A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 248: Let Fury Have the Hour


“Let fury have the hour/ Anger can be power/ You know that you can use it” – The Clash, “Clampdown”

I may just be Middle-Aged Against the Machine but I greatly appreciate the role anger plays in creativity. When you think about it, our artistic endeavors are driven by all of our emotions. As humans, we are ashamed of some of those emotions or we push them far back for fear of what they might do to us or through us. Artists create dangerously because they explore those emotions and then have the guts to present them to the public. This opens them up for rejection, shaming, blaming and misunderstanding.

Anger is an emotion that can lead to destructive things but it is also an emotion that can lead to constructive things. It is a tricky one, that way. But when anger is left unvented or unexpressed it becomes truly dangerous. Then it festers into fear and self-loathing and depression and anxiety. Then anger can destroy the person it lingers in or someone in that person’s reach who may very well not deserve the fury that comes their way.

I, personally, am very grateful for the artists with the courage to give full vent to anger in their art. Because they do so, they provide healthier alternatives to the expression of that anger to those exposed to their art and, in many cases, promote a proactive way of dealing with the anger, either in promoting internal change for the better or external change for the better. I realize this is a slippery slope. Anger, as with all our human emotions, comes packed with all kinds of hidden trap doors. But it is clear to me that artists are there, for the most part, not to channel things like anger to drive us deeper into the abyss; artists present the anger and give us a way to vent it in order to drive us towards the light.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge this isn’t for everyone. But perhaps we’d all benefit from escaping civility and “niceness” now and again to tap into the power of anger. I know I’ve appreciated how cleansing it can feel to put on some Rage Against the Machine when I look at my world. The next step is the change that is needed, in me and in the world around me, and if I’m willing and if I have the courage to take that step. Anger can be power. Used correctly it can also be very healthy.

Here is a video of a live performance of “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine from 1993. It is raw and crackling with energy, both on the stage and in the crowd. Warning: This is not the radio-friendly version of this song. If you are offended by repeated F-bombs, do not watch. But if you are, you may want to ask yourself why you are offended by that and not by the behavior of the powers that be, or the abuses done to powerless people all over the world by the powerful. It is stunning to me how we’ll go to great lengths to keep out profanity but allow such profane behavior to continue, especially by those with the money and the authority, with no resistance.

That’s my spiel. Here’s RATM:

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 164: Let Fury Have the Hour


“Kick over the wall/ Cause governments to fall/ How could you refuse it?/ Let fury have the hour/ Anger can be power/ You know that you can use it”

It is the Clash’s “rage against the machine”, simply put, and may be one of their greatest songs. I heard it on the radio as I was driving around a couple of days ago. If you know me at all, you know the Clash is pretty much the soundtrack that runs in my brain 24/7. When a station actually plays something beyond the usual three or four Clash tracks on rotation I sit up and take notice. “Clampdown” is full of wonderful Joe Strummer lyrical moments like “In these days of evil presidentes/ Working for the clampdown/ Lately one or two has fully paid their dues/ Working for the clampdown”. It is a song at the soul of punk in so many ways.

The live performance of this song is maybe the best example of the power of this band when they were called “The Only Band that Matters”, before typical rock band pettiness crept in and blew the group apart. This isn’t awesome because of the stellar musicianship. This is awesome because of the power, conviction, energy and, yes, fury that can be communicated by four guys with the Drive.  Here is that video. If you don’t understand the lyrics, as Joe once said, “Don’t worry. You’re not alone.” However, I have printed them below just to be helpful. You’re welcome.

HA! Gitalong! Gitalong!!

What are we gonna do now?

Taking off his turban, they said, is this man a Jew?
‘Cause they’re working for the clampdown
They put up a poster saying we earn more than you!
When we’re working for the clampdown
We will teach our twisted speech
To the young believers
We will train our blue-eyed men
To be young believers

The judge said five to ten-but I say double that again
I’m not working for the clampdown
No man born with a living soul
Can be working for the clampdown
Kick over the wall ’cause government’s to fall
How can you refuse it?
Let fury have the hour, anger can be power
D’you know that you can use it?

The voices in your head are calling
Stop wasting your time, there’s nothing coming
Only a fool would think someone could save you
The men at the factory are old and cunning
You don’t owe nothing, so boy get runnin’
It’s the best years of your life they want to steal

You grow up and you calm down
You’re working for the clampdown
You start wearing the blue and brown
You’re working for the clampdown
So you got someone to boss around
It makes you feel big now
You drift until you brutalize
Make your first kill now

In these days of evil Presidentes
Working for the clampdown
But lately one or two has fully paid their due
For working for the clampdown
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong! (working for the clampdown)
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong! (working for the clampdown)

Yeah I’m working in Harrisburg
Working hard in Petersburg (working for the clampdown, working for the clampdown)
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong!
Beggin’ to be melted down

And I’ll give away no secrets

Written by Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group