“Free Thinker” Live at Rose Street

“Free Thinker”. The song that adds a little carpe diem to bromance.

Some of my songs are written top-down: I’m setting out for a specific result, and I do everything I can to make the song achieve that objective. Others are written bottom-up: I come up with something I like (a cool music line, melody, or chord progression), and I keep working it like clay, adding more and more material until a form takes shape that I like. And then there are times where a chorus appears almost out of nowhere, and I know right away it’s so obviously cool that I’m gonna have to create verses and a whole song around it just to justify its existence. “Free Thinker” is one of those.

I was in my wife’s and my hotel room in Boston, doing something uninspiring like shaving, and then –you know what comes next– this freakin’ chorus just popped into my head, unfurling itself all catchy and comfortable like a classic rock song I’d known all my life. I almost fell over myself scrambling for a pen and paper, and I got the music and lyrics down immediately.

So I had this chorus that felt like it wanted to be on some lost John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band track, and now all it needed was, y’know, everything else.

It would have to wait another seven years for me to finish. Why? There were lots of excuses, but I suspect I just wasn’t comfortable writing what was going to have to be a homoerotic song. If I let myself chicken out and direct the narrator’s come-on to a woman*, it might suffice, but it wouldn’t rock.

Yeah, rock. Remember real rock? Rock music was supposed to be disobedient. It was supposed to be lawless. It was supposed to be transgressive. Like, say…putting the moves on your recently-dumped, hetero buddy…

Free Thinker

Lovers let you down again and again
Ooh, ooh, ooh
What you need is right before you, my friend
Ooh, ooh, ooh

When love shows up, you never can say
But in the mean time, I’m here today

   Come on and
   Use me
   Use me
   Use me like you know you really
   Want to
   Want to
   You wanna be my friend, come on and
   Use me
   Use me
   Use me like a friend
   You say that you’re a free thinker

Half your life is wasted, waiting in line
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Cut that rope, and have one hell of a time
Ooh, ooh, ooh

And if you’re feeling ready to hear,
I’ve got some words to put in your ear

   Come on and
   Use me
   Use me
   Use me like you know you really
   Want to
   Want to
   You wanna be my friend, come on and
   Use me
   Use me
   Use me like a friend
   You say that you’re a free thinker

Ship is leaving, get on board for the ride
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Don’t let trepidation keep you inside
Ooh, ooh, ooh

You’ve got the world in front of your eyes
You’ve got a friend, and here’s the surprise

   Come on and
   Use me
   Use me
   Use me like you know you really
   Want to
   Want to
   You wanna be my friend, come on and
   Use me
   Use me
   Use me like a friend
   You say that you’re a free thinker

© Copyright 2006-2012 Nate Orshan

* So, after all that, am I hedging my bets by having the narrator never specify the gender of his friend? I hope not. I usually take great pains to avoid reference to gender in my songs, partially out of a hope that will make them more sharable by all (“Women can sing them to men! Women can sing them to women! Men can sing them to men!”), and partially out of an egalitarian conviction that, as soon as you start getting gender-specific in a song, you’re immediately marginalizing someone. If nothing else, I hope at least you’ll think I’m fair.

“Free Thinker” was recorded on Friday, July 6, at the Rose Street Artists’ Cooperative and Gallery Coffeehouse.


Comments

“Free Thinker” Live at Rose Street — 1 Comment

  1. You are so right, this song rocks! Thought for sure you were going to bust a string! Can’t wait to hear what you do with it full band style in a studio someday.

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