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“Philadelphia Freedom”

Posted by purplemary54 on June 3, 2013

Years ago, I heard that Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote this song as an homage to Billie Jean King and her professional tennis team, the Philadelphia Freedoms.  Of course, Taupin’s lyrics have no connection to anything even remotely related to tennis.  I watch a lot of tennis, and I never hear anyone talk about freedom, or “peace of mind my daddy never had.”  Complaints about line calls, sure, but no one ever says “I used to be a heart beating for someone, but the times have changed.  The less I say the more my work gets done.”

Really, these are some of the most nonsensical lyrics I’ve ever heard.  The song seems to be both patriotic and isolationist.  It’s an anthem for a nebulous, undefined cause.   It’s not about sports, but it’s also not about love or politics.  Or anything else for that matter.  What this song is ultimately about is left open to interpretation.  Of course, with a hook like this, who cares what it’s about.

I’ve always found it to be a song about, well, freedom.  The lyrics don’t really make any thematic or subjective choices; it’s all left up to the listener: “If you choose to, you can live your life alone.  Some people choose the city, some others choose the good old family home.”  Both John and King publicly came out of the closet late in life, so I suppose the lyrics could also be read as a message of tolerance for sexual orientation.  I’ve always felt light and happy when I hear this song, like some burden I didn’t know I was carrying had been lifted.  Like the lights were turned on, and I could suddenly see all the paths open to me.  This is one of those songs that inspires me.  I’m not really sure what I feel inspired to do, but I grin and sing along anyway.

I guess I could use a little poorly defined inspiration right about now.  Anything that makes me feel a little happier is a good thing right now.  “Philadelphia freedom, I love you, yes I do.”

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