Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Entertainment: Tom Morello

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello was on Moyers & Company this week, talking about his music and how it relates to his activism. You can watch the embedded video here, or follow the video credit link to the Moyers & Company page, where there's a high definition version available.

Video image credit: Moyers & Company

They discussed the history of protest music, and some of the reasons why it matters:

BILL MOYERS: Tell us about the Wobblies. Why do they--

TOM MORELLO: Sure, sure. Two things that inspire me about the Wobblies is it was a singing union, first of all. And they realized that, in order to organize diverse groups of immigrants who often didn't speak the same language, they would do it through song. And their solidarity came through music.

And Joe Hill, the great poet laureate of the early 20th century, you know, said, "You--" I'm paraphrasing. But--"A pamphlet you'll read once. But a song you can sing again and again and stays in your heart." That's one of the things that I hope that some of my music will do.

And they suggested some very, very radical things before they were even on the plate. One was that people of every ethnicity could join their union. One was that women could have leadership in their union. One was that everyone should vote. One was the everyone should sing their protests. They are things that are now sort of taken for granted but you know, be realistic and demand the impossible.

Full Show: Tom Morello, Troubadour for Justice

Of course, anyone who came of age in the 1960s has heard a lot of protest music. You could say that much of rock and roll back then was a protest of one sort or another, whether it was about politics or just the mores of the time. And yes, long after the pamphlets and the speeches are forgotten, we still remember many of those songs.

If you're a rock fan, or interested in some of the history of the relationship between music and protest in America, you will probably enjoy watching the show.

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