Free to Decide

Sometimes in life, we get to a place of feeling absolute clarity about where we are, where we want to be, and the decisions — sometimes hard ones — that we need to make to get there.

I think that’s what Dolores O’Riordan (1971-2018) was writing about with “Free to Decide,” the fourth track from the Cranberries’ third studio alum, To the Faithful Departed (1996). The second part of the opening verse tells it all: “I’ll live as I choose, / Or I will not live at all.” I honestly don’t believe that’s a reference to giving up, or to thoughts of suicide. Instead, I believe she was trying to say that living under others’ expectations instead of one’s own truth means not fully living.

“It’s not worth anything,
More than this at all.
I’ll live as I choose,
Or I will not live at all.

So return to where you come from,
Return to where you dwell,
Because harassment’s not my forte,
But you do it very well.

I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all.
I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
At all, at all, at all.

You must have nothing,
More with your time to do.
There’s a war in Russia,
And Sarajevo too.

So to hell with what you’re thinking,
And to hell with your narrow mind,
You’re so distracted from the real thing,
You should leave your life behind, behind.

’Cause I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
At all, at all, at all.

I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
At all, at all, at all.”

(“Free to Decide,” by Dolores O’Riordan.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

O’Riodan’s words resonate with me, especially when I think of periods in my life where I didn’t feel free to decide. Some of those were times when I made personal and career decisions based on maintaining a status quo or doing what others expected of me, instead of doing the right thing for myself and — usually, in the end — everyone else, too).

The music video for “Free to Decide” begins with O’Riordan escaping a gauntlet of paparazzi, only to become a caged bird, then dancing freely and wandering in the desert. Part of the video is shot in what looks to be the same yellow, three-sided building that also appears on the album’s cover. At the end, the whole film goes to fast rewind. I suppose that’s a further commentary on how, even when we make our choices, they may not take us where we want them to. But we get up, dust the sand off ourselves off and keep heading forward, with intention.

A happy Friday, friends. What will you do this weekend? I hope you’re free to decide…

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Strangely, the video isn’t on the Cranberries’ official YouTube channel, though this unofficial version has properly-credited song rights listed.

PS: Love that cowbell. Life is always better with cowbell.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: