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Saul Williams Stays on Message During Supercharged Set

August 3, 2008 11:40 PM ET

"We on stage know that race is a social construct and we can go beyond it. So you can you!" No, those words didn't come from the mouth of Barack Obama but of Saul Williams, whose side stage performance attracted a path-blocking throng of onlookers. And Williams thrilled with a mix of industrial gristle, glam-rock theatrics, bristling hip-hop and poetic free-styling that was as hybrid-fused as his philosophies. Here was revolutionary music absent nostalgic shackles. Genre-bending songs such as "Niggy Tardust," "WTF!" and "Black Stacey" were simultaneously angry and provocative, while Williams and his mates' homemade costumes ensured that humor played just as much of a part in the festivities as fury.

More Lollapalooza Coverage: Rock 'N' Roll Diary

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »
 
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