That Time Mike Peters Played Neil Young's New Song

Some songs are so iconic they demand inclusion in one's repertoire immediately - even if it's just been released... and belongs to someone else. This is exactly what happened the first time Mike Peters heard a recording of Neil Young's "Rockin in the Free World" in 1989. Was Neil miffed? Hear Mike tell the story:

"Wow, The New Ritz, New York City, 1989. We finished the set with "Rain in the Summertime" and I came off the stage, and right at the bottom of the steps I could see Neil Young and I'm thinking wow, what's he doing here? A month before we got to New York, Neil Young's lifelong manager, he came to the show and he said Neil's made the most amazing comeback album, if you want, have a cassette listen, play it, and then you gotta give me this cassette back, no one's heard this album before. We plugged the cassette in and it's this amazing song called "Rockin' in the Free World." We quickly got a guitar out, transcribed the lyrics, and we come out for the encore after "Rain in the Summertime" and bang, we play this song called "Rockin' in the Free World."

The Alarm setlist - 1989


"Rockin in the Free World" was first performed by Neil Young in February 1989, just a day after the song was written, and before the band had a chance to rehearse it. See the setlist from that Seattle gig here.

To date, the song has only been performed a few hundred times by Neil Young + various backing bands, but has been COVERED nearly three THOUSAND times by more than 350 artists - everyone from Pearl Jam to Maroon 5 to Bon Jovi. See the sprawling list here.

Check out The Alarm's new studio album, Forwards, released last week! And stay tuned for the full episode of Setlist Insider (out 6/30), where Mike Peters digs into the data and unearths stories about Bob Dylan, a crazy marketing stunt and more.

Embedded content is no longer available.

Neil Young will embark on his first tour since 2019 starting in July.

Karma Police - Please Share:

Most played songs