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Testify by Rage Against the Machine

Album: The Battle Of Los AngelesReleased: 1999
  • This song is about misrepresentation of world events by the US media. News anchors relay lies into the homes of Americans because that's all the Americans, being empty people whose only concerns are the media's showcase of glamour and gossip, can handle. The only way for people to survive is through the opiates that they partake of every day in the form of celebrities and media. It uses the party slogan for the Oceania government in the book 1984: "Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past."
  • Some lyrical analysis:
    "We found your weakness and it's right outside your door, now testify" - In the first part, Zack is trying to be coy about saying what he thinks the government's weakness really is. So think about it this way, what's right outside your door? The world and all the people in it. And if all those people would come together, what powerful tool of revolution we would be?
    "Mass graves for the pump and the price is set" - For the mass graves part, Zack is referring to oil. In the middle eastern countries, the battle is for oil, and how that's the real cause for America's involvement over there. We want our oil supply safe, so we try to be a mediator and police officer for those countries. Mass graves? People in war die. That's what it's all about - so basically, there's all this fighting that we participate in to secure oil. You "pump" gas, and the price constantly goes up and down with middle eastern crises.
    "Who controls the past now controls the future
    Who controls the present now controls the past
    Who controls the past now controls the future
    Who controls the present now?" - In the last part, Zack is saying that whoever is in charge now, is still, has been, and always will be, in charge. Then he asks who's controlling everything now. Almost asking if we really want it this way, or if we're going to do something to change it. (thanks, Tim - Pittsburgh, PA, for all above)
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Comments: 17

i dunno if associating with corporations and corporate record labels is necessarily a bad thing,like corporations are alot of things such as a sport and stuff like that and just cos its a corporation dont make it bad,every band is a corporation,they're selling you something you like and enjoyBrendan - Dublin, Ireland
Lyrically, this song is where RATM impugns you, the listener. You have to get the syntax of the poetry right, I think, and see who they're addressing. The first verse is pretty direct, where "me" is really us, the watcher of US news reports, and how we want it "bloodless" and calm. The last four lines of this verse, the pre-chorus, introduces us to what's right outside, on the corner - the jury, which is the real world and real world events. Our weakness is that it is right in front of us, close to consuming us, like it or not. Someone on here asked, what are we supposed to testify to? Answer: we're going to have to explain our inaction and our reasons for hiding from what's going on. This is like when people "testify" in church services - they lay bare their indiscretions and say how they've found their way. Second verse, same message - but introduces the "gushing pipeline," oil, which ties into the bridge, about pump prices being set as mass graves are dug for those who die for oil (the events we don't like to really look at). The second part of the chorus was already pointed out as a mantra from Orwell's 1984, an inescapable dystopia (which I assume RATM thinks we're headed towards). All in all, the verses tie out well with the chorus and the bridge - that we strive to be well insulated from the events that are caused by the actions we take as a nation to keep our standard of living. Pretty insidious, from RATM's perspective.Scott - Dc, Wa
"Now Testify"

What is it we are supposed to testify to? This statement is not immediately clear to me.
Anonymous - Edmonton, Ab
My favourtie song Tom Morello is thebest guitarist ever

My favourite song!! America you guys make bad choices!
Dylan - Toronto, On
Love this song. s--t i'm in the military and I support em'.Aaron - Seattle, Wa
i agree with most of you, also note that this song makes a reference to a lack of choice in the 2000 election, because all politicos are the same
watch the music video
Ryan - Oceanside , Ca
tat, austin, TX

hes not talking bout the last line... he says
WE FOUND YOUR WEAKNESS, AND IT'S RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR
many times...
Justin - Portland, Or
"Who controls the past now controls the future..." is all a direct quote from the novel 1984 by George Orwell. Also, Frank from Hickville, it's been estimated that the amount of oil in Alaska would be enough to supply America for 3 months (although that would supply any other country for probably closer to 3 decades).Johnson - Bg, Nj
your actually wrong Raoul Duke. I know the newspaper makes since and all but the last line of the song is " the war is right outside your door"Tat - Austin, Tx
What I love about Rage Aginst the Machine, is that they constantly trash teh government, but in a strng smart way. Ya know how they got that grammy for their one album...the one that has this osng & Testify in it too, it's almost like how they trah teh governemtn, and the government is now trying to appeal to us through giving awards to one of hte most controversal and polotical bands to date....well, exdcept maybe for System fo a Down. But I like S.O.A.D. more, I would belive they should've received an award too.Andrew - Gotham City, Ny
WE FOUND YOUR WEAKNESS, AND IT'S RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR. think about it. what arrives every morning right outside your door. the NEWSPAPER! songs about falsification in the mass media.Raoul Duke - Here, Ca
The concept behind the video is that George W. Bush and Al Gore are one in the same. It starts out with aliens attempting to conquer the planet by sending a mutant that is a cross between the two presidential candidates to earth. The politically satirical hilarity ensues!Chris - Scranton, Pa
They did join the corporate league by signing to a big recording company, but they did that only to get their word out of political dissent to all people of the world.Tom - Erie, Pa
i love this song and RATM. They are not corporate sell-outs like other bands are. They actually would like to accomplish something. This song really breaks it down, and tells us that everything in the media is just lies. America's new broadcasters have been rated 30th in the world because of how biased and uninformative our news is. They tell us what we want to hear rather than what is really happening in other places.Hmmm - Los Angeles, Ca
yup George Orwell, from the book "1984" which was written in 1948Dave - Eden Prairie, Mn
What's sad is America can supply itself with oil and not have to depend on anybody else. Instead, they're telling us they're preserving it (particularly in Alaska) while theyre selling it to China and Japan.Frank - Hickville, Ga
"Who controls the past now controls the future
Who controls the present now controls the past
Who controls the past now controls the future
Who controls the present now"

This is actually from a George Orwell quote. Google it.
Jim - Leeds, England