Track By Track
INTRODUCTION: On this record, we're in a way paying homage to musical renegades and that it is an act of defiance and rebellion to be one of those original hip-hop artists, where you're saying to the musical establishment, I don't have to take guitar lessons in order to write a song. I don't have to own a thousand-dollar amplifier in order to be on a stage. And that's very revolutionary in its own way and whether it was Dylan writing political music unapologetically in a pop context or whether it's Afrika Bambaataa helping to create hip-hop or whether it's Devo using Midwestern irony to shake up the snow globe of the Reagan era, but all of these people were renegades in their own time and place and we've drawn influence and inspiration from them. But the one thing that has been very inspiring about them is that they bucked musical convention in their own time, and on this record, what we've done is we've shown the same irreverence for convention by throwing away their music and by writing our own and incorporating the lyrics from those rebel songs and making something that neither the original artists nor Rage Against The Machine would have found on our own and it becomes something that transcends both, I think, and that's what makes it such a unique record. (Tom Morello)
FIEND (Eric B & Rakim)
Album Producer Rick Rubin: "Microphone Fiend" was brought in by Zack and it was ‚ it's an Eric B & Rakim song, and it was actually one of the first ‚ it was one of the first ones we worked on. Actually that and "Pistol Grip Pump" were the first two that we kind of figured out how they were going to go. I don't know what else I could tell you about it, other than listen to it. It's really good.
Tim Commerford: That's old school hip-hop. And that's something that, like I said, back in 1990 when we would drive to rehearsal, we would listen to. He was the one that I felt like back then I was just being turned on to hip hop like as something that I knew Public Enemy and I knew some like Run DMC and things like that, but I really didn't know about Gang Starr and I didn't know about Cypress Hill, and these were all new to me. And I remember we were bumping Cypress Hill, and Zack would play a lot of this for me, and at the time I was like, damn, I wish I had been into this for a longer time. But now it's been like ten years and I feel really like when I listen to the radio and I hear old school hip hop, I know the song, you know. So that's a song that I recognize from that sort of environment, just listening to the radio and going, yeah, that's classic hip hop, and we took that and me, Tom, Brad, Zack, we all got together and we said, we are going to rewrite the music to this song. So we listened to it a few times and we decided what we were going to do something new and so we wrote all new music. And so it's kind of like I see it like it's a Rage song, you know? It's a Rage song and the lyrics are awesome, the flow is awesome.
Tom Morello: "Microphone Fiend" is one of the first songs we worked on and I believe that Zack brought that one in. And it is one of the songs that to this day I've never heard the original version of that Zack knew the lyrics and we rocked this ‚ it's a song that has some of the traditional elements of a fantastically rocking Rage Against The Machine song. The undeniable hip-hop groove in the verse, the pull the bowstring back, you know, chorus, and then the let-the-arrow-fly, huge crowd-bouncing groove. And that song just is a dominating rock song and is a great way to start the record.
PISTOL GRIP PUMP (Volume 10)
RICK: I think it's probably the most hip-hop Rage has ever gotten. While it's still clearly a band track, it's got the kind of hypnotic, singular nature that a lot of hip-hop records have. It's really one groove that goes through the whole song, and it changes in intensity, but it functions more like a hip-hop record whereas most Rage records function as rock records.
TIM: "Pistol Grip Pump" is a perfect example of a song that, I couldn't even tell you when we first went to listen to the song who the song was by. "Pistol Grip Pump" is like something that I've heard a thousand times before, though, on the radio. It's like a Los Angeles anthem, kind of. If you turn on any Power 106 or The Beat, you're going to hear "Pistol Grip Pump," you know, the original version. And I recognize it from that. I remember when Rick's like ‚ I think that was a Rick Rubin one ‚ I think you guys should do "Pistol Grip Pump." It's like "Pistol Grip Pump," why do I recognize that, you know? And then when I heard it, it's like oh "Pistol Grip Pump on my lap at all times," and I knew exactly what it was. And that's an anthem. And we left it the same. We tried to play it literally, emulate it as much as we could, and the riff is a lot like the original riff in the song, it's a little louder, but it's the same thing. And then the flow is that flow a la a little Zack de la Rocha, and I'm impressed. I almost feel like it's a vocal solo, you know? There's a lot going on lyrically, and the music is just real monotonous.
