Bulls on Parade

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"Bulls on Parade"
Single by Rage Against the Machine
from the album Evil Empire
Released 9 February 1996
Format CD, 7", 12"
Genre Rap metal, funk metal, alternative metal
Length 3:51
Producer(s) Brendan O'Brien, Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine singles chronology
"Year of tha Boomerang"
(1994)
"Bulls on Parade"
(1996)
"People of the Sun"
(1996)
Alternative cover

[original research?]

"Bulls on Parade" is a song released by American rap metal band Rage Against the Machine in 1996, and can be found on their 2nd album, Evil Empire.

Context[edit]

[original research?]

"Bulls on Parade" addresses a supposed American military–industrial complex, a situation in which industry (the arms industry, primarily) urges government to take military action, with the intent of obtaining military contracts, to thereby increase its revenue. The idiom "Bulls on Parade" refers to a bull market. The symbol may also mean the muscularity of American responses to complex problems, acting more like bulls showing off with violence rather than pursuing diplomatic means. Also the verse, "They rally around the family, with a pocket full of shells" could refer to the composer's belief that American politicians in both parties represent the family as an integral part of their policies, but in actuality they use this as a "scarecrow" tactic because they really have pockets full of ammo ("shells") catering to the military-industrial complex. The bull also may refer to the war-hawk tendencies of the republican party, symbol being the elephant, and a male elephant is called a bull.

The verse in the song, "Weapons not food, not homes, not shoes, not need, just feed the war cannibal animal", refers to the military-industrial complex and to the war economy. Another verse, "They don't gotta burn tha books they just remove 'em" is an example of literary reference, alluding to Fahrenheit 451 and its author, Ray Bradbury's famous quote, "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture, just get people to stop reading them.", and "while arms warehouses fill as quick as tha cells" referring to prison overcrowding. With the words "Terror rains drenchin', quenchin' tha thirst of tha power don," the song suggests that fear of terrorism is used to manipulate the American population into supporting military action. The phrase “the terror rains” serves a double meaning, suggesting that “the terror” by the government literally reigns.

The song is widely known for its popular guitar solo containing a vinyl scratch effect used by Tom Morello, done by toggling between two pickups - one on and one off - while rubbing his hands on the strings over the pickups to create the effect that someone is scratching a vinyl disc. "Bulls on Parade" is also known for one of Tim Commerford's more famous bass solos, during the second wah-wah riff, and right before Morello's guitar solo. Morello has also stated that the sound he was going for was a "sort of 'ghetto boy' sound, menacing"[1] with E♭ tuning and a wah-wah pedal to create a Los Angeles gangland-style riff.

Live performances[edit]

"Bulls on Parade" made its live debut on January 25, 1996 at the Big Day Out festival in Sydney, Australia. The track then made its international debut on Saturday Night Live in April 1996. RATM was going to play two songs, but as they hung inverted American flags from their amplifiers, they were expelled from the building after finishing the first song.[2]

At various shows, the band has dedicated the song to Tony Blair.

After breaking up in late 2000, the three instrumentalists formed the band Audioslave with vocalist Chris Cornell. During their 2005 Out of Exile tour, the band played an instrumental version of "Bulls on Parade", followed immediately by "Sleep Now in the Fire" with Chris Cornell.

The song was covered at the 2009 Electric Proms by UK Grime artist, Dizzee Rascal.

When first recorded in the studio, the E string on the bass was originally tuned down a half step, but during live performances is played in standard tuning.

Music video[edit]

The video for "Bulls on Parade", directed by Peter Christopherson and produced by Fiz Oliver at Squeak Pictures, premiered on MTV's 120 Minutes on April 14, 1996. On July 31, 1996 it was nominated for Best Hard Rock Video in the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards.

The video contains footage from the Sydney Big Day Out (January 25, 1996) and their side show at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney (January 27, 1996). Throughout the video shots of young people protesting in the streets with political signs, military drills, flags, and other similar images are montaged together. An antique-style film is used which promotes scratches, dust and film grain. Several scenes show people wrapping Evil Empire banners on walls, telephone posts and posting up other propaganda posters designed by Barbara Kruger. There is a scene where a character wearing a black "Libertyville" jacket with a baseball cap is painted by the renowned Phantom Street Artist Joey Krebs who paints his iconoclastic figures on city walls. This is the actual portrait created by the street artist of Tom Morello himself. Various lyrics are flashed on top of these scenes in a scrawled sort of chicken-scratch throughout.

Accolades[edit]

The song was voted number 15 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs. The song came in 46th place on the Triple J Hottest 100, 1996. The song came in at 89th place on the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time in 2009. Its solo is also ranked 23° on Guitar World's 100 Greatest Solos list published in 2009.

In other media[edit]

  • It is featured in 1998 documentary film Free Tibet.
  • It is featured in 2001 documentary film Last Party 2000.
  • Master track is downloadable content for the Rock Band video game series.
  • Master track is featured in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock where is unlocked after beating Tom Morello in a guitar battle.
  • It is the theme song for the defense of the NFL's Houston Texans. The song has been officially endorsed by Texans LB Connor Barwin.[3]
  • The San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League use it for their opening song when the starting players are go on the ice before the start of the first period.
  • The instrumental was used in 2011 for the song "Hampede" by rapper inZanity, featured on The 9-5 EP.
  • Part of the lyrics are in Australian metalcore band House Vs. Hurricane's song 40 Deep, where the line "Rally around the family [with] a pocket full of shells" is used.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Bulls on Parade"
  2. "Hadda Be Playing on a Jukebox" (Live)[4]

Charts[edit]

Charts
(1996)
Peak position[5]
Australian Singles Chart 29
Canadian Alternative 30 3
Dutch Singles Chart 46
French Singles Chart 27
New Zealand Singles Chart 22
Norwegian Singles Chart 4
Swedish Singles Chart 9
Mainstream Rock Tracks 36
Modern Rock Tracks (US) 11
Billboard Hot 100 Airplay (US) 62
Official UK Top 40 8

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyxKJLgfT7A
  2. ^ Anon., Saturday Night Live Incident, Public release and distribution. Retrieved November 12, 2007.
  3. ^ http://blog.houstontexans.com/2011/12/04/bulls-on-parade-a-nickname-is-born/
  4. ^ Allen Ginsberg poem - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadda_Be_Playing_on_the_Jukebox
  5. ^ Australian, Dutch, French, New Zealander, Norwegian and Swedish Singles Charts Lescharts.com(Retrieved December 26, 2007)

External links[edit]