in front of the Occupy Wall Street masses this morning at NYC's Liberty
Plaza. "This is crazy out here," he said, smiling. The Rage Against the
Machine guitarist went on to perform a four-song set for hundreds of
onlookers, including a poignant, protester-fueled rendition of Woody
Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land."
Before the performance, however, Morello addressed the
crowd - whom he called "friends." He introduced himself as the
Nightwatchman, his folk alter-ego, and spoke directly to the attentive
and excited members of the Occupy Wall Street movement: "First, they
ignored you - then you got pepper-sprayed." But he didn't stop there.
Morello led the crowd in a charged chant: "I know in my heart, all hell
can't stop us now." And then, repeatedly, "All hell can't stop us now!"
Then the music started. Morello began with a rendition
of "The Fabled City," the title track from his second Nightwatchman
album. While encouraging the protesters to clap their hands, Morello
crooned, "I've seen the fabled city, its streets are paved with gold.
But an iron fence runs 'round it and its iron gate is closed." Then Carl
Restive, guitarist of the Nightwatchman's band The Freedom Fighters
Orchestra, joined Morello for "Save The Hammer For The Man." The two
sang together among the protesters, working off their energy. On "This
Land Is Your Land," Morello told the crowd that despite the
circumstances, they were "gonna have a good mother f**kin' time," and as
he sang, he jumped - and so did everybody else. The entire mass of
protesters bounced up and down, proclaiming, "This land was made for you
To cap everything off, Morello taught his "World Wide
Rebel Songs" to the crowd and together, among fists and American Flags
raised by the hands of protestors, they sang: "World wide rebel songs,
sing out loud all night long, hang on man it won't be long, world wide
rebel songs." He then left the stage with one message to Occupy Wall
Street: "Take it easy, but take it."
In a cab after his performance, a sweaty Morello -
sporting a his own version of a Nike shirt that read "Class War, Just Do
It" with a swoosh - told Rolling Stone, "The Nightwatchman was
born for days like this. This is something people feel a part of. I
don't know why this is different. Cause certainly that discontent is
always there, but this expresses it in a way that feels very inclusive
in the 99 percent slogan is a great one and an accurate one. It's the
Additional reporting by Patrick Doyle.
- Watch Tom Morello Rock as the Nightwatchman at Rolling Stone
- The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: Tom Morello
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Photo by Griffin Lotz for RollingStone.com
- Tom Morello