We Shall Be Free

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"We Shall Be Free"
Garth Brooks - We Shall Be Free.jpg
Single by Garth Brooks
from the album The Chase
B-side "Night Rider's Lament"
Released August 31, 1992
Format CD Single, 7" single
Recorded 1992
Genre Country
Length 3:48
Label Liberty 57794
Songwriter(s) Garth Brooks
Stephanie Davis
Producer(s) Allen Reynolds
Garth Brooks singles chronology
"The River"
"We Shall Be Free"
"Somewhere Other Than the Night"
"The River"
"We Shall Be Free"
"Somewhere Other Than the Night"

"We Shall Be Free" is a song co-written and recorded by American country music artist Garth Brooks. It was released in August 1992 as the first single from his album The Chase and also appears on The Hits, The Limited Series, Double Live, and The Ultimate Hits. It reached #12 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks in 1992, becoming his first single to miss the Top 10 on that chart due to an airplay ban from some radio stations. "We Shall Be Free" peaked at #22 on the Billboard Christian Songs charts through a marketing deal with Rick Hendrix Company, and earned Brooks a 1993 GLAAD Media Award.[1][2]This song was written by Brooks and Stephanie Davis.


An ordinary man imagines a world where all human beings are free from earthly oppressions. Topics covered in this social commentary include: world hunger, freedom of speech, homelessness, homophobia, racism, and freedom of religion. Brooks would go on to perform this song on a 1996 episode of Muppets Tonight with The Muppets, at Equality Rocks, a gay rights march in Washington, D.C. in 2000,[3] and at the We Are One Concert, a concert held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. during the Obama inaugural celebration in January, 2009.

Background and production[edit]

According to Brooks, he was inspired to write this song after being in Los Angeles where the ACM Awards were being held during the 1992 L.A. Riots:

"The night the riots hit we watched it all on TV on the bus leaving LA. And as you drove out of LA you could see the buildings on fire. It was pretty scary for all of us, especially a bunch of guys from Oklahoma. Ya know this is intense out here."[4]

Garth provided the following background information on the song in the CD booklet liner notes from The Hits:

"'We Shall Be Free' is definitely and easily the most controversial song I have ever done. A song of love, a song of tolerance from someone who claims not to be a prophet but just an ordinary man. I never thought there would be any problems with this song. Sometimes the roads we take do not turn out to be the roads we envisioned them to be. All I can say about 'We Shall Be Free" is that I will stand by every line of this song as long as I live. I am very proud of it. And I am very proud of Stephanie Davis, the writer. I hope you enjoy it and see it for what it was meant to be."[5]

The music video[edit]

The music video for "We Shall Be Free" was directed by Timothy Miller and premiered on CMT in September, 1992. The video is filled with much powerful (disturbing to some) imagery. In the ending, the following statement is shown: This video is dedicated to the human spirit. Unbreakable. Relentless. Free. The music video for "We Shall Be Free" won Video of the Year at the 1993 Academy of Country Music awards.


In the introduction, numerous celebrities (including Brooks) are depicted in a matter of seconds and appear throughout the video. They include:

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1992) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[6] 12
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[7] 12

References and external links[edit]

  1. ^ "Gay Today: Entertainment". Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Phillips, Chuck (September 30, 1992), "Cut To The Chase, Garth Brooks Stands Alone at No. 1", The Los Angeles Times, archived from the original on April 2, 2015, retrieved 2007-05-29 . Archived from the original on 21 March 2017.
  3. ^ 20 Protest Songs That Matter, Spinner, July 13, 2007
  4. ^ Transcription from "The Garth Brooks Story" (1995)
  5. ^ Garth Brooks - The Hits: transcription from the CD booklet (bar code 7-2438-29689-2-4)
  6. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 1920." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. November 7, 1992. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  7. ^ "Garth Brooks – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Garth Brooks.