TOM: "Pistol Grip Pump" is a song that was a favorite of Rick Rubin's and mine when we used to go to a club here in Los Angeles called Granville, which was kind of a ‚ sort of a Sodom and Gomorrah on the Santa Monica Boulevard kind of club, where it was like a hip-hop club that was everything ‚ it was sort of a hip-hop video come to life at this club. And the one song that always made the dance floor erupt, like you were pouring sugar on an anthill, was a song called "Pistol Grip Pump." We had no idea who the artist was; we just knew the effect that it had on people generally. And so we thought, well what if we did that song with guitars? What kind of jam is that going to be? And it's a jam known as track two right now on "Renegades."
OUT THE JAMS (MC 5)
RICK: "Kick Out The Jams" is by the MC5‚ the MC5 were a well-known political group in the late ë60s and they played at the Democratic National Convention in ‚ was it 1968, I think, in Chicago. And then Rage played "Kick Out The Jams" at the Democratic Convention here in 2000. So there's an interesting lineage with that one.
TIM: "Kick Out the Jams," I just saw on my calendar we worked that one up started working up in May of this year. Although it was a song that we had discussed we were going to be working up for a long time. I knew the song, but then that was when I finally went out and said, all right, I'm going to go get as many versions of this song as I can get and see how they play because, man, they are punk rock, so there was a lot going on. Even though they might have like a three-chord screamer, they all were just kind of playing a lot of noise and stuff. And if you listen to it closely, there are some intense moments in music there. And so I went out and got as many versions of "Kick Out the Jams" as I could get and learned the song. Exactly the way it is. But I tried to make it more of a Rage song, and when we make songs for Rage, we get on riffs, we repeat those riffs, and we hook them with other riffs, and it's more like things are the way they are and they don't change very much. Outside of the guitar solos. And that was no exception. I took these million different ways that I heard the bass player playing that song, and then I said, here's how I'm going to play "Kick Out the Jams," you know? And I learned it a certain way, and then I repeatedly played it that way, and it's more of a boom, a straight out Rage song. We had been playing it for a few months, and we played it at the DNC, we played it at a few other shows, in Japan and different places, and we had gotten comfortable playing that song. And it's fast and furious; it's a punk rock song, so we learned it fast and furious. And when we recorded it, we played it fast, and then we played it ‚ for Rick, who wanted us to play it slow, so we played it slow. I don't know what the tempo was, it was like half speed or something like that, and we slightly altered it a little bit, to make it fit into the tempo, but it was really weird after playing and all of a sudden it's a slower thing. But it's exactly the same song. And to me, it's awesome because there's also a live version of "Kick Out the Jams" that we're putting on the record as well. And it's the same song, but it's played fast and furious, so you have a slow version and a fast version, and both of them are dope. So it feels good. I like that.
TOM: "Kick Out The Jams" is a song that was originally done by the MC5 and probably with that 3-1/2 minutes of music, both punk rock and political rock were born. The MC5 is clearly one of the forefathers of bands like Rage Against The Machine who are unapologetically political and ferocious in their delivery of their rock music. And Wayne Kramer actually taught me how to play the song. And I couldn't figure it out, so I called him up ‚ I've never been so good at figuring out on songs off records, so I called him up and he came on over, and like I'm sitting here with Wayne Kramer like learning "Kick Out The Jams." This is good. And it's really a ferocious track; it's got a brilliant lyric and it is one of the purest rock anthems for fighting for freedom and rocking as hard as you can. And those are two things that Rage Against The Machine has always tried to do and we particularly try to do on that track.
