Freedom (Neil Young album)

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Studio album by Neil Young
Released October 2, 1989 (October 2, 1989)
Recorded July 25, 1988 (1988-07-25)–July 10, 1989 (1989-07-10)
The Barn-Redwood Digital, Arrow Ranch, Woodside, California; Jones Beach, New York (track 1); The Hit Factory, New York (tracks 3 5 8)
Genre Heartland rock, hard rock
Length 61:11
Label Reprise
Producer Neil Young, Niko Bolas
Neil Young chronology
Ragged Glory

Freedom is the eighteenth studio album by Canadian musician Neil Young, released in 1989.

Freedom effectively relaunched Neil Young's career, after a largely unsuccessful decade. After many arguments (and a lawsuit), Young left Geffen Records and returned to his original label, Reprise, in 1988 with This Note's for You. Freedom, however, brought about a new, critical and commercially successful album in the mold of his 1979 classic album, Rust Never Sleeps. Freedom contains one song, "Rockin' in the Free World", bookending the album in acoustic and electric variants, a stylistic choice previously featured on Rust Never Sleeps. "Rockin' in the Free World", despite lyrics critical of the then-new George H. W. Bush administration ("we got a thousand points of light"; "kinder, gentler machine gun hand"), became the de facto anthem of the collapse of communism.

An edited cut of the electric version of "Rockin' in The Free World" was also used over the final credits of Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11, and the song was rereleased as a single at the time of the film's release.

Stylistically the album was one of Young's most diverse records, ranging from acoustic love songs to raging rockers. Three of the songs on Freedom ("Don't Cry," "Eldorado" and "On Broadway") had previously been released on the Japan and Australia-only EP Eldorado, and in a way represented Young's prediction of the grunge movement, featuring heavy waves of thundering distortion and feedback (often strangely juxtaposed with quieter sections). Two songs featured a brass section, an unusual stylistic departure for Young, but one he had embraced fully on his previous album This Note's For You.

This album was published in US as an LP record and a CD in 1989.


Rather than referring to a real demolition wrecking ball, the lyrics of "Wrecking Ball" are wordplay and the song refers to a dance or ball.[1] Aside from the 1989 album version 'Wrecking Ball' exists also in a different version with a separate set of lyrics.[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau A [4]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[5]

Freedom has received mainly positive reviews. Allmusic's William Ruhlmann rated the album four-and-a-half out of five stars, explaining that it "was the album Neil Young fans knew he was capable of making, but feared he would never make again." He also stated that "there were tracks that harked back to [his] acoustic-based, country-tinged albums." Robert Christgau, writing for The Village Voice, rated it an A. He declared that it contains a combination of "the folk ditties and rock galumph that made him famous" and "the Nashvillisms and horn charts that made him infamous." He also stated that "it features a bunch of good stuff about a subject almost no rocker white or black has done much with". David Fricke of Rolling Stone rated it five out of five stars. He called it "the sound of Neil Young, another decade on, looking back again in anger and dread." He also explained that it is about "the illusion of freedom" and "Young's refusal to accept that as the last word on the subject." He summed up the review by calling it "a harsh reminder that everything still comes with a price."

Allmusic reviewer Matthew Greenwald offered strong praise for the second track, "Crime in the City", calling it "undoubtedly the centerpiece of the album", "cinematic in scope", and "one of Neil Young's most accomplished works".[6]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Neil Young, except as noted.[7]

  1. "Rockin' in the Free World" (Live Acoustic) – 3:38
  2. "Crime in the City (Sixty to Zero Part I)" – 8:45
  3. "Don't Cry" – 4:14
  4. "Hangin' on a Limb" – 4:18
  5. "Eldorado" – 6:03
  6. "The Ways of Love" – 4:29
  7. "Someday" – 5:40
  8. "On Broadway" (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) – 4:57
  9. "Wrecking Ball" – 5:08
  10. "No More" – 6:03
  11. "Too Far Gone" – 2:47
  12. "Rockin' in the Free World" (Electric) – 4:41


Additional personnel[edit]

Technical personnel[edit]

  • Neil Young – producer, mixing engineer
  • Niko Bolas – producer, recording engineer except on tracks 1 4, mixing engineer except on tracks 1 4
  • Tim Mulligan – digital engineer, recording engineer on 4
  • Harry Sitam – senior technical engineer
  • Dave Collins – digital editor
  • Doug Sax – digital mastering engineer
  • Dave Hewitt – recording engineer on 1, mixing engineer on 1



Year Chart Position
1989 The Billboard 200 (U.S.) 35


Year Single Chart Position
1989 "No More" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 7
"Rockin' in the Free World" (Electric) Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 2
1990 "Crime in the City" (Electric version) Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 34


Organization Level Date
BPIUK Silver December 2, 1989
CRIACanada Gold February 19, 1990
RIAAU.S. Gold February 21, 1990


  1. ^ Kenneth G. Bielen The words and music of Neil Young - 2008 Page 68 "Rather than referring to the object used in demolition, in "Wrecking Ball" the term refers to a formal dance or "ball." The song possesses a mesmerizing ambiance. The track begins with a quiet piano figure and Cromwell keeping time with a drumstick tapping the edge of the snare. The lyric begins with an autobiographical glimpse. Young sings that one can "read" his "life" on the "radio". And reflecting again on the down side of celebrity, he says there is "nowhere to hide."
  2. ^ Johnny Rogan -Neil Young: Zero to Sixty : a Critical Biography 2001 -- Page 572 "In common with 'Dance Dance Dance'/'Like A Rose', 'Wrecking Ball' exists in two different versions with separate sets of lyrics."
  3. ^ Ruhlmann, William. Freedom - Neil Young at AllMusic. Retrieved 2 July 2004.
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (October 31, 1989). "Consumer Guide: Neil Young: Freedom". The Village Voice. Retrieved 4 January 2012.  Relevant portion also posted at "Neil Young: Freedom > Consumer Guide Album". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 10 March 2006. 
  5. ^ Fricke, David (November 2, 1989). "Neil Young Lets 'Freedom' Ring". Rolling Stone (564): 91. Archived from the original on 4 November 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2007. 
  6. ^ Matthew Greenwald. "Crime in the City (Sixty to Zero, Pt. 1) – Neil Young". Allmusic. Retrieved March 5, 2012. 
  7. ^ Neil Young. Freedom. Reprise Records, 1989.