What does Keep On Rocking in the Free World mean?

Neil Young: Keep On Rocking in the Free World Meaning

Album cover for Keep On Rocking in the Free World album cover

Keep On Rocking in the Free World Lyrics

There's colors on the street
Red, white and blue
People shufflin' their feet
People sleepin' in their shoes
But there's a warnin' sign
on the road ahead
There's a lot of people sayin'
we'd be better off dead
Don't feel like Satan,
but I...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 3rd 2010 !⃝

    ok one of these interpretations is is just half baked. probably someone who wasn't alive at the time. it is not reagan the song refers to but g.h.w.bush. the first bush. google the quote "1000 points of light" and "kinder gentler nation" to find that out. the preacher mentioned in the song couldn't be further from the white house policy and pres. bush. the preacher in the song that says "keep hope alive" is none other then jesse jackson. the line "she's gonna take a hit" refers to the drug epidemic sweeping the nation. "we got styrofoam boxes for the ozone layer" refers to pollution and a recently discovered (at that time)fact that styofoam damages the ozone layer.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Apr 20th 2012 !⃝

    You're all nuts.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Aug 18th 2006 !⃝

    The chorus is "keep on rockin' in the free world." neil young meant for this song to be sarcastic. Do you think we live in a free world?

  4. anonymous
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    Jun 28th 2018 !⃝

    I need help reconciling this: When this song first came out, I could swear that the line was, “...she THREW the kid away, and she’s gonna get a hit”. This makes sense, since the woman is next to a garbage can and the next lines describe how the kid will never get a chance to grow up and experience life. I think the line may have been deemed too graphic, and was later changed to, “...she PUT the kid away, and she’s gonna get a hit.” The meaning is the same, but the imagery is somewhat softer. It was about a year after release when I noticed the line had changed. CAN ANYONE CONFIRM THIS?

  5. kooljohn176
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    Mar 12th 2015 !⃝

    Years before Sept,11, Neil Young was waleing out in protest in the times when Pres. W.Bush S. and his foreign polocies that were looked upon as the great satan plan, where Neil Young in this song tried to put himself in that thought of calling us satan that we did not believe we represent to people that don't understand us living in America. Neil Young certaintly did not feel like no satan, he was just protesting with a little sarcasim against our consumtion of extreminisim of differenr sorts, that went along with materialism without much thought for the meek, hungry, along with the emotionally scarred by drugs and neglect in the unhealthy reality of the part of the world that we were living in to survive, while at the same time we were in ''keep rockin in the free world'' in our state of mind to express ourselfs in the hope to also be our Brother's keeper to help him fight by understanding to feel free in his state of mind to rock in seeing the illussion of a free world.

  6. anonymous
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    Oct 20th 2014 !⃝

    The actual meaning behind this song is about the crack epidemic of the 80's. Crack was referred to as "rock" and they would often call it "free-basing" as well. That is why he talks about the mom with her baby. "I see a woman in the night
    With a baby in her hand Under an old street light
    Near a garbage can Now she puts the kid away,and she's gone to get a hit" You are welcome :)

  7. outrage
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    Mar 13th 2010 !⃝

    Remember, this song is written pre-9/11 and GWB. This is my interpretation from the first time I heard it to now, dissected by verse.
    Irony of prosperous Americans, proud and going about their daily lives and business while homeless are on the same streets. Meanwhile, the growing threat and disdain of our adversaries, and even some allies, that hate the USA and Americans, but we conveniently don't want to deal with it.

    Chorus: Yeah, so just keep on rocking...it's all good...it'll fix itself...if you even care (sarcasm, cynicism, etc).

    Unwed mother, prostitute maybe, dumps kid [in the trash], needs crack, knows it's all wrong. A wasted life and her youth and what a damn crying shame happening in America.


    Thousand Points of Light-the elder Bush's vague iniative;
    Cold War is over and we have kinder, gentler (also Bush) military strategy (an oxymoron); Plenty of stores and basic necessities unlike many impoverished nations, so we are happy and content; we pollute differently; man of the people I believe is "moderate" Clinton, from Hope, Arkansas and one of his iniative mottos was "Keep Hope Alive". Nonetheless, we have plenty of gas, roads and cars due to prosperity, national interest and that's what we do as Americans. As Alfred E. Newman said "What, me worry?"


    Just my interpretation, not that I agree with all. I think Neil is a great American (did you know he is Canadian born?) and just feels we can do better. Oh s..., I sound like an Obamanite :).

  8. anonymous
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    Mar 12th 2006 !⃝

    This song is nothing but a highly ironic call about the American way of life. How americans consume to much and that they put aside important stuff (like education or else) in the name of freedom.

    That's why the chorus is "keep on rocking in a free world". It does mean "hey, don't matter about that, we are in a free world, right ?"

    Some parts of the second verses also refer to Reagean voluntary program to help poor people while it's governement was highly subsidizing war industry ("We got a thousand, points of light, For the homeless man, We got a kinder, gentler, Machine gun hand")

    It as also refering to a preacher (I do not know his name but I know he exists) who was very close to Reagan preaching to americans this way of life.

    The two last sentences are ironically stating it : "got fuel to burn, got roads to drive"...

  9. anonymous
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    Jan 4th 2006 !⃝

    I believe this song is about life and never give up on it. Neil is explaining different scenarios such as the woman who kills her baby. "She puts here baby away and she's gunna take a hit, she hates her life and what she's done with it, heres another child that will never go to school, never get to fall in love, never get's to be cool-Keep on Rockin in the free world" That was a scenairo he gave you, all he's saying is: just rock!

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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