RENEGADES OF FUNK (Afrika Bambaataa)
RICK: That was originally done by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force and it resonates with me in a particular way just because it goes back to the very early days of hip-hop and the scene in New York and those guys are all friends of mine. And that's another one that Zack brought in, and it just seemed like such a funny song to cover, but then when you hear Rage do it, it makes perfect sense. But if you've heard the original, it doesn't sound like a song that anyone could ever reinterpret.\
TIM: "Renegades of Funk," that's a song that I remember hearing back in the ë80s, in the days of hip hop, and I remember in my high school there's some kids that I hung out with, including Zack, that were down with hip hop, I mean, were down with break dancing. And I was, at that time playing bass, but these are my friends, and so I was familiar with all this music, and that's another song that for a long time, we would play. And Zack would bring it up, I've got this song I think would be a great one, and it was "Renegades of Funk." And when he brought it up ‚ when it came time to do the album, he brought up "Renegades of Funk," he goes, "I think that would be a cool song," and I'm like, "Renegades of Funk"? And he's like, "Dude, you know the song." You just ‚ I didn't know the name of it. So like at the end of the day, we got the tapes and the compilation CDs and listened to it, and I got familiar with the "Renegades of Funk" the way it is, and it's like a break beat, you know? So the bass line was a real just like a mechanical, da da da da da da da, and it's like this thing happening, and I was like, yeah, this is kind of like athletic. I'm into it; I'll learn how to play this song. And I got really familiar with it. But then at the end of the day we turned it into a Rage song. And it was one that when we were whittling down our songs to two ‚ we whittled it down from five songs each to two songs each for the final record, and it became clear that Zack was not going to pick that song. And I was like, "dude, ëRenegades of Funk' is the one I want to do." So I put aside some songs that I had chosen, and I was like "Renegades of Funk" is the one I'm going to choose, and so I chose that one, we worked it up, and we wrote all new music. And that one was a total example of like, get the lyrics off the Internet and tailor the song around those lyrics. And that's what we did. And it was fun, you know. It was really cool.
TOM: "Renegades of Funk" is the first song that Zack brought in. He said, if we don't do any other song, let's do this one. It was a song I wasn't that familiar with and we listened to it and it was ‚ it's about this 12-minute, 15-minute long break dance anthem. It doesn't have a chorus; it just has a bunch of beats and what seems to be an improvised lyric, and that song was the biggest challenge in the studio. We took about 2-1/2, 3 days in the studio, which is unheard of for us to record the basic tracks for that, as we tried to whittle it down and make it into a powerful Rage Against The Machine song, which in the end, you know, that was one of the songs that was for me a huge surprise. It went from being, at our initial rehearsal, as being kind of a sprawling mess to being a really tight, huge, super-funky Rage track and that the kind of the danceability quotient on that is something I don't think that we've approached before as well as the ‚ on that one I did my best to play like an inexpensive Moog synthesizer, you know, to get that right kind of feel for the track, and it turned out pretty great. I was more experimental with the guitar playing and doing guitar overdubs and some interweaving lines and stuff. And on this one, "Renegades" is one where I have not been afraid to kind of let my freak flag fly and play a variety of crazy things.
RICK: That's one that Tom brought in, and it really ‚ they played it for the first time at the Olympic Auditorium and it really was a really touching moment in the show. And I think it really took people by surprise because it's so, kind of moody and quiet. But still, you know, deeply sarcastic and deeply against the system.
TIM: Tom Morello, he brought that in. That's a Tom Morello arrangement. There's not any drums on it; it's the first time we've ever done that. And the only thing the bass does is just hit feedback. I just heard the arrangement and heard what he wanted to do and I was like, I've got to make feedback over that. So that was my ‚ my input was bass feedback, but that's a Tom Morello arrangement and that's one that when I'm listening to the record and that one comes on, it really fits in and makes the record sound great. And the more I hear it, the more I realize what a great song it is, you know? So. It's a jam, Devo, "Beautiful World," Devo. Straight-up jam a la Tom Morello.
TOM: "Beautiful World" was a song that I brought in. It was always ‚ Devo, I think, is one of the great underrated bands of the ë80s and that's such a brilliant, ironic lyric to that song. I thought, what if you dispensed with kind of the upbeat, New Wave track that is in the original? And what if you made it a moody, almost U2 or Pink Floyd dark ballad? What would that sound like? I had the idea for that a few years ago and just kept it ‚ I actually had the lyrics written down on a page in my desk for some later time to bring out and it seemed like the ideal time. And it's clearly both musically and vocally, the furthest away from traditional Rage Against The Machine music, and I think that it's really ‚ it's become this kind of beautiful dark song now, which is just clearly different ‚ it's different than Devo intended it and certainly different than anything we've ever done before but it's really groovingÖ..The ladies are going to love it.
RICK: "Housin" was one that Zack brought in and it was EPMD song and I just know it was one of his ‚ it was one of his favorite hip-hop tracks from all time.
