tensions were rising ahead of it. A few ideas about the then-current president George H. W. Bush were expressed in the song since Young was known for his left-leaning views. Moreover, the track’s varied commentary also touches on poverty, drug misuse, and environmental dangers in the United States. But perhaps one of the rather controversial references that Young had made was “The Satanic Verses,” the controversial novel by Iranian novelist Salman Rushdie. In addition to calling the United States “The Great Satan,” Ayatollah Khomeini openly said that Rushdie must be killed on the spot for his transgressions, and Young attempted to stand up for free expression with his song.
Listen to the song below.