.

Tom Morello Gets Fired Up at Chicago Nurses Rally

'Our victory is that we're standing here today,' says guitarist

May 18, 2012 7:05 PM ET
morello chicago
Tom Morello perfoms at the National Nurses Union rally in Chicago.
James Currie

"I'd like to make a suggestion to President Obama, " Tom Morello bellowed to the capacity crowd gathered for the National Nurses United rally at Chicago's Daley Plaza on Friday afternoon. "If he doesn't have the courage to close Guantanamo Bay, how about he takes some of those Wall Street criminals? Throw them in there, lock the door, throw away the key and blast Rage Against the Machine 24 hours a day!"

As he has previously done at several Occupy Wall Street rallies, Morello played a short set of protest anthems under the guise of his alter ego, the Nightwatchman. The crowd consisted largely of Occupy Chicago supporters and nurses wearing red scrubs and green "Robin Hood" hats, in a nod to the Robin Hood tax that would essentially tax financial institutions a minimal percentage for transactions. The rally was originally supposed to coincide with the G8 summit in Chicago this week, but it was rescheduled around this weekend's NATO conference after the summit was moved to Camp David.

Morello opened with "One Man Revolution," the title track off the Nightwatchman's 2007 debut LP. Clutching his guitar emblazoned with the words "Whatever It Takes," he told the crowd how proud he was of the nurses' resilience when Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, had temporarily plugged the plug on the rally. "They looked the mayor dead in the eye and they said, in the words of the old 1990 spiritual, 'Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!'" Morello exclaimed.

Following a rendition of his appropriately-titled "Union Song" – during which he praised "the union men and women standing strong" and slipped in the line, "like the nurses in Chicago" – Morello invited fellow Chicagoan and Rise Against lead singer Tim McIlrath onstage for a searing rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "The Ghost of Tom Joad."

The rally was just the start to Morello's busy weekend in Chicago; in addition to the Nurses rally, he'll play the Woody Guthrie centennial celebration on Saturday and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Against the War rally the following day. Backstage before Friday's performance, Morello deemed his first event a success, if only for that fact that it happened at all.

"Our victory is that we're standing here today," Morello told Rolling Stone, although he expressed disappointment over the relocation of the G8 summit. "They ran away like little lambs because they were afraid of the reception that Chicago was going to give them. Who else is not welcome in Chicago? NATO. They had to call in the National Guard and bus in police from three adjoining states to protect their conference from the people of Chicago."

Gregg Alexander, frontman of the New Radicals, was also on hand to show his support for the non-profit group Health Gap. He told Rolling Stone that he sees the Robin Hood tax as a solution to the country's current economic crisis. "The Robin Hood Tax can be the crucial and only pivotal change that will not only be a Band-Aid, but something that causes systemic change," Alexander said. "My message to the artistic community would be, 'Don't pay attention to Band-Aids. Let's not do things that look like Gap commercials for trendy PSAs. Let's make Wall Street and the corrupt monsters live up to their word.'"

After a crowd-participatory version of "This Land Is Your Land," Morello invited the masses to join him onstage for "World Wide Rebel Songs." But when security temporarily prevented the audience from joining him, Morello had one final biting set of instructions: "Everything has been going so smoothly up until now," he said. "So let those fucking people up here, or there's gonna be a problem!"

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Promiscuous”

Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com