1001 Songs Challenge #769: Killing in the Name (1992)
On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name (1992)
Killing in the Name – Wikipedia
” Killing in the Name” is a protest song by American rock band Rage Against the Machine, featured on their self-titled debut album, and was released as the lead single from the album in November 1992.
We’re leaving the UK and making our way over to the US today, dear reader. We find ourselves in Los Angeles, California for something very special. Rage Against the Machine were formed in 1991 and dabbled in rock, metal and rap, so a variety of things really. We join them in 1992 with the release of their self-titled debut album and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Killing in the Name.
This angry track has only a handful of lyrics that are repeated but the message comes through quite clearly. The song seems to concern white supremacy in the US police force and is notable for a lyric that states the same people that work the streets as cops are the ones who gather at night and set crucifixes on fire. This is a clear reference to the Ku Klux Klan. The song also states that the deaths of people at the hands of the police are justified and that wearing that badge gives one enormous privilege in society. The song sounds gritty throughout with sinister vocals, a clear protestation oozing from the melody.
Vulgar in places and notable for heavy guitar and bass that build the track up, Killing in the Name is considered to be Rage Against the Machine’s masterpiece and radio play ensured their opening album was well received. The group disbanded in 2000 due to creative differences but reunited in 2007. In 2009 Killing in the Name was chosen in the UK for a fan campaign to have something other than an X-Factor song as the Christmas no.1. The campaign was a success and this angry protest track did indeed sit atop the UK charts while families and friends tucked into their festive dinner. Awesome.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)
The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? (1984)
Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)