Sleep Now in the Fire

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"Sleep Now in the Fire"
Rage against the machine sleep now in the fire.jpg
Single by Rage Against the Machine
from the album The Battle of Los Angeles
ReleasedNovember 4, 1999
FormatCD, 7", 12"
GenreRap rock[1]
Songwriter(s)Tim Commerford, Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk
Producer(s)Brendan O'Brien
Rage Against the Machine singles chronology
"Guerrilla Radio"
"Sleep Now in the Fire"
Limited Edition Part 2 (UK)

"Sleep Now in the Fire" is a song by American rock band Rage Against the Machine from their 1999 album The Battle of Los Angeles. It was released as a single in 1999. The song contains lyrics about greed, such as the conquest of Native Americans, Christopher Columbus' voyage by Niña, the Pinta, and Santa Maria and U.S. slavery in the 19th century as well as equally vitriolic criticism of actions taken by the U.S. government in wartime, including the bombing of Hiroshima and the use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.

Guitarist Tom Morello's solo is also notable as he simply uses feedback from the amp, along with using his whammy bar to adjust the pitch of the feedback. By flicking his toggle switch on and off, he is able to create the high-pitched solo.

At the end of the song, a short sample of Korean artist Uhm Jung-hwa's 1998 song "Poison" can be heard - it was accidentally captured from a local Korean radio station broadcast through Morello's amplifier.[2]

This song is featured in the EA skateboarding video game Skate 2, and in the 2003 movie Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

Live performances[edit]

Sleep Now in the Fire made its live debut on September 11, 1999, at the Oxford Zodiac in England.

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.

After Audioslave broke up in 2007, Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman played a brief teaser riff consisting of the opening guitar riff and drumbeat after finishing a cover of American Band on the Fabled City tour.

On the 1999 DVD "The Battle of Mexico City", Zack de la Rocha changes the lyrics in the second chorus singing "Snuffed out in the fire, Sleep now in the fire", instead of "The cost of my desire, Sleep now in the fire."

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song, which was directed by Michael Moore with cinematography by Welles Hackett, features the band playing in front of the New York Stock Exchange, intercut with scenes from a satire of the popular television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? which is named Who Wants to Be Filthy F#&%ing Rich. Quoted at the end of the song is Republican politician Gary Bauer stating that, "a band called 'The Machine Rages On' - er - 'Rage Against the Machine', that band is anti-family and it's pro-terrorist", following an incident outside of fellow Republican Alan Keyes' 2000 primary campaign town hall event, where Keyes jumped into a mosh pit formed while Rage Against the Machine was playing.[3] Actor Garrett Wang is briefly seen in the video enjoying the music.

The shoot for the music video on January 26, 2000, caused the doors of the New York Stock Exchange to be closed. The production had attracted several hundred people, according to a representative for the city’s Deputy Commissioner for Public Information.[4] New York City's film office does not allow weekday film shoots on Wall Street. Moore had permission to use the steps of Federal Hall National Memorial but did not have a permit to shoot on the sidewalk or the street, nor did he have a loud-noise permit or the proper parking permits.[5] "Michael basically gave us one directorial instruction, 'No matter what happens, don't stop playing,'" Tom Morello recalls. When the band left the steps, NYPD apprehended Moore and led him away. Moore yelled to the band, "Take the New York Stock Exchange!"[6] In an interview with the Socialist Worker, Morello said he and scores of others ran into the Stock Exchange. "About two hundred of us got through the first set of doors, but our charge was stopped when the Stock Exchange's titanium riot doors came crashing down."[7]

"We decided to shoot this video in the belly of the beast", said Moore, who was detained by police for an hour and threatened with arrest during the shooting of the video, as Moore had a permit to film on the steps of City Hall but not in the surrounding street.[8] The band was escorted from the site by security, after band members attempted to gain entry into the Exchange.

The video was nominated at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Rock Video but lost to Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff", causing the infamous incident where bassist Tim Commerford climbed a large piece of the award show set.

During the 2016 Election, the video was noted for its inclusion of a shot of a man holding a "Donald J Trump for President" placard, referencing to Trump's 2000 presidential campaign.[9]

Track listing[edit]

Sleep Now in the Fire (EP) (import)
  1. "Sleep Now in the Fire"
  2. "Guerrilla Radio" (Live Version)
  3. "Sleep Now in the Fire" (Live Version)
  4. "Bulls on Parade" (Live Version)
  5. "Freedom" (Live Version)
"Sleep Now in the Fire" (single) (import)
  1. "Sleep Now in the Fire"
  2. "Bulls on Parade" (Live Version)
  3. "Freedom" (Live Version)
  4. "Sleep Now in the Fire" (Live Version)
"Sleep Now in the Fire", Limited Edition Part 1 (UK)
  1. "Sleep Now in the Fire"
  2. "Bulls on Parade" (Live Version)
  3. "Sleep Now in the Fire" (Live Version)


  1. "Sleep Now in the Fire"
  2. "Guerrilla Radio" (Live Version)
  3. "Bulls on Parade" (Live Version)
  4. "Freedom" (Live Version)
  5. "Sleep Now in the Fire" (Live Version)
"Sleep Now in the Fire", Limited Edition Part 2 (UK)
  1. "Sleep Now in the Fire"
  2. "Guerrilla Radio" (Live Version)
  3. "Freedom" (Live Version)
  4. "Sleep Now in the Fire" (Multimedia Video)


Chart (1999-2000) Peak
Billboard Hot 100 Airplay (US) 62[citation needed]
US Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 26[citation needed]
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 43[citation needed]


  1. ^ "10 Rap-Rock Songs We Pretend We Don't Know All The Words To". October 25, 2017. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  2. ^ Radical Shriek by Tom Morello, Guitar World, May 2000
  3. ^ Fun_People Archive - 28 Jan - How They Got Alan Keyes to Dive Into Their Mosh Pit
  4. ^ "Rage Against The Machine Shoots New Video With Michael Moore". MTV News. January 28, 2000. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  5. ^ Shone, Mark (May 1, 2000). "Bullsh*t on Parade: Rage Against The Machine and Michael Moore Battle New York Cops". SPIN. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  6. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (2011). 33 Revolutions Per Minute. Faber & Faber.
  7. ^ Devenish, Colin (2001). Rage Against the Machine. Macmillan.
  8. ^ Lynskey, Dorian. "33 Revolutions Per Minute, A History of Protest Songs, From Billie Holiday to Green Day" 2011. Ecco:New York. P. 489.
  9. ^ "US elections 2016: How the entertainment world predicted a Trump presidency". BBC News. November 10, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.

External links[edit]