January 11, 2008

This is the new sound, just like the old sound

For over a decade I scoffed at Rage Against the Machine. I called them posers, spoiled Ivy leaguers, misguided, opportunist in their anger. I repeated the easy phrase: "oh you're so anti-establishment yet you're signed to Sony" dismissal.

And why? Because I read an article in SPIN saying much of the same after their 1993 silent protests on stage at Lollapalooza against the the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC).

Had I done my homework (beyond the pages of SPIN), I would have known there are no posers here. Zach de la Rocha's dad was the first Latino artist to be shown at LACMA. Tom Morello's dad was a Mau Mau guerrilla and revolutionary. Morello's great-uncle, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first elected president in Kenya.

This rage isn't misguided; it's informed and razor sharp. There are no opportunities here, simply alarms and warnings.

The fire in the Master's house is set.

And as for being signed to Sony, now that I am older and wiser and actively working for social change instead of simply bitching about a need for it, I understand, just as they did, that it's not enough to voice dissent; someone has to hear you. And before MySpace, file sharing, and other network enabling mechanisms, signing to a major label was just about the only way you could reach out beyond a marginal audience.

I know that venerableseed had his own beef with the boys. My frustration isn't with the band, but with the fact that the Battle of Los Angeles is still relevant and its message timely in 2008.

Morello himself said that their reunion at last year's Coachella was a vehicle to voice the band's opposition to the "right-wing purgatory" the United States has "slid into" under the George W. Bush administration.

Listen to the facist sing
"Take hope here
War is elsewhere
You were chosen
This is Gods land
Soon we'll be free
Of blot and mixture
Seeds planted by our Forefathers hand"
A mass of promises
Begin to rupture
Like the pockets Of the new world kings

I wish The Battle of Los Angeles were dated. But songs like "Ashes in the Fall"might as well have been written this year. I wish its chords didn't make my heart race, its word incite my, well, Rage. But the fact is, everything didn't change on a New Year's Day.

And incidentally, even though SPIN named Battle #53 in its "greatest albums 1985-2005," they still hatin'.

Fucking Bono was right.


Ancient Scientist said...

I'm not sure how the band members' bloodlines or social backgrounds authorizes them to protest while if they had been Ivy Leaguers (ew... especially Brown) they would have been disqualified from authenticity. Shouldn't the content of their message be the key?

I suppose that is where your post ended up (maybe even what your post was about) so perhaps I shouldn't be rankled by your first paragraph...

polchic said...

Dear scientist, exactly my point.

When I was younger and more petulant, I let all of those things influence my opinions, more so than the actual content.

Don't be rankled. Read on. I am admitting my own short-sightedness. I was an idiot.

I'm (hopefully) a little older and wiser now.