On Episode 43 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, author and blogger Laura Tiebert (LauraTiebert.com) and I talk about the beautifully inspirational “Free” from Prince’s 1999 album. This track can be a deeply personal one depending on your perspective and background. Hopefully, we do the lyrics justice and provide an opportunity for the listener to apply their own definition of freedom as they listen.
“Will we all fight for the right to be free?”
Thankfully we live in a free society. Free to change our minds. Free to go most anywhere, anytime. Free to dissect Prince lyrics using the free form podcast format. And Prince was free to record a sometimes corny, somewhat jingoistic, yet still beautiful piano-based ballad about the freedoms we are blessed with as members of any free society.
“Free” is the final track from the strange and experimental Side C that includes “Automatic” and “Something in the Water.” This track doesn’t carry quite the same weight as peak “emotionally traumatized Phantom of the Opera-Esque, Linn-drum instead of organ and without the facial deformity” Prince. Although, one could make the argument that “Free” is just as strange as its Side C brethren with its marching boots on the ground opening, simplistic yet highly effective piano melody, and a “proud to be an American” chorus sung without irony. “Be glad that you are free, free to change your mind.” It’s not the Prince you expected after listening to rabblerousing “Partyup” or “Ronnie Talk to Russia,” but it’s the Prince we have here. The man always keeps us guessing.
I feel that Laura and I did a good job of getting to the heart of the song and why something that initially felt like such an outlier on 1999 was actually a perfect track to include on this bleak album. It’s a rare uplifting song for this record, and sad-boy Prince makes a case for country radio if “Free” was produced and played slightly differently. Maybe he should have given this song to Kenny Rogers instead of “You’re My Love.”
The goal of each episode of Press Rewind is to:
- Take a track by track look at the lyrical content of Prince’s discography
- Discuss my own interpretation of each song’s lyrics along with any guest I may have
- If submitted, discuss listener’s interpretations of each song’s lyrics
Thank you for joining me on this journey through Prince’s catalog!