The long holiday weekend offers the perfect opportunity to pump up the volume with Local Spins’ revamped “Freedom Rocks” playlist, from Billy Strings and Lindsay Lou to Pitbull and Jon Batiste.
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Freedom must never be taken for granted, which makes America’s celebration of Independence Day a holiday that should mean more than fireworks displays, basking on the beach and backyard barbecues.
Artists in the rock ‘n’ roll era certainly haven’t ignored the subject over the years, with dozens of tracks focused on independence and freedom of choice.
And while the battle to protect personal freedom continues to create turbulence domestically at the same time that military struggles across the globe strive to preserve various countries’ independence, artists and their music can inspire many with their uplifting messages.
To toast Fourth of July 2023, we’ve assembled some of them here, starting with a relatively new classic from a pair of Michigan-bred stars.
FREEDOM RINGS: THE LOCAL SPINS TOP 15
1. “Freedom,” Lindsay Lou with Billy Strings: – There’s no better way to kick off an Independence Day playlist than with a true gem from a couple of Michigan-bred bluegrass superstars. Released last year, this wondrous duet boasts a throwback, bluegrass gospel vibe with Billy’s signature acoustic guitar wizardry.
2. “Freedom,” Richie Havens: The late Richie Havens was an uber-impressive live performer and his impromptu performance at Woodstock is legendary.
3. “I’m Free,” The Who: A classic from these iconic British rockers. (And yes, it was freedom from British rule that we celebrated 200-plus years ago.)
4. “Rockin’ in the Free World,” Neil Young: C’mon, who doesn’t love Neil Young? And this song absolutely, well, rocks.
5. “Freedom of Choice,” Devo: Just couldn’t leave Devo off this list because, well, we’ll “say it again in the land of the free — use your freedom of choice.”
6. “Free Bird,” Lynyrd Skynyrd: Oh, go ahead, yell it from the back of the crowd at an inappropriate time. It’s a free country.
7. “Philadelphia Freedom,” Elton John: Another Brit. Hmmm. But he was paying tribute to an American tennis star (Billy Jean King).
8. “Chimes of Freedom,” Bob Dylan: As with previous playlists, this simply couldn’t be left off of the list, although there are other Dylan tunes that could be inserted here as well (including “The Times They Are A-Changin’ “).
9. “First Flash of Freedom,” – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: An under-the-radar pick from an under-rated album by a late American rock hero.
10. “Freedom,” Beyonce with Kendrick Lamar: One of the newest tracks on this list proves that Beyonce can indeed rock, especially when she gets help from the likes of Kendrick Lamar.
11. “Freedom,” Jimi Hendrix: The fourth “Freedom” on this list (but not the last) by the best guitarist on this list.
12. “Freedom,” Jon Batiste: So much soulfulness exhibited with this 2021 hit single, not to mention an absolutely celebratory milieu with a groovy video to boot.
13. “A Change is Gonna Come,” Sam Cooke: Recorded in 1963, this inspiring song not only benefits from Sam Cook’s incredible voice but lyrics that are at once anguished and hopeful. Despite everything, there’s the belief that freedom, peace and equality will eventually prevail: It’s been a long, a long time coming/But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.
14. “Freedom,” Pitbull: This dance-fueled, uptempo romp from Pitbull certainly makes you feel free as you whirl across the living room — or the club floor. “We were born to be free,” indeed.
15. “Glory,” Common and John Legend: This song from the soundtrack of the 2014 film, “Selma,” takes on even more significance due to troubling events of recent years: Freedom is like religion to us/Justice is juxtaposition in us.
FREEDOM ROCK: THE 2023 LOCAL SPINS PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY
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