While he’s been in the news more lately for helping turn Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name into a UK Christmas hit, Tom Morello also released two soul-filled covers this month to benefit Amnesty International. Live at Lime with Tom Morello, his versions of Human (by The Killers) and Joe Hill are available at the LimeWire Store.
The lyrics for Human seem especially appropriate for Amnesty International.
Are we human, or are we dancing?
My sign is vital. My hands are cold.
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer.
Are we human, or are we dancing?
In the video above, Tom talks about why he supports Amnesty International. He talks about realizing that Amnesty was real, grassroots activism on an international scale while watching the Human Rights Now Tour on tv in the 80’s.
At it’s heart, Amnesty is organized around the idea of asking people around the world writing, calling, and as technologies evolved, faxing and using the internet, all to ask for things like justice, freedom, fair trials and/or the end of torture for human rights victims around the world. We’re also organized around local and student groups, reaching out into our communities and/or schools with tabling, events like films and lectures, rallies and legislative work.
As Tom also notes, Amnesty takes the moral high ground, starting from our roots back during the cold war era. Amnesty International calls all countries into accountability for human rights, not just one side or another along some idealogical divide.
Poverty, which Tom would like to see us do more work on, is one of the issues we’re going to be taking on with the Demand Dignity campaign. Admittedly, it’s been a bit slower rolling out and getting us literature and actions than I’d like, although I suspect that has a lot to do with budget and staff cut backs in this economy.
Here’s a video of Tom sound-checking the title track to his album, The Fabled City, which is also available on LimeWire.
I’m not going to say too much about Rage Against the Machine’s UK Christmas song win. Granted, Killing in the Name isn’t exactly a Christmas song, then again neither are the manufactured pop hits that the UK’s X Factor evidently feed the public each year. according the Guardian article, Killing in the Name sold 500,000 copies last week, as compared to 50,000 for The Climb, Joe McElderry’s cover of a Miley Cirus song.
I don’t know anything about the X Factor, but given Simon Cowell’s involvement, I’m assuming it’s along the lines with American Idol, a show that’s never impressed me (and one that, thankfully, we apparently don’t have to worry about Rage Against the Machine selling out and guesting on). I saw it once, and it seems to be people singing covers and people voting on them. Not that some of them don’t have good voices, although it all seems kind of bland to me. It’s just that there are so many talented musicians playing for peanuts at bars and coffee houses, in cities like Seattle and towns across America. Singers and musicians paying their dues, working on their craft, and often writing their own songs. Why not a tv show showcasing some of them instead of this glorified karoke?
In any case, with a parental (or easily offended) advisory warning, I give you Rage Against the Machine’s BBC interview and live playing of Killing in the Name. I was thinking, wow, they left off the chorus for the British equivalent of the FCC. Well, until the end (and to give her credit, the censor lady was quick, too)!
The Guardian article reports that Rage Against the Machine is giving all profits for the single to the homeless charity Shelter, who say on their website that £50,000 has been raised so far. Awesome!
Meanwhile, check out Tom’s tracks for Amnesty International at: