This was the biggest hit for Utopia, a four-piece band from New York State whose most famous member was Todd Rundgren
. Like many of their songs, one member came in with the idea and the whole band hashed it out, with songwriting credits split equally. Many of their songs originated with Rundgren, but "Set Me Free" came from their bass player, Kasim Sulton.
The song sounds like it's about an interpersonal relationship, with the guy asking the girl to cut him loose so he can move on with his life, but it's really about Sulton's professional life. All four members of Utopia were signed to Bearsville Records not just as a band, but individually as well. Sulton desperately wanted to do a solo album, but was rebuffed by Bearsville, so he wrote this song about wanting to be released from his contract. In our interview with Sulton, he explained: "Albert Grossman actually said to me, 'That's fine. You're more than welcome to go. That'll be $50,000 and 15 percent of all the royalties that you'll ever make for the rest of your life.' And I freaked out and I wrote Set Me Free.'"