The Number Of The Beast
1982 | Metal
Spotify | Amazon
“I'm not a number, I'm a free man, I'll live my life how i want to. -- You'd better scratch me from your black book, 'cause I'll run rings around you."
- The album hit #33 on the Billboard 200.
- Number Of The Beast was the first release to feature vocalist Bruce Dickinson and their last with drummer Clive Burr.
- The band's manager, Rod Smallwood, had to telephone Patrick McGoohan to ask permission to use the audio clips from the British TV show for the song.
THE HOT TAKES
You know, Paul Bruce Dickinson is 61 years old as I write this? The man has more energy than any other 3 people I know. Flying jump kicks off the amplifiers are a standard thing for this guy. Anyway. "Not a prisoner, I'm a free man; And my blood is my own now; Don't care where the past was; I know where I'm going; Out!" Like all Maiden tracks, you'll know the chorus before you get done with the song the first time. Catchy, manly, and with that beautiful triple-strummed bass. The most libertarian thing here? What he sings at the prison guard: "If you kill me, it's self defense; But if I kill you then I call it vengeance!"
"Ok, first of all, if you’ve never seen the show, The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan, from the 1960’s, and used at the beginning of this song, get thee to a television post haste! It’s a fascinating show and worth a watch. Now, to the song. Of course Iron Maiden are quintessential metal, and this song is so well done.
“I'm not a prisoner, I'm a free man, and my blood is my own now. Don't care where the past was, I know where I'm going. I'm not a number, I'm a free man, I'll live my life how i want to. You'd better scratch me from your black book, 'cause I'll run rings around you.”
For anyone who has recognized that America has become a gilded cage, is also someone who recognizes that free men don’t ask permission to be free. We are free and we must live that way if we are to have freedom in the here and now. Scratch us from your files and books. Know we will not comply and acquiesce to your control forever. There is only so much a person can take before they have no choice but to fight. Even people who love peace can be forced to use force to protect themselves. "
The song seems like an examination of the lengths to which men will go to break their binding. What's it worth to you to be free? Live in fear of capture and subsist of vermin? I'm not sure what the TV show the song is based on is about but it seems like a pretty standard song about thumbing your nose at your captors. A pretty catchy chorus. There are worse messages to internalize through catchy melodies.