Meaning of “Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against the Machine

In the song “Bulls on Parade”, the Grammy Award winning American rock band Rage Against the Machine rage against the military industrial complexes of the world. Their specific gripe is against tactics used by this industry to achieve the primary goal of all businesses, which is to stay profitable. They also highlight some of the realities of the United States being such an influential war machine.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Rage Against the Machine's Bulls on Parade at

However, the beginning of the first verse doesn’t seem to have anything to do with these topics at all. Rather it starts more like a rap song, with Zack de la Rocha basically boasting about his lyrical skill. But soon afterwards, he cleverly references the Pentagon and starts the aforementioned tirade. One of the primary causes of this outburst is his assertion that wars are being fought for money, and the resources invested in them can be better used elsewhere. He also alludes to the fact that there’s a lot more behind military conflicts than what appears on the surface, as in the rationales used to fight them.

The hook of the song sounds as if Zack is telling families to arm themselves. It is unclear what he means, as the statements are ambiguous and have been interpreted in a number of ways.  However, in general, it plays into the theme of the song, which is the pervasiveness of war.

The same goes for the term “bulls”. Who he is referring to is a matter of minor debate.  However, the main parallel to be drawn is between the aggressive nature of these animals and that of the powerbrokers who manage the powerful militaries we see today.

"Bulls on Parade" lyrics

Facts about “Bulls on Parade”

  • Writer(s): This song was written by members of Rage Against the Machine.
  • Producer(s): In addition to composing this tune, the band also produced it. However, they handled the production with assistance from music producer Brendan O’Brien.
  • Album/EP: This is the second track from Rage Against the Machine’s 1996 album Evil Empire, a term made famous by former US President Ronald Reagan.
  • Release Date: “Bulls on Parade” was released officially on 16 April, 1996.
  • Record Label: The label “Bulls on Parade” was released under is Epic Records.
  • 1st Interesting Stuff: This track is famous for featuring a sound affect that sounds like the “scratching” commonly found in old school hip-hop yet was actually produced Rage’s guitarist Tom Morello without the use of vinyl.
  • 2nd Interesting Stuff: Rage Against the Machine had a 1996 gig on sketch-comedy show “Saturday Night Live” abruptly cut in half due to political protests that erupted in relation to this song.
  • 3rd Interesting Stuff: “Bulls on Parade” was ranked number 15 by VH1 on their 40 Greatest Metal Songs Ever list.

What musical genre is “Bulls on Parade”?

Since it uses elements of heavy metal music, alternative rock and slight traces of hip hop, it fits perfectly into the nu metal and hard rock genres.

Did “Bulls on Parade” win a Grammy?

No. It was however, nominated for a Grammy at the Grammy Awards of 1997 in the Best Hard Rock Performance category. It lost the award to The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”.

19 Responses

  1. MarxistsDotOrg says:

    Not one mention of the socialist or Marxist philosophy underlying this.

    We need that philosophy now more than ever.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, we don’t. It’s the reason things are bad. Authoritarians are only good for being defeated, and reminding us what bad ideas really look like.

      • America First says:

        F–k Socialism and Marxism. Are people really this blind?

        • Anonymous says:

          yk, your looking at a Rage Against The Machine article, there’s gonna be socialism and marxism, it’s kinda their thing

        • Anonymous says:

          are you guys that stupid read the damn lyrics to the song im literally laughing at your incompetence and your will to buy into white nationalist propaganda
          “Weapons not food, not homes, not shoes
          Not need, just feed the war cannibal animal
          I walk tha corner to tha rubble that used to be a library
          Line up to tha mind cemetery now”
          zack is talking about the constant bombing and destabilization of foreign counties by the u.s. just to get their natural resources and how the government could use a fraction of that funding to make life for marginalized communities here in the u.s. so much better. and when you say “america first” your desensitization towards others lives who arent like you is showing and you’re undermining every single lyric to every single ratm song. do better you dumbfuck

    • Anonymous says:

      Get the !@#$ outta here with that sh-t.

      Why is it do you suppose, that everybody in favor of a so called
      “Marxist/ Socialist/ Communist government were either born, or grew up “AFTER ” the fall of the USSR.??
      And that everyone from there, or the oppressive Castro regime in Cuba could not wait to get to the hell out and into America…

      I’d wager that you, like everybody that voted for Biden would be extremely disappointed with their choice, to put it mildly.

    • Sola Melodica says:

      Dude are you outta your mind? Wanna see what that kind of regime does? Check out the video by Porcupine titled Che. You’re welcome!

    • Get f---ed says:

      You are an a–hole. Capitalism is the reason you ever heard this song to begin with

    • Anonymous says:

      That philosophy constantly fails. Look at history

  2. no says:

    Socialism and Marxism is the root of a evil

  3. Marx was a spoiled racist brat says:

    Our government is corrupt to the core and they are doing the bidding of corporations. Marxism/socialism/communism is not the damned answer. Those in power actually favor those ideas because it will cement their place in power. No constitution, no rights, no weapons, no speech, no fucking nothin.

    • f you says:

      Those in power favor communism? Are you smoking crack or something? Holy sh-t Americans are stupid

      • Anonymous says:

        Those in power do favor communism. Don’t speak about things you have zero idea about. Read the protocols of zion; they say explicitly in there “we are communists”.

      • Anonymous says:

        Any regime that governs for the benefit of the few rather than help the masses will inevitably resort to violence and negative propaganda. If you think deregulation is good, powerful interests paid a lot of money to put that thought in your head.

  4. Meee says:

    The Family could be reference for the powerful pro-right Christian group that has infiltrated US and Global politics.

    Arms dealers gather round the family, with a pocket full of shells and other weapons to keep them protected, in power, and wealthy.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There seems to be some confusion as to what “Socialism” and “Marxism” are in these comments

    • Anonymous says:

      Guarantee none of these ppl have read anything by Adam Smith or Marx or has even the most basic understanding of economics and political theory. Like parrots who can mimic words they hear in SM feeds but cant comprehend them.

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