TIM: That's another old school hip hop track, that if you listen to any old school hip hop radio station, chances are you might hear Housin. And that was one that Zack picked that he wanted to do, and, again, that's one that we took, listened to the music, learned it, and then said, okay, we're going to learn it our way. And we took the song and we knew the chorus ‚ Zack wanted the chorus to be Housin, Housin, Housin, you know what I'm saying, so you get to the point we knew the chorus was that and so we played it a bunch of times before we actually even got a chance to hear what it would sound like to have the delay doing that. So he would kind of like do it with his mouth. And I've got those original tapes; it's kind of awesome to hear that. But it's just a jam. It's an EPMD RATM jam. That's the way I'm seeing it.
TOM: "I'm Housin" is another one of those songs where to this day I've never heard the original. You know, we basically brought a brand-new Rage track to fantastic East Coast hip-hop lyrics. And that is one of the most powerful, kind of grooving, grinding Rage Against The Machine hip-hop rock jams that we've ever done. And that song's got a pretty interesting solo in it, too, and it's got a kind of dark gangsta vibe, you know, during the verses, then it explodes. And each ‚ it's like a song with almost three choruses, each one out-rocking the one before it. And finally drops off the end in a big massive funk explosion that you just can't do without.
MY EYES (Minor Threat)
RICK: It was originally done by Minor Threat and it's the only punk rock song on the record and it really ‚ it really represents the genre well. It probably could be the best American punk rock song ever written.
TIM: "In My Eyes," Minor Threat, see that's another Zack pick. And I think maybe Rick picked that one at the end of the day, but that's like Zack's favorite song when he was a kid coming up, Minor Threat was like the band he was most into when he was in high school. And that was like his favorite song, you know? And now I understand why, because it is one of my favorite songs now, too. I love it. It's like the one that of all the songs we had chosen that was the most technically challenging to play. I was like, damn, they're playing really fast and we don't play that style of music, we play rock music, and slower groovy music, and sometimes it picks up tempo but never that kind of speed. And we played it at the end ‚ we learned it right away, it was one of the first songs that we learned, and then we played it at the end or at the beginning of every rehearsal that we had for this record. So like Rick would go, hey, play "In My Eyes," you know, and then we'd play it. At first it was kind of scrappy and by the end of it, what you hear is what you get. I'm like going, damn, "In My Eyes" is a jam, you know? And I didn't ‚ all I did is play it, and I think Brad can say the same thing and Tom too, it's just like it took two minutes to play and that was outside of Rick's knob twisting, that's all that happened. It's a jam. It's like a punk rock song. Super fast. Never thought I would ever ever hear us doing that.
TOM: "In My Eyes," was a selection of Zack de la Rocha's, and you clearly had a very important part of his musical underpinning and the straightedge hardcore movement. And that song is kind of what it's all about and I think that the passion that Zack brings to the vocals, throughout the record but on that song particular, really cuts to the core of what those DC, punk-rock, renegades Minor Threat were all about. And that's a song that's really ‚ it was a real challenge to play. It's a very different style of music. We normally have like the big, mid-tempo grooves and that one was a lot of right-hand wrist action that was debilitating by the time we were done playing it. We'd do a take or two and then we're like, we've got to come back to that one tomorrow, I'm just like beat. I was getting hardcore elbow.
HOW I COULD JUST KILL A MAN (Cypress Hill)
RICK: "How I Could Just Kill A Man." I think Timmy might have picked that one. And I think all the guys in Rage, when the first Cypress Hill record came out, they all really loved the first Cypress Hill record, and it meant a lot to them. And I think Cypress Hill actually took Rage on tour early in their career, so it was a nice one to do. And I really think that the Rage interpretation of it is both super-heavy but also kind of funky in a way that we haven't really heard rage before.
