Sweet Freedom

Sweet Freedom  – Michael MdDonald (1986)

From the Album Running Scared

9,926,542 views (YouTube 8/31/19)

Posted by Bocageek

Published on Aug 7, 2009


We all have milestones of memory and revisit them at certain times in our life. I don’t know about you, but most of my memory milestones are tied to music and a particular song. It brings back a period of time in my life better than any thing else. (Even better than the TV films of the guy who makes histrical documentaries).

A major milestone of my life was in the summer of 1986 when I separated from my wife I had been married to for seventeen years. I found a small apartment in Berkeley, California. It was located close to my office in the Fantasy Film Building in West Berkeley. I had a little marketing consulting business after leaving my first job out of law school at the largest corporation in San Francisco and one of the largest in the world. I was was an active member of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and was enjoying Berkeley more and more.

There was a number of emotions tied up with that period of time in the mid-80s. My wife and I grew farther apart and we both agreed something had to be done. There were the emotions of fear and sadness. But also there was the emotion of faith and hope and the possibility for happiness and a new life. I think for both of us. The separation was the best first-step solution at the time.

The song “Sweet Freedom” was all over the radio just at this particular time in my life.

A time when I felt fear and sadness mixed with hope and faith.

But most of all, an over-powering emotional of freedom.

Behind the fear and sadness there was the powerful emotion of freedom in my life. This song underlies this period of my life better than anything else. It brings it back to me and it defined it at the time, made it so much more liveable and beautiful.

The song by Michael McDonald, represented his last Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The single’s music video featured McDonald, along with actors Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines in the film Running Scared. The movie was a 1986 American buddy cop, action comedy film directed by Peter Hyams. Hines and Crystal play Chicago police officers who, after nearly being killed on the job, decide to retire and open a bar in Key West, Florida, only to get caught up in making one last arrest before they go.

I never saw the film and judging by the scenes from the film in the music video, it’s not at the top of my list to see.

But the music! Did it help create this period? Or, did the period create

A New Life? Twelve thousand feet above Palm Springs.

And lyrics of the 1986 song, “Sweet Freedom,” the last of Michael McDonald’s great hits in the 80s and the era of the Dobby Brothers. They applied so much to my emotion of freedom at this time in my life.

Sweet Freedom Lyrics

No more runnin’ down the wrong road
Dancin’ to a different drum
Can’t you see what’s goin’ on
Deep inside your heart?

Always searchin’ for the real thing
Livin’ like it’s far away
Just leave all the madness in yesterday
You’re holdin’ the key when you believe it

Shine, sweet freedom
Shine your light on me
You are the magic
You’re right where I wanna be

Oh, sweet freedom, carry me along
We’ll keep the spirit alive on and on

We’ll be dancin’ in the moonlight
Smilin’ with the risin’ sun
Livin’ like we’ve never done
Goin’ all the way

Reachin’ out to meet the changes
Touchin’ every shining star
The light of tomorrow is right where we are
There’s no turnin’ back from what I’m feeling

Shine, sweet…

A New Perspective on Life? The Hollywood HIlls.

Was it those years? Or was it the music? Was perhaps water-color smudges from both of them pushed up against each other. Waves on the shores of a watercolor painting in formation?

Below are at the very top of the comments to this song from it’s thousands of comments.

The comments below are right below the YouTube video above.

Tonight, At 9:49 pm on August 31, 2019.

I’ve added fictitious names but have not chaged their comments. They are simply the comments tonight right below the YouTube video of McDonald’s  “Sweet Freedom.”


1000 people lives are miserable if you don’t feel this classic. Brings back good ’80’s childhood memories.🤗 Who still listening in 2018🙌🏾


I took the 80’s for granted, but how i wish i could go back there now…


Ain’t no soundtrack like an 80s soundtrack.


We didn’t have the cynicism and nastiness of today. So miss the 80’s!!!


I miss the 80’s, just watching this video, takes me back to a better time … it’s so surreal the power music has to trigger memories!


the only white man with a voice that made black people say, ‘”Dam I wish I had a voice like that brother.”

