Bullet in the Head (song)

"Bullet in the Head"
Single by Rage Against the Machine
from the album Rage Against the Machine
Released December 29, 1992
Format CD, 7", 12"
Genre Rap metal
Length 5:07
Songwriter(s) Tim Commerford, Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk
Producer(s) Garth "GGGarth" Richardson, Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine singles chronology
"Killing in the Name"
"Bullet in the Head"

"Killing in the Name"
"Bullet in the Head"

Bullet in the Head is a song by American rap metal band Rage Against the Machine, released as the second single from their 1992 eponymous debut album. A fan favorite and one of the album's heaviest tracks, "Bullet in the Head" refers to the band's belief that the government uses media to control the population, drawing comparisons between typical residences and Alcatraz. The track was transferred intact from the band's demo, also titled Rage Against the Machine.[1]

As well as one of the band's most well known riffs, the song features many innovative guitar techniques by Tom Morello. These heavily use a DigiTech Whammy pitch shifter and wah-wah pedal. In the verses, Morello picks the open D and G strings on his guitar with the DigiTech Whammy in the open (furthest) position to raise the pitch by two octaves. This creates a 'sampling' sound. Not as often heard is an unusual sound believed to be Morello picking a natural harmonic on his guitar and then raising the pitch with the Whammy pitch shifter. The band debuted "Bullet in the Head" at their first public performance at California State University, Northridge in The Quad on October 23, 1991.

Both front and back images for the single's artwork were by the French photographer Marc Riboud.[2]

"Bullet in the Head" is mentioned in the lyrics to Pennywise's "I Won't Have It", from their 1995 album About Time. In the booklet of the album, Zack de la Rocha's name is also mentioned next to the "Bullet in the Head" part.

This song was to be the second performance on Rage Against the Machine's set during an April 1996 episode of Saturday Night Live. However, the band was kicked out after only one song for hanging inverted American flags from their amplifiers.[3]

Music video

A video clip was recorded in a warehouse in New York. While not often cited, this isn't a mimed video, but a live performance recorded for the BBC's program The Late Show. In the words of Tom Morello, "The tour bus pulled up in front of the BBC studio, we ran through the song once in front of the cameras, then left to play a club that night." The video appeared on the band's self-titled DVD, released November 25, 1997 on Epic Records.[4]

Track list

1."Bullet in the Head" (Album Version)5:11
2."Bullet in the Head" (Remix)5:39
3."Bullet in the Head" (Live)5:46
4."Settle for Nothing" (Live)4:58
Total length:21:34
  • Remix done by Sir J Jinx.

Chart positions

Chart Position
UK Singles Chart 16


  1. Robbins, Ira (1997). The Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock. New York: Fireside. p. 591. ISBN 0-684-81437-4.
  2. ""Bullet In The Head" at". Discogs.com. 1993-02-07. Retrieved 2014-09-13.
  3. "Saturday Night Live Incident". Musicfanclubs.org. Retrieved 2014-09-13.
  4. "Rage Against the Machine Video". Musicfanclubs.org. Retrieved 2014-09-13.
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