Rage Retrospective Part 1: Maggie’s Farm

Good evening folks. Tonight I’m going to try a piece I’ve been toying with for a while. The basis is this: In the year 2000, Rage Against the Machine released their final album before their breakup. The album was “Renegades” and consisted of 12 covers from artists spanning all genres, from hip-hop to country.

The goal of this series of posts is to showcases both the original songs, as some of you (myself included) may not have known about the original creators of the tracks before they were Rage-ified.

I’m going to start with one of my personal favorites from “Renegades”, a track originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan. The track in question is “Maggie’s Farm” and has been in my playlist rotation since I had a playlist rotation.

So let’s get started with the original shall we?

I’ll be honest here, I don’t know shit when it comes to Bob Dylan. I’ve rarely listened to his music and as such can make no statements comparing this to his other work, or the work of other artists for that matter. This is probably the only song of his that I’ve listened to in it’s entirety and I’m still not sure on where I stand with it.

On one hand I dig what’s going on. The loose folk jangle music, simple guitars and screeching harmonica overlaid by the now unmistakable Dylan drawl. I understand the appeal his music has but at the same time it doesn’t really click with me. I like it but I don’t love it, something that will have to be investigated further with more listening sessions.

Now onto the cover.

My situation with Rage is the polar opposite of Dylan. Rage Against the Machine have been hugely influential in the music I listened to as I grew up. They were one of the first bands to introduce me to heavy music and to this day hold a special little spot in my cranium.

All my fangirl gushing aside, I do prefer the cover to the original (Suprised?). While Dylan has an almost apathetic drawl, there’s no questioning the venom in Zach de la Rocha, and there’s certainty no questioning the bedrock groove conjured by the rest of the band. In the most frat-boy way possible, the outro on this song goes hard as fuck.

One other thing I’d like to mention is the lyrical interpretation both songs can incur. While the original Dylan song was theorized to have been written as a protest against the folk-rock protest movement that Dylan has gotten swept up, it doesn’t exactly apply to the cover.

The other interpretation of the original was one of a straightforward political song, a flavor that can heard throughout the lyrics. It seems a fairly obvious match then, considering the socio-political nature of Rage’s entire career.

So that’s that. I’ll be doing these posts randomly as the mood strikes me. Let me know what you thought or what you’d like to see, mainly so it doesn’t seem like I’m writing blog posts to the universe.

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10 thoughts on “Rage Retrospective Part 1: Maggie’s Farm”

  1. This is a great idea. I was completely unaware where this song came from. I do think that it is interesting, being about 10 years older, how i remember this album, and to a lesser extent, Rage. I heard the first two Rage albums when they were released and the blew my mind and all that poetic shit.

    By the time this came out in 2000, it felt to me like an aging band throwing together some covers or a greatest hits album to try and stay relevant. Oh, I still bought it, but it wasn’t with the same fervor as with the other music i was listening to at the time. It never really got the steady rotation on my cd player that it probably deserved.

    Perhaps the fanboy in me is showing, but i didn’t think Del La Rocha sounds that good here, just kinda OK… but the rest of RAGE fuckin destroys. I would listen to those 3 guys play anything.

    Tim

    1. Looking back on their music now, I totally get what your saying in terms of the instrumentation has always remained rock-solid but you could hear the vocals waning. That being said, when I first fell in love with them I was hardly the jaded listener I am now, meaning I was a lot more receptive to any of their sounds. If that made any sense.

  2. Hi there.
    I love this song, both the original and the cover. And I love one particular Dylan live version of it which I think was well known by the RATM: that from “Hard Rain” (1976), which I can’t be able to find anywhere on the web. I think it’s kind of a bridge between the two.

  3. Ok first- I straight up hate Bob Dylan’s voice. And this song in particular is the second-worst he ever did. (The worst was “All I Really Wanna Do”, which was redone horridly by Cher, and STILL sounded better than the original.)

    From before I was born, through the first ten or so years of my life, my parents had a dog named Maggie. I remember asking my mom one day (I think Rod Stewart’s “Maggie Mae” came on the radio) if that’s where her name came from. She told me they did get the name from a song, but not that song. She said it was actually “Maggie’s Farm”.

    So some other time, digging through the parents’ records (as I used to do all the time) I came across this song on one of their Dylan albums (of which they had several). I remember — even at age eight or nine or whatever — thinking, “Really?? You thought this song was so good you named our dog after it? THIS song??”

    ***

    As for the Rage ‘cover’ — yes, it sounds better, but I don’t know if it really adds much. There wasn’t all that much for them to work with, anyway. I’ve always sort of been amused at the concept behind their ‘covers’ album anyway. For the first few albums, it seemed like de la Rocha had only written about four lines of lyric for each song, and then stretched them out over three to four minutes. But somehow, after three, even that was too much to be bothered doing. So the band had written a bunch of new songs, and he lifted lyrics from other people’s songs — marketing them as “reinterpretations” or “reinventions” rather than straight “covers”. Some of them work, but most seem to fall short of the mark. A couple years later, A Perfect Circle did the same thing, (even with a similar theme of protest songs) and, in my opinion, were much more successful at it.

    1. Well at least it was a more interesting name than your average dog cliche like Snuffles, or in the case of a farmer I know, Stupid.

      That’s an interesting side, one I’ve been starting to see more and more as I’ve been getting older. It seems like all the issues that Rage ever had stemmed from Zach, as he’s the one that broke the band up with everyone else leaving to form Audioslave. I haven’t really heard much of A Perfect Circle, I’ll have to give it a look-see.

      1. That particular album was called eMotive, and was reinterpretations (like the RATM covers, they used the same lyrics, but totally new music) of songs that were generally anti-war in nature (or, songs where the new versions took them in that direction).

        Also generally a lot darker and moodier than the originals were, so in that respect it was a bit different than Renegades.

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