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Tom Waits Releases Anti-Fascist Folk Ballad

Waits teams with accomplished guitarist Marc Ribot to rework "Bella Ciao," a 19th-century resistance song



    Tom Waits Releases Anti-Fascist Folk Ballad
    Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
    Tom Waits (shown here performing during his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction) has released a new song with Marc Ribot.

    Music has long been an effective, peaceful weapon against oppression: In 1943, the American songwriting legend Woody Guthrie famously scrawled "This machine kills fascists" across his acoustic guitar to bolster his anti-Hitler/fascism stance while Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and countless others protested the Vietnam War and threw their support behind the Civil Rights movement in the '60s with profound, poetic folk music.

    Public Enemy railed against racism, socioeconomic disparity and inequality in the '80s while Rage Against the Machine championed the cause in the '90s and '00s. You get the idea. Eras may have come and gone, but really, little has changed. Our world has grown increasingly troubled and divided -- seemingly destined for ultimate doom at the hands of man -- but throughout it all, music has remained as powerful as ever.

    In that vein, Tom Waits (who grew up in National City and got his musical start playing in San Diego clubs) has added his world-weary voice to the protest cause. With his first new song in more than two years, "Bella Ciao (Goodbye Beautiful)," the troubadour -- who's been making headlines in recent years for his acting chops -- has teamed up with accomplished guitarist (and long-time collaborator) Marc Ribot to take aim at fascism and, in its not-so-subtle accompanying video, the Trump administration.

    The song, featured on Ribot's new album "Goodbye Beautiful/Songs of Resistance 1942-2018," is a mournful reworking of a 19th-century Italian folk song, rewritten and made popular during World War II by anti-fascist resistance fighters.

    During the haunting lament, Waits sings, "One fine morning I woke up early / To find the fascist at my door" -- a poignant, bleak reminder that our current political/social climate is eerily and increasingly mirroring another from the not-too-distant past.