Morello, the Grammy Award-winning guitarist with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave who has earned an international following with his musically and politically charged performances as the Nightwatchman, followed the wave of protests that swept Egypt and other Mideast countries at the start of 2011.
A Woody Guthrie-inspired advocate of mass protests, rallies, marches and in-the-streets campaigning for economic and social justice, Morello loved the reports from Cairo. And he kept up with each new report from Tahrir Square.
Then, one night, he and his wife were watching the protests, and he saw something odd. Snow.
It doesn't snow in Cairo.
But it does in Madison, Wisconsin.
"I was watching the demonstrations in Cairo with my then-pregnant wife," Morello says. "The report went from 100,000 people on the streets of Cairo to 100,000 people on the streets of Madison. And I remember saying, What the hell is going on? Where did this come from?"
When he heard it was a union struggle that had brought masses of Wisconsinites to the streets in winter, Morello wanted to grab his guitar and fly immediately from his home in Los Angeles to Madison.
He wasn't at all sure his wife would approve. But, Morello recalls, she was two steps ahead of him. "She said: "Our sons are going to be union men. You've got to go.' "