Killing in the Name (5:13)

Cover of Rage Against the Machine

From Rage Against the Machine and 107 other releases

“Killing in the Name” was the first single released by band Rage Against the Machine from their self-titled album, and is arguably the band’s signature song. On 31 August 1999, it was reissued together with one previously unreleased track, “Darkness of Greed” the track “Clear the Lane” originally released on a white only pressing at the time of first release on the b-side to ‘killing in the name’. The album’s cover pictured Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, burning himself to death in Saigon in 1963 in protest of the murder of Buddhists by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm’s regime.

Live performances

Zack de la Rocha sometimes changes the lyrics in the second verse from “Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses” to “Some of those that burn crosses are the same that hold office” when playing live. It is also sometimes changed to “Some of those that work forces are the same that burn churches”.

Critical reception

“Killing in the Name” was placed at number 89 on “100 Greatest Guitar Solos”, a poll made by Guitar World. Q magazine placed “Killing in the Name” at number 24 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks and at number 99 in its list of the 100 greatest songs ever.

The song earned its notoriety in the United Kingdom when its BBC Radio 1 DJ, Bruno Brookes, played the uncensored version of the song on his Top 40 countdown, leading to 138 complaints. This moment of infamy has since been consistently referenced by numerous British rock media.

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