Freedom Songs Ranked

Freedom is the 17th studio album by Canadian-American musician Neil Young, released on October 2, 1989. Freedom effectively 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, however, brought about a new, critical and commercially successful album. This album 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.” Here are all of Freedom songs ranked.

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12. The Ways of Love

“‘The Ways of Love’ is another nice acoustic song, although I’m not a huge fan of the chorus. ‘The Ways of Love’ leaves the wrong whiff of sourness, intermittent indulgence from a guy astounded at how far he has crawled from the abyss leaving this a few inches short of impeccable Shakey standard albums.”

11. Rockin’ in the Free World

“The album ends with an electric ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ that has more lyrics at the end. Neil really belts his voice out during this song and he is just beating on his guitar. The lyrics paint a depressing picture of modern social problems. This song is almost punk rock and is a good way to end an album of slightly depressing songs.”

10. Crime in the City (Sixty to Zero Part 1)

“‘Crime in the City’ is one of the most Dylan-esque songs I’ve heard from Neil. The song describes moments from different peoples lives (a cop, a music producer, a kid, etc.) and they all seem to be in situations relative to their time and place that they have little control over and all seem jaded. Light but driving music under these heavy lyrics give this song a unique flow. One of Neil’s all time best songs.”

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9. Too Far Gone

“‘Too Far Gone’ is a song that Neil actually wrote back in the 70’s, and it sounds like it. Clocking in at under three minutes, this is one of the highlights of this album. Classic Neil.”

See more: Neil Young Albums Ranked

8. Don’t Cry

“‘Don’t Cry’ is a slower song about a break up, but also has moments of loud distorted guitar and feedback. It ends up working very well and is tastefully done.”

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7. No More

“‘No More’ is one of the heavier songs, and it deals with drug addiction. The lyrics describe going through the motions of being addicted but not enjoying it anymore, and wanting to break the habit. Excellent song.”

6. Hangin’ on a Limb

“For all the “political” albums out there, it’s hard to find one that actually sounds like it represents the time it’s supposed to be from – unless of course you go all the way back to the 60s.”

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5. Wrecking Ball

“‘Wrecking Ball’ is a slow, soft, piano ballad with drums and bass. Neil’s voice almost seems sad as he’s singing the lyrics. Very emotional and a very good song.”

See more: Neil Young Songs Ranked

4. Eldorado

“‘Eldorado’ comes out of nowhere with its south western sound and groove, a nice little change. The music really matches with the lyrics and grabs a hold of you. Great song and well placed on the album.”

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3. On Broadway

“‘On Broadway’ is Neil’s take on, well, Broadway. It’s decent, and Neil uses his guitar in a very noisy fashion during parts of the song, really adding to the mood, but overall, it’s one of the weaker songs of the album.”

2. Rockin’ in the Free World

“‘Freedom’ starts out with an acoustic live ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’. From the moment Neil starts strumming, you can tell that he’s back. Heartfelt vocals and a powerful acoustic 12-string guitar, this is where Neil excels. A perfect opener.”

1. Someday

“‘Someday’ is probably the most 80s sounding song on the album, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, this is a very good song. Good lyrics, decent music…but the synth and group chant parts kind of make it sound cheesy.”