Lyrics can be powerful. They can send a message, teach an idea or cause us to reflect. Almost every country song written about freedom speaks of it in some way and this list looks at 20 of the best songs about freedom that have been recorded over the years.
God Bless the USA – Lee Greenwood
Written by Lee Greenwood and originally recorded by him in 1984, it has become one of the most poignant songs about freedom. The song is an ode to America, but also takes a swipe at those who don’t love their country as it includes the lines “And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.”
A Horse With No Name – America
Written by Dewey Bunnell, This song speaks of the freedom of wide open spaces and it’s a great example that not every popular song about freedom is necessarily positive. Some songs celebrate the beauty of nature and life outside cities, while others lament it.
Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin
This Kris Kristofferson song was a huge hit for Janis Joplin and its references to freedom were also particularly poignant as she died in a car crash on the way back from performing at the Freedom Concert in the summer of 1970.
Down Under – Men at Work
Written by Colin Hay, this song is an example of how not every song about freedom has to be a serious or patriotic song. This is a fun and humorous song that has become an anthem for Australia and the band, Men at Work.
Hotel California – Eagles
Written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey, this was recorded in 1976 by the Eagles who released it on their album of the same name that appeared in late February 1977. It is a song that many feel has something to say about the USA and its political situation at the time.
Rocket Man – Elton John
Written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, this song was released on the Honky Chateau album in 1972 and it tells of someone who is far from home and in need of their freedom.
Imagine – John Lennon
Written by John Lennon in 1971, this song is thought to have been inspired by his trips to America in the late 1960s when he became associated with radical politics and anti-war demonstrations. It may be a song about peace but it also comes across as an ode to freedom.
Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
Written by Bruce Springsteen, this song was recorded by him in 1984 after his trip to the town of Belsen, where many of his father’s family were killed during World War II. The lyrics also refer back to the Vietnam war and the way Americans treated servicemen when they returned.
God Save the Queen – Sex Pistols
This song captures the spirit of punk music and encapsulates its rebellious attitude perfectly. It also provides us with a great example of how not every song about freedom has to be serious; this is an anti-establishment song that pokes fun at authority figures in a way that is perfectly punk.
The Times They Are a-Changin – Bob Dylan
Written by Bob Dylan, this song was the title track from his 1964 album and became an anthem for the civil rights movement of the early 60s. It captures everything about that time in American history and it becomes obvious why it is such a respected song as the lyrics tell of how freedom has been fought for and won.
Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Written by Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins and Gary Rossington, this became an anthem for those who loved Southern rock and it speaks of freedom in many ways including love and loss.
American Pie – Don McLean
Written by Don McLean, this 1971 song is all about the history of popular music in general but it also speaks of love and freedom. It tells us that no matter what happens, there will always be music to keep us free.
Born Free – Kid Rock
Written and recorded by Kid Rock, this is a song about freedom and the way people take it for granted. It has been taken as an anti-war song but it also speaks to those who feel trapped by their situation in life.
These Colors Don’t Run – Toby Keith
Written by Ronnie Dunn and Terry McBride, this is another example of how not every song about freedom needs to be serious. It is a fun song written in response to the US-led war in Iraq that was referred to on many occasions by President George W Bush.
Great Day for Freedom – Pink Floyd
Written by Roger Waters, this song was released on the band’s 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon and speaks of freedom from oppression. It is a classic example of how political views can make great songs about freedom.
I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty
Written by Tom Petty, this song was recorded by him in 1989 and it has become an anthem for those who do not like to give up under any circumstances. It is a true working class song that tells us we can overcome any obstacle if we never give up.
Rock the Casbah – The Clash
Written by Mick Jones and released on the band’s 1982 album Combat Rock, this song is an anthem for those who want to keep rocking no matter what anyone else thinks. It was banned by the BBC at one point due to some of its lyrics but it still remains a powerful song about freedom of expression.
This Land is Your Land – Woody Guthrie
Written by the great American folk singer Woody Guthrie, this song became an anthem for those who supported workers rights and the American labour movement. It may be a simple song but it has some very complex lyrics that manage to capture what freedom means in America.
Born Free – Frank Sinatra
Written by John Barry and Don Black, this is another example of a song that uses freedom as an analogy for love. It speaks to those who are tied down by the restrictions of life but it also tells us that freedom is worth fighting for.
Dream On – Aerosmith
Written by Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton, this is a song that opens up everyone’s imagination to the possibilities that life has to offer. It tells us that we should all dream as much as we can because those dreams are what make us free.