I've been set free and I've been bound
To the memories of yesterday's clouds
I've been set free and I've been bound

And now I'm set free
I'm set free
I'm set free to find a new illusion

I've been blinded but
You I can see
What in the world has happened to me?
The prince of stories who walks right by me

And now I'm set free
I'm set free
I'm set free to find a new illusion

I've been set free and I've been bound
Let me tell you people what I found
I saw my head laughing, rolling on the ground

And now I'm set free
I'm set free
I'm set free to find a new illusion


Lyrics submitted by capitol76

I'm Set Free Lyrics as written by Lou Reed

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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I'm Set Free song meanings
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16 Comments

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  • +1
    General Comment

    just ending a platonic friendship with a domineering person as I write this, and I do indeed feel set free to find a new illusion. Everything is illusion, after all. Things come to be, and then they pass. when your third eye opens, you do see yourself as if from above your body, "head laughing on the ground".

    yo la tengo does a beautiful cover of this song btw.

    lovecatspiracyon December 05, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Without a doubt this is a spiritual song, from the title to the music itself, and lines such as "let me tell you people/what I found" - the archetypal Mohammed descending from the mountain with the word.

    "I've been set free and/I've been bound" is probably about the feeling of being released from a relationship, and yet still being bound to the person. This, as a spiritual principle, is called "non-duality," where two opposites coesisit at the same time. In this case, bondage and freedom exist simultaneously.

    PaulSouthon December 31, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think that the title of the song is meant to be ironic. At the time, songs about enlightenment and epiphanies were everywhere. After the Beatles had their association with the Maharishi, it seemed like everyone wanted to record songs along those lines. But Lou Reed always preferred to keep things dark and gritty. Peace and love and flower power were not for him. "Beginning to See the Light", the other song from this album in the same vein, is similar. At first glance, they seem uplifting. Then, when you take a closer look, you realize that the message is that the world is a dark place, the human psyche has some very dark and frightening aspects to it, and enlightenment is very elusive. When he says, "Let me tell you people what I found", he builds you up to anticipate some revelation. But what he found was seeing his "head laughing, rolling on the ground". It's a weird, disturbing image, not some kind of beautiful revelation. And of course the key phrase in the song is "I'm set free to find a new illusion". In other words, he doesn't find the truth, or any kind of enlightenment. He may at certain times reach a realization about his life and the truth and feel like he is set free, but all that it ever leads to is a new illusion. He isn't liberated from the darkness. He just trades in one illusion for another.

    JT1968on October 27, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I think this is one of my favorite VU songs. It makes you feel a hell of a lot happier when you hear it. It makes you feel free.

    carmson March 07, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This is a great song. I feel like the thing here setting Lou free is Heroin, or whatever drug he was using at the time. "I'm set free to find a new illusion" great line.

    Gratefateon March 19, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    i would definetly agree with [gratefate].

    "I've been set free and I've been bound Let me tell you people what I found [I saw my head laughing rolling on the ground] "

    id say he was on something.

    fry cook on venus Xon June 24, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    As to saying it makes you feel free: you do realize that each chorus ends with the upturn/downturn from Em to A and from "I'm set free......." "........to find a new ILLUSION"? Right?

    The aesthetic experience may make you feel "free", but the lyrics don't "mean" anything of the kind.

    babydoll07on January 13, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    i think the song is about perhaps not a full "recovery" but more like a moment of clarity between fixes. he looks back at his experiences and now finds himself at the juncture wehere he can get more drugs or remain sober to find a new illusion...he's set free to do what he wants

    mr.von February 25, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Although it is probably about drugs and if so...I agree with mr. v that it could be about having a moment of clarity. Maybe reaching bottom and at a turning point to change.

    But for some reason when I listen to it and before knowing about the drug use....I thought it was about coming out of a bad relationship. "Set free"...single again. And being "bound" in a committed relationship. Like one that you keep working on and it never gets better but you just can't break free from...until one day...you finally break free mind, body and soul. And you realize you are over them and able to move on....finally. Maybe they hurt you so bad that you can't see them the same way ever again or perhaps they've just thru in the towel as well and you just are off the hook about keeping on trying. Which would explain using the words "set free" rather than "I am free"..."to set" implies that someone else held you prisoner and gave you the gift of freedom. But seems to have a jaded perspective about relationships because of the line "find a new illusion"...everybody seems perfect when you fall in love at first, but soon they have problems, issues, that always seem to tear a relationship down. IDK...I could be way off...or just where my mind is at when I listen. BTW...I love the Beck/Thom Yorke cover of this alot.

    UNsweetTon April 17, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I want this at my funeral.

    sloathyon May 06, 2011   Link

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