TIM: That was one I picked and that is ‚ takes me back to 1990. You know, I listened to Cypress Hill's first record and there are so many correlation's with our first record and so many things that I just went, okay, there we go. Hole In Your Head, Bullet In Tha Head. And even if you listen to the music, the music for Hole In Your Head is that da da da da da da, you know what I'm saying? And Bullet In Tha Head, da da da da, and it goes for the ‚ it's almost exactly the same except the accent's on a different part of it, you know? And we have very similar lyrics on our first record in the choruses and there's a lot going on. And that I think is because, I know, Zack and I religiously listened to that CD on the way to rehearsal and sitting in traffic for two hours four or five days a week, you know, when we were making our first 12-song demo tape. There's a lot of Public Enemy, there's a lot of Cypress Hill and Hole in your Head and How I Could Just Kill A Man and, you know, these are songs that I just go, yeah, they're sick. And How I Could Just Kill A Man, I feel like that is a real thing that people feel, and it should be able to be talked about and it's not really something that doesn't mean anything. It means a lot and there's a lot of people feeling that way and ‚ I think it's cool. You know, it sounds sick and B Real, Sen Dog, MugsÖ. sick, Cypress is sick, and our version of that song is sick. And I feel like that, as far as the heavy music on the record, that's the hitting track, you know, that's the one that I'm saying, all right, that's a nice Rage bomb right there.
TOM: "How I Could Just Kill A Man" is off of the first Cypress Hill record. And when Rage Against The Machine formed in 1991, there were probably two CDs that were very popular among all four members. One was the first Cypress record and the other was Sound Garden's Badmotorfinger. And if you sort of listened to what the band sounds like, that maybe doesn't come as a surprise. But Cypress Hill like really took like West Coast hip-hop in a different and unexpected direction. It was hardcore lyrics but with a totally unique slant and that they were ‚ you know, B Real jammed with the band at some of our first club shows, at a place called Club With No Name, in '91. And that group has also been tremendously supportive of us through the years. They took us out on tour in ë93-'94 in one of our first big tours around the country. And "How I Could Just Kill A Man" that came from a jam ‚ Timmy, Brad and I were just jamming one day in the studio and came upon this groove, we had ‚ one of those songs which we had discarded for the selection process was a song by Gang Of 4 called, "What We All Want," and that song had a bass line that had this kind of off-kilter, funky repetition. And Timmy used that as a starting point to build the amazing bass line. I meanÝ Timmy C. is no joke and to use that as like the starting point, as the bass line, for "How I Could Just Kill A Man," and we had these two huge grooves that went back and forth: the big riff in the chorus and that unique kind of bubbly funk that is the verse of that. And I think that Tim in the end was the one that chose "How I Could Just Kill A Man" as the lyrics to go with that musical track. But that musical track came before we had even thought about doing the Cypress song. And that is one of the songs that is included as a bonus track on the initial run, as well, which features, B Real and Sen Dog from Cypress Hill, rocking it with us live. And both of those tracks, the studio version and the live one will appear on the initial run and then the live one will be left off of later pressings.
TOM: One of the most interesting bits of music that we've ever played is the bridge in the song "How I Could Just Kill A Man." What we were trying to do in the context of a live band was make it sound like a DJ just dropped the needle on a different record in the middle of our track. And it's a really interesting ‚ we all have to kind of shift gears, both tone-wise and timing-wise and sound-wise, and it was, I think it comes across pretty great and we were finally able to get it. But that's one of the most bold moves of really trying to make a live rock band approximate a hip-hop, you know, a studio hip-hop track. And it really, really pushed in a different direction pretty groovy.
GHOST OF TOM JOAD (Bruce Springsteen)
RICK: "The Ghost of Tom Joad" was on a benefit record, and then we got the tapes back and kind of did some additional work to it and made it fit in the context of this album. And I would imagine Tom probably originally brought that in because he's a big Springsteen fan, Springsteen fanatic.
TIM: That's a song that we put on our videotape that was for sale, so a lot of people are familiar with it, and we've been playing it for years, I don't know how long. And that's a perfect example of a lot of the songs on this record where, when that was a long time ago Tom brought that one up and that was one where I was like, Bruce Springsteen? You've got to be kidding me? You know? I had no idea that lyrically the guy was so profound and for the worker, you know? He's deep. And from hearing that song, however many times ‚ probably heard us play it live 50 times and then listening to it back, I thought I knew it, and I heard the CD and I've heard it on the radio, and I have friends who play it and who love it, and so I hear it and I thought I knew it, and then Tom took it into the studio, the original recording of that song, and Rick Rubin got a hold of it and together they sort of changed a few things. Rick changed the mix; Tom changed the guitar parts a little bit and added some things that I think make the song sound amazing, you know? And that's my whole beef with a lot of music is sometimes I think it starts to sound boring if you get on the same thing and you don't get off it. And there isn't that ‚ I'm not hearing that anymore. I'm hearing a different mix that I like. I'm hearing different things on the vocals, delays and whatnot that I like. I'm hearing new guitar parts that I think are sick, and I think that song is sickening. It's just like one of my favorite songs on the record and there you go.
