Ok, here’s the big question that often arises when discussing a song like this. Do we fall out of love with our partner, or do we discover our developing identities are no longer compatible enough to sustain the relationship? If you are a person who believes that love and identity have little to do with each other, this might not be a song for you. On the other hand, this will be a song for those of you who feel a couple needs to share some common philosophical ground to enjoy a healthy and happy relationship.
From the mid-1960s up until 1982, when Siobhan and I started “living in sin,” I, like many young people, drifted in and out of love relationships. Rebounding from these relationships was not easy, regardless of whether the decision to leave was mine or my partner’s. During the time I spent healing from the loss of these lovers, I found great solace in music, especially song lyrics. Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice,” Jim Croce’s “Lover’s Cross,” Dave Mason’s “We Just Disagree,” and Dave Loggins’ “Please Come to Boston” are just a few of the classics I wore out on my turntable as I recovered from the loss of each lover. (Did I say turntable? You younger readers will have to look up this term.)
Anyway, as these songs, and others like them, imprinted their themes into my soul, I took great comfort in becoming aware that falling out of love was not really the reason for relationships not working. They simply do not work if you are not on the “same page” with your lover. There must be some common denominators that will hold a relationship together. Living simply or extravagantly, having or not having kids, traveling or staying at home, integrating with others or isolating yourselves from them, are just a few issues that can cause problems if you and your partner do not feel the same way. These issues, along with many others, are the ones I confronted with my lovers until I got lucky and met Siobhan in the early 1980s. Ironically, I wrote “Set Yourself Free” after I met Siobhan.
In the mid-1980s, a close friend of mine was watching his marriage of fifteen years fall apart. I knew him and his wife very well, and they were both great people. As Dave Mason puts it so well, “There ain’t no good guy; there ain’t no bad guy; there’s only you and me, and we just disagree.” These lines, and others like them, were the ones I would introduce to him as he struggled to find out the reasons for his failing marriage. I worked at trying to get him to see that love was not the issue at stake here. He and his wife were merely discovering that they were not the same people they were when they were teenagers. The philosophies developing in their souls had been kept dormant by those attractive joys of youth, sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. While some couples are fortunate to emerge from the pleasures of youth with compatible philosophies, many, like my friend, do not. If you are one of the unfortunate ones, you are confronted with the tough question. Do I live in quiet desperation, or do I set myself free? My friend chose to set himself free.
Arriving at this decision was not easy for him. It took many beers and many hours of discussion. It was during many of our long conversations that the lyrics of “Set Yourself Free” developed. In fact, I merely took words from our talks and put them into a meter and rhyme scheme. As you look over the lyrics, you will see that my friend was a guy who preferred a simplistic approach to living, while his wife discovered that she wanted extravagance. Was either of them wrong? Of course not! They learned more about who they were and moved on to better lives. Here’s something I’d like to run by you. Try viewing divorce as an indication of growth rather than a sign of failure. After all, isn’t that what it really is?
Because of the nature of the topic of the song, I chose a sensitive delivery. With a guitar, fiddle, and bass, John and Joe Dady help me create an atmosphere that deftly enhances the mood evoked by the narrator as he describes his feelings. It’s far from being comparable to Bob Dylan, Jim Croce, Dave Mason, or Dave Loggins, but I like it, and I hope you do, too.
Big thanks to John and Joe Dady for helping me record this one! For over forty-five years, John and Joe, quintessential musicians and now members of the Rochester Music Hall of Fame, brought much joy to the greater Rochester area as well as other areas of the United States, Canada, and Ireland. Unfortunately, Joe succumbed to leukemia in 2019, a great loss to the music community in our area. John, however, is back performing again. Of course, the show is different, but he still delivers. Catch one of his shows when you can.
I like the country; she likes the city life
I wish she told me this before she became my wife
She likes to wander those canyons made of steel
I like to analyze the way those breezes feel
And I'm not feelin' so good
And I don't get the peace I should
And my heart keeps on tellin' me,
"Set yourself free"
She likes the big house, pool out in the yard
I'm not the kind of guy who likes to work that hard
She likes to socialize just about every night
I like to sit at home by that firelight
She likes those fancy drinks; I like those homemade wines
She worries 'bout most things when I think things are fine
I guess it's time for me to move on down the line
Yes, it's time to let my heart rule my mind
Here is a link to the song on YouTube. It’s an auto generated video created FOR YouTube by CD Baby, our distributor. If an ad appears when the link opens, click to dismiss it, and the song will start. Enjoy!
If you Prefer, you can stream this song on all the major platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime, etc.