March 21, 2012 by David K. Sutton
Insomniac Edition: Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning (1987)
Insomniac Edition is a late-night series on The Left Call, intended as a break from political drama.
Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning – from the album Diesel And Dust (1987)
“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 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 Kintore community which is nestled in the picturesque Kintore Ranges, surrounded by Mulga and Spinifex country. It is now a thriving little community with a population of about 400. (Kintore and the town of Yuendumu are mentioned by name in the lyrics.)
Midnight Oil performed the song in front of a world audience of millions at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The whole band were dressed in black, with the word “Sorry” printed conspicuously on their clothes.