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Standout gem “Never Been Completely Free,” a perfect song, is so literate and affecting that, like Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” I want to quote the whole thing. With a robust and mature authenticity, Webster cynically catalogues, with biting humor, having hit all the marks of external approbation (“I’ve already been an intellectual monster, already mailed my international postcard,” and “I’m very happy in a depressing way”), while yet lingering under the malaise of the oppressive zeitgeist (“I’ve never been completely free”), which he calls out (“I blame it on the people who make up the rules,” and spectacularly, “I blame it on the people who don’t know how to be wealthy”), and finally, in his hallmark move, makes it personal: “I’ve never been completely free from you,” accessing a relational and archetypal outrage and restlessness that could be directed at society, at a lover or parent, or even at himself, one that is at the heart of rock and roll itself—the unqualified desire to be free. “Never Been Completely Free” is also a showcase for Basler’s soaring guitar, which might best be described as “songs of the humpback wail,” infectiously hooking and then expansively deconstructing to the perfect point of near noise, at times evoking Tom Morello, and shimmering to a close with a lovely, echoing whammy.

Written & Produced by Billy Webster
Lead Guitar by Carl Basler
Recorded at The Jersey Dream
(c) Shampoo Girl Music, 2020

Lyrics

I had a brother, I had a sister
I had an only child I threw away
I put a match to my diploma
I burned it up with style

Already been an intellectual monster
Already straddled fundamentalist fences
Already sent my international postcard

But I’ve never been completely free
Never been completely free
Never been completely free
From narrow minded schools

I took a minute, I took an hour
I took a day to kick it mentally
And my conclusion
I’m very happy in a depressing way

Already been a public servant for nothing
Already broken down your business defenses
Already been an international playboy

But I’ve never been completely free
Never been completely free
Never been completely free
From narrow minded fools

So I blame it on the people who make up the rules
I blame it on the people who dumb down the schools
I blame it on the people who don’t know how to be wealthy
I blame it on the emphasis of getting ahead
I blame it on the television killing me head
I blame it on religion and people who just aren’t religious

Already wrote my communist manifesto
Already wrote the songs concerning the girls
Already wrote the songs you think that you’re playing

But I’ve never been completely free
Never been completely free
Never been completely free
From you, you, you, you, you