TOM MORELLO & THE BLOODY BEETROOTS – Radium Girls
by Walter Price
The history of our journey to the overabundance and ever-reliance of capitalistic consumerism is marred with tragedy. Pick any one of the workplace/factory catastrophes and all those shiny new things start to lose their luster. Two of the most infamous stories are the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory of 1911 and the other is the devastating tale of The Radium Girls, also from the early part of the 20th Century. And the new punch to the psyche single from Tom Morello + The Bloody Beetroots (feat. Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova, The Interrupters’ Aimee Interrupter, White Lung’s Mish Way, The Last Internationale’s Delila Paz) is here to remind you of the later and hopefully start a conversation about the perils of all the wants we think we need. Progress is a ready path.
In a poignant quote posted under the YouTube Video for “Radium Girls”, Morello writes, “…the true story of the Radium Girls, young Illinois factory workers who were the victims of one of the most heinous crimes in US industrial history. I spent every summer as a kid near Ottawa, Illinois where these doomed girls used deadly radium-laced paint to make glow-in-the-dark watches. They were encouraged to lick the paintbrushes to a point to increase productivity and profit and in the end, their bones literally fell apart from cancer and they were so toxic they had to be buried in lead-lined coffins. The resulting court cases and publicity led to historic nationwide labor protection legislation. Every year I place flowers at the small monument to these quiet heroes and this song is dedicated to their memory.”
The accompanying music video, directed by Morello, is a punk rock visual that smashes the song’s intent deep into your newly concerned soul. And if you weren’t completely in the know about the historic origins/inspiration of this song, the grim story (propaganda) is spelled out for you as vintage images flash in between performance scenes…
And in the end we all become UNDARK
It’s the wonder element!
Feminine hands are best suited for the job!
Lip, dip, paint…Lip, dip, paint
We painted our nails and teeth for fun.
It will give your teeth a rosy glow.
And then my jaw fell off.
My bones are honeycombed.
It’s probably just syphilis, these girls have a reputation.
You will die before you beat us in court.
Every last one of us, buried in a lead-lined coffin.
Its enough to make you want to puke, fight, and remember the ultimate price people still pay to this day for all the pretty little things we desire.
“Radium Girls” is from the forthcoming Tom Morello x The Bloody Beetroots collaborative project “The Catastrophists EP”. Before you pre-save, check out the single and see the film, now at the GTC.
Tom Morello & The Bloody Beetroots – Radium Girls (feat. Pussy Riot, The Last Internationale, Aimee Interrupter & White Lung)
Tom Morello photo via Spotify
Written by Tom Morello, Jehnny Beth, Carl Restivo, Nadya Tolokonnikova, and Simone Cogo
Produced by The Bloody Beetroots and Carl Restivo
Vocals by Nadya Tolokonnikova, Aimee Allen, Mish Way and Delila Paz
Guitar by Tom Morello
Engineered, and Additional Guitar by Carl Restivo
Engineering, Mixing and Mastering at Coffin Studios by The Bloody Beetroots & Pietro “ Twntymls” Ventimiglia
Directed by Tom Morello
Edited by Ted Roach / Sammy Slate Productions
“The resulting court cases and publicity led to historic nationwide labor protection legislation. Every year I place flowers at the small monument to these quiet heroes and this song is dedicated to their memory.” – T. Morello