Tom Morello, aka “The Nightwatchman”, was on Real Time with Bill Maher last night, and he talked about censorship, and he let his feelings known on the issue of musicians and bands, and for that matter any worker, speaking out on the issues they care about. They first discussed censorship, where Tom pointed out how after 9/11 there was a list of songs radio stations were asked not to play; like for instance “Imagine” by John Lennon, “Walk Like and Egyptian”, the Gap Band’s “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and others.
Tom proudly proclaimed, “From that entire list, there was only one band where their entire catalogue was singled out, and that was my band, Rage Against the Machine”. The audience roared with approval and screamed out “Yeah!” He went on to say, “There was a message behind that. No one can say anything. It was a time where there should have been a great deal of debate. Why did this [9/11] really happen? What’s going on? Is there more to it than crazy guys on planes? That was a time when everyone we should have been able to speak their minds fully and completely, and let’s have a better understanding. ”
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Tom also urged everyone if they see an injustice, speak out about it! In response to how he feels about censorship Tom said, "Here is my issue on censorship, and Michael [Moore] has experienced this too, there's this thing or prism, the media, if you're a director, and actor, if you're a musician that you don't have a right to speak out about these things. I didn't know I put down my first amendment rights when I picked up my guitar. I think everybody in their line of work whether they are a carpenter, students, whether they're the unemployed, longshoreman or fireman should be talking about…should bring their beliefs into their work. They should talk about how they want the world to be, how they see the world being and what’s going wrong in it, the injustice they see, and they should be able to talk about that freely. That's what I do in my job.” The audience erupted in applause.
Bill Maher: "And good music it is, This is sort of your alter ego, you remind me of Henry Fonda in "The Grapes of Wrath", whenever there's a guy suffering I'll be there…that’s kind of you."
Tom: "That's an excellent pulkit" (slang for a best buddy who is always willing to help you out)
Tom added, "On this record, 'Worldwide Rebel Songs" began with a very inspiring incident. A lot of the guitars are made by companies like Gibson, Fender and Ibanez, they were made in Seoul, Korea. The workers in that factory unionized, and they were all fired because they formed a union. The plant was shut down and moved to China. The Korean workers were completely financially destitute, down on their luck, and needed help…came to the United States looking for help. I offered to play a benefit concert on their behalf. The day before the benefit concert, the earthquake in Haiti happened. So these Korean workers, who'd travelled 6000 miles, and were in desperate need of money for their wives, their children, their families and their strike money, all voted to donate their money to the Haiti relief effort. (Audience applauded loudly) That day I wrote the song, 'Worldwide Rebel Songs", played it that night, and it was the beginning of this record…the reason why, it's a refection of, and a window into the kind of world I'd like to see; and the kind of world I fight for in my music." The audience agreed and went crazy.
More on this later, and you can watch the Real Time segment below. To check out Tom and the Worldwide Rebel Songs, check out the Nightwatchman Site .