Free by Florence and the Machine

Song of the Week:

In April, the English indie pop-rockers led by singer-songwriter Florence Welch dropped this breathtakingly upbeat stunner of a tune, which tackles anxiety and the freedom found in learning to live with it. The song is only the latest example of Welch’s upfront disclosures — in her music, and in the press — about her experiences with addiction, anxiety, eating disorders, and “self-loathing,” which she described in a 2016 piece for Vogue. But she’s been just as frank about her joy and peace in finding a new way forward.

Both the struggle and the joy are front and center in “Free,” which tackles anxiety head-on. As the opening lyrics declare:

Sometimes I wonder if I should be medicated
If I would feel better just slightly sedated
A feeling comes so fast and I cannot control it
I’m on fire, but I’m trying not to show it

In the newly dropped video, anxiety is a character who accompanies Welch everywhere — at first manipulating her movements in Geppetto-like fashion and then, in the course of the song, retreating into the background as she dances on tabletops and embraces the moment.

‘Cause I hear music, I feel the beat
And for a moment, when I’m dancing
I am free, I am free
I am free, I am free

In their final moments, she makes her peace with this coffee-clutching embodiment of  “Anxiety” — leaning her head against him, draping her arm around him. In the video, he’s played by Bill Nighy, the rangy and esteemed British actor known for everything from Pirates of the Caribbean movies to the 2020 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. The beautifully cinematic production, like the previously released “King,” was shot by Emma director Autumn de Wilde. Using a track off of the new album Dance Fever, it was filmed in late 2021 in Kyiv and is dedicated “to the spirit, creativity and perseverance of our brave Ukrainian friends.”

In the comments below, please share your reflections and opinions on the tune, its lyrics, video, and messages.

–Amy Biancolli

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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