Wednesday, October 26, 2022

“Free Me From My Freedom/Tie Me To a Tree (Handcuff Me)” by Bonnie Pointer

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Bonnie Pointer was a member of the hit-making group the Pointer Sisters, who were one of the most popular music acts in the world from the late ‘70s to the mid-‘80s. They released a string of  R&B and pop hits and landed three Grammys and a host of other prestigious music awards. 

Bonnie decided to strike out on her own as a solo artist in 1977. She signed with Motown that same year and released her self-titled debut solo album (referred to by her fans as “The Red Album”) on the label in 1978. The album yielded two hits, “Free Me From My Freedom/Tie Me To a Tree (Handcuff Me)” and a discofied cover of the Elgins’ 1965 song “Heaven Must Have Sent You.”

“Free Me From My Freedom” is sort of the antithesis of women empowerment anthems like Aretha’s “Respect” and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” It’s about a woman who has serious regrets about breaking up with her partner. She misses him so badly that she promises him absolute dominance over her in their relationship if he’ll take her back. Post breakup, she didn’t feel liberated like she thought she would but ended up feeling more unhappy and imprisoned than ever: “Without love, I can’t be free/I don’t Wanna be.” Needless to say, the song didn’t go over too well with many feminists, and Bonnie caught a bit of flak for it.

The track features a funky melodic bassline provided by none other than Eddie “Maggot Brain” Hazel himself. The infectious bassline smoothly ties the entire song together. The multi-talented P-Funk veteran also serves up a marvelous banjo solo. It fits perfectly on this track for some reason. It kind of gives it an old-timey country flavor. Hazel also handles guitar duties. Ollie Brown was behind the kit with Truman Thomas on keys. Bonnie’s voice is in top form here–full of sultry soul and passion. The track also boasts a powerful chorus where Bonnie really unleashes her vocal fire. She also provided the soulful background vocals.

“Free Me From My Freedom” was written by Bonnie, Angelo Bond and Truman Thomas. It was produced by Berry Gordy and Bonnie’s then-husband Motown producer Jeffrey Bowen. The song peaked at #10 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart, #26 on Billboard’s dance club chart and #58 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Bonnie enjoyed a solid solo career. She dropped four albums, three of which were released on Motown. In addition to “Free Me From My Freedom,” she landed a few more hits. Her biggest hit was her dance cover  of “Heaven Must Have Sent You.” It charted at #11 on Billboard’s Hot 100, #52 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart, #8 on Billboard’s dance club chart and #43 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It also saw significant chart action in Canada (#32) and Australia (# 31). 

Her final album, Like a Picasso, was released by Poe and Taylor on Platinum Trini Label in 2011. Lack of funding and promotion greatly hindered its commercial success. Fortunately, the collection received a much-deserved and long-overdue worldwide release on April 8, 2022 through Omnivore Recordings on CD and digital. Three previously unissued tracks had been added to the 13 songs from the original collection. The album received rave reviews, with many critics claiming it was Bonnie’s best work. 

Bonnie has performed as a solo artist on both Soul Train and American Bandstand. The singer along with her sisters received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994. She launched a European tour at the beginning of 2008 and was also working on her autobiography. On Saturday, October 25, 2008, she performed at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. 

Bonnie died at her home in Los Angeles on June 8, 2020. She was 69.

Bonnie Pointer performing "Free Me From My Freedom" on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert

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