personal freedom anthems
As we made the first issue of Double Issue, we asked all our contributors to name their favorite song about Personal Freedom. There are hundreds of songs that belong on this playlist. Here are ten.
“Freedom! ’90” by George Michael (1990)
Akemi Yamaguchi, Writer
I grew up a big George Michael fan, but did not really keep up with his career after the ’90s. Like most, I rediscovered his catalog after his untimely death, and specifically (re)connected with “Freedom!
’90.” It’s a song about living your truth—and all of the complications and contradictions that can come along with that. Also, it’s just a GREAT song.
“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke (1964)
Heather Buchheim, Writer
This timeless civil rights anthem is one of my all-time favorites, and it’s such a necessary reminder during times of struggle. My best friend sent me a screen print emblazoned with the title of the song after November 2016, and it was life-giving to have it hanging in my room during the awful year that followed.
“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” by Nina Simone (1967)
Carrie Taffel, Publishing Director
From Simone’s voice to the feel-good piano, this is my freedom anthem. The lyrics are dead simple and cut straight to the very heart of the idea of freedom (“I wish you could know / What it means to
be me / Then you’d see and agree / That every man should be free”). Simone once said that freedom to her meant “no fear.” Fearlessness and joy in the possibility of freedom for us all is what I take away from this song.
“Changes” by David Bowie (1971)
Myleen Hollero, Photographer
In dark times I always find this song uplifting. The message of sur- rendering and embracing the growth and inevitable changes that one encounters in a lifetime ... I find that freeing in many ways.
“Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin (1971)
Tim Belonax, Design Director
The phrase “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose” has been a reminder for me of the freedoms we might deny ourselves based on our own values and actions. A new mindset or person in your life can become a type of freedom.
“Free Your Mind” by En Vogue (1992)
Gina M. Contreras, Illustrator
It’s a classic.
“Hunter” by Björk (1997)
Ben Mims, Writer
Björk sings about needing to control everything around her, even going so far as thinking she could control an abstract concept. The line “I thought I could organize freedom, how Scandinavian of me” is, to me, hilarious. It reminds me of how a lot of people think they can force their world view on others, but the irony is that freedom is a concept that is always around everyone. They may not think so, because they don’t feel free politically, geographically, or even mentally, but I think freedom can be, to be earnest, a state of mind that you choose to embody in the ways you can control.
“Born This Way” by Lady Gaga (2011)
Aaron Eske, Editorial Director
I wish this song was on the radio when I was growing up. I’m glad it was there for the next generation of kids who needed to hear they’re free to be who they are. It’s one of those rare songs that got stuck in society’s head and changed lives and policy.
“Hair” by Lady Gaga (2011)
Dusty St. Amand, Photographer
One of the main lyrics of the song is “I’m as free as my hair.” That resonates deeply for me. Any moment in my life when someone asserted their will over my personal expression, I felt trapped. If I can’t be who I want to be and create the kind of art I want to create, I’m not myself. I’m not free.
“Un velero llamado Libertad” by José Luis Perales (1979)
Bosco Hernández, Art Director
The song title translates to “A sailboat named Freedom.” When I was a kid, my mom would blast this song on a record player throughout the house. It always filled me with hope.