TOM: That song appears on this record, but in a brand-new ‚ I play new guitar on it, it's a brand new mix of it. But what we did with that song was we took these poignant lyrics that Bruce Springsteen's casts in a kind of lonesome campfire ballad and we made it into a roaring rock ën' roll track. His Tom Joad, who's the character from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, is kind of this wispy figure in the night. Sort of a lonesome memory of struggles past. Our Tom Joad is flesh and blood and standing, throwing a brick in the streets of Seattle at the WTO protests or scaling the 20-foot barbed wire fence at the DNC while a certain band plays in the background. We've done that ‚ we've attacked all the songs in the same way. And Rick pushed us in that direction as well, and that's why the new version of "Ghost of Tom Joad," sometimes there are two, three, even four guitar parts intermingling. It's kind of the Jimmy Page army of guitars theory on some of these tracks, you know, rather than some of the minimalism of the past.
ON THE STREET (The Stooges)
RICK: "Down On The Street" was one of Brad's also from the same theme that the MC5 came from, Iggy and the Stooges came from, and it's a real kind of garage rock. Punk rock before there was punk rock.
TOM: "Down on the Street" was a Brad Wilk production there. He was like, we have to do a Stooges song; we have to do a Stooges song. So Brad was actually sick during part of the rehearsals, and we had narrowed it down to two, so that seemed like the Stooges are a band with like sort of an unapologetic and fearless style of rocking. And this is one of the songs that was one of the biggest challenges because of the kind of the odd Iggy Pop vocal performance. It's one of the songs that we probably play closer to the original than some of the other ones. But we wanted to give it a revved up, raw, you know, thunderous Rage Against The Machine makeover and I think that we've done that. It's got a bizarre guitar solo in it and the riffs are huge and it very much evokes the vision of an Iggy Pop cutting himself to pieces onstage, except it does it sonically and that's unhealthy in a very good way.
FIGHTING MAN (Rolling Stones)
RICK: "Street Fighting Man" is classic Rolling Stones song completely revamped. It's ‚ an interesting thing about this record is the band was able to kind of move musically in different directions because they're starting with the format of someone else's song. It kind of allowed them to ‚ more freedom to kind of try different things. And I think it's probably more diverse than Rage's other albums, for that reason.
TIM: "Street Fighting Man."Ý I think Tom brought that one in, and that one is a ‚ it's a Rolling Stones song that I know throughout my life, you know, but I've never ‚ I think I've bought one Rolling Stones album, and I know pretty much ‚ I'm not going to say all their songs, but I know all their hits, and I have respect for them and I've watched the videotapes of the Hells Angels fighting and killing people, whatever that was, "Gimme Shelter". But I dig that song and the way we did it. I think it's interesting because that was one where Tom wanted to do that song because we had kind of done it before in that we had played the musical arrangement in a live show. And he somehow got a recording of it and dubbed it onto his little tape recorder that he's had since 1990 that ‚ he's all about good luck charms and that sort of thing. I don't know that he would ever admit that, though. But he's got his tape recorder and on his tape recorder he's got the song that pretty much is what's on the record. We just learned what we heard and threw it down and tailored it to the lyrics and it's a jam. Rick Rubin got a hold of it.
TOM: "Street Fighting Man" is a song that I brought in. It was actually one of the ‚ it was one of the last songs that was suggested, and we had messed around for years doing like sort of improvisations live of the concept of what if a band like Rage Against The Machine, a band with the Led Zeppelin line-up attempted to play a Prodigy song? In our music in the past, we've taken a rock band and played hip-hop music to create something that's neither. And what we attempted to do with this was to take a rock ën' roll band and play techno music, or electronic, it's still guitar-bass-and drums, but to really challenge ourselves and to like ‚ one of the only bands we've ever played with live that has really given us a run for our money has been the Prodigy, and it's not even like a band, it's a guy with some buttons and a couple guys with hair. So we thought what if we kind of co-opted some of the rhythm and the repetition and the dynamics of a Prodigy song or a Crystal Method song? But mix it with the lyrics for "Street Fighting Man" which is very contemporary sense. You know, in the downtown streets of Los Angeles, we have been street-fighting men in the last few months, and Zack changes the lyric from ‚ in the original it's "in a sleepy London town, there's just no place for a street fighting man" to "a sleepy L.A. town." And the idea was to really do a ferociously rocking version, technoized, Rage Against The Machine song and to have it be sung by people ‚ you know, the Rolling Stones, I'm not sure whether they were ever legitimately street-fighting men, but we've seen the pavements and the bricks and smelled the tear gas, so to do it in a way that was very genuine and very updated.
