It was a quirk of fate, and little did he, or anyone else, know that when Richie Havens opened Woodstock in 1969, “Freedom” would become his musical mantra for the rest of his life.
Haven’s task at Woodstock was to entertain the audience while the actual planned opening acts were making their way through the traffic and crowds, so, riffing and improvising on “Motherless Child,” a traditional spiritual, he created “Freedom.”
In 1984 Haven’s told DISCoveries magazine that he’d sing this song for the rest of his life, “if only to show the rest of the world what I think an American is. People are all the same, everywhere. They laugh in the same places, even if they don’t know the language.”
Havens died of a heart attack in 2013, when he was 72 y/o.
Celebrating Independence Day, yesterday, July 4th, and today, as well, is the perfect moment to get reacquainted with the passion of this song.
EDITED VERSION OF COMMENT I JUST SENT (less two typos :))
Thanks for this reminder as to how special Richie Havens was. I was fortunate enough to see Richie at concerts and also in some intimate settings in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Freight and Salvage and The Great American Music Hall. His riveting performances were some of the most memorable I’ve ever seen.
Thank you for your heartfelt comment.
Richie Havens was a terrific artist. His first album on Verve is classic, and the song “Follow “ is one of the best songs ever.