Neil Young

Rockin' in the Free World

Composed by Neil Young

Song Review by

Opening and closing Neil Young's 1989 masterpiece (Freedom), "Rockin' in the Free World" is, on the surface, one of the author's greatest "anthems." Indeed it is, however, beyond the unifying chorus, the verses survey America's Reagan/Bush-led 1980s with a dark portrait of inner-city crime, drug addiction, and pathos. Almost cinematic, Young describes a homeless, drug-addicted mother abandoning her baby to score drugs. The frightening imagery, indeed, coupled with the powerful, churning melody and performance from Young and Crazy Horse (especially in the live Weld version, which is recommended) are unforgettable. Crosby, Still, Nash & Young closed their epic 2000 live shows with a devastating version of this song, to fabulous effect.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Freedom 1989 Reprise 4:41
Rockin' in the Free World 1994 Reprise 8:41
Sounds of the Eighties: The Rolling Stone Collection, 1988-1989 1995
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 4:43
Fahrenheit 9/11 2004
Original Soundtrack
Rhino 4:42
Greatest Hits 2004 Reprise / Warner Bros. 4:44