"Philadelphia Freedom" as written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin....
I used to be a rolling stone you know
If a cause was right
I'd leave to find the answer on the road
I used to be a heart beating for someone
But the times have changed
The less I say the more my work gets done

'Cause I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom
From the day that I was born I've waved the flag
Philadelphia freedom took me knee high to a man, yeah
Gave me a piece of mama, daddy never had

Oh Philadelphia freedom, shine on me, I love you
Shine the light, through the eyes of the ones left behind
Shine the light, shine the light
Shine the light, won't you shine the light
Philadelphia freedom, I love-ve-ve you, yes I do

If you choose to you can live your life alone
Some people choose the city (some people the city)
Some others choose the good old family home (some others choose a good old)
I like living easy without family ties (living easy)
Till the whippoorwill of freedom zapped me
Right between the eyes

'Cause I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom
From the day that I was born I've waved the flag
Philadelphia freedom took me knee high to a man
Mm, gave me a piece of mama, daddy never had

Oh Philadelphia freedom, shine on me, I love you
Shine the light, through the eyes of the ones left behind
Shine the light, shine the light
Shine the light, won't you shine the light
Philadelphia freedom, I love-ve-ve you, yes I do

Oh, Philadelphia freedom, shine on me, I love you
Shine the light, through the eyes of the ones left behind
Shine the light, shine the light
Shine the light, won't you shine the light
Philadelphia freedom, I love-ve-ve,
You know I love-ve-ve , you know I love-ve-ve you
Yes I do, Philadelphia freedom
I love-ve-ve you
Yes I do, Philadelphia freedom
You know that I love-ve-ve you
Yes I do, Philadelphia freedom
Don't you know that I love-ve-ve you
Yes I do, Philadelphia freedom
Don't you know that I love-ve-ve you
Yes I do, Philadelphia freedom


Lyrics submitted by Novartza

"Philadelphia Freedom" as written by Elton John, Bernie Taupin

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Philadelphia Freedom song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentOnce again, BERNIE TAUPIN wrote the frigging lyrics. Get that through your thick minds.

    It was written by request for Billie Jean King's tennis team which was called "Philadelphia Freedom"

    Sure Taupin made a few tongue-in-cheeks with it by putting in lines like "Philadelphia Freedom took me knee-high to a man" but besides that there isn't any deeper meaning to the song.
    It's just a funky fabulous song.
    hairychesteron December 10, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this post says it all:

    As posted by "Turtles":

    answers.yahoo.com/question/…

    Elton John had always been a big sports fan, and for that reason, it was a great thrill for him, at a party, to meet one of his athletic idols: tennis pro Billie Jean King. They became good friends, and afterward, he always tried to attend her matches, whenever he could. Sometimes, Elton got in on the action, in celebrity benefit games.

    One day, Billie surprised Elton with a special track suit, customized just for him. Elton was so touched that he promised to dedicate one of his "next big hits" to her. "Billie, I'm going to write a song for you," Elton said. "Just wait and see." She laughed and thanked him, assuming he'd quickly forget such an off-the-cuff vow.


    A short time later, Billie was in Denver, embroiled in a crucial playoff game. Suddenly, Elton entered her locker room, bearing a hand-held tape recorder. With a nervous grin, he punched up a track he had just completed, and awaited her reaction. For many long minutes, the tune played on. And then she smiled. Billie Jean King loved the song.

    Single copies of "Philadelphia Freedom" carry Elton's dedication to "B.J.K.," as well as to "the soulful sounds of Philadelphia" -- a clear nod to the Gamble-Huff-Bell school of R&B. The record was Elton's answer to dance music mania, and was, in fact, one of the largest-selling disco singles of all time. It was also one of the longest -- and on purpose, too. In the months before, a national programmer had lashed out at Elton for releasing 45s that clocked in at over four minutes. They were lousing up his formats, and therefore, the man announced a boycott of any future Elton John records that violated his time restrictions. Elton's response was "Philadelphia Freedom" -- a hit so big that the man was forced to program it.

    Elton liked to make his singles as collectible as possible, and did this by filling his B sides with otherwise unavailable material. The flip of "Philadelphia Freedom" is perhaps the most famous of these, "I Saw Her Standing There." It's the only recorded live duet between Elton and John Lennon, and was John's way of thanking his friend for singing along on "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," the former Beatle's only number one single of the seventies.

