Rockin’ In The Free World

Neil Young

This song by Neil Young is a rock classic, witness the number of top artists that have created cover versions: Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, Suzi Quatro, Krokus, The Alarm, Simple Minds, John C. Cale, Big Country, G3, Hayseed Dixie and The Junkyard Angels among others.

The lyrics criticize the George H. W. Bush administration, then in its first month, and the social problems of contemporary American life, while directly referencing Bush’s famous “thousand points of light” remark from his 1989 inaugural address and his 1988 presidential campaign promise for America to become a “kinder, gentler nation.” The song also refers to Ayatollah Khomeini’s proclamation that the United States was the “Great Satan”.


Rockin’ in the Free World was used in the Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 11/9 release in 2018 which was critical of US president George W. Bush and the ‘war on terror’ which led to the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The video here has clips from the film, although the song was released in 1989, twelve years before the war. The moral truth of the song endures, even when the context changes.

There’s a lot of people sayin’
we’d be better off dead
Don’t feel like Satan,
but I am to them

So I try to forget it,
any way I can.

What do you make of the idea of Satan? Is there really a malevolent spiritual being with god-like power or is there the satan – some infective psycho-social principle of evil? I’ll let you mull that over while reading Matthew 4:1-11.

PS – on careful listening, this particular video seems to be a kind of ‘radio edit’ that has been shortened and misses out the crucial lyrics which I focused on. Twaangg. So that’s an excuse to put another version of the song up, but for technical (performance) reasons it works better in a separate post – so enjoy it here.