Monday, February 16, 2009

Beds Are Burning

The band Midnight Oil got their name by drawing lyrics out of a hat.

Beds Are Burning was the first track from the album Diesels and Dust.

Wikipedia advises “Beds Are Burning” is a political song about giving native Australian lands back to the Pintupi, who were among the very last people to come in from the desert. These “last contact” people began moving from the Gibson Desert to settlements and missions in the late 1930s. More were forcibly moved during the 1950s and 1960s to the Papunya settlement. In 1981, they left to return to their own country and established the Kintoire community which is nestled in the picturesque Kintore Ranges, surrounded by Mulga and Spinfex country. It is now a thriving little community with a population of about 400.

Midnight Oil performed the song in front of a world audience of billions (including Prime M
inister John Howard who has claimed this is his favorite Midnight Oil song) at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The whole band was dressed in black, with the words “sorry” printed conspicuously on their clothes. This was a reference to the Prime Minister’s refusal to apologize, on behalf of Australia, to the Aboriginal Australians for the way they have been treated over the previous 200 years, particularly in relation to native title and the government-sanctioned removal of Aboriginal children of the Stolen Generations from their families.

The official website for Midnight Oil can be found here.

The lyrics to the song are embedded in the video.

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