“Cry Freedom” is one of the first true ballads the Dave Matthews Band ever really had. Even then, it’s not really a ballad. But to me, it’s the best way to classify it in terms of the band’s music. I’m going to tell you right off the bat, this is not one of my favorite songs. While I don’t ‘dislike’ “Cry Freedom,” and a certainly don’t hate it, it’s just not one of my favorites. We’ll leave it at that.
Song Meaning: It’s about life in South Africa (where Dave originates from), during apartheid.
Total Play Count: 160
Album Ranking: 12/12
I take that back… “Cry Freedom” is totally a ballad.
I don’t know what it is about this song, but I am just not a huge fan. That being said, I still know all the lyrics, sing along with it every time it comes on my iPod/laptop/car, and know all the music to it. That’s the thing with the Dave Matthews Band, even songs I don’t really like all that much, I still like them. Let’s try to figure this out once and for all.
First things first… Dave’s voice. I don’t really like when Dave goes falsetto in songs. Just a personal preference. He can do it, he has the ability, I just don’t dig it. I prefer him belting out songs, screaming and really getting into the groove.
I also think this song is a little too long. I feel like it drags on just a bit, and could be cut about a minute shorter. Fortunately, the music really carries it, and keeps it going.
Speaking of the music, that’s what I really do enjoy about this song. It starts out a little slow, with just the strumming on guitar, and the light violin in the background. Then Carter comes in on the cymbals, to take the song into its first main verse. Throughout the verses, it’s very simple as well, which is required for a ballad like this. Once in the chorus, though the percussion amps up (with a little sleigh-bells in the background too, at least I think), and it is a solid chorus.
That’s the thing with ballads, though. They can’t have overpowering music or solos, which is the livelihood of 95% of DMB songs. Also, Crash is a more relaxed album. Yes, there are the mega-hits like “Two Step,” “Too Much,” and the upcoming “Tripping Billies.” However, those songs are much more powerful live. On this album (like most songs, really), they are more reserved. That’s exactly why “Cry Freedom” is the way it is, that’s the way the song works. Also, DMB shows a little versatility. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that.
The other main thing to not for “Cry Freedom,” is the lyrics. I would feel like I did a major injustice if I failed to mention the lyrics for this powerful (emotionally/lyrically) song. As I mentioned above, it’s about apartheid in South Africa. If you don’t know much about that, I strongly suggest reading up on it. This is a good start.
Dave Matthews has always done a very nice job of telling stories in songs, but also connecting them to things he believes (or doesn’t believe) in. He has and feels a strong connection to South Africa (rightfully so), and really shows it in his music. “Cry Freedom” only further exemplifies that, by writing such beautiful lyrics.
I strongly encourage you, if not with any other song but this one, to open up the lyrics and listen to the song at the same time. Preferably, after you read about apartheid. The message is very clear, we are all human, we all have hands and feel that are similar, yet other things tear us apart. He puts it much more eloquently than I, but you get the point.
If for nothing else, this song gets MAJOR brownie points for the lyrics and their message.
You know, after writing this review, I’ve come to really appreciate and enjoy this song much more than when I started, a whopping 30 minutes ago. My mind remains the same on the “album ranking,” because I think this is the 12th best song on Crash, however Crash is one of the best albums this band has released, so in essence “Cry Freedom” is still a great song. Clearly it doesn’t get played much live, and it is a much more “Dave and Tim” kind of song to be played than anything. That being said… I like “Cry Freedom” a little bit more after writing this.
Hopefully, someone out there (preferably someone reading this) is happy.
Song Rating: 3.5/5
Next Song: “Tripping Billies”