Every week, Rich Terfry looks back in our Rear-view Mirror at a great song from the good ol’ days. This week, Neil Young with "Rockin' In The Free World"

The late '80s were an era of great turmoil and change in the world and Neil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World" was the anthem of the times.


Listen to the audio version of Rear-view Mirror by hitting the play button.


The story goes that Young was on tour in Europe with Crazy Horse sometime in the late '80s when one day he was looking through a newspaper with bandmate "Poncho" Sampedro. They were confronted with images of American flags being burned on the streets of Iran and other cities around the Middle East and of protests on the streets in China. Sampedro turned to Young and said, "it's probably better we just keep rockin' in the free world." This sparked something in Young's imagination immediately and he asked his old friend if he would mind if he used the line for the starting point for a song.

Given the green light, Young went to work on a song that touched on the chaos in the world, but that was also critical of the political situation in the USA. George H.W. Bush had just taken office and Young wasn't a fan. He takes a few jabs at remarks made in Bush's inaugural address, which were still fresh in memory.

A matter of weeks after "Rockin' In The Free World" was released that the Berlin Wall came down in Germany. The song became the unofficial anthem for that historic event and as freedom spread across Eastern Europe.

Here's the song that became the soundtrack for the changing world in 1989. "Rockin' In The Free World" by Neil Young.

Here are some other great editions of Rear-view Mirror:

Dolly Parton "Jolene"

The Left Banke "Walk Away Renee"

Lou Reed "Walk On The Wild Side"

James Taylor "Fire And Rain"

The Clash "Should I Stay or Should I Go"

Marvin Gaye "Sexual Healing"

Radiohead "Paranoid Android"

M.I.A. "Paper Planes"

The Animals "We Gotta Get Out of this Place"

Dusty Springfield "Son of a Preacher Man"

Screamin' Jay Hawkins "I Put A Spell On You"

Cheap Trick "Surrender"

Mott The Hoople "All the Young Dudes"

Beach Boys "Sloop John B"

Amy Winehouse "Rehab"

New York Dolls "Personality Crisis"

Modern Lovers "Roadrunner"

George Jones "He Stopped Loving Her Today"

Bruce Springsteen "Born in the USA"

The Beatles "With A Little Help From My Friends"

Rolling Stones 'Miss You'

The Coasters 'Run Red Run'

Elvis Costello, 'Alison'

James Brown, 'Hot (I Need to be loved loved loved)'

Inner Circle, 'Tenement Yard'

Ray Charles, 'I Don't Need No Doctor'

Curtis Mayfield, 'Freddy's Dead'

Gang Starr, 'Beyond Comprehension'

Bo Diddley, 'Bo Diddley'

Aretha Franklin, 'Rocksteady'

CCR, 'Have You Ever Seen the Rain'

Howlin' Wolf, 'Smokestack Lightning'

Bobby Womack, 'Across 110th Street'

Roy Orbison, 'In Dreams'

Foggy Hogtown Boys, 'Man of Constant Sorrow'

Pink Floyd, 'Wish You Were Here'

Neil Young, 'Cortez The Killer'

Bob Dylan, 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'

Little Eva, 'Loco-Motion'

Elvis Costello, 'Watching the Detectives'

Jimmy Cliff, 'The Harder They Come'

The Verve, 'Bittersweet Symphony'

Roberta Flack, 'Killing Me Softly with his Song'

R.E.M., 'Radio Free Europe'

Radiohead, 'No Surprises'

Led Zeppelin, 'Ramble On'

Glen Campbell, 'Wichita Lineman'

Rolling Stones, 'Beast of Burden'

John Cougar Mellencamp, 'Pink Houses'

posted by Rich Terfry on Feb 06, 2013