About the song

Ah, yes, “I Wanna Be Free” by The Monkees. A delightful slice of mid-1960s pop that perfectly captures the youthful exuberance and yearning for independence that defined the era. Released in 1966 on their self-titled debut album, the song stands as a testament to the songwriting prowess of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, a duo who churned out many a hit for The Monkees.

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While the backstory of The Monkees themselves is often shrouded in the mythology of being a manufactured band for a television show, there’s no denying the enduring power of their music. “I Wanna Be Free” stands out even within their impressive catalog for its simple yet effective melody and relatable lyrics.

The song opens with a flourish, a bright acoustic guitar riff that sets the stage for the soaring vocals of Davy Jones. Jones, the heartthrob of the group, delivers the opening line with a youthful conviction: “I wanna be free” – a sentiment that resonated deeply with teenagers of the time. This wasn’t just about breaking free from parental control, but a yearning for a life filled with possibility, unburdened by societal constraints.

The lyrics themselves are a clever dance between romantic desire and a fierce need for independence. The singer compares his longing for freedom to the flight of bluebirds and the vastness of the ocean. He tells his lover, “If your love has to tie me, Don’t try me, say goodbye.” This isn’t a declaration of disinterest, but a clear message – love can’t come at the cost of his freedom.

“I Wanna Be Free” doesn’t dwell on negativity, though. The bridge shifts the tone, introducing a touch of whimsy. The singer now envisions walking hand-in-hand with his love, laughing in the sun. However, the key word here is “without any strings.” He desires a love built on mutual respect and companionship, not possessiveness.

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The song concludes with a simple yet powerful repetition: “I wanna be free.” It’s a mantra for a generation, a declaration of independence that transcends mere teenage angst. It’s a call for a life lived on one’s own terms, a sentiment that continues to resonate with listeners of all ages.

“I Wanna Be Free” may not be considered the most complex song in The Monkees’ repertoire, but its enduring popularity speaks volumes. It’s a prime example of how infectious melodies and relatable themes can create timeless pop music. So next time you hear that opening guitar riff, close your eyes and let yourself be transported back to a simpler time, a time when freedom truly felt within reach.

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Lyrics

“I Wanna Be Free”

I wanna be free
Like the bluebirds flying by me
Like the waves out on the blue sea
If your love has to tie me, don’t try me
Say good-bye

I wanna be free
Don’t say you love me say you like me
But when I need you beside me
Stay close enough to guide me, confide in me
Oh-oh-oh

I wanna hold your hand
Walk along the sand
Laughing in the sun
Always having fun
Doing all those things
Without any strings
To tie me down

I wanna be free,
Like the warm September wind, babe
Say you’ll always be my friend, babe
We can make it to the end, babe
Again, babe, I gotta say:
I wanna be free
I wanna be free
I wanna be free