Born To Be Free

Album: not on an album (2020)

Songfacts®:

  • Van Morrison released this song on September 24, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the entire Western world (and much of the globe as a whole) was locked down with various degrees of quarantine and movement restrictions.

    Supporters of the lockdown measures said the aim was simply to protect people from spreading the COVID virus. They just wanted to save lives. Detractors said they were affronts to personal liberty and freedom. Sometimes they questioned the actual danger of the virus entirely, while other times they simply felt that freedom was more important than health. Morrison planted himself firmly in the latter camp with "Born to Be Free," a song in protest of the lockdown measures:

    Don't need the government cramping my style
    Give them an inch, they take a mile
    Take you in with a phony smile, wouldn't you agree
    The new normal is not normal
    it's no kind of normal at all
  • Responses to the song were predictably strong and predictably divisive. English guitar legend Eric Clapton stepped out early to support Morrison, saying, "There are many of us who support Van and his endeavors to save live music, he is an inspiration! We must stand up and be counted." A piece by the UK news source The Telegraph also strongly supported Morrison.

    At the same time, other sources said Morrison was being irresponsible and even dangerous. Uproxx mocked Morrison with a title stating Van Morrison Was 'Born To Be Free' Of Basic Safety Measures On His First Anti-Lockdown Single. Rolling Stone preached that Morrison was being ignorant and selfish.

    Morrison's release of the song was part of a personal campaign of anti-lockdown screeds. In a Facebook post he asked that the Northern Ireland Health Minister release all scientfic evidence to the public, questioning the validity of the virus' danger and the resulting lockdown measures.

    Morrison also clarified that he wasn't saying that he knew best what should be done. "I'm not telling people what to do or think, the government is doing a great job of that already," he said. "It's about freedom of choice, I believe people should have the right to think for themselves."

    With the song, he also announced that there would be two more anti-lockdown protest songs coming.
  • Everyone seems to have amnesia,
    Just trying to remember the Berlin Wall


    The Berlin Wall ran through the center of Berlin, Germany, from 1961 to 1989. To the west of the wall was West Berlin and the democratic, free-market half of Germany. To the east was Soviet Communist East Germany.

    It was a literal wall complete with razor wire, beds of nails, and armed guards who would shoot dead anyone trying to cross without authorization. The wall became a symbol of authoritarianism for people of the Western world.

    Some prominent musicians gave concerts in protest of the wall. David Bowie did so in 1987; Bruce Springsteen did it in '88; and Germany's beloved David Hasselhoff did it in '89.

    The tearing down of wall inspired "Right Here, Right Now by Jesus Jones and was also important to the Scorpions' "Wind of Change." T'Pau's "Bridge of Spies" is a historically accurate song about it.
  • Morrison pledged to donate all proceeds from the song to musicians who were struggling to pay the bills because they couldn't perform in public. Many musicians were having a hard time getting by and many others had already dropped out of the music industry.
  • Morrison followed this up with two more songs on the same subject: "As I Walked Out" and "No More Lockdown."

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