FARM (Bob Dylan)
RICK: "Maggie's Farm" is a classic Dylan protest song and Rage does it in a way that, if you're familiar with the song, you'd be surprised.
TIM: Now that's one that Tom brought in too. I guess this is not an equal representation. I'm going to have to make note of that. But Tom brought that one in to do and Tom had an arrangement, kind of like "Beautiful World" in mind for that one, and that was one where I just went, okay, I'm going along with the program here and I'm going to like play the bass and play the parts and kind of listen to what's happening and just have ‚ I know that there's some really talented people that have, are seeing it for more than what I'm seeing it as right now. And what I was seeing it as on those first few days of rehearsal, and even into the recording process, was a 6-1/2 minute song. And that's a long song. And that starts to get a little monotonous from a bass player's standpoint. And then the lyrics started to take shape and I eventually got the mixes with the vocals on it, and I was able to understand better because we weren't able to get the vocals down. All I know is that was a 6-1/2 minute jam that was making me kind of bored. And then I got the final recording and I think it's one of my favorite songs on the record. It's awesome. It's like the subtleties of how the music changes with the vocal parts and how they change and how it comes back in. It's just really cool. It's a really creative arrangement.
"Maggie's Farm" was a song that I brought in that it was ‚ actually, I
tried to sort of sneak it in at the end of Battle of Los Angeles. I had
this tape on a little tape recorder, this riff and a general idea of an
arrangement of how "Maggie's Farm," which is a brilliant, anti-wage slavery
lyric and so when the idea to do these songs came up, it was an obvious
choice. However, I had lost the tape that had that riff on it, and I couldn't
remember it, to save my life I couldn't remember it. So finally, digging
through drawers and whatever, I had one that was a likely candidate that
this might be the tape, but being super analog and recorded on the crappiest
little condenser mike, the tape was all jumbled up and torn and I was like,
oh, I cannot lose it. So, who do I call up but Rick Rubin, who can just
make anything happen. I'm like, Rick, I've got this tape, I've got a problem.
I think I got a hit, and I can't get it off the tape. I need to hear this
riff. So they eventually sent it ‚ I'm not kidding you, they sent it to
the people, who reconstruct like FBI evidence, when they have tapes that
are like destroyed in some way? And they found my riff for "Maggie's Farm,"
so I'd like to thank the FBI in a rare moment of solidarity with Rage Against
The Machine coming through for our new record. And then I was able to find
the riff and we arranged that song, and it's really this huge, kind of
heavy, funky, Sabbathesque version which gives a completely different take
on the lyrics. "Maggie's Farm" is a song which is, you know, is a real
anthem for ‚ it's some of the best lyrics I think anyone's every written,
and it's a real anthem for everyone who has suffered in a soul-crushing
job with a cruel boss. And I moved to Los Angeles in 1986 with a lot of
lofty rock ën' roll dreams and with a Harvard degree in my pocket
and thought, you know, I'm going to get a phat day job and put together
a fantastic rock ën' roll band and none of that happened. I found
myself doing temp work where I was alphabetizing 40-45 hours a week for
sub-minimum wage with the most demeaning bosses. And sometimes I'd be painting
in an office with no ventilation for months at a time with just a cruel,
cruel boss and you spend like your 15 minutes of your break just in the
restroom just shaking, going, I am a man, I am a man. You know, it's a
song for everyone who realizes that they are more than the shitty job they
are stuck in. Much like the character, the thing, you know, I had a lot
of ideas in my head and it was a shame the way they were making me scrub
the floor. So this song is both ‚ is sort of a personal vindication as
well as a great rocking track.