Song Spotlight: “Freedom”

Cartoon image of a white bird standing on a guitar neck in blue with green headstock. Yellow fingers wrap around the neck of the guitar. Song spotlights genre label reads, "rock"
  • Mood: Reflective
  • Themes: Woodstock, 1960s
  • Tempo: Quick, Upbeat
  • Genre/Style: Rock

Summer is the time of music festivals. Outdoor summer music festivals combine the bright and sunny weather with the music we love. Festivals are not complete without good music, good company, and some ice cold drinks.

One music festival that was especially famous for its size and the musical lineup was Woodstock. In this post, we are featuring Richie Havens, the musician who kicked off Woodstock and improvised a song that became synonymous with Woodstock. 

Richie Havens got his start in the Greenwich Village scene, painting portraits of the tourists and playing guitar to accompany the poems he wrote. He eventually began to play at night clubs and found record success by the mid 60s. When he and his band were chosen to play at Woodstock in 1969, they had to be flown in by helicopter. Their group kicked off the entire festival. For the last song in their set, they improvised on the word “freedom” which Richie Havens combined with the traditional song “Motherless Child.” The resulting song “Freedom” became an anthem that encapsulated the entire festival.  

This is a great song to use within a group to play instruments along with. It can be used as a transition into discussion of concerts that you’ve been to or hope to see, an opportunity for musical engagement, and more! 

Try This:

Theme: This would be a good song to pair with other songs from Woodstock or songs from the late 60s and early 70s. Other complementary songs may include “Here Comes the Sun,” “Somebody to Love,” and “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.”

Make a list of artists or musicians that you would want to have at a music festival. Describe the ideal location and features that would make a great festival.

Start a discussion of favorite bands or concerts that have been seen live or in video recordings. Ask if any one went or knows someone who attended Woodstock.

Musical Engagement: Try identifying the instruments used in the song. Sing along with the word “freedom.”

Add instruments in layers and explore different rhythms that can be added as musical texture. Try out a variety of instruments that bring different sounds to the music. 

Movement: Try tapping or clapping along with the song or try out different free and expressive movements along with the song.

For more song spotlights, visit our Song Spotlights page.

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