Rage Against the Machine Fans Speak!


When I was younger and Rage Against the Machine started assaulting the MTV airwaves with the video for "Freedom", I caught wind of the song and liked it, but never paid much attention to it.  I remeber hearing "Killing in the Name" my freshman year of high school on the car radio and digging it, but never going out of my way to make a mental note of the band that penned that new song with badly mangled edit at the end of it to turn the singer's words into "Do, I won't do what you tell Me" instead of the "Fuck You" that was obviously there in the first place. It was not until two years later, when I heard the breakdown from "Know Your Enemy" (you know, the part after the guitar solo where the bass draws the band back into the main riff) on a friend's answering machine that I ran out and bought the album just to hear that one song.  I don't think it took me that long to listen to the entire thing and memorize the lyrics.

From there, it was a safe to assume that I would wind up buying every album that came after that one.  Even at a point where I am long past the stage of teenage rebellion, I can still feel the songs from that first CD (as well as the two followups) crank up my intensity level and challenge my mind to seek new directions.  If I can recall, Rage was one of the first bands beisdes Pennywise and Bad Religion that make me think, and more over made me Feel  The Music as a part of me.  They were expressing the kind of thoughts that I did, but with a level of education and direction that I could hardly muster.  Instead of making it personal and general like a lot of conscienscious (sp?) punk rock, Rage seemed to make their songs personal and SPECIFIC.  They dropped names I had never heard and made me aware of events I never even knew happened.  and they were INTENSE.

Like any teenaged musician, Rage obviously had a good deal of influence on my writing style when I was still learning guitar. Now, years later, I realize that it's not the way Tom plays the guitar or Tim drops a bassline that should influence me, it should and will be the SPIRIT of the music that will affect me forever.  When musicians like Ben Harper take the same type of attitude towards an acoustic guitar and couple it with some well-throated lyrics, and when bands like Incubus take the same idea of personal freedom and turn it into some sort of metaphysical ponderment over funkdafied bass and tripped out guitar lines, they play with the same SPIRT as Rage.  And even though I would say very few of the songs I write come out sounding anywhere remotely close to a Rage song, I would say that the spirit of rebellions shines as vivrantly in my words and music.  That is probably the greatest influence Rage Against the Machine will have on me as a musician.  It is great to have artists out there that let you know the flame of independence is burning bright.  At the point where it seems like everyone around seems like a soulless or heartless clone straight from the pages of the latest J.Crew catalog, you can spin your little silver Rage Against the Machine disk and be reminded that being an individual is something to be proud of, and that being active and informed is the best and only way to live. Some may say that ignorance is bliss, but if you were about to get a safe dropped on your head, wouldn't you like to know so you could get out of the way?

And I think that will be Rage's greatest contribution to the music world and to the whole world in general.   They will spawn a generation of consciensciouss young musicans who span many genres and who will convey that spirit of freedom in different ways, encouraging more and more people to become better educated and more involved with the state of the world around them.  I know that if I only took what I was taught in the classroom as absolute truth and never took the time to pick up books for my own enlightenment, I would be a different person.  Or should I say an INdifferent person.  Yes, I recognize that a lot of things seem to be going wrong in the world today, but I also realize that there's hope, that I don't have to play by anyone else's rules but mine.  I realize that many people that I know will soon graduate and move to office jobs and live the 9 to 5 for a good number of their most healthy and vivrant years.  I also realize that I don't have to buy into that, that I don't have to sit in a box for 8+ hours a day working for a company whose ulterior motive -- greed -- is a concept that I as a person have serious issues with.  As well, I realize that when you dare to step from the beaten path, the risk factor takes a serious hike skywards, but I don't know how I will be able to live with myself if I just let myself be carried along by the flow of the masses.

Just CONVEYING that mentality is important...challenging people's knowledge, reshaping the status quo to get it to closer resemble the truth...music serves as inspiration for many,  I know Rage and numerous other bands are out there tearing it up and keeping people's heads' up. In and issue of Rolling Stone there was a quote from Zach that began something like "Every revolutionary act is an act of love. . . Every song we write is a love song".  That's unbelievably true, but I had never thought to  look at revolution from that angle before.  Think about it -- why do we fight for causes which serve us no immediate personal gain?  Chuck D put it simply -- "I'm a rebel so I rebel" -- but it drives deeper than that.  We are rebels because we love things.  And not things as in material possesions -- we love personal freedom, we love justice, equity, we love the earth and the natural world around us. Really, you can take your choice or choose all of those things.  It doesn't matter whether you are a freedom fighter in a 3rd world nation or a college student.  As rebels, all of us, past and present, are some of the greatest lovers the world has EVER known.   Amazing, isn't it?

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