Freedom (Neil Young album)

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Neil Young Freedom.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 2, 1989 (October 2, 1989)
RecordedJuly 25, 1988 (1988-07-25)–July 10, 1989 (1989-07-10)
StudioThe Barn-Redwood Digital, Arrow Ranch, Woodside, California; Jones Beach, New York (track 1); The Hit Factory, New York City (tracks 3 5 8)
GenreHeartland rock, hard rock
ProducerNeil Young, Niko Bolas
Neil Young chronology
This Note's for You
Ragged Glory
Singles from Freedom
  1. "Rockin' in the Free World"
    Released: November 14, 1989

Freedom is the 17th studio album by Canadian-American musician Neil Young, released on October 2, 1989. Freedom relaunched Young's career after a largely unsuccessful decade. After many arguments and a lawsuit, Young left Geffen Records in 1988 and returned to his original label, Reprise, with This Note's for You. Freedom brought about a new, critical and commercially successful album. It was released in the United States as an LP record, cassette tape, and CD in 1989.


Very different recording sessions made for a very eclectic album. Three songs ("Don't Cry," "Eldorado" and "On Broadway") had previously been released on the Japan and Australia-only EP Eldorado. Two other songs ("Crime in the City" and "Someday") had been recorded in 1988 with the rhythm-and-blues-oriented Bluenotes band from Young's previous album, This Note's for You. Young explains the wide array of music in the album thus: "I knew that I wanted to make a real album that expressed how I felt. I just wanted to make a Neil Young record per se. Something that was just me, where there was no persona, no image, no distinctive character like the Bluenotes guy or the guy in Everybody's Rockin'. It's the first time I've felt like doing an album like this in years." Although he originally planned to release a purely electric rock album ("nothing but abrasiveness from beginning to end"), Young says the final product is "almost like listening to the radio - it keeps changing and going from one thing to another."[1]

"Rockin' in the Free World" became one of Young's signature songs and a live favorite, and bookends the album in acoustic and electric variants, a stylistic choice previously featured on Rust Never Sleeps. An edited cut of the electric version of the song was used over the final credits of Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 and the song was re-released as a single at the time of the film's release.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Robert ChristgauA[3]
Rolling Stone[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[5]

Freedom has received mainly positive reviews, especially in comparison to the rest of Young's '80s work. 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."[2] 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 (Young) famous" and "the Nashvillisms and horn charts that made him infamous." He also said "it features a bunch of good stuff about a subject almost no rocker white or black has done much with--crack".[3] 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" and that it is about "the illusion of freedom" and "Young's refusal to accept that as the last word on the subject." Fricke summed up the review by calling it "a harsh reminder that everything still comes with a price."[4]

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] The album is ranked number 996 in All-Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd. edition, 2000).[7][8]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Neil Young, except where noted.

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 Stoller4:57
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


  • 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


Weekly charts

Chart (1989) Peak
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[9] 29
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[10] 16
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[11] 30
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[12] 40
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[13] 21
UK Albums (OCC)[14] 17
US Billboard 200[15] 35


Year Single Chart Position
1989 "No More" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[16] 7
"Rockin' in the Free World" (Electric) 2
1990 "Crime in the City" (Electric) 34


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[17] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[18] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[19] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". Rolling Stone. 16 November 1989.
  2. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. Freedom – Neil Young at AllMusic. Retrieved 2 July 2004.
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ a b Fricke, David (November 2, 1989). "Neil Young Lets 'Freedom' Ring". Rolling Stone. No. 564. p. 91. Archived from the original on 2007-11-04. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  6. ^ Matthew Greenwald. "Crime in the City (Sixty to Zero, Pt. 1) – Neil Young". AllMusic. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
  7. ^ "Rocklist". Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  8. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 299. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  9. ^ " – Neil Young – Freedom" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  10. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 6677". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  11. ^ " – Neil Young – Freedom" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  12. ^ " – Neil Young – Freedom" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  13. ^ " – Neil Young – Freedom". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  14. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  15. ^ "Neil Young Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  16. ^ "Neil Young Chart History: Mainstream Rock". Billboard. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  17. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Neil Young – Freedom". Music Canada. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  18. ^ "British album certifications – Neil Young – Freedom". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  19. ^ "American album certifications – Neil Young – Freedom". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 21, 2020.