Songs of Freedom

Music is a powerful tool for the promotion of any cause; this page is devoted to the study of songs for one of the highest causes, human freedom.

What exactly is freedom? The term is used in many ways, but this is the definition which is relevant to this project:

Freedom is the absence of forcible constraint on actions which do not violate the rights of others.

Most restrictions on freedom are caused by government, since governments possess a legal monopoly on the use of force. Non-governmental agents can also impinge on freedom when the government is ineffective to stop them or actively cooperates with them. However, freedom doesn't mean simply having one's way, or not encountering obstacles. Thus, there are songs which others might consider "songs of freedom" which won't be listed here. Conversely, my listing an artist or song here shouldn't be construed as an endorsement of anything and everything the artist may have said about freedom. I may not even agree with the song unreservedly, and I might have doubts about its artistic merit.

What I am saying by listing a song here is that it makes a pro-freedom point, and does it in a way which can have a real impact on people. These are songs which are worth knowing and worth singing because they can make people feel that freedom is possible and is worth the price.

MIDI files are provided for some of the songs. Click on the "MIDI" button following the lyrics.

American Revolution
Spirituals and Anti-Slavery Songs
Other Historical Songs
Filk Songs
Modern Folk Songs
Popular and Show Songs

American Revolution

Anti-British and pro-independence songs were heard well before the American Revolution.

Many of the songs of the American Revolution have become hackneyed through overuse. Some, such as "Yankee Doodle," really don't say anything, but others are worth a fresh hearing, and some deserve to be heard more.

The following songs date from the period shortly following the Revolution (to about 1800), when it was still a recent memory and passion for freedom continued to be strong.

Spirituals and Anti-Slavery Songs

Many of the spirituals sung by slaves in the Old South show a clear longing for freedom, couched in unimpeachable religious terms. The more explicit anti-slavery verses in some of these songs, though, may be additions from the Civil War period.

Other songs addressed the issue of slavery more directly.

Other Historical Songs

Songs of freedom have appeared at every point in U.S. history. Songs were written in defense of causes now lost, as well as goals which were achieved.

In Ireland during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the repressive Penal Laws provoked widespread anger and strengthened the drive for independence. A number of Irish songs reflect this outrage and a love of freedom.

Filk Songs

Filk music is the folk music of science fiction and fantasy fandom. Because of the strong libertarian strain among science fiction fans, many filk songs have a strong libertarian element. Particularly worth citing are the songs of Leslie Fish. More information on her, including available recordings, can be found on Random Factors' Web page on her. Here are just a few of the songs of freedom which she has written:

Here are some other songs by filk writers which deal with freedom:

I should (or at any rate, will) include a plug for my Mad Scientist's Songbook.

Modern Folk Songs

The term "folk song" is used today to denote a certain style, regardless of whether the origin of the song is shrouded in obscurity or not. Modern folk music is often influenced by socialist ideas, but also captures a rebellious spirit. It's necessary to look carefully, and not include every folk song which has the word "freedom" in it, but some gems can be found.

Popular and Show songs

Popular music tends to avoid controversy, but songs promoting freedom can be found in this area.

David and Ginger Hildebrand, George Washington: Music for the First President, the Hendrickson Group, P. O. Box 766, Sandy Hook, CT 06482

Libertarian Party's list of the top 25 liberty songs

There may have been who knows accesses to this page since some unknown date.

Copyright 1997-2001 by Gary McGath

Last revised May 14, 2002

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