Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name" is one of those raw, powerful songs that just sticks in your head, pounding, driving, and staying with you for hours upon hours—the kind of song that hooks you from the opening riff 'til the last "Fuck You," and does so with heavy, vaguely funky power.
So, how do the guys behind Rage Against the Machine remember it? Spin Magazine checked in with them to find out, finding out about the story behind the song's birth to the infamous Woodstock '99 performance where an American flag was burned on stage.
Did the label ask that the song be censored at all?
[Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello]: There was a musical discussion. My memory is that they thought the part where the song kind of stops, that that stopped the flow of an otherwise rampaging rhino of a song. And we disagreed.
[Garth Richardson, producer]: Their A&R guy Michael Goldstone called me up. He wanted us to cut the song down in half. I was on the phone with him and he said, "Hey guys, he wants those out." And they went, "Fuck you." And then Michael said, "Fuck you," and they said, "Fuck you," and there was this huge war happening. So I said, "Michael, the part has to stay in. It's a great part." And he fought us on it. But you know what? He lost, which was really good.
Morello: Before Michael Goldstone is disparaged as some sort of a record-company shill, trying to commercialize the band: He's the one that suggested that be the first single without editing it for lyrical content. We were all like, "Really, you want the first single to be the one that says, 'Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me,' 16 times, plus a 'motherfucker'?" And he said, "Yes." We were like, "All right!"
You can find the rest of the interview at Spin. Check out the Woodstock '99 performance after the jump.