Rockin' In The Free World

Neil Young

1 cover version of this song

Original 1,051,359 plays
Pearl Jam4,929 plays
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 Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.