Rage without the rage — 'Have to do what they tell ya!'

Jack loves Rage Against the Machine but isn't a fan of swearing. So the Two Man Play-Doh Band performed a quite compliant clean version of 'Killing in the Name Of'.

Jack’s always had a strange relationship with swearing. We first noticed it when he was a very little baby, and Tam locked herself out of the house, and she ran around trying all the windows with Jack in a Baby Bjorn, saying ‘fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck’ and he just collapsed into giggles. It actually led us to recording this video, ‘My baby finds swearing funny’. I think he was about six months old. It’s not necessarily good parenting.

At aged eleven, with cerebral palsy that affects all his limbs, as well as sensory processing disorders, there’s still something going on with swearing. He’ll never swear himself, and indeed one of his fifteen year old sister’s favourite tormenting games is to say that she’s heard him swear. ‘No! I didn’t!. She then gets him to say ‘sheet’ and if he ever agrees, she expresses horror and says, ‘you said shit!’ Jack fights to prove his innocence. She lies on top of him and squashes him.

He will, however, tolerate swearing from his rock ‘n roll heroes. He reports in on them though — ‘Jack Black swears quite a lot in Tenacious D but not in School of Rock … Dave Grohl swears … Bruce swears, but not very much … David Le’aupepe from Gang of Youths swears all the time, probably the most.’

One song I have sometimes felt embarrassed playing to the kids very loudly in the car is Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name of’, but I still play it because fuck you I won’t do what you tell me. That’s a joke, by the way, and I’m sorry if it triggered either your sensibilities or your email filters. The song finishes with sixteen of those ‘fuck you I won’t do what you tell mes’, followed by another screamed expletive, followed by a Zack de la Rocha ‘Urgh’ that with the accompanying screeching of Morello’s guitar, is the perfect full stop on an antiauthoritarian masterpiece.

Jack loves the song, but doesn’t like the swearing.

So when music teacher Simon Lewis asked him which song he wanted to practice for a Two Man Play Doh Band lunchtime session, Jack chose ‘Killing in the Name of’, but with the strict caveat that it had to be the clean version.

You can hear it in the video above, mid-song at 1.58, as he reconfirms with his aide, Meg:

Jack: This is the clean version. Meg!

Meg: Yeah!

Jack: This is the clean version!

Meg: Yeah, no, no, no. You do the clean version, I know. Good boy!

I’ll say this for The Two Man Play Doh Bands version of Killing in the Name of. Musically it rocks. The strange cross octave whine of Jack’s Play-Doh midi recorder supplements the repetitive grind of those famous, fabulous chords. Simon is playing alongside Jack’s youngest 2022 aide, Ella Mahoney, 19, who headed off to Canada at the end of the year. She’s a loss. Such a lovely manner. They’re assisted by a backing track, but I’m generally impressed something that down and dirty is playing that loudly in a school music room at lunchtime. Bravo Simon and Ella.

But I’m also not sure Jack’s lyrical tweaks have helped the song. We climb towards the crescendo … ‘Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge they’re the chosen whites. Come on!’

The play doh is wailing. The song is at full steam. Rage is raging! This is the incandescent, angry politics of youth.

And then Jack sails in with:

‘Have to do what they tell ya!’

Have to do what they tell ya!

Have to do what they tell ya!

Have to do what they tell ya!

Repeat times sixteen.

Oh well. Jack’s probably right. It is primary school after all. You do have to do what they tell ya.



Good one, Wilson! is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

If you didn’t see the Two Man Play Doh Band’s school fete video, it’s really something. Jack and Simon play ‘I’m on Fire, Foxy Lady, Light my Fire and Let me Entertain You.

Good one, Wilson!
The Two Man Play-Doh Band's Gran Fiesta
Watch now (16 min) | ‘Mum, actually I think we need to tell Simon that I don’t want to do this!’ Jack says. He has his hands over his ears. ‘I want my headphones! I want to keep moving from here. I want to get inside!’ We’re side of stage at Westgarth Primary School’s La Gran Fiesta, which is a very ‘Gran…
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Postscript: At the end of lunchtime rehearsal, Jack and Simon bumped into Archie and Charlie who were practising ‘Seven Nation Army’ for the school talent quest. They decided to enter as ‘The Two Man Play-Doh Band (feat. Archie & Charlie). That is a post for next time. Please subscribe! Even better, subscribe and support this newsletter.

This is one of my favourite ever YouTube videos. Rage Against the Machine playing their first recorded gig at a California university. Killing in the Name of opens but doesn’t have lyrics yet (Jack would approve). How incredible is this band? They arrive fully formed. Eighteen months later they’d be one of the biggest acts in the world.

I’ve actually been trying to track down ‘red shirt guy’ who sails into shot at 20 minutes and dances like he’s a time traveller from the future. I’d love to know the story of this day. Get in touch if you were there.