Such a cool dude, fame never made him change, always thankful to the fans. RESPECT.


music everlasting … who listening in 2019

A New Freedom? Mt. Eisenhower in Indian Wells, California.

And so on and on the comments to the song “Sweet Freedom” by Michael McDonald.

Many remember this music and song in a very fond way.

To many, it brings back a particular milestone period in one’s life. An emotional event that stands out from the others.

As I’ve said, these particular moments have the music of a particuar song to them. They are always associated with my music memory, it seems to me.

This song brings back so much for me.

Perhaps more than anything, it brings back the overwhelming emotion of freedom I felt at the time.

And here, passed onto my readers out there by YouTube. Yes, the distribution of music through YouTube. Certainly one of the great benefits of YouTube to me. The ability to let others hear songs you like via YouTube.

Sometimes, the YouTube videos are superb … the film director and musicians in sync.

Milestones of Memory. Lantern light in the darkness of the sea.

In the case of the above video, a poor Keystone Cops video wraps itself around one of the great songs of the 80s. The McDonald song always deserved such a better video than this but the movie probably came first at the time so the song never received any effort of money into make a true video for just the song and not the movie. A magnificent video could have been made.

But done right, the images could be so many current people, events and places in a video with the song “Sweet Freedom.”

Filmmakers and writers should think about stepping up to the plate on this one.

The first time one exerperiences the emotion of freedom in a different way in many years.

A grand emotional event – think the biggest one  – has just happened to the hero/heroine of the story. Music is involved. The music of a particular song.

Always a particular song for a particular person.

Life inJune of 86 was so defined by Sweet Freedom for me.

The song was blaring over the car speakers as I drove north of Dayton to visit my brother in the little farming town he had moved to. He was managing an operation owned by my uncle. Driving through the Ohio country on 68 in June. Such a different life from my life in California. But so good to see my brother. Especially right before my decision to move out of my home and separate from my wife. My brother had just gone through a divorce himself and understood a lot of the things I was going through at the time.

A time cemented together with a brother, a place, an emotion. Represented, called back to life, reincarnated, through the memory or hearing of a particular piece of music.


In a future review, I plan on reviewing the music of the band Tool. Representing the undercurrent of music today? Versus McDonald and Sweet Freedom that represented the undercurrent of my world at the time.


All photos above by John Fraim. Printing the following as it is under the music video above on YouTube and probably needs to be printed. “The above video was licensed to YouTube by WMG (on behalf of Rhino Warner); Sony ATV Publishing, EMI Music Publishing, LatinAutor – SonyATV, SOLAR Music Rights Management, ASCAP, Warner Chappell, CMRRA, LatinAutor, UMPG Publishing, LatinAutor – Warner Chappell, PEDL, and 6 Music Rights Societies.”

One thought on “Sweet Freedom

  1. I definitely believe in this memory recollection power of music. My friend Tony, aka Windsong used to go to nursing homes and play guitar for people with memory illnesses and he would play them songs from when they were young and it actually proved very effective, bringing many of them to tears.
    There is something about music that is just so encompassing of a scene at a point in your life. It’s like smelling your grandmother’s perfume or eating her signature recipe. A deeper level of recollection than just memory alone.

    In psychology there is a differentiation between recall and recollection. Recall is more prompted and sort of a top down angle to approach memory, whereas recollection is memory that is activated without having been cued, but more just stumbled upon. Recollection is said to be a lot more vivid and easy to access as start from the inspiration instead of stopping to put yourself on the spot to remember a certain memory without music or other cues.

    I also think that there is sort of this utilization of this fact by playing certain songs on the radio every few hours. It really does give that song, however hideous or unmoving, the power to have a potential emotional association based on if you had a moment nostalgia worthy while that song was playing. It is ironic, for me at least, how this phenomena has gotten me to play songs that I otherwise wouldn’t have any reason to listen to, and it makes you wonder how many artists with hit songs that stay popular over the years are in that category from having the power when their album came out to get it played often as to expose it to a huge population.

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