Dylan Covers No 10: Maggie's Farm - Rage Against the Machine
They do just what it says on the tin. That's what's so great about Rage Against the Machine. They rage against the machine. The establishment. And they're brilliant at it. They were the band that in 2000 led the invasion of the New York stock exchange while making the video for their song "Sleep Now in the Fire" directed by Michael Moore no less, caused the huge titanium anti-riot security doors to come crashing down locking them outside. Most of their work consists of driving heavy rock railing against social injustice and the dominance of corporate greed in the modern world.
So it's entirely appropriate that they cover a song by Dylan, the first "protest singer" to achieve world wide fame.
But Dylan's ditty from his 1965 album "Bringing It All Back Home" was never the clearest example of protest that he recorded. Was he complaining about how he was treated by his record company CBS, and the demands being made on him as his fan base increased? Or was he protesting the exploitative conditions of working class people in America? In the hands of "Rage Against The Machine" there can be no doubt that it is the latter, and even more so in the days when most Western economies depend on the migrant poor to harvest many of their their crops on minuscule wages and under conditions of near-slavery.
The song opens with an electric guitar pick that sounds like a police siren, followed by a heavy, driving riff redolent of simmering resentment bordering on revolution. Zak de la Rocha's words are uttered with poisonous hatred:
"no, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more well he puts his cigar out in your face just for kicks his bedroom window it is made out of bricks the National Guard stands around his door...."
He finishes by spitting out:
"....well I try my best to be just like I am but everybody wants you to be just like them they sing while they slave and just get bored I ain't gonna work on, nah, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more."
Then the heavy beat and fuzzed guitar wall stomps menacingly on, like an unstoppable invasion of worker zombies.
This isn't a mere protest. This is downing tools with violence.