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I Want to Break Free

by

Queen



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Queen bass player John Deacon wrote this from the male perspective of the women's liberation movement.
This song became an anthem for the ANC in South Africa in the late-'80s when Nelson Mandela was still in jail and the white government's apartheid policies were still in place. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2)
The video for this song parodies a popular British television soap, Coronation Street. The opening sequence features all the band members in drag (Mercury as a housewife, Deacon as grandmother, Taylor as a schoolgirl, and May as a housewife). This confused many people who didn't catch the reference. Brian May was asked in an interview with Q magazine March 2011 whether each band member's character in the video was an accurate reflection of their personalities? He replied: "Of Course! Everybody thinks that was Freddie's idea because it looks like something that he would love to do but it actually came from Roger's girlfriend at the time, strangely enough. It was her idea to pastiche the Coronation Street women." (thanks, Bryn - Blackburn, England and James - Vancouver, Canada)
Singles are often edited down from the album version of songs, but this was the opposite, as the version on The Works is about 30 seconds shorter - the single has a longer synthesizer intro and a longer solo.
Lisa Stansfield sang this at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. She came on the Wembley Stadium stage wearing hair curlers and pushing a vacuum cleaner in tribute to the song's video. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
Sadly, for some the Coronation Street pastiche video didn't go over so well, and it was actually banned on MTV, meaning the single died in America. Fred Mandel, who played the synths and signature solo on the track, explained in the Days of our Lives documentary: "It's a very British kind of humor, and I don't think it went over too well in the States. I'm Canadian, so I get it!"

Roger Taylor seemed visibly annoyed: "In those days on MTV, it was Whitesnake, and f--king Whitesnake, and then another Whitesnake track! They must've thought men dressing up in drag wasn't 'rock' enough, I suppose." Brian May added, "I think at that point we lost America, which is a shame, as it means there's a whole chunk of Queen songs which never got played or heard there."
Many people assume the solo is played on guitar. Actually it's not - it's a synth solo by talented keyboardist Fred Mandel. "John did NOT want a guitar solo" notes Roger Taylor. "So he got Fred, who's a very brilliant keyboard player, to improvise something around the main tune, and Fred did this brilliant take."

Brian May didn't seem to initially agree with it: "I didn't exactly agree with it at the time, but I gave it my blessing... that's the deal." Mandel himself joked about how it clashed with Queen's previous no-synthesizers policy on their early 1970s records: "All the old records used to say prominently "no synthesizers"... then I come in like another schmuck and put synthesizers on everything!"
Queen
Queen Artistfacts
More Queen songs
More songs about being free
More songs inspired by Nelson Mandela and Other Anti-Apartheid Campaigners

Comments (15):

The song with the music video reminds me of the AIDS epidemic in the 80's. Breaking free from AIDS would make sense. The marchers with headlamps are similar to the candlelight marches. I know the song was written by John and it didn't have to do with this but that's what it reminds me of.
- Daydream, Washington , DC
I just don't get it. I didn't like this song the first time I heard it which was a couple months before the video appeared on MTV, (for about a week). 27 years later I still don't relly like it. However, the live version is far superior to the studio version. I'll take Spread Your Wings, You & I, In Only Seven Days, & even Cool Cat over this anyday!
- Steve, Hockessin, , DE
Definitely one of my favorite songs from Queen.
- Jessica, Tulsa, OK
'I want to break free from your lies/
You're so self-satisfied I don't need you'

One of my favourite rock lyrics of all time. What better way is there to tell somebody to **** off? :)
- Mark, Dartmouth, NS
Everyone claims (John included) that Deacon is happily married, and has always been perfectly happy with his home life...but I doubt this, when you look at the songs he wrote after '76: "Spread Your Wings", "Who Needs You", "In Only Seven Days", "Another One Bites The Dust", "Back Chat", "I Want To Break Free", "One Year Of Love"; even "You and I" from 'A Day At The Races' seems to point so some trouble at home... "You know I never could forsee the future years / I never could see where life was leading me / but will we be together forever? / What will be my love? / Can't you see that I just don't know..."
- Ryan, Eaton, IN
Freddie Mercury said that part of the band's success was because of the fact that everyone wrote songs, so one member didn't get more money than others. John Deacon wrote some awesome songs!
- Mary, Rochester, MN
love this song. totally embodies how i feel. i love freddie mercury and his voice
- melissa, newtown, PA
this is another one of those songs that i thought had been a one hit wonder for some unknown band until about '92 i found out all these catchy pop hits were on greatest hits 2! i remember the petrol commercial this song was used for with the chain breaking! was probably shell, cos esso had the tiger ads.
- Matt, all over the shop, --
i love JOHN DEACON so much because he wrote most of my QUEEN favorite songs.... take a bow John!
- ched -, La Union, Philippines, -
best queen song ever
- marcus, Richmond, VA
I have always liked this song, back in the mid-80's it was a great dance tune in all the clubs.
- Joe, Jax, FL
Jonathon, I agree with you about Spread Your Wings, a really underrated song by John Deacon. According to Brian May, also the famous bassline of Under Pressure was John's.
- Stefano, Rome, Italy
Wow that's weird. My favorite songs by Queen are written by John Deacon
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
This was one of Deacon's three biggest songs, along with "Another One Bites The Dust" and "You're My Best Friend", but he also has a lot of underrated songs like "Spread Your Wings"...
- Jonathon, Clermont, FL
the song was featured in a Coca-Cola commercial. it featured people doing things that would get them in trouble.
- Billy, Otway, OH
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