Freedom is stitched into the United States’ historic, current and future tapestry. America’s emphasis on freedom and democracy is one of the reasons we’re known as “The Land of the Free.” However, freedom doesn’t have to be restricted to big ideas like freedom from oppression or freedom of speech. It’s seen in every aspect of our lives. We all fight for freedom in our lives, and one way we express this is through music.
While songs about freedom can’t change real-life conditions and ensure liberty for everyone, they have the uncanny ability to make us feel less alone. Whether it’s freedom of speech or simply the freedom to exist in this world, music can help unite us against all forms of captivity.
We know the impact music can have on our feelings and actions. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the very best songs about freedom. These tunes always give us hope when we’re down and can help uplift your spirits too.
7 Of Our Favorite Songs About Freedom
We’ve gone through all our favorite songs about freedom and have picked the best ones for this list. Look through our picks and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites!
1. We Shall Overcome – Pete Seeger
Upon first listen, this folk song seems to celebrate optimism and welcome change. However, it’s a lot more than that. We Shall Overcome is one of the most important songs of our time. It’s one of the most famous songs about freedom because of its use as the anthem of the American Civil Rights Movement.
Pete Seeger first got up and sang this song after one of Dr. King’s speeches. As it became associated with the Civil Rights Movement, the song became more than a folk song. It evolved to include others’ lyrics and melodies and is now known as a song about freedom and achieving equality.
2. Redemption Song – Bob Marley and the Wailers
This reggae classic is about freedom from mental slavery and is inspired by a quote from activist and orator, Marcus Garvey. In 1937, Garvey said, “We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.” In the song, Marley sings, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.”
The powerful words and the alluring melody make the song hit home for many. Redemption Song tackles many topics, including freedom from mental slavery, freedom from belief in a higher power, and even freedom from slavery to technology like the atomic bomb. Marley encourages listeners to believe that none of these things will “stop time” and that freedom is a possibility.
Next: 21 Songs About Hope
3. Freedom – Pharrell Williams
This uplifting song about freedom is sure to raise your spirits when you’re having a tough time. No matter the specifics of your situation, you’re sure to find comfort in this song. In Freedom, Pharrell sings about many different types of freedom, including freedom from slavery, freedom from hard labor, freedom of choice, and freedom of thought. Because Pharrell emphasizes that freedom is innate and present in every living thing, this is a great song for when you need to hear that message.
The 2015 indie pop hit was played across the U.S. but also garnered global acclaim. It climbed the charts in Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, the UK, and more. It’s also been used in various commercials and campaigns and was featured in movies such as Despicable Me 3 and Now You See Me 2.
4. I’m Set Free – The Velvet Underground
I’m Set Free is one of the best folk rock songs about freedom. The folk-rock song was released in 1969 and focuses on personal freedom and being set free. While many associate the song with a drug-induced haze and think of freedom as the kind that comes with beating addiction, others associate the song with empowerment and freedom as a whole.
No matter the specifics of the song, it’s applicable to many situations, and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. If you’re feeling helpless or losing control, it’s one of the best songs you can listen to since it encapsulates the feeling that comes with finally breaking patterns and being able to start anew.
5. I Want To Break Free – Queen
This classic from 1984 tells the story of breaking free from a relationship and about finding personal freedom. It has become an anthem for freedom from oppression and can be applied to a multitude of situations.
The music video for the song featured the band members in drag, which had a negative impact on U.S. ratings. However, this wasn’t the case overseas. I Want To Break Free was a hit in other countries and became synonymous with fighting against oppression in places like South America and Europe. It reached record numbers in the UK, Belgium, Austria, and the Netherlands.
The song has been associated with the women’s liberation movement, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and even with coming out as a member of the LQBTQ+ community. With lyrics like “God knows, got to make it on my own,” and “I’ve got to break free,” it’s no wonder that this masterpiece is one of the best songs about freedom.
6. Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty
This catchy tune is the opening track from Tom Petty’s debut solo album, Full Moon Fever. It’s his most well-known songs to date and reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January 1990. Free Fallin’ is also featured on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
Some say the song is about freedom from commitment and romantic relationships. However, Petty has confirmed that the song isn’t about any one individual, but about the things he saw around him in LA. Nevertheless, people associate the song with different kinds of freedom. For some, it’s freedom from commitment, while for others, it’s about freedom in general. Either way, it’s one of Petty’s best songs, and one of our favorite songs about freedom.
7. Born Free – Kid Rock
There’s no way we could write an article on songs about freedom without mentioning this country rock classic. Born Free is the lead single from Kid Rock’s eighth studio album. While it was released in 2010, it remains popular today. This song captures the essence of being American – being born free. As such, it’s one of our favorite songs celebrating freedom.
Born Free wasn’t just a hit in the U.S. It was popular worldwide and was featured in the Top 100 in countries like Switzerland, Italy, Australia, and Germany. In 2011, presidential candidate Mitt Romney even used the song in his campaign and played it at rallies and other political events.
This concludes our picks of the top seven songs about freedom. Whether they were about relationships, life or a nation, they highlight the importance of freedom and liberty.
Let us know if this list included your top picks or not. You can also come back to this post anytime you feel like jamming out to songs about freedom – we’ve got you covered.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.