That’s Been Fifty Years Ago… 50 Years of the CDB Part 33: Freedom and Justice For All
In 2003, Blue Hat Records released ‘Freedom and Justice For All’ a patriotic collection of CDB songs for the first time. While writing the liner notes for ‘The Roots Remain’ boxed set, Nashville music beat writer Robert Oermann erroneously stated that ‘America, I Believe in You’ was an all-patriotic song release, that only applied to the title song.
In 2003, the U.S. was still riding a post-9/11 wave of patriotism, and the backlash against the War on Terror hadn’t risen to the levels that it eventually would.
But, with at least three previous America-themed charting songs, it was good timing for the release.
All the label, distribution, production and band personnel involved stayed the same for ‘Freedom and Justice For All’
So, let’s get to the songs.
We start things off with a spoken word piece called “My Beautiful America.”
As dad was apt to do from time to time, he would write his weekly soapboxes, often political, sometimes humorous, and on occasion, something like this where he talks about the “majestic beauty” of our nation and frequently asks if the listener has seen the redwoods in California, or tasted Buffalo wings in New York, or driven the lonely stretches of Route 66.
It’s a beautiful piece of writing, and dad decided to put some music behind it and record it for ‘FAJFA,’ and the result was something magical.
It became a tradition to put “My Beautiful America” up as a 4th of July soapbox every year, and a few years later, I was looking for something to create to promote on our YouTube channel, and I came across some fan-made slideshow videos for the song and I wanted to see if I could do something better.
Never being one to let lack of skill or talent hold me back from trying something new – Yes, you could say I’m a bit on the stubborn side, - I dove in headfirst and created something I was happy with.
We put it up on YouTube in 2015 – several years after it was originally released, and it went viral. It was the most viewed video on the channel for many months, and currently sits at over 3.1 million views. Not too shabby.
Next up is the second Blue Hat version of “In America,” but this one was recorded in Twin Pines Studio instead of the live version recorded in 2001.
It’s a good arrangement and performance, the one holdover from the live version is the “if the Russians don’t believe that they can all go straight to hell,” is changed to the more generic “If our enemies don’t believe that…” which encompasses what was going on with the War on Terror at the time, and not just the Russians, although, the original Russians lyric works just as well today as it did in 1980.
“Summer of ’68” is one of the new songs in this package.
It starts off with what sounds like a Rickenbacker guitar which fits with a lot of the 60s bands like The Byrds, but I don’t think dad owns a Rickenbacker, so maybe it was borrowed, or an effect was used to make it sound like it, but the sound is definitely intentional.
It talks about the war in Vietnam, Dr. King being killed and the flower children generation who got lost somewhere along the way from their hopes of changing the world.
It’s a snapshot of a highly turbulent time in our nation’s history, but it also ties into the more recent turbulent times we’ve experienced since 1968.
Speaking of Dr. King, the next song is “Let Freedom Ring” which is a cover from the underrated ‘Renegade’ album from 1991, and it’s just as powerful as it was back then.
This arrangement starts out a little more dark and funkier than the original and heavy on the bass groove.
The first verse is about Dr. King and draws from his “I have a dream” speech.
The next describes the Berlin Wall going up and then coming back down as it did in 1989.
The third verse describes the tragedy of students killed in protests in China’s Tiananmen Square, and the final verse gives thanks to God, our Father from whom our freedom originates.
The choruses say “let freedom ring” and then dad names place after place around the world from where to let it ring.
Next up is “The Last Fallen Hero” which I reviewed when I did my breakdown of the ‘Redneck Fiddlin’ Man’ album, so I’m going to move on to the title song.
“Freedom and Justice For All” is a guitar-driven song with a melody that seems to borrow slightly from “San Miguel” from the ‘America I Believe in You’ album.
It begins with a son describing a vision he had to his mother who explains to him that his vision of a man holding a whip and beating innocent people was a tyrant. Next, the son describes a storm coming leaving rivers of blood in the sand, the mother explains that is Justice coming to save us.
The imagery is Biblical in nature, but it seems to be describing the founding of our nation, “We were butchers and bakers and movers and shakers and poets and sinners and saints.”
They were average people who stepped up to overthrow tyrants.
It’s a great song lyrically, but it could have even worked as an instrumental with lots of dual lead guitars.
It’s definitely a highlight on this collection.
“American Farmer” first appeared on 1985’s ‘Me and the Boys’ album.
This new recording follows much of the same arrangement but sounds just slightly slower.
It’s about the plight of the American farmer which was highlighted by the Farm Aid concert series, but the song predated the concert by several months.
There are a couple of minor lyric tweaks, and the background vocals are quite a bit different, but the message is still the same, “If the man don’t work, then the people don’t eat.
“God Bless the Mother” was included on ‘A Merry Christmas to All’ which was recently reviewed, so I’m going to skip on the next song.
Next up is the Blue Hat Records version of “Simple Man.” The arrangement is very similar to the 1989 version, and nothing really jumps out except from some slight phrasing changes.
It’s about a man fed up with violent crime and he offers some alternative punishments since the judicial system seems unwilling to do much to fix the problem.
Next up is “Still in Saigon” which was originally recorded on 1982’s ‘Windows’ album.
The Dan Daley-penned song brought to light much of what our Vietnam veterans had been dealing with in the 70s and 80s, PTSD, a less than warm welcome home from combat and such.
One noticeable lyric change was that “that’s been ten long years ago” was replaced with “that’s been many long years ago.” Ten years made sense in 1982, but not in 2003.
I already did my breakdown, on “This Ain’t No Rag, it’s a Flag,” on ‘Live!’ album, so I’m going on to the next one.
“(What This World Needs is) A Few More Rednecks” is the second song redone from 1989’s ‘Simple Man’ album.
The arrangement isn’t much different than the original, but there were few lyric tweaks. A line about not trusting former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was replaced with “I’m a catfish connoisseur, I love the Lynyrd Skynyrd band, I’m crazy about the NFL and I’m a die-hard NASCAR fan” to bring it out of the late 80s/early 90s world politics and more of a general call for more regular common folks.
“America, I Believe in You” was the title song of an underrated 1993 album on Liberty Records. It’s such a great song, but the original version was over five minutes long, and the single edit butchered the song completely. This one is just 4:34 and that probably would have worked better for radio back in 1993.
There was another lyric tweak in this one. “And I love to see the tyrants biting the dust, in fact I’m glad about it all” was replaced with “I loved seeing Saddam biting the dust, in fact I’m glad about it all.”
What better way to close out a patriotic album than with our national anthem?
Dad’s instrumental version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was also on the ‘Redneck Fiddlin’ Man’ album, so breaking it down again would be a bit redundant, but it’s a powerful haunting interpretation of our beloved anthem.
This album was dedicated to the Gold Star families that lost loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.
It’s an important album that helped solidify the CDB as a band of patriots who loved our brave men and women who fought and those who died protecting our nation.
A few years later, dad would try to help to make a down payment on that “unpayable debt of gratitude” that dad often mentioned when he co-founded The Journey Home Project.
Next, we take a quick look at some Essentially Super songs and some from the Longleaf Pines!
Stream ‘Freedom and Justice For All’ HERE
What do you think?
Let’s all make the day count!
Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.
God Bless America!
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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