I have essentially two modes when it comes to listening to music while I’m feeling down. The first is to listen to sad music that matches how I feel to try and let out whatever I’m feeling. The second, typically coming after some period of time of being in the first mode, is to listen to some more positive music in an effort to really deal with the sadness and (hopefully) feel a little better. The second situation happens a lot less than the first, though, because a lot of cheery songs are too overwhelmingly positive and make me frustrated rather than helping me to feel better.
Songs like “Freedom Calling” by former Men At Work lead vocalist Colin Hay are in the category that most seems to benefit me at these times. It’s a call to action, compelling you to strike out and start anew, but Hay doesn’t oversimplify it. He doesn’t attempt to ignore the bad things, but rather seeks to acknowledge them and use that pain as a means of moving forward and finding the right path. Instead of simply holding onto pain and loss and being stuck in the mud, Hay encourages you to set out to change that feeling.
The song begins quietly, with primarily soft vocals and acoustic guitar; as the song picks up, Hay’s vocals do too, becoming much more powerful as more instrumentals fill in. One of the most significant pieces of the song that really gives it a unique feeling is its use of bagpipes, which help “Freedom Calling” to have a truly wide-open and “free” feeling.
In a sense, the song is a little wistful, because even in its aspiration and hopefulness, it’s looking at a dead end; finding freedom and starting over is described as a solution when nothing else seems to be right, and thus you put your life behind you and have to begin again. But within it, Hay also conveys a great sense of comfort, both melodically and lyrically. Even in these hard times, it’s not the end; even if you need a clean slate, if you have to go somewhere that “nobody even knows your face,” it isn’t an ending; “it’s only freedom calling.”
While “Freedom Calling” is a song that I find fantastic in many respects, I think what I love most about it is how versatile it is. On a good day, you can feel the freedom in it; but on a bad day, you can look to it for consolation and to feel a bit better. It’s cathartic for all moods, accomplishing encouragement without blind optimism.