    "Philadelphia Freedom" broke in America in early March 1975, and by April, was a gold record, the top-selling single in the country. It quickly became Elton's most popular 45 yet, a fact that didn't surprise his lyricist, Bernie Taupin. Bernie, though, downplayed his role in the song's success.

    "I'm quite honest about it," he said. "I'm sure fifty percent of the people who liked it never even listened to the words. People don't buy a record because the words are good, or the words sound nice. They buy it for the old thing melody, or 'It's got a good beat, man. Yeah, I can dance to that one.' The words, at least in the beginning, are secondary.

    "Later on they may play a part, because you have to have something to sing along to. But on 'Philadelphia Freedom,' or any of the uptempo things, the words just aren't that important. If they're palatable, and you can sing them, that's all that matters."

    chanie07on May 14, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentApparently Elton wrote this song for his friend Billie Jean King (The Tennis Player). She once played netball or softball for a team called the "Philadelphia Freedoms".
    DeputyDickyon April 01, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHe wrote it for (I kid you not) a lesbian tennis team called the Philadelphia Freedom that he sponsored.
    usaglory2007on October 13, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHello everyone. I'm actually new at leaving posts but I've read peoples' comments about songs for quite a while now. The meaning of Philadelphia Freedom to me is a very easy one. Philadelphia being the "city of brotherly love" made it clear to me that he's talking about having the freedom to love another man. Many of the lines support this like..."Oh Philadelphia freedom shine on me, I love you
    Shine a light through the eyes of the ones left behind
    Shine a light shine a light
    Shine a light won't you shine a light
    Philadelphia freedom I love you, yes I do"
    These lines talk about being open and happy about the lifestyle rather than staying in the dark like "the ones left behind".
    "`Cause I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom
    From the day that I was born I've waved the flag" (exclaiming happiness of being free to be himself)
    "Philadelphia freedom took me knee-high to a man" (the most obvious line in the song)
    "Yeah gave me peace of mind my daddy never had" (probably ostrasized by his father about his sexuality)
    "If you choose to you can live your life alone "(afraid to come out of the closet)
    "Some people choose the city" (the city of course, of brotherly love)
    "Some others choose the good old family home" (not coming out or the straight life)
    "I like living easy without family ties" (families sometimes have too much to say)
    "Till the whippoorwill of freedom zapped me
    Right between the eyes" (he realizes that he's now as free as a bird).
    I think it was a clever move to use the name of the team Billie Jean King played on for this song since she is lesbian it ties everything together.

    Let me just say that Elton John is, in my opinion, the best of the best. So, I'm in no way bashing him. Some of his songs take me back to some of the most memorable moments in my childhood. And I do realize that it's Bernie Taupin that writes the lyrics but I'm sure that EJ has a lot of influence on those lyrics. Too many of his songs could be put together to chronicle his life.
    jayhannaon May 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPhiladelphia freedom took me Knee hi to a man is talking about the skirt Bille Jean King was wearing and how despite the fact she was a woman she defeated a man, a very aged man I might add, a man never the less. This is in no way a coming out song.
    BrycePaason February 24, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI know he wrote it for Billy Jean King but I wish it had a deeper meaning - like gay rights or civil rights. That's the way I explained it to my kids who are crazy about this song. The words can apply to a lot more than a tennis team.
    sarrakon March 18, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIts a song about 1776 and what happened in Phily that year. About all of the freedoms, liberties and rights. Trust me, I am correct. It's about those brothers we left behind and the light they projected forward to us and for us to benefit from. TJ, Ben, Washington Sam and John Adams. I hope I have shined the light for you folks. It is after all, the City of Brotherly love.
    schmalenbergon April 30, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI believe that all of the above comments are true and they need not disagree at all. I'm sure that all of the meaning suggested occurred to both Taupin and John in the creative process. That's what makes the lyrics so great.

    The lyrics are at times nonsensical on a surface reading. This is a weakness in most modern popular music. It's accepted as artistic license and you must suspend ideas of logic and grammar a bit to enjoy it. I love the song for many reasons.
    fervoron November 25, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Memoryi just wanna say thank god for elton and billie~ as a middle aged man/gay, they held the torch for me... sappy i know.. but billie especially made it "plausible" for me and alot of other kids out there attending college at a very "uptight" time.. thanx to billie/elton and this anthem! more a gay anthem than anything for me... peace
    toolshed61on March 12, 2013   Link

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