Holy Shit. Just when I thought that musicians couldn’t get more bad-ass and relevant, I stumble on the acoustic-folk-rock-punk-rap-funk stylings of The Nightwatchman. For those of you who don’t know who this is, you better sit down. No – lay down, because you’re going to need a nap after you hear this song.
Yeah, that’s right, that’s Tom Morello; the fist-pumping, foot stomping, perpetual hat-wearing lead guitarist of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. I’m glad to see he has finally stepped out of the shadows of Zach “I’m too proud to be famous” de la Rocha and Chris “Groaning is the same as singing, right?” Cornell. As The Nightwatchman, Tom Morello brings activism and music to a whole ‘nother level. He blends rich, steady guitar work with complex, deep poetry that is littered with allusions and rallying cries of freedom and how cops suck. This man is not just a musician –He is a movement, an idea, a goddamned SYMBOL. He is The Nightwatchman, he watches the goddamned night. Can you do that? No, you can’t. You’re too busy drinking Starbucks to watch the night, asshole.
In honour of this music-vigilante, or, as I am now coining, musilante, I offer a literary break down of pieces of one of his most powerful works, One Man Revolution
On the streets of New York
The cabs don’t stop
On the street where I live
They called the cops
Found a noose in my garage
Now how ‘bout that
So tonight I’m in the bushes
With a baseball bat
Yeah he went there. Sure, we used to hear about cabs not stopping for black people from bad stand-up comedians in the 90s, but he’s bringing it back. He’s stuffing it right in our fat, white North American faces. Next, he proves that he lives in a bad part of town, because they called the cops on the street that he lives on. The Nightwatchmen lives with the oppressed – and he’s proud of it, you Bourgeoisie, Capitalist dick. Yeah that’s right, and they found a noose in his garage, which is probably something about being black, too, or maybe about being sad, but either way, it’s deep and badass and he sings it with a deep voice so it’s cool. The last line is the most powerful, obviously. Where is The Nightwatchman? He’s in the bushes, motherfucker, he’s Night-waiting for you with a baseball bat, ready to cripple the next guy he sees buying non-organic cornmeal.
If your fist doesn’t just automatically rise into the air and start pumping when you hear the chorus to this song, then you obviously voted for McCain. In the next verse, The Nighwatchmen takes us even deeper into the rabbit-hole:
On the streets of Havana
I got hugged and kissed
At the Playboy Mansion
I wasn’t on the list
On the streets of Cape Town
Shit’s ready to blow
I don’t know how to get there
But I’m ready to go
In this piece, we see how the Nightwatchman Night-sees not only America, but other places, too. While we’re busy being sheeple and slaves to McNBC, he’s out there Night-Kissing sweet Havana poon and liberating their oppressed virginity. There is also a dire warning about the streets of Cape Town, and how the shit there is ready to blow. What does this mean, exactly? Well if you don’t know, he’s not going to tell you. He’s not the Night-Explainer, dip-shit. Also, figure out how to get to Cape Town, and then let him know. He doesn’t support Google because it isn’t locally owned, so Google Map that shit and get back to him, because he is fuckin’ ready to go. Also, he wasn’t invited to the playboy mansion, so… take that, Fascists. [Playboy note: Morello was invited, he just didn’t rsvp.]
There is so much more to say about this song and the rest of his catalog, but this will have to do for now. Tom, thank you, keep singing, keep fighting, keep..er…Nightwatching.
*Credit to Rory for help with conception and writing of this.