The Nightwatchman

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The Nightwatchman
The Nightwatchman at Coachella 2007.
Background information
Birth name Thomas Baptiste Morello
Born (1964-05-30) May 30, 1964 (age 57)
New York City
Origin Los Angeles, United States
Genres Folk rock, acoustic rock, anti-folk, protest music
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, harmonica, mandolin, vocals
Years active 2003–present
Labels Epic
Associated acts Audioslave, Rage Against the Machine, Street Sweeper Social Club, The Freedom Fighters Orchestra, Serj Tankian, Shooter Jennings, Perry Farrell, Axis of Justice, Lock Up, Electric Sheep, Bruce Springsteen
Notable instruments
Whatever It Takes
Plain body, nylon string acoustic guitar
Arm the Homeless
Custom built electric guitar
Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine
Black body, nylon string Gibson acoustic guitar

The Nightwatchman is the alter-ego and solo act of American musician Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Street Sweeper Social Club and former Audioslave). Morello began performing as the Nightwatchman in 2003 as an outlet for his political views while he was playing apolitical music with Audioslave.


Early career

Morello created the identity of The Nightwatchman, inspired by Bruce Springsteen's The Ghost of Tom Joad album,[1] when a desire to return to political activism in his music struck him in 2003, after over a year of playing non-activist rock in Audioslave.[2] Morello describes The Nightwatchman as "the black Robin Hood of 21st century music" and "a reaction against illicit wars, a reaction against first strikes, torture, secret prisons, spying illegally on American citizens. It's a reaction against war crimes, and it's a reaction against a few corporations that grow rich [off] this illicit war while people beg for food in the city streets."[3] More specifically, he later elaborated that the format was inspired by long-time social and political activist/musician Billy Bragg. Morello first saw him performing at a concert c. 1994, playing "fearlessly" before a crowd of 8,000 people in a tent alongside big-name rock bands of the time.[4] The Nightwatchman first began playing political acoustic folk music in a Los Angeles coffeehouse before a small crowd,[3] and soon after went on Billy Bragg's Tell Us the Truth tour.[2]

The Tell Us the Truth tour was supported by unions, environmental and media reform groups including Common Cause, Free Press and A.F.L.-C.I.O. with the ultimate goal of "informing music fans, and exposing and challenging the failures of the major media outlets in the United States."[5] His Nightwatchman persona has been compared to Woody Guthrie,[2] Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.[3] He initially had no plans to record,[6] but later recorded the song "No One Left" for Songs and Artists that Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11. At the Festival of Bonnaroo in 2007, The Nightwatchman performed "Guerilla Radio" to protest George W. Bush.

One Man Revolution

In February 2007, he announced a solo album, One Man Revolution, which was released on April 24, 2007 in the US and May 7 worldwide.[3] The Nightwatchman's first headlining gig was played June 17, 2007 at the House of Blues in Dallas, Texas. Morello has toured since the CD was released and said he plans to tour the U.S. again in the fall. After seeing an early screening of the Michael Moore film Sicko Morello wrote the song, "Alone Without You" which featured in closing credits of the film and also with a music video directed by Moore in the DVD release. The song was also made available as an iTunes bonus track for One Man Revolution. Morello toured in support of the album as the opening act for Ben Harper During this tour, Morello joined Harper onstage on several occasions for a cover of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War", on which he plays the electric guitar in the style for which he's best known. Other prominent musicians who Morello shared the stage with during the One Man Revolution tour includes, Serj Tankian, Perry Farrell, Jon Foreman from Switchfoot, Shooter Jennings, Nuno Bettencourt, Sen Dog from Cypress Hill, Jill Sobule, Boots Riley, Alexi Murdoch, Wayne Kramer from MC5, Slash and many others.

The Fabled City

The album The Fabled City was released on September 30, 2008. Two songs off the record, "Midnight in the City of Destruction" (about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina) and "King of Hell" (written about Guantanamo Bay), had previously been leaked on The Nightwatchman MySpace or performed during live sets.

So far The Satellite Party's Carl Restivo has been confirmed to be part of The Freedom Fighters as a second guitarist.[8] To promote the new album Morello and the band appeared both on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and on Late Night with Conan O'Brien before heading out on 'The Fabled City tour', an eighteen stop tour in the United States.

