It’s only about a year late, but Occupy Wall Street finally has a candidate for that anthem old media Baby Boomers spent last fall demanding. (No, sorry, the Third Eye Blind one still doesn’t count.) Tom Morello has joined forces with Rise Against’s Tim McIrath and Serj Tankian from System of a Down to record “We Are the 99%.” The track combines power riffs that will be very familiar to Rage Against the Machine fans, lyrical calls to action (“We were asleep before, but not anymore, so fight back”), and those odd quasi-cabaret interludes of which Tankian seems so fond, peppered with field recordings of Occupy protestors in Zuccotti Park.
Morello tells Rolling Stone that he noticed the movement has favored “earnest folk songs” and recorded “We Are the 99%” to provide it with a real rock anthem. As a gesture, it’s a generous one; the track will be available for free download tomorrow at Axis of Justice. Including the voices of real Occupiers is both a powerful choice and appropriate to the movement’s leaderless, grassroots structure. But as a piece of music, the track sounds just as earnest as those folk songs that came before it. It also sounds dated, circa Woodstock ’99. This doesn’t seem to be the 21st-century anthem Occupy has been waiting for, either. Stream “We Are the 99%” at Rolling Stone and let us know if you agree.