♫ People Got To Be Free ♫

As I was writing my earlier post about people being people wherever they are, this song started playing in my head.  I could only recall a snippet of the lyrics, but once again Google came to my rescue and led me right to the song.  I think this is a good day to play this one, don’t you?  As an added bonus, it’s one I haven’t played here before!

This song has a message that resonated loud and clear in 1968:

All the world over, so easy to see

People everywhere just wanna be free

Freedom lost a champion on April 4, 1968 when Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down, and when Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated on June 5, it was dealt another devastating blow.

Eddie Brigati and Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals wrote this song in reaction to those murders, condensing King and Kennedy’s message into a simple missive calling for unity and understanding. It’s hard to argue with the song’s message, as it’s not overtly political and doesn’t lash out at any person or organization in particular. Combined with an uptempo rock groove, it had all the makings of a hit.

Felix Cavaliere claimed that he had to fight for this song, since Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records was worried that a message song would hurt the Rascals’ career. Cavaliere prevailed and the song became the group’s biggest hit, reaching #1 in the U.S. in August 1968, where it remained for five weeks.

This was the third #1 hit for the group (after Good Lovin’ and Groovin’), but the first under their original name. In 1966-67 all their singles were credited to the “Young Rascals,” a name imposed upon them by Atlantic Records to avoid confusion with the Harmonica Rascals.

Their followup single, the #24 A Ray of Hope, was written for the Kennedy family after RFK’s death and prompted a thank-you letter from the fallen senator’s little brother, Ted.

It is said that the Rascals would only perform at concerts that featured an African American act; when that condition was not met, the Rascals canceled several shows in protest.

This song went to #1 in the U.S. and Canada, but failed to travel well across the pond, although it did chart in Australia and New Zealand at #11 and #14 respectively.

People Got To Be Free


All the world over, so easy to see
People everywhere just wanna be free
Listen, please listen, that’s the way it should be
There’s peace in the valley, people got to be free

You should see
What a lovely, lovely world this’d be
Everyone learned to live together, ah hah
Seems to me
Such an itty bitty thing should be
Why can’t you and me learn to love one another?

All the world over, so easy to see
People everywhere just wanna be free (wanna be free)
I can’t understand it, so simple to me
People everywhere just got to be free

If there’s a man
Who is down and needs a helpin’ hand
All it takes is you to understand and
To pull him through, ah hah
Seems to me
We got to solve it individually, ah ah
And I’ll do unto you what you do to me
Said, no

Hear the shoutin’ from the mountains on out to the sea
No two ways about it, people have to be free (they gotta be free)
Ask me my opinion, my opinion will be
Natural situation for a man to be free

Get right on board now, huh, huh

Yeah oh, what a feelin’s just come over me
Love can move a mountain, make a blind man see
Everybody sing it now come on let’s go see
Peace in the valley now, we all can be free

See that train over there?
Now that’s the train of freedom
It’s about to ‘rrive any minute, now
You know it’s been’a long, long overdue
Look out ’cause it’s a’comin’ right on through
Ha, ha, yeah, ha, ha, yeah

Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

18 thoughts on “♫ People Got To Be Free ♫

  1. It’s an ok song, but I can see why it meant more over there than it did here. The band weren’t that successful here, only Groovin’ reached our top ten and one other crept into the top forty. This one travelled so poorly that even your video wouldn’t play! This link should work for UK readers: https://youtu.be/CYcz7gMnifk

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose you’re right … at the time, it was more relevant here than on your side of the pond. Oddly enough, Groovin’ was probably my least favourite of theirs! Thanks again for posting the link that my UK readers can access!!! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Rascals was one of my favorite bands in the late 60’s. I saw them perform live. They were before their time. Lots of folks I know didn’t pay them much attention until “Groovin'” was released.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Then I’m especially glad I played this one!!! As you say, I didn’t pay much attention to them back in the day … I was more a fan of the Raiders and Beatles, but I did like their music … it just didn’t make my top ten list.


  3. Pingback: PEOPLE GOT TO BE FREE. |jilldennison.com | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  4. I had to go on YouTube to listen because your video was not available in Canada. While there, of course, I had to listen to the perfect foliow up song to People Got to be Free, by Cat Stevens:

    Liked by 1 person

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