Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Nightwatchman


Now I know why Audioslave broke up.

When we were in Niagra Falls, I caught an interview on PBS with Tom Morello. He brought a nylon string acoustic guitar and played two protest songs. Although he had played these songs for years in smaller venues, they came as a complete surprise. I had seen Morello live with Audioslave and he never even sang back-up. His voice is a revelation and carries the right amount of sincerity for the material.

Now the album, "The Nightwatchman: One Man Revolution" is out. The title is a mouthful and the record label doesn't seem happy with the concept (marketing proclaims "Tom Morello IS the Nightwatchman") but the music is worth it. The thireteen tracks contain an outpouring of emotion that must have been bottled up for years. While Bush set to work destroying this country, the most outspoken guitarist of our generation was playing Chris Cornell's "all my friends are dead from heroin" songs. I loved Audioslave but I can't say they were ABOUT anything. This album is about EVERYTHING from the war to poor to the subtle racism that still faces a famous Harvard graduate.

But it's not simply preaching. It's musically sound. Morello channels Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Leonard Cohen in simple chords and elegant orchestration. There's no whammy pedal but there are pianos, organs, harmonies and percussion. Only Morello is credited in the liner notes which makes it the first truly solo album I know since Prince was in his heyday.

Listening to this album in its entirety, I found it an interesting touchstone on the way to the inevitable Rage Against the Machine reunion. But now I can't stop playing the album. It slowly gets into your soul until it becomes a part of it. And that is how you start a revolution. For those of you keeping score, Morello is now three times my hero.

Here's the video for "The Road I Must Travel":

1 comment:

dave said...

Thats awesome man. Thanks for posting that. I had no idea Morello released a solo album.