World Wide Rebel Songs

To support the many unions affected by the anti-negotiation/bargaining laws due to the 2011 Wisconsin budget protests, Morello performed outside the Madison Capitol building on February 21, 2011, to rousing support. He also teamed up with fellow rock musician Wayne Kramer in support of the protesters performing the title song of his upcoming album, World Wide Rebel Songs.[9] Kramer appears on said song on the album, performing backing vocals.

On The Nightwatchman website, it was announced that Morello has signed with the label New West Records to release his third album as The Nightwatchman moniker, World Wide Rebel Songs, due out on August 30, 2011.[10]

Before the release of the album, Morello released an EP entitled Union Town on May 17, 2011. All proceeds of the EP sales will go to benefit The America Votes Labor Unity Fund.[11]

In October 2011 and on May Day 2012, Morello performed in support of the protesters at Occupy LA and Occupy Wall Street.

The Freedom Fighters Orchestra

Current members
  • Tom Morello – lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitar (2003–present)
  • Carl Restivo – electric guitar, backing vocals (2008–present)
  • Eric Gardner – drums, backing vocals (2011–present)
  • Dave Gibbs – bass guitar, backing vocals (2008–2011)
Former members
  • Flea – bass at The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2008)
  • Breckin Meyer – drums, percussion, backing vocals (2008–2011)
  • Robbie Seahag Mangano – bass, backing vocals (selected performances August 2011 to Sept 2012, bass and guitar on 'Blind Willy McTell' )


The Nightwatchman at the Pinkpop festival in 2007.

Studio albums

Year Title
2007 One Man Revolution
2008 The Fabled City
  • Released: September 30, 2008
  • Label: Epic Records
  • Formats: CD
2011 Union Town
  • Released: May 17, 2011
  • Label: New West Records
  • Formats: CD
2011 World Wide Rebel Songs
  • Released: August 30, 2011
  • Label: New West Records
  • Formats: CD

Live album

Year Title
2009 Live at Lime
  • Released: December 10, 2009
  • Label: None
  • Formats: MP3


Year Album Song Ref.
2007 One Man Revolution "The Road I Must Travel"
2008 The Fabled City "Whatever it Takes" [12]

Other appearances

Year Album Song(s) Ref.
2004 Songs and Artists That Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11 "No One Left" [13]
Tell Us the Truth: The Live Concert Recording "California's Dark"
"House Gone Up in Flames"
Axis of Justice: Concert Series Volume 1 "Until the End" [15]
2007 Body of War: Songs that Inspired an Iraq War Veteran "Battle Hymns"
2008 Sicko soundtrack "Alone Without You" [16]
2011 Todos Somos Ilegales "Deportees"
2012 Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International "Blind Willie McTell"

Notes and citations

  1. Bruce Springsteen as inspiration for The Nightwatchman on Twitter
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wiederhorn, Jon (October 22, 2003). "Tom Morello Rages Against A New Machine on Solo Acoustic Tour". MTV News. Retrieved February 18, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Harris, Chris (February 6, 2007). "Nightwatchman, Rage Reunion Have Morello Fired Up For Political Fights". MTV News. Retrieved February 18, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Donovan, Patrick (January 25, 2008). "Maintaining the rage". The Age. p. Entertainment Guide supplement (p. 4). Retrieved February 3, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Portner, Matt and Heller, Sarah. Tell Us the Truth Tour − Music as Motivation. The Boston Underground at the Internet Archive.
  6. Moss, Corey (July 29, 2004). "Audioslave's Morello Says New LP Feels Less Like Soundgarden + Rage". MTV News. Retrieved February 18, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello sets out again as the Nightwatchman
  8. Carl Restivo MySpace blogg
  9. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine galvanizes Wisconsin protesters – Isthmus | The Daily Page
  10. [1]
  11. [2]
  12. "Whatever it Takes by The Nightwatchman". Rhapsody MP3 Music Downloads. Retrieved November 20, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Various Artists – Songs and Artists That Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11". Retrieved November 18, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Various Artists – Tell Us the Truth: The Live Concert Recording". All Music. Retrieved January 5, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Various Artists – Axis of Justice Concert Series Volume 1". Retrieved November 20, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Sicko. DVD Talk Review of DVD Video". DVD Talk. Retrieved November 20, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links