Tom Morello: ‘My music is about holding those people accountable’
Musician Tom Morello, co-founder of Rage Against the Machine, appeared on the NPR program Moyers & Company Friday, in an interview taped before he headed to Chicago for this weekend’s anti-NATO protests.
“I didn’t choose to be a guitar player,” Morello began. “That’s something that was a calling. That was something that felt like it was chosen for me. And with that blessing and curse, I — throughout my entire career, it’s been my job to weave my convictions into my vocation.”
“There’s a unique component of music that is different from, you know, the written pamphlet or a speech,” he explained. “There’s something, when you get the right combination of rhythm, melody and the right lyrical couplet, that feels like truth in the reptilian brain. There’s something hardwired in our D.N.A.. And when you get a large group of people singing together in solidarity, it’s something that, in my experience, and I’ve played countless demonstrations and protests through the years, it’s something that can really help a struggle.”
Morello, who like Barack Obama is half-Kenyan, spoke with particular intensity of his passion for social justice. “In this country, we have freedom of choice,” he stated. “But some are free to choose between Lamborghini and Rolls Royce while others are free to choose which dumpster they’re going to have their meal out of next. Some are free to choose which, you know, homes and farms to foreclose on, while others choose which bridge they’re going to sleep under tonight.”
“Poverty is not an accident of, sort of, an economic spreadsheet,” he continued. “Poverty is a crime. There are criminals involved. And those criminals walk the streets as free men. What my music is about, and what — this from, you know, from the riots in the streets of Greece and Spain to the people’s uprisings in Egypt and Libya and Madison — is about is holding those people accountable, those who are responsible for subverting the entire global economy and causing so much misery and then laughing about it with their, you know, clinking their champagne glasses on their yachts.”
“There’s a plan to continue to wring every cent, you know, into the .001 percent ” Morello insisted. “And so the politicians who are in the pockets of the corporations do not stand in the way of that inequality growing greater. That’s how I would put it. But yeah, no, we do not — the music has not caused us to live in an anarcho-syndicalist utopia. Yet. That means I’ve got more albums to make.”
A full transcript of this program is available here.
This video is from Moyers & Company, May 18, 2012.