Here’s an odd one.
In a vain attempt to break up the poltical caterwaul that’s been raging on Facebook since Election night, I decided to diffuse the monotony by posting the following declaration:
Unpopular opinion I firmly espouse: "All Right Now" by Free is, was, and forever shall be a shit song.
It’s a statement I do indeed stand by. I could add that the thought to post same was inspired by the song’s placement in a car ad, but in 2017, for whatever reason, that’s no longer something to get upset about (although I still do). “All Right Now” inspiring the ire in me that it does has little to do with it currently being used to sell Hyundais (or whatever).
Somewhat predictably, my post was met with varying degrees of incredulous rage from different strata of the rock geek cognoscenti I am proud to call my friends. Some poo-poohed me for my heresy, extolling the merits of the song’s fat sound -– particularly the guitars –- over the universally acknowledged crap lyrics. Estimable former Psychedelic Furs guitarist Jon Ashton joined the discussion, citing Free as a vast influence on his decision to get into music.
Overall, my opinion remained unchanged. It’s not that I hate Free. Paul Rodgers is a remarkable vocalist, although pretty much everything Bad Company did was crap, and let’s not even discuss his stint with Queen. Free were inarguably a tremendous influence on a legion of bands –- AC/DC foremost among them. I’m not decrying any of that. I’m just asserting that “All Right Now” (note that it is indeed “All Right” and not “Alright,” let alone “A’ight”) is a laborious chore for the ear. Yes, I’m sure many a pair of bell-bottoms came untethered from their massive belt-buckles to the allegedly seductive strains of this classic rock warhorse, but that doesn’t make it right. And why is “All Right Now” categorically the ONLY song any radio station plays by Free? I mean, they were together for six years and recorded several albums. Why must it always be “All Right Now”?
As a half-hearted mea culpa, I threw my haters a bone by conceding that “Wishing Well” by Free -– from their 1973 album, Heartbreaker -- was a fine song. If I’m being honest, I only discovered that track by way of a hoary cover version by The Mission, a band I was nigh on besotted with through much of the late `80s, who gave the song a suitably melodramatic goth makeover.
Looking to fortify that statement with some visuals, however, I stumbled upon this clip of Free performing “Wishing Well” (complete with helpful lyrics in the lower-third), incongruously interspersed with footage of what looks like gritty, early `80’s Manhattan. Not sure what these urban scenes -– let alone footage of graffiti trains and breakdancing –- has to do with the original Free composition, but there you have it.
In any case, being that it’s sort of in keeping with this blog’s theme, here it is.