• Elise Chandler

Behind the Lyrics - George Michael: "Freedom '90"



Welcome back to Behind the Lyrics with Elise Chandler! 

This week, I decided to go a different route. Since many of you who view Alt Revue are musicians, I thought it would beneficial to look at some popular songs' lyrics and try to decode what made it so successful. 

Our song this week is by George Michael "Freedom '90!" If the lyrics do not look familiar, simply put a quick search in and the happy upbeat music will grab your memory by the tail. Here are the lyrics: 

Freedom! '90 by George Michael 


"I won't let you down I will not give you up Gotta have some faith in the sound It's the one good thing that I've got I won't let you down So please don't give me up 'Cause I would really, really love to stick around, oh yeah Heaven knows I was just a young boy Didn't know what I wanted to be (Didn't know what I wanted to be) I was every little hungry schoolgirl's pride and joy And I guess it was enough for me (said I guess it was enough for me) To win the race? A prettier face! Brand new clothes and a big fat place On your rock and roll T.V. But today the way I play the game is not the same, no way Think I'm gonna get myself happy I think there's something you should know I think it's time I told you so There's something deep inside of me There's someone else I've got to be Take back your picture in a frame Take back your singing in the rain I just hope you understand Sometimes the clothes do not make the man All we have to do now Is take these lies and make them true somehow All we have to see Is that I don't belong to you And you don't belong to me yeah yeah Freedom! (I won't let you down) Freedom! (I will not give you up) Freedom! (Have some faith in the sound) You've gotta give for what you take (It's the one good thing that I've got) Freedom! (I won't let you down) Freedom! (So please don't give me up) Freedom! ('Cause I would really, really love to stick around) You've gotta give for what you take Heaven knows we sure had some fun, boy What a kick just a buddy and me (what a kick just a buddy and me) We had every big-shot good time band on the run, boy We were living in a fantasy (we were living in a fantasy) We won the race, got out of the place I went back home, got a brand new face For the boys on MTV But today the way I play the game has got to change, oh yeah Now I'm gonna get myself happy I think there's something you should know I think it's time I stopped the show There's something deep inside of me There's someone I forgot to be Take back your picture in a frame Don't think that I'll be back again I just hope you understand Sometimes the clothes do not make the man All we have to do now Is take these lies and make them true somehow All we have to see Is that I don't belong to you And you don't belong to me, yeah yeah Freedom! (I won't let you down) Freedom! (I will not give you up) Freedom! (Have some faith in the sound) You've gotta give for what you take (It's the one good thing that I've got) Freedom! (I won't let you down) Freedom! (So please don't give me up) Freedom! ('Cause I would really, really love to stick around) You've gotta give for what you take Well it looks like the road to heaven But it feels like the road to hell When I knew which side my bread was buttered I took the knife as well Posing for another picture Everybody's got to sell But when you shake your ass They notice fast And some mistakes were build to last That's what you get (That's what you get) That's what you get (I say that's what you get) That's what you get (for changing your mind) That's what you get for changing your mind That's what you get That's what you get (And after all this time) I just hope you understand Sometimes the clothes do not make me, oh yeah All we have to do now Is take these lies and make them true somehow All we have to see Is that I don't belong to you And you don't belong to me, yeah yeah Freedom! Freedom! (oh freedom) Freedom! (my freedom) You've gotta give for what you take Freedom! (hold on to my freedom) Freedom! Freedom! (my freedom) You've gotta give for what you take Give for what you, give for what you take yeah Yeah, you've got to give for what you, give for what you, give May not be what you want from me Just the way it's got to be Lose the face now I've got to live, I've got to live, I've got to live"

It has gone on record that there is no mystery behind these lyrics. Michael was discussing the frustration of the music industry, especially during his time with Wham! So, why would a song so personal to the singer appeal to such large crowds?  Some of you, especially those of you jamming to it right now, are saying, "Duh, this is groovin', Elise!" Well, you are right there. It is a groovin' song. However, I argue that the lyrics appeal to large audiences as well, but it isn't the verses in this song. It is the pre-chorus and chorus.  In the pre-chorus and chorus, the gospel backing really picks up, giving the  song more power, but look at the lyrics, "Freedom! I won't let you down. Freedom! I will not give you up. Freedom! Have faith in the sound." These phrases give hope. It is a song about bravery.  How often in life have we been faced with a challenge where we have to  "strike out on our own"? How often have we taken that chance? Michael is not unaware that this is indeed an act of pure faith. We don't know when we try something new that it will work, but you have to have faith, and what is better than the freedom of becoming "someone I forgot to be".  I'd even like us to think about this in a different musical genre. If this song was slower, more thoughtful, would the message still work? I would argue, yes! Freedom is something we all crave. To be ourselves is something we all work towards, and at different stages in our life, we may want to hear this in Michael's version, or in a soothing jazz rendition.  So, next time you hear that super popular "hit" on the radio, I encourage you to stop and go...Why on Earth is Carley Rae Jepsen on AGAIN?! The answer may be money or it may be the words truly speak to many people.